Each of these is about 100 pages, the first one is in an e-book format the rest are in zine format. My plan is to post quotes or screencaps in sections so then it is easy to discuss each section as we go through


Chapter 1
1.1 Republishing notes

Alyx Mayer and Felix Brown would like to express comradely thanks to the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons (MIM Prisons) for their scan of the original MIM Theory documents, and their work in continuing the
spirit of MIM.

MIM were the first Maoist group in amerikkka to take a firm stand against heterosexism, and contributed hugely to Third Worldism, an “alter-globalisation” movement and discourse surrounding the destruction of the First World. The editors do not necessarily endorse everything contained within, but we do think that it provides a valuable point of debate and departure, and are republishing this document for its historical value.

Typographical and presentation modifications have been made in the interests of readability. All graphics have been replaced in kind. The text itself remains unmodified apart from an occasional, clearly marked, editor’s note. If you notice any spelling or grammatical mistakes in this edition of MIM Theory, please notify us by email: contact -(@)- alyx.io; RE: “MIM Theory
mistake"; include the issue and page number so we can make the necessary corrections to subsequent revisions.

Other issues of MIM Theory can be found at:

About MIM Prisons

MIM (Prisons) is a cell of revolutionaries serving the oppressed masses inside U.$. prisons. We uphold the revolutionary communist ideology of MarxismLeninism-Maoism and work from the vantage point of the Third World
proletariat. Our ideology is based in dialectical materialism, which means we work from objective reality to direct change rather than making decisions based on our subjective feelings about things. Defining our organization as a cell means that we are independent of other organizations, but see ourselves as part of a greater Maoist movement within the United $tates and globally.

Imperialism is the number one enemy of the majority of the world’s people; we cannot achieve our goal of ending all oppression without overthrowing
imperialism. History has shown that the imperialists will wage war before they will allow an end to oppression. Revolution will become a reality within the United $tates as the military becomes over-extended in the government’s attempts to maintain world hegemony.

Since we live within an imperialist country, there is no real proletariat—the class of economically exploited workers. Yet there is a significant class excluded from the economic relations of production under modern imperialism that we call the lumpen. Within the United $tates, a massive prison system has developed to manage large populations, primarily from oppressed nations and many of whom come from the lumpen class.

Within U.$. borders, the principal contradiction is between imperialism and the oppressed nations. Our enemies call us racists for pointing out that the white oppressor nation historically exploited and continues to
oppress other nations within the United $tates. But race is a made-up idea to justify oppression through ideas of inferiority. Nation is a concept based in reality that is defined by a group’s land, language, economy and
culture. Individuals from oppressed nations taking up leadership roles within imperialist Amerika does not negate this analysis. The average conditions of the oppressed nations are still significantly different from the
oppressor nation overall. As revolutionary internationalists, we support the self-determination of all nations and peoples. Today, the U.$. prison system is a major part of the imperialist state used to prevent the self-determination of oppressed nations.

It is for this reason that we see prisoners in this country as being at the

forefront of any anti-imperialist and revolutionary movement.


1.2 Definitions

“The class of the great capitalists who, in all developed countries, are now almost exclusively in possession of all the means of consumption, and of the raw materials and instruments necessary for their production.”(1) “The class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor”(2)

Selfish prejudice, narrow-mindedness or bias; for example, the First Worldchauvinist belief that First World workers are better workers than Third World workers.

Dead labor:
As the worker is working, the labor is called “live labor.” Once the labor is done and embodied in cars, tools or whatever commodity the worker makes, the labor is called “dead labor.” People exchange commodities with dead labor in them. That is, they exchange some kinds of dead labor for other kinds of dead labor.

The appropriation of surplus labor from workers by capitalists. The most important forms of surplus labor are profits and waste. The essays in this issue will demonstrate that white workers in the United States are not exploited because they produce no surplus labor and because they assist the capitalists in making and sharing the profits from the Third World workers, while often wasting the labor of the Third World on
decadence or irrational economic planning. The U.S. government’s measure of corporate profits counts many things that Marx did not refer to in his definition of profits. The government counts the profits of ordinary people as well as those of bankers, real estate speculators, manufacturers, capitalist farmers and commercial enterprises.

The profits of the various capitalists are all part of the exploitation Marx was talking about. Without these profits, not even the capitalists would want the capitalist system to continue. The capitalists know this and make their alliance with the white working class based on this knowledge. What the U.S. government does not help us measure as well is the overpayment to white workers taken from profits that came from exploiting the Third World.

