Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist League

New Voice: Comradely Polemics on Imperialism

First Published: People’s Tribune, in two parts, Vol. 6, Nos. 3 & 4, March and April 1974.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Communist League and the New Voice are engaging in comradely polemics over certain theoretical questions. These questions need to be clarified in order to understand how revolutionaries and Communists should move tactically in the struggle to overthrow imperialism and establish socialism. The following is the response of the Communist League to the position on imperialism laid out by the New Voice in their pamphlet: “Imperialism Today: an Economic Analysis”.

First, what is imperialism? According to Lenin, it is the highest stage of capitalism. It is the monopoly stage of capitalism, most commonly characterized by the export of capital. “Under modern capitalism, when monopoly prevails, the export of capital is the typical feature.”[1]

We must understand the meaning of capital to understand the oppression and exploitation of the colonies. “Capital is not a thing, but a definite social relation”, says Karl Marx.[2] Lenin adds, ”Capital is a special historically definite social production relation.”[3] It is in this light that we must view the entire political, economic and social character of exploitation and oppression. Joseph Stalin in the Foundations of Leninism presents the contradiction between the colonies and the imperialist countries to point out the much more brutal subjugation of the colonies and dependent countries. He states, “Imperialism is the most barefaced exploitation and the most inhuman oppression of hundreds of millions of people inhabiting vast colonies and dependent countries. The purpose of this is to squeeze out super profits.”[4]

Some of the following statistical data will bear this out. From the Review of International Affairs, an article entitled, “Investments and Profits” states that “1966 USA direct foreign investment was $3 billion 600 million; in 1968 it was down to $2 billion 900 thousand; the return profit from 1966 was $4 billion 900 thousand while the return in 1968 with decreased investment was $5 billion 800 thousand. The breakdown of US investment and return was as follows (in 1968, ed.):

………………………Direct Investment…………..Return
Western Europe……………34.4%………………22.4%
Latin America……………10.3%……………….25.9% [5]

These three examples show that investing in the colonies and dependent countries of Latin America is far more profitable than investing in more developed countries. In addition, the Peking Review, No. 35 of 1969 reveals the plundering of Asia by the USNA, “US investment of $4 million in India yielded a return of $12 million.” Let us take a look at USNA profit returns in South Africa. In the magazine Africa Today, Vol. XII, No. 1, p. 9 it states, “In 1962 the average net profit to net worth ratio for US finds was 25%, rising two years later to 27%. The return on ’raw’ investment is 13%, comparing with a world average of 7.7%.” It is clear from these examples that the USNA derives super profits at the expense of the colonies.

In the New Voice pamphlet it states, “the major reason for holding under-developed countries as colonies remains what it was when Lenin first analyzed imperialism – raw materials.” It is true that the imperialists need raw materials, but that is but one aspect of capital as an entire social relationship. Stalin, following in the path of Marx and Lenin, makes clear the reason to be as follows: ”The securing of maximum capitalist profit through the exploitation, ruin and impoverishment of the majority of the population of a given country, through the enslavement and systematic robbery of the peoples of other countries, especially backward countries and lastly through war and militarization of the national economy which are utilized for obtaining the highest profits.”[6]

World Bank President McNamara said last year that “the poorest 40 percent of the population of many developing countries received a per capita yearly income of less than $100 compared with an average of $2400 in the developed countries.” David Rockefeller, President of US Chase Manhattan Bank, revealed several years ago that “major aid recipients now put up an average of $8 of their own resources for every dollar they receive from us.”[7] This reveals the fact that the USNA gets 8 times the amount for each dollar they invest in major aid recipient countries, or major aid recipient countries, raped by imperialism, are forced to give up much more of their resources to the U.S. while receiving a great deal less in return. Even the monopoly capitalists have to admit to such obvious factors.

In addition to these factors, let us take a look at some of the concrete social and economic differences between the USNA and the colonies. In infant mortality rate per thousand births, the USNA has 19.8, Argentina 58.3, Chile 91.0, Columbia 70.4, El Salvador 66.9, India 139, Mexico 68.5, In net supply of pounds of meat per year eaten per person, the U.S. receives 243, Burma l4, Ceylon 4, India 3, Indonesia 9, Mexico 44, Republic of Korea 19, Iran 30, Egypt 28, Ethiopia 10. The per capita gross domestic product per year of the USNA is $4,734, Argentina $971, Ethiopia $65, India $94, Ivory Coast $342, Jordan $273, Rep. of Korea $256; Malawi $64.[8] These are just some of the figures that show the greater colonial oppression and exploitation as compared to that in the USNA.

