BY TANIA APAZA
As Third Worldists, we’re often accused of being revisionists by Eurocentric leftists who think we’re twisting Marxism-Leninism to serve our political agenda.
A political agenda based around the simple fact that it’s not only the elite of the First World who leech off of the labor and resources of the Third World, but also includes people in the First World who see themselves as “working class.”
If capitalism-imperialism is a global system, then we must look at the inequality it creates on a global scale. Once we do that, the contrast between the quality of life for the so-called “working class” of the First World and the genuine proletariat of the Third World becomes clear.
It’s something that must be addressed, no matter how uncomfortable it may be for those who enthusiastically shout “Workers of the world unite!”
It’s typically these kind of Marxists who disapprove of our political ideology and call us revisionists. Marxists who say they follow Vladimir Lenin’s work and look up to him as a revolutionary figure. If that’s the case, maybe they should have paid attention to what Lenin said himself.
In his own words, Lenin explains:
“The English bourgeoisie, for example, obtains larger revenues from the tens and hundreds of millions of the population of India and of her other colonies than from the English workers. In these conditions, a certain material and economic basis is created for infecting the proletariat of this or that country with colonial chauvinism.”
“(Imperialism) facilitates the rise of powerful revolutionary movements in the countries that are subjected to imperialist plunder, and are in danger of being crushed and partitioned by the giant imperialists (such as Russia), and on the other hand, tends to a certain extent to prevent the rise of profound revolutionary movements in the countries that plunder, by imperialist methods, many colonies and foreign lands, and thus make a very large (comparatively) portion of their population participants in the division of the imperialist loot.”
He wasn’t the only communist thinker to outline some of the tenants of Third Worldism. Friedrich Engels also had some thoughts on the matter:
“The British working class is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat as well as a bourgeoisie. Of course, this is to a certain extent justifiable for a nation which is exploiting the whole world.”
“The great trade unions … are the organizations of those trades in which the labor of grown-up men predominates, or is alone applicable. Here the competition neither of women or children nor of machinery has so far weakened their organized strength. The engineers, the carpenters and the joiners, the bricklayers are each of them a power to the extent that as in the case of the bricklayers and bricklayers’ laborers, they can even successfully resist the introduction of machinery … they form an aristocracy among the working class; they have succeeded in enforcing for themselves a relatively comfortable position, and they accept it as final. They are the model workingmen of Messrs Leone Levi and Giffen, and they are very nice people nowadays to deal with, for any sensible capitalist in particular and for the whole capitalist class in general.”
“Exactly the same as they think about politics in general, the same as what the bourgeois think. There is no working class party here, there are only Conservatives and Liberal-Radicals, and the workers merrily devour with them the fruits of the British colonial monopoly and of the British monopoly of the world market.”
“During the period of England’s industrial monopoly the English working class have to a certain extent shared in the benefits of the monopoly. These benefits were very unequally parceled out amongst them; the privileged minority pocketed most, but even the great mass had at least a temporary share now and then. And that is the reason why since the dying out of Owenism there has been no socialism in England. With the breakdown of that monopoly the English working class will lose that privileged position.”
And, shit — maybe Karl Marx himself got it wrong?
“The extraordinary productiveness of modern industry, accompanied as it is by both a more extensive and more intense exploitation of labor-power in all other spheres of production, allows of the unproductive employment of a larger and larger part of the working class, and the consequent reproduction, on a constantly expanding scale, of the ancient domestic slaves under the name of servant class, including men-servants, women-servants and lackeys, etc.”
The truth is that while Eurocentric Marxists slap the revisionist label on us, they are the true revisionists, erasing very clear statements by the thinkers and revolutionaries they apparently follow, in order to avoid the uncomfortable truth that they take part in the oppression of workers in the Third World. It’s not only cowardly, but also counter-revolutionary, as it ensures that the status quo is maintained in the First World, thereby continuing the oppression of Third World.
The so-called “victories” in the First World by workers, whether its higher wages or shorter work hours, do not affect the quality of life for workers in the Third World. The majority of the world’s workers continue to face harsh working conditions with wages which barely cover their basic necessities.
When people in the United Kingdom fight for the National Health Service and a better social welfare system, they are also fighting for the ongoing theft of wealth from poorer countries which enables these institutions and services to survive. This is something that must be told to so-called “leftists.”
After all, as Lenin wrote, “to tell the workers in the handful of rich countries where life is easier, thanks to imperialist pillage, that they must be afraid of ‘too great’ impoverishment, is counter-revolutionary.”
It’s important that we address the global divide in wealth and understand that those of us in the diaspora who seek to overturn capitalism-imperialism must be ready to not only face a backlash from the capitalist elite of whatever countries we reside in, but the everyday “working class” people who will desperately hold onto the unearned privileges that they have grown so accustomed to receiving.
Our goal isn’t to assimilate into the imperialist labor aristocracy that exists in the First World. Our goal is to help our oppressed proletarian sisters and brothers in the Third World who are carrying out revolution as we speak.
[…] Eurocentric Leftists: The Real Revisionists […]
I have a question. I have not read much work by Marx, Engels, or any other socialist or communist theorist or revolutionary, so I am quite ignorant on this topic.
The fact that public benefit was delivered to the people of imperialist nations using wealth stolen from elsewhere in the world is obvious when we think of history prior to the late 20th Century, but today, how is the prosperity of rich countries upheld by imperialism? In the case of transnational companies which extract resources from the “Third World”, I understand that this is a contemporary form of imperialism, but what if the company does not pay tax? How is this corporate imperialism upholding the prosperity of those in developed countries (besides those who work for, or hold shares in, the company)?
Tania, I really do want to understand, and I’m not trying to be antagonistic or argue.
Thanks for the article and (I hope) your answer.
-Daniel from Australia
100% to all of this. It was the easiest thing to read because it all flows with sense. This is why if you’re a ML, you’re basically a 3rd worldist. If you’re not a 3rd worldist, I’m sorry to say that you’re not a Leninist.
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