Labor aristocracy:
The labor aristocracy comprises the elite workers in the world who the capitalist class have bribed with profits obtained from other workers. Lenin
said that imperialism gives the bourgeoisie enough superprofits to “devote a part (and not a small one at that!) to bribe their own workers, to create something like an alliance ... between the workers of a given nation and their capitalists....” “here is the tendency of the bourgeois and the opportunists to convert a handful of very rich and privileged nations into ‘eternal’ parasites on the body of mankind, to rest on the laurels’ of the exploitation of negroes, Indians, etc, keeping them in subjection with the aid of the excellent weapons of extermination provided by modern militarism.” Lenin believed there was a growing labor aristocracy which owed its position to the workers exploited and super-exploited abroad.

Labor vs. Labor power:
‘The capitalist buys labor power in order to use it; and labor power in use is labor itself.”(3) Labor power is the ability to do labor. Labor power is what the workers sell to capitalists for a money wage. Labor is the actual work. “On the one hand all labor is, speaking physiologically, an expenditure of human labor power.”(4) The value of labor power is ”... the cost of producing or reproducing the laborer him self...”(5)

Petty bourgeoisie:
The petty bourgeoisie is that class that owns its own means of production and works for itself. The petty bourgeoisie is between the working class and the capitalist class. The petty bourgeoisie may exploit
itself, but it cannot exploit other workers or if it does exploit other workers, it doesn’t exploit enough of them to be primarily exploiters. That position is reserved for the bourgeoisie.

The class of workers who are “free” to sell their labor power, and have no other means of subsistence other than the sale of that labor power. The proletariat is a class of workers which is exploited or super-exploited—which does not include the bribed workers of the labor aristocracy. Thus Lenin wrote that he was “obliged to distinguish between the ‘upper stratum’ of the workers and the ‘lower stratum of the proletariat proper.’”

The altering of fundamental principles of Marxism, such as the need for revolution and dictatorship of the proletariat and class struggle as the motor of history—all done in the name of Marxism. A doctrine that does not claim to be Marxist cannot be revisionist

A worker who receives wages less than the value of her/his labor power is superexploited. This means the worker is paid less than what is necessary for subsistence.

These are profits derived from workers paid less than what is necessary for their subsistence—workers that are super-exploited. Profits obtained “over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of their ‘own’

1. F. Engels, Principles of Communism.
2. F. Engels, “Note to the 1888 English edition of the Communist Manifesto”.
3. Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. 1, New York: International Publishers, 1967,
p 177.
4. Ibid., p. 46.
5. Ibid., p. 538
6. I.V. Lenin, Selected Works, New York: International Publishers, 197, p

1.3 What is MIM?

The Maoist Internationalist Movement is a revolutionary communist party that upholds Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong thought. MIM is an internationalist organization that works from the vantage point of the Third World
proletariat; thus, its members are not Amerikans, but world citizens. MIM struggles to end the oppression of all groups over groups: classes, genders, nations. MIM knows this is only possible by building public opinion
to seize power through armed struggle. Revolution is a reality for the United States as the military becomes over extended in the government’s attempts to maintain world hegemony.

MIM differs from other communist parties on three main questions:
1. MIM holds that after the proletariat seizes power in socialist revolution, the potential exists for capitalist restoration under the leadership of a new bourgeoisie within the communist party itself. In the, case
of the USSR, the bourgeoisie seized power after the death of Stalin in 1953; in China, it was after Mao’s death and the overthrow of the Gang of Four in 1976.
2. MIM upholds the Chinese Cultural Revolution as the farthest advance of communism in human history.
3. MIM believes the North Amerikan white-working class is primarily a non-revolutionary worker-elite at this time; thus, it is not the principal vehicle to advance Maoism in this country.
MIM accepts people as members who agree on these basic principles and accept democratic centralism, the system of majority rule, on other questions of party line.

The theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin is universally applicable. We should regard it not as a dogma, but as a guide to action. Studying it is not merely a matter of learning terms and phrases but of learning Marxism-Leninism as the science of revolution.
— Mao Zedong, Selected Works, Vol. II, p. 208

Edited by pogfan1996 ()

2.1 The White Working Class: Why Should We Care?

The Communists are distinguished from the other workingclass parties by this only: 1. In the national struggles of the proletarians of the different countries, they point out and bring
to the front the common interests of the entire proletariat, independently of all nationality. 2. In the various stages of development that the struggle of the working class against the bourgeoisie has to pass through, they always and everywhere represent the interests of the movement as a whole.
— Karl Marx, “Communist Manifesto”(1)

Living in the belly of U.S. imperialism, it is easy to forget why the question of the exploitation of white workers is so important. As people analyze the situation they may lose sight of why MIM does such realistic and scientific analysis.

MIM believes that without scientific analysis, it is easy to fall prey to First World chauvinism—the ideology of the white nations justifying the oppression of the Third World nations. Even oppressed peoples may buy into the logic of the oppressor if they are not careful. To be emotionally on the side of the international proletariat is not enough. This issue of MIM Theory
is dedicated to putting the white working class in perspective for those stricken with political diseases found predominantly in the First World. MIM’s guiding vision includes internationalism and anti-militarism. This means a world of many different peoples without violent conflict.

