Created: Thursday, 29 March 2018 14:50
Written by David Yaffe
Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no.8 January/February 1981
The period from the end of the First International to the founding Conference of the Third (Communist) International was a decisive one for the working-class movement world-wide. In this period a fundamental change in the nature of the capitalist system took place. Capitalism entered its imperialist phase.
Imperialism and the working class
Capitalism in its relentless drive for profits has grown into a world-wide system of colonial oppression and financial domination of the overwhelming majority of the world by a small number of imperialist countries. This domination has divided the world into oppressor and oppressed nations. A handful of the imperialist countries obtain high monopoly profits out of the brutal exploitation of oppressed peoples world-wide. Out of these ‘super-profits’ imperialism is able to create and sustain a small privileged and influential layer of the working class in the imperialist countries whose conditions of life isolate it from the suffering, misery and temper of the broad mass of the working class. This privileged layer has a material interest in the continuation of imperialism, for it is the source of its economic and political privileges. These workers, a labour aristocracy, constitute the social base of opportunism in the working class. Politically this current represents the interests of the ruling class in the working-class movement. To protect its own minority interests this layer sacrifices the fundamental interests of the working class for an alliance with the ruling class – an alliance directed against the interests of the mass of the working class. Imperialism therefore not only divides the world into oppressor and oppressed nations, but also in the imperialist countries creates a split in the working-class movement between a small influential opportunist layer and the broad mass of the working class. The split was to have major implications in the international working-class movement.
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