The struggle for new markets and the redivision of the world is a result of the drive for maximum profits. Again, Stalin clearly presents that the basic economic law of capitalism is not the law of value or average profits or surplus value; on the contrary, it is maximum profits. (Stalin discusses this matter in Selected Works, Cardinal Pub. pp. 337-30 under the heading “The basic Economic Law of Capitalism”.)

Another assertion in the New Voice pamphlet is that the increased productivity of labor among USNA workers proves that they are more exploited than the colonies. The pamphlet states, “Another factor is the productivity of the workers. The higher the productivity, the less of their working day that goes into producing the equivalent of their basic needs. More of their working day goes into producing surplus-value for the businessman. Productivity is mainly determined by the level of technology. In Marxist terms, the relative surplus-value is higher. The type of industries to be found in the colonies is labor intensive and has a low productivity.” What does Lenin say about the matter? In summarizing Marx he points out, “An increase in the productivity of labor implies a more rapid growth of constant capital as compared with variable capital. And since surplus value is a function of variable capital alone, it is obvious that the rate of profit (the ratio of surplus value to the whole capital, and not to its variable part alone) tends to fall.”[9]

It is important to understand that the drive for maximum profit is stymied and hindered with the increase in labor productivity. Lenin further states, “Profit is the ratio between the surplus value and the total capital invested in an undertaking. Capital with ’a high organic composition’ (i.e. with a preponderance of constant capital over variable capital exceeding the social average) yields a lower than average rate of profit; capital with a ’low organic composition’ yields a higher than average rate of profit.”[10] However, surplus value, though accumulated from the unpaid labor of the workers, still doesn’t reflect total profit in and of itself.

The pamphlet goes on to state that colonies have a high intensity of labor and therefore lower profit. Marx points out it is just the opposite: “the more intense working day of one nation would be represented by a greater sum of money than would the less intense day of another nation.”[11]

It is obvious that the imperialists try to secure maximum profit at the least cost. The use of cheap labor and the relatively small investment in constant capital in the colonies provides a tremendously higher rate of profit, The “energy crisis” proves that the capitalists refuse to explore areas that they deem costly. Stalin adds greater clarity to the subject, stating, “Capitalists bring in new technology as well as bring it to a halt. How is this howling contradiction to be explained? It can only be explained by the basic economic law of modern capitalism, that is, by the necessity of obtaining maximum profits. Capitalism is in favor of new techniques when they promise it the highest profit. Capitalism is against new techniques, and resorts to hand labor, where the new techniques do not promise the highest profit.”[12]

We must consider the entire relationship of imperialism and its incessant drive for maximum profits to understand the brutal exploitation and oppression of the colonies.

A further position in the pamphlet is on the question of bribery. The pamphlet states, “As most U.S. profits are derived from U.S. workers, who compose the bulk (over 85%) of the population of this country, there can be no ’bribe’ of most U.S. workers.”

The Communist League fully agrees with the fact that the labour aristocracy represented by union misleaders, such as Fitzsimmons of the Teamsters, Woodcock of the UAW and Abel of the steel workers, is a bribed strata in service to the bourgeoisie. In the January 21, 1974 issue of U.S. News and World Report, the salaries of these labor misleaders were presented with Fitzsimmons’ $135,000 yearly salary leading the pack.

Whereas there is no contention over the labor aristocracy being a bribed strata, there is another aspect to the question of bribery. It is important to see the bribe of the Anglo-American working class relative to its counterpart in the colonies and dependent nations. In quoting the non-Marxist Hobson, Lenin states, “There is first the habit of economic parasitism by which the ruling state has used its provinces, colonies and dependencies, in order to enrich its ruling class and to bribe its lower classes into acquiescence.”[13] Lenin continues in refuting Kautsky, “Secondly why does England’s monopoly explain the (temporary) victory of opportunism in England? Because monopoly yields superprofits, i.e., a surplus of profits over and above the capitalist profits that are normal and customary all over the world.’ The capitalists can devote a part (and not a small one, at that) of these superprofits to bribe their own workers, to create something like an alliance (recall the celebrated ’alliances’ described by the Webbs of English trade, unions and employers) between the workers, of the given nation and their capitalists, against the other countries.”[14]