Those who are not so analytically inclined can consider the following question if nothing else in this whole journal: When the revolutionary proletariat comes to power, will the new regime owe anything in particular to the white working class or will the white working class owe something to the rest of the world?

MIM believes that the imperialists and the white working class owe a tremendous debt to Third World peoples—a debt that MIM intends to see paid back, as a necessary step toward communism.

This is not to say the white workers and imperialists won’t see some benefits in revolution. The anarchy of capitalist production will be replaced by planned production. In the long run, this will make possible the direct application of rational thinking toward improving the environment, an end to the competition that leads to world wars and an unleashing of the creativity of billions of people.

The very consideration of what debt First World workers owe is possible only to someone considering revolution. On this score, MIM is the main revolutionary organization in the United States taking the position that the white working class is not exploited. It is also the implicit position of some revolutionary nationalist groups and some scattered descendants of the Weather Underground.

In contrast, 90% of the groups calling themselves “revolutionary” or “socialist” support the view that the white working class is exploited. Both the Trotskyist Spartacist League and crypto-Trotskyist Progressive Labor Party support the slogan, “30 for 40!” By this slogan they mean 30 hours work for 40 hours pay for all workers in the United States. If either of these two groups came to power in the United States and implemented this slogan, it would have the effect of benefiting white workers once again.

In contrast, “30 for 40!” is not on the top of the MIM agenda. When it comes to reallocating economic surplus, paying off the debt to the Third World is MIM’s first priority. MIM’s slogan—if it had one—would be for Third World workers, “30 for 300!”

The Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) is another example of how the question of the white proletariat affects a party’s analysis. On a good day, an RCP comrade may say the white working class is not an issue separating the RCP and MIM. But the RCP has avoided the issue through various contradictory formulations, some of which are getting better with regard to national oppression.

In any case, and regardless of what some comrades in the RCP might think, the RCP program says that a majority of white workers are objectively revolutionary. By this the RCP means that white workers are exploited.(2)

Who will make the revolution?

Some people think revolution is a game of uniting numbers, that it is necessary to unite the white working class in order to have a revolution. In the United States, this is assuredly not so. We cannot unite a majority of U.S. residents without regard to their class position. To do so is to help the reformists and First World chauvinists, deliberately or not.

At times, talking to individual revolutionaries, one might get the impression that one was talking to the Rainbow Coalition or the Democratic Socialists of America about the need for uniting a majority of U.S. residents.

“How can you make a revolution without the majority’s support?” say the opportunists, who ignore the fact that the Third World will move forward and destroy U.S. imperialism whether white workers like it or not. Often times, these people will say, “Maybe MIM is right about the exploitation of the white working class, but who is in a position to make the revolution?” MIM does not tailor its principles to please anyone except the truly oppressed. Of course, MIM may arrange temporary alliances with various groups, but it will never confuse itself or the proletariat with talk about white working class exploitation, unless the conditions of the white workers change drastically. If that means MIM cannot organize a majority or even 30% of the U.S. population, MIM does not care.

The Third World is 80% of the world’s population. These workers and peasants will make their weight felt in history. MIM is confident they will thoroughly destroy U.S. imperialism, even if most U.S. residents never get around to helping.

This is what MIM means when it says it is fearlessly materialist. It’s also why MIM does not bother making any compromises with the imperialists or their lackeys on matters of principle. MIM does not want to delay the day imperialism dies. MIM will never assist in creating new forms of apartheid cloaked in the leftist rhetoric of organizing white workers.

In contrast, people who believe white workers are exploited will become frustrated with workers’ political backwardness. To “wake up” the white workers, they will perform all kinds of stunts that only discredit the cause of genuine revolution for the international proletariat. Indeed, it’s no accident that the Ku Klux Klan also uses the slogan “America awake!” In contrast, MIM is able to formulate the correct strategy and tactics only because of its scientific analysis of the white working class.

Trotskyists and other First World chauvinists cloaking themselves in Marxist rhetoric always ignore the decisive historical role of Third World workers and peasants. For example, a recent and typical polemic against MIM says, “You are forgetting one socialist revolution in which Trotsky played a leading role (second only to Lenin): The Russian Revolution!” This is as if to say that the work of one man in a period of a few years in one country justifies the failure of the Trotskyists to overthrow capitalism or colonialism anywhere in this century. Trotskyism is just another variant of bourgeois status quo ideology based on the contributions of one man in one country. To have their cake and eat it too, the Trotskyists then criticize the revolutionaries of different shades as “Stalinists” for advancing revolution in one country at a time! Well, the real rewriting of history is the Trotskyist amnesia concerning the Third World revolutions in this century.

