BY JOSÉ CARLOS MARULANDA & SANDINO MORAZÁN
“Divided World Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labour Under Capitalism (Second Edition)” by Dr. Zak Cope has become a staple of the anti-imperialist left, especially in the First World. At ANTICONQUISTA, we believe this book should be on the shelf of any serious anti-capitalist, especially due to its thorough dissection of imperialism today.
Although its roughly four hundred pages may seem intimidating to those of us not familiar with formal economics, Cope’s style of writing makes the book accessible to anyone interested in understanding the particularities of the modern capitalist system.
The concepts that Cope tackles in “Divided World Divided Class” aren’t new.
His underlying argument on the hierarchies that exist within the capitalist system was introduced as far back as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels themselves. These hierarchies, the author demonstrates, have expanded to include not just a section of the European working class (as Engels and Vladimir Lenin had exposed), but the working class in the First World in general.
By demonstrating the expansion of what is known as the labor aristocracy in First World nations, the author gives a material basis for what many of us understand today as white privilege. That is, Cope demonstrates that white privilege and racism aren’t just social constructs that can be done away with anti-racist ideas alone. Rather, there is a material aspect that has to be addressed.
For those of us who come from the Latin American diaspora, this understanding of white privilege and the capitalist system changes everything in terms of how we organize and mobilize politically. The respectability and identity politics that many of us adhere to become one dimensional. Even those of us who have some kind of materialist or Marxist understanding of our history and current conditions are encouraged to reevaluate the eurocentricity that we are often bound to.
The second edition of “Divided World Divided Class” includes sharp responses to his critics, most of whom are Eurocentric Marxists. Within these responses, the author insightfully includes a quote by Ernesto “Che” Guevara participating in an interview in Italy in 1964.
“I’m very happy for the European working class with their high wages,” he said. “But don’t forget who is paying for those wages: we are. Millions of exploited workers and peasants in Latin America, Africa and Asia.”
Cope’s book, then, is a breath of fresh air for those of us who are struggling to dismantle the capitalist-imperialist system and who are sick and tired of the Eurocentricity of the left in Europe, the United States and across the First World.
It is also a much-needed application of dialectical materialism, the communist science of understanding and molding reality, to modern times. It analyzes present-day objective conditions, thus providing us with a guide for applying new methods of struggle accommodated to new conditions of reality.
Overall, “Divided World Divided Class” can be described as scientific, revolutionary and cutting edge.
Get your copy here.