The political manifestation of this bribery today as in yesteryear has devastating effects. The major factor is that it is denying the working class its INTERNATIONALIST perspective and is leaving it unarmed in the face of the onslaught of fascism. Recently, the Longshoremen threatened to refuse loading ships to the Middle East as a move in support of the imperialist controlled puppet state of Israel. The support by unions, such as the AFL-CIO and UAW, to close off the border to Mexican Nationals is another example of how the bribe forces the working class to take backward positions regarding their counterparts in colonial and dependent nations. And, historically, the imperialists’ use of the bribe on the working class caused the working class of the l880’s and 90’s to support annexation of other territories.

It is within this material bribe that the bourgeoisie along with its capable henchmen, the labour aristocrats and the revisionists, presents its interests as the interests of the entire USNA people. This is the essence of the imperialist ideologies of national and white chauvinism. It is in this light that the bourgeoisie shifts the overproduction crises on the backs of the colonies and dependent nations in order to minimize the growing struggles of the Anglo-American workers. This is precisely the reason why they blame the “energy” crisis on the Arab peoples and other oppressed nations and peoples.

In addition, bribery is not only used to keep the Anglo-American proletariat divided from the other workers and oppressed peoples of the world, but it is also, used to keep the Anglo-American proletariat divided against itself. Because their homelands are held in colonial or dependent nation status, the national minority workers within the Anglo-American proletariat are proportionately the least employed, least paid; they have the worst jobs, less formal education and in general the worst living conditions.

The Anglo-American section of the working class receives a bribe at the expense of the national minority workers; there has been opposition to the employment of national minorities by many members of the Anglo-American section of the working class for fear that their jobs, living conditions, etc. would be threatened. The Springfield, Illinois “race riot” of 1919, the Detroit “race riot” of 1923 reflect this factor. In the struggles of the sixties and the seventies, struggles against the bourgeois state by the Anglo-American proletariat were met with increasing bribery via revenue sharing etc., in order to divide the working class.

What does all of this mean? Simply that the imperialists use the ideology of national and white chauvinism to deny the proletarian internationalist duty of the working class. For example, Nixon in his second TV appearance on the Watergate issue placed the blame for the Watergate crisis on the Struggles of the sixties which were led by national minorities and on the struggles against the war in Vietnam.

Further, one of the most outstanding ways the Anglo-American proletariat is divided is by the brutal subjugation and exploitation of working class women. In general women are used primarily as a reserve labor force, as cheap labor. Through the imperialist ideology of male supremacy, they are paid less and now are losing the few protective rights that were gained through years of militant struggle. Even among women workers, however, the bribe is used to divide. Although women workers are generally subordinate to male workers, the national minority women workers suffer proportionately worse than the entire labour force. Their oppression and exploitation is threefold: as workers, as national minorities and as women.

These are some of the means by which the bourgeoisie splits the working class at home via the bribe and prevents them from seeing their internationalist duty.

The position of national minority workers (as well as women workers), as being the least bribed and least tied to imperialism, objectively places many of them in the vanguard of the proletariat. Over the past years as more and more national minorities and women have entered the proletariat, they have been in the forefront in the struggles against capital. The farmworkers’ struggle, the auto plant strikes, steel workers’ strikes, the Farah pants strike, as well as, the rebellions in the cities during the 60’s all attest to this fact.

But the pamphlet plays down the importance of the national minorities within the working class. It states ”In order to connect this question with the question of racism, the following calculation may be made: if the opportunist-petty bourgeois stream represented as much as ten per cent of the working class and if this stream were lily white then the overwhelming majority of the revolutionary mass stream of the working class would still be white. Only ten to fifteen per cent of the US working class is nonwhite; therefore, eight out of nine exploited, un-bribed, untouched workers – workers who perform absolutely no political function in the machinery of fraud as do the labor politicians – would be white. Class lines are primary. The attempt to portray these lines as less important than, coinciding with, color lines is a racist capitalist falsehood.”