The Trotskyists attract people who would be Marxists but who do not realize that Stalinists and Maoists, not adherents of Trotsky, led revolutions in Albania, North Korea, Vietnam, China, Kampuchea and Eritrea/Ethiopia. The white labor cheerleaders have no sense of what goes on in the world apart from white labor. Hence, the Trotskyists and other white-nation chauvinists lack strategic confidence in the international proletariat and pin all their hopes on the bought-off white workers. You can point to as many progressive revolutions as you want, and the Trotskyists just criticize them from the sidelines.

In practice, it is Trotskyism that has contributed to revolution in only one country. Even that contribution of Trotsky while he was still following Lenin was later negated by Trotsky’s betrayal and splitting of the Bolshevik Party while the Russian Revolution was still but a child. It is Stalinist and Maoist practices that have brought revolution in many countries.

As you read this, Stalinist- and Maoist-influenced revolutionaries already have base areas established in the Philippines and Peru. In southern Korea, MIM has found that the leading revolutionaries read Mao and they argue about Deng Xiaoping, but they have no use for Trotsky. Revolutionaries with Maoist origins also recently came to power in Eritrea despite decades of U.S. imperialist and Soviet social-imperialist attempts to put them down. But the Trotskyists can only criticize revolutions they have no part in making. They don’t understand that the only meaningful criticism of a revolutionary practice is from within that practice. Mao had his criticisms of Stalin, who Mao said was 70% correct, but he did not make the Trotskyist idealist mistake of throwing the baby out with the bath water. Being a real revolutionary, Mao knew the difference between revolution and pretty words.

For the record, the above quote criticizing MIM was a response to a MIM poster that mentioned Trotsky’s role in The Russian Revolution. The point here is that The Russian Revolution has become a kind of secret rallying point of First World chauvinists dressed as Marxists of various stripes. “After all, at least Russians are white people of advanced civilization,” reason
these white-nation chauvinists, who like some extreme Christians believe that the entire Third World is incapable of seeing the word of god (substitute Marx) and hence are going to hell (substitute Stalinism). Listening to them, one would have thought 80% of the world’s people lived in Russia.

It doesn’t matter what you say about The Russian Revolution. It doesn’t matter if you even give Trotsky credit for going part-way with The Russian Revolution before giving up party discipline. It doesn’t matter what you say to these First World chauvinists, because all they know is that The Russian Revolution was the only one that counted. Those Third World revolutions against colonialism and capitalism—in which Trotskyists did nothing—don’t matter to the First World chauvinists except as subjects of poetry and armchair criticism of the Stalinist and Maoist actions. And since the Stalinists and Maoists have played a leading role in revolutions throughout the world, there is a lot to criticize with militant words. Once the Trotskyists and other anti-communists are done criticizing every movement
that actually brought progress in the world, it is little wonder that they fawn on the bought-off working classes in the countries least inclined to revolution. Trotskyists must clutch at the hope of white working-class revolution in Trotsky’s name.

In 1925, this was still an interesting debate. In 1992, the facts are in: revolution has occurred mostly in the Third World. Trotskyism “has never been tried” in the Third World in the sense of leading a revolution, because it is an ideology of the oppressor, not an ideology of the oppressed. Saying Stalin or Mao did this or that bad thing fails to recognize that every opportunity Stalin and Mao had to do something progressive or revolutionary, so did the Trotskyists. For every mistake Stalin and Mao have made, Trotskyists had to make many more to end up on the side of the oppressor, in practice if not in words.

MIM doubts that the kind of people who know the difference between action and words—who think “practice is principal” as Mao said—want anything to do with Trotskyism or white-nation chauvinists. The world’s oppressed have already spoken by choosing Marxism-Leninism in the traditions of Stalin and Mao.

For this critique of the white working class, MIM not only faces attacks from the state, but also all types of illogical and psychological attacks from revisionists and white-nation chauvinists in the United States. Recently the Spartacist League “refuted” MIM’s position by saying MIM was unable to organize workers, thus its stance on white workers as not exploited.(3) This is like saying MIM is composed of child abusers, so MIM can’t see why two plus two equals five. Whether or not the white working class is exploited is a truth independent of the abilities of any organizer or group of organizers. Irrational “leftists” have done severe damage to the cause of the international proletariat in the United States. They forget that the system that raised them also taught them when to laugh and cry. Communists in the United States must learn anew when to become angry, lest their militance be a tool of the imperialists. After the questions of the Cultural Revolution and the Soviet Union, the white working class is the most important issue facing communists in the First World.

1. Karl Marx, Communist Manifesto, New York: Washington Square
Press, 1964, p. 80.
2. See MIM’s Polemic with the RCP—a pamphlet containing a critique
of the RCP program, a polemic by the Organization for Revolutionary
Unity, reviews of the Revolutionary Worker and articles from MIM
3. MIM Notes 60.
*wiping tears away* i love marxism so much
This Zak Cope article is worth reading as well if you're interested in learning more about the intersection between superexploitation, imperialism, class structure, and racism


In this article, we aim to demonstrate that the low prices of goods produced in the global South and the attendant modest contribution of its exports to the Gross Domestic Product of the North conceals the real dependence of the latter’s economies on low-waged Southern labor. We argue that the relocation of industry to the global South in the past three decades has resulted in a massive increase of transferred value to the North. The principal mechanisms for this transfer are the repatriation of surplus value by means of foreign direct investment, the unequal exchange of products embodying different quantities of value, and extortion through debt servicing.


The Trotskyists attract people who would be Marxists but who do not realize that Stalinists and Maoists, not adherents of Trotsky, led revolutions in Albania, North Korea, Vietnam, China, Kampuchea and Eritrea/Ethiopia.

the mention of kampuchea here sticks out to me, are they interpreting DK as maoist? i'm curious if they wrote anything going into further detail on that.


lo posted:

The Trotskyists attract people who would be Marxists but who do not realize that Stalinists and Maoists, not adherents of Trotsky, led revolutions in Albania, North Korea, Vietnam, China, Kampuchea and Eritrea/Ethiopia.

the mention of kampuchea here sticks out to me, are they interpreting DK as maoist? i'm curious if they wrote anything going into further detail on that.


The short version is that they view pol pot as non-Maoist and opportunist. They refute the imperialist narrative against the government and place responsibility for conditions in the country on the US (which is the correct view we should take against blubbering liberals who go b-b-but what about POL POT)

ok that's more nuanced than i thought from the brief mention, thanks for the link.

e: although if that's their position then i'm not very clear on why they list kampuchea as an example of a 'stalinist/maoist' revolution at all, unless they mean the prk.

Edited by lo ()

who would deny the basic truth of the analysis?

this is a semantic q-- is the proletariat exploited by definition? is an unprofitable capitalist like elon musk for whom M' < M no longer bourgeoisie? i get white workers are not a revolutionary subject, benefit from world superexploitation, but still we have the labor skills to build our corner of the world anew (even if we won't).


j sakai's answer:

EC: Speaking of white workers, another criticism I have heard is that you are denying that there even is a white working class in the United States. Would you say this is an accurate reading of your work, or are people missing the point?
J Sakai: Now, there obviously is a white working class in the u.s. A large one, of many, many millions. From offshore oil derricks to the construction trades to auto plants. But it isn't a proletariat. It isn't the most exploited class from which capitalism derives its super profits. Far fucking from it. As a shorthand i call it the "whitetariat". These aren't insights unique to Settlers, by any means.

Unfortunately, whenever Western radicals hear words like "unions" and "working class" a rosy glow glazes over their vision, and the "Internationale" seems to play in the background. Even many anarchists seem to fall into a daze and to magically transport themselves back to seeing the militant socialist workers of Marx and Engels' day. Forgetting that there have been many different kinds of working classes in history. Forgetting that Fred Engels himself criticized the English industrial working class of the late 19th century as a "bourgeois proletariat", an aristocracy of labor. He pointed out how you could tell the non-proletarian, "bourgeois" strata of the English working class – they were the sectors that were dominated by adult men, not women or children. Engels also wrote that the "bourgeois"sectors were those that were unionized. Sounds like a raving ultra-leftist, doesn't he? (which he sure wasn't).

So that this is a strategic and not a tactical problem, that it has a material basis in imperialized class privilege, has long been understood by those willing to see reality. (the fact that we have radical movements here addicted to not seeing reality is a much larger crisis than any one issue ).

Edited by toyot ()


toyot posted:

who would deny the basic truth of the analysis?

this is a semantic q-- is the proletariat exploited by definition? is an unprofitable capitalist like elon musk for whom M' < M no longer bourgeoisie? i get white workers are not a revolutionary subject, benefit from world superexploitation, but still we have the labor skills to build our corner of the world anew (even if we won't).


these are all valid points, and it gets to the heart of the importance of theory and how different theoretical assumptions lead to different strategies.

for example, under a common marxist-leninist approach, the goal is to direct your organizing efforts towards the most organized members of the working class, commonly trade unions. theres been countless times in history where communist parties sent their members into trade unions to turn them red, agitate for communism, push for strikes, etc. in the us today, the FRSO utilizes some aspects of this strategy.

another approach is that you want to attach yourself to the most politically advanced members of the working class, and this leads to the DSA/former ISO approach of centering around campus politics. this is also why the PSL focuses their recruitment and activism within the antiwar and antiracist movement through front groups (the FRSO also utilizes this strategy)

now when someone accepts that there isnt a material interest in revolution for all or a significant portion of the first world working class, that changes the strategy drastically. a big part of the above strategies is taking people's existing pain and problems, helping them identify the cause, and give them a plan to fundamentally change the system. we can identify the cause of pain and problems in people's lives, but then the question is what do we do with it? saying "global capitalism and imperialism is causing all these problems you identify with, and it is also responsible for a lot of material luxuries that you will have to give up" is a little less compelling than "get some of the wealth that bezos is hoarding"

this is one of the reasons RAIM broke up according to their debriefing posts on reddit, even though there is a fundamentally different analysis of class, the tough part is figuring out how to weaponize it

Edited by pogfan1996 ()

re DK in this context it's also interesting to read the AWTW (RIM publication) article on the "red khmer", i found it especially interesting because like the article above it rightly points out the US death count and also notably makes the point that, unlike what some other marxist writers have claimed, it was NOT a utopian agrarian revolution and its excesses are to be found in other unmarxist deviations, including the failure to self-assess and correct problems at their roots.