Here, we see that to deny the relationship between the Anglo-American proletariat and the colonial and dependent nations has a direct bearing on the national minority worker in particular and the working class as a whole in the Anglo-American nation. The colonial status of the Negro Nation and the Puerto Rican Nation in particular serve as models to attest to the fact that any national minority from these areas who joins the Anglo-American working class suffers oppression as a result of his direct ties to the colonial nation. The pamphlet states “class lines are primary”. We of the CL also say that the struggle between labour and capital is primary in our strive towards socialism and that class lines are not to be used at the expense of the National Question. But it is precisely the fact that the National Question is part of the class question, that it must be reckoned with! Mao Tse-tung makes clear that the “national and colonial question is in the final analysis a class question.” Stalin further stated that, “The national question is a part of the general question of the proletarian revolution, a part of the question of the dictatorship of the proletariat.”

Finally, the pamphlet states the following: “Capital exported instead of being reinvested within the country means less demand for labor. This puts workers in a worse bargaining position to fight for higher wages and better working conditions. US workers do not gain by imperialism; they lose, and they have a material (interest) in destroying the monopoly capitalist system which requires export of capital.” This line is directly united with the labor aristocrats and the revisionists. The late Walter Reuther, presently Leonard Woodcock of the UAW and other jingoists call for a share in USNA profits as a condition to allow the USNA to “continually send jobs out of the country.” George Meany of the AFL-CIO, places the blame of the so-called taking of the USNA workers’ jobs on the Mexican Nationals who are brutally exploited and oppressed. If the USNA is sending so many jobs to the colonial and dependent nations, why are the unemployment rates, illiteracy, infant mortality rates, etc., so grotesquely high in those countries? There can be no national interests for the proletariat. The only guarantee of a job is to demand that everyone is able to work.

In addition to the labor aristocrats, the able and capable revisionists lend their ugly hands to further this dictum. Using the Second International as their base, they continually push the imperialist sanctioned hogwash of “defend the fatherland.” This was the character of the revisionists of the 2nd International as they called for the proletariat of the various nations to fight each other and support their “own” imperialists. In Germany, fascism had its base in uniting the German proletariat against the proletariat of other nations. We are rapidly advancing towards fascism in the USNA and lines of “defend the fatherland,” “workers in other countries take our jobs”, are fuel for the bourgeois fascist offensive.

The agents of the bourgeoisie are skillful and blatant in their unity with the political ideologies of national and white chauvinism. What must be the clarion call for the proletariat in the oppressing nation regarding the national liberation struggles in the colonial and dependent nations? Stalin quoting Lenin states, “The weight of emphasis in the internationalist educator of the workers in the oppressing countries must necessarily consist in their advocating and upholding freedom of secession for oppressed countries. Without this there can be no internationalism. It is our right and duty to treat every social democrat of an oppressing nation who fails to conduct such propaganda as an imperialist and a scoundrel. This is an absolute demand even if the chance of secession being possible and ’feasible’ before the introduction of socialism be only one in a thousand.”[15]

At this stage it is of utmost importance to build an independent, multi-national Communist Party to direct the struggle of the working class to victory over the imperialist bourgeoisie. It is in this manner that we call for the support of and can best support the national liberation struggles. In addition we call for the simultaneous building of a United Front to stop the fascist drive of the bourgeoisie. We welcome and cherish all honest Marxist-Leninists who join us in this battle; it is in this light that we welcome the support of the New Voice in creating a party of the proletariat.


[1] Lenin, Imperialism» the Highest Stage*of Capitalism, PLPP, 1970.

[2] A. Leontiev, Political Economy. Chapter IX, pp. 206-8.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Stalin, Foundations of Leninism. FLPP, p. 5.

[5] Review of International Affairs”, Investments and Profits, Vol. 20, 1969.

[6] Stalin, Selected Works. ”Basic Economic Laws of Modern Capitalism and of Socialism”, Cardinal Publishers.

[7] Afro-Asian Journalist, No. 3, 1973, p. 2.

[8] US Statistical Abstract. Tables 806,807,813, 1972.

[9] Lenin, Karl Marx, FLPP, p. 8.

[10] Ibid. p. 27 and 28.

[11] Marx, Capital, Vol. 1 Int. Pub., p. 525.

[12] Stalin, Selected Works, Op. Cit., p. 339.

[13] Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, PLPP, 1970, p. 123.

[14] Lenin, ”Imperialism and the Split in Socialism,” in On Trade Unions, Int. Pub., N.Y., p. 293.

[15] Stalin, Foundations of Leninism, FLPP, p. 80-81.