In 1976, the CPK adopted a four-year plan for the country's development, which in almost comical nationalist one-upsmanship over China was called the "Super Great Leap Forward". The main target was to double rice production in the years 1977-1980 so that Cambodia could export $1.4 billion worth of agricultural goods. Ninety percent of that was to be rice sold to its traditional buyers (Hong Kong, Singapore and African countries), with Thailand a vital market for other products. The profit would be used to buy the machinery and raw materials needed to achieve modern (mechanised) agriculture within 10-15 years and modern industry within 15-20 years.


In fact, the CPK's approach to economics was capitalist in essence. Both socialism and capitalism need surplus product (over and above what people need to live) to build up the productive forces, but in the CPK plan rice was taken as capital in the strictly capitalist sense, as a commodity to be traded for other commodities on the international market. For all of the CPK's nationalism, the calculations in this plan to build socialism had to be - and were - expressed in American dollars.46 Although a socialist country will have to buy some necessary items abroad, an economy that revolves around buying and selling on the world market will never achieve the all-around, balanced internal development necessary to become independent from imperialism, build socialism and support the world revolution. Even aside from the problem of how to stand up to external imperialist pressure (which Cambodia apparently hoped to solve by selling to colonies and other countries under the thumb of the big powers, rather than directly to imperialist countries), such a country will never be able to break free of market considerations internally. This plan would have enslaved Cambodia ever more thoroughly to the capitalist world market. Apparently the CPK was not consciously following the model of Cuba, with its fatal decision to mortgage the country to the export of sugar, but there was nothing "unique" about the Cambodian version of this revisionism.47


Money had been abolished, but commodity production still prevailed: co-operatives gave the state a certain amount of rice and other products (valued in dollars) and received other commodities in exchange; rice itself was considered the most important commodity not because it could feed people but because it could be exchanged on the international market. It was deemed unprofitable to divert efforts from this capital formation to the struggle against malaria and other diseases that were ravishing the people.88 In fact, labour power itself remained a commodity, since the purpose of production was not to satisfy the people's needs but to accumulate capital. Under these conditions, the abolition of money simply served as a very threadbare cloak to hide the dominance of capitalism, and the absence of wages an attempt to hide the most bone-cutting exploitation.

on the point of torture, they also remind us of this good point made by mao: you can't torture a reactionary into a revolutionary

No socialist regime has ever made systematic use of torture. It was illegal in China, and it should be noted that Mao points this out forcefully just before discussing "counter-revolutionaries who have sneaked into the Party".66 One of many reasons for this is that while the enemy may be able to use torture to break some revolutionaries so that they commit the reactionary act of informing on their comrades, no torture can ever make a reactionary into a revolutionary - and therefore, the question of the truth of what people say under torture, always a big question, is even greater for proletarian revolutionaries. Further, it degrades the revolution and creates a climate that impedes the correct and necessary struggle against wrong lines in the party. The Cambodian experience is proof of this.


Since this was not seen as a political and ideological line struggle and certainly not as one that had to be taken to the masses, Democratic Kampuchea's failures were reduced to a police question and dealt with accordingly. The executions carried out by the regime should be examined in light of this fundamental line problem and not explained in terms of "Cambodian psychology", or by some inexplicable rage gripping the Party and its mass base (or even as the result of a just rage unleashed by the US-inflicted slaughter).


i'm not actually sure if any marxists claim that dk was a utopian agrarian revolution, but there are very few marxists writing about the topic to begin with. even the anticommunists who write about it don't have any kind of consensus on the type of revolution it was supposed to be
i was specifically thinking of what vickery calls poor-peasantism, although looking at his work again today, i might have read a bit too much and too selectively into this originally, his analysis is not especially incompatible with the paragraphs i quoted from the AWTW piece.

still at points at least he compares aspects of DK ideology with spanish anarchists, more's utopia, spontaneous unstructured peasant rebellions etc in his writings on the nature of the cambodian revolution
2.2 The “Left” Tells MIM Off

by Doug Henwood
Editor of The Left Business Observer
November 22, 1991

Thanks for sending along your remarkably juvenile newspaper. I haven’t had such a good laugh in ages.

Using numbers instead of bylines is nice—are pseudonyms too bourgeois? Do you really think the cops give a shit about a bunch of wankers like you?

I appreciate your refreshing honesty in saying that “the North Amerikan white working class is primarily a non-revolutionary worker-elite at this time; thus it is not the principal vehicle to advance Maoism in this country.” Maoism is a vehicle with four flat tires guys; wake up. This sort of poisonous nonsense—a point of view many other leftists probably share, but have too much self-control to ventilate in public—is precisely the reason Duke got over half the white vote in Louisiana . The white working class has a real grievance or two, chuckleheads, and if “leftists” can’t address this, then fascists will.

What planet are you on when you say that $10.41/hr is a “whopping” wage, and that “Amerika’s white workers are as a group paid more than the value of their labor”? (I love the spelling of Amerika with a “k”; it makes me feel nostalgic for the 1960s. Germans spell funny, and they’re all Nazis anyway, except maybe that Marx fellow.) Looking at this hourly wage, and the weekly wage of $357.06, in isolation is foolish and un-Marxist. As Karl Marx himself pointed out, the wages are determined by the costs of reproducing labor power. In the U.S., where people may spend $500 a month on housing, another $500 on food, $200 on medical care, several hundred more on clothes and transportation, $357 a week barely reproduces labor power. Real wages have been falling for almost 20 years, while average work weeks have been rising. How is this overpayment?

And $10.41/hr has to be compared to what these workers produce, too. According to the fascist pigs at the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. wage and salary workers have been toiling around 200.5 billion hours at an average annual rate so far in 1991. Since GNP is $5,585 billion, that means the average hourly product of the average U.S. worker is $27.85. Pay of $10.41 an hour works out to 37.4% of total value produced—and this is before taxes. According to the OECD, take-home pay for the average U.S. production worker (married, two kids) is 80.8% of gross, which means that final disposable income is around 30.2% of GNP produced per hour.(2)

Furthermore, the World Bank offers the following figures for manufacturing earnings as a percentage of value added in 1970 and 1988 (except China,1986):(3)

Dump the slogans, folks. Wake up—the labor aristocracy died about the same time Mao did. Do some research. Think. Or come 1997, President Duke is going to throw your ass in jail.

1. U.S. Department of Commerce, Survey of Current Business, Sept. 1991, p. 3 (GNP) and p. S-ll (hours).
2. Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD in Figures: 1991 Edition, Supplement to the OECD Observer, June/July 1991, p. 45.
3. World Bank, World Development Report 1991, appendix table 7, p. 217.

2.3 MIM Trashes the Myth of White Exploitation

Unlike people who take stands working for reforms for the labor aristocracy of Amerika, for MIM the issue of cops (not to mention various ultra-rightists trailing MIM) is not an academic question. Doug Henwood, the editor of the Left Business Observer, is the typical Amerikan “leftist,” who actually believes the garbage that this is a “free” country, so we can’t expect him to understand reality for the oppressed, no matter how many times he hears it or reads it. People other than Henwood can read the prisons page of MIM Notes and understand the most serious repression against our comrades in prison.

As for MIM Notes being “juvenile,” we will take that as a compliment, because Henwood represents the dying system that visits environmental disaster, AIDS and world war on the young. More than other Amerikans, the young have an interest in throwing aside the system Henwood wants to patch up.

Hourly manufacturing wages for production workers (1977):

Figure 2.1: Seymour Melman, Profits Without Production, Philadelphia: U. of
Penn. Press, 1987, p. 38.

One last comment before we treat the semi-serious political economic analysis in Henwood’s letter. As most leftists share the Left Business Observer’s point of view, and certainly many are state legislators like Duke is, we ask why don’t leftists like yourself have more success with the white workers? Why does a punk state legislator get instant name recognition that surpassed on a national level that of every Democratic candidate for president, not to mention all the social-democratic legislators out there? Why does he get millions in small donations from white workers across the country? Could it be that Duke actually addresses a material reality for white workers?

Don’t take it personally. We doubt you voted for Duke. MIM did not say every German or every Euro-Amerikan is a Nazi, only that white labor as a class has an interest in its alliance with imperialism. Do you have a problem with class analysis or would you prefer we psychoanalyze every Amerikan individual for you?

To understand the position of the white working class, the labor aristocracy, it is necessary to make international comparisons. Because of the issue of super-exploitation and the overarching role of imperialism, it is necessary to accept an international standard. Today’s world market includes, as a rule, military dictatorships designed to keep the international proletariat down.

The labor aristocracy is not only not in line with the Third World proletariat, but also it is also not in line with the Third World petty bourgeoisie. Before bringing out other data, we have to define what we are talking about theoretically.(1) Once we do that, MIM believes most people will find that they have always had more than enough information at hand to make a decision about this theoretical conflict concerning the labor aristocracy. The analysis is key because if the labor aristocracy is exploited, then organizing it will be a progressive thing. If the labor aristocracy is not exploited, then organizing it will only result in white chauvinism and greater strength for imperialism, whatever the intentions of the organizer.

Amerikan leftist political economy vs. Maoist political

When Marx first wrote about the market for labor power, there was not the kind of super-exploitation we have today. It was just starting compared with the level it has now reached. Yet even in the 1800s, Marx warned that slavery and colonialism were corrupting influences on European working classes.

Marx said that wages were the culturally and historically determined product of a market for labor power. In other words, the wage was what that society deemed necessary to reproduce its workers. In this regard, Henwood is correct.

In Marx’s day, the capitalists appropriated surplus labor from the white workers despite paying wages, so the workers were exploited. In the 1800s, it was possible to look at the dead labor that went into reproducing British labor power and say it was basically British. A loom or a hoe used in production by British laborers pretty much came from the dead labor of British laborers. Since the time of Marx,
imperialism has grown many fold. Having expanded after World War I, imperialism continued to expand after World War II. One small indication is U.S. direct investment abroad. In 1950 it was $11.8 billion, but by 1980 it was $200 billion. Moreover, a list of the top 76 manufacturing firms shows that 37% of their assets are abroad (which includes Europe, not just the Third World).(2)

The advent of supertankers, airplanes and faster transportation and communication of all kinds made the plunder of the Third World a much more central fact of economic life. But today, thanks to dead Third World labor, the labor that goes into “reproducing” the white working class is greater than the labor done by the white working class.

Closed borders: separate markets for labor power

Amerikan society and its “leftists” would have us believe that an average of $10 an hour and a $44,000 house for whites is necessary for the reproduction of the white working class as workers. That is strictly ideological obfuscation. Why?

If the U.S. imperialists paid $2 an hour and threw open the borders, they would have no problem reproducing the working class. Indeed, the population would grow enormously both from immigration and natural growth. The only reason that does not happen is that the imperialists agreed with the labor aristocracy (and not just its labor bureaucrat lieutenants, judging from the popularity of anti-immigrant laws) to close the borders and establish a minimum wage. The agreement is very similar to the basic agreement in South Africa, but the blatant Jim Crow laws and super-exploitation are not as prevalent in Amerika. Whites are a majority here, but not in South Africa.

Henwood pretends that U.S. labor would not reproduce itself if it were not for the Amerikan alliance with the imperialists that generates a $10-an-hour wage. By this he means U.S. labor would die and then the system would also, as Marx said about the British workers and their system of the 1800s. This is a false assumption. MIM has looked around enough to know that proletarians can reproduce and keep the capitalist system going for a lot less than $10 an hour. And we didn’t even have to go to another planet. Real exploitation exists right on this one. There is no need to fantasize about the oppression of First World people, except as required for imperialist nation unity.

The Amerikan leftists want us to accept the standards of the white working class as necessary for its reproduction, so they can go on saying that the labor aristocracy is exploited and go on begging for the cross-class white unity which benefits imperialism.

In contrast, MIM looks at things from the perspective of the Third World proletariat. MIM uses a rough international standard wage necessary for reproduction of workers under late imperialism, MIM could economistically struggle for $1.50 an hour and that would still double what the Pico Products workers made in south Korea in the late 1980s, and south Korean labor is more organized than most and living in closer-to-imperialist conditions than just about any Third World country.

In the “Communist Manifesto,” Marx said communists differ from other labor organizers in that communists look at everything from the perspective of the international proletariat, not just any one of its sections. The only reason Euro-Amerikan workers make $10 something an hour is that the borders are closed by force. That is the most significant factor in the market for labor power and it must never be forgotten.

The wage for Amerikan workers should be put on par with an international standard for the proletariat. MIM believes that the white working class’ wages are not determined merely by market conditions for labor power; hence, its wages go beyond what is necessary for reproduction of the white working class in the capacity of workers (not the reproduction of the white working class in their role as parasites).

The search for labor power

Another definitive answer to the question is from the point of view of the capitalists. Where surplus labor is not appropriated, there are no profits. Of course, without profits, capitalists go out of business. Without profits, even capitalists wouldn’t want the capitalist system to exist. Henwood’s writings lead one to think that the capitalists have it made, thanks to how little the Amerikan workers make. The reality of profit rates is a little different though.

Even the social democrats who wrote the book Global Reach recognized that multinational corporations rely on the Third World for their profits. This is the same reason all the banks are scared of Third World default on loans and asking for the government to bail them out if the time comes. First World banks are in trouble. From 1983 to 1990, First World banks received $325 billion more than they put into Third World countries in terms of loans an loan repayments.(3) That’s just one avenue of exploitation that the banks count on in terms of the Third World. What would happen to the First World banks without the Third World?(7)

Without the Third World, U.S. capital would die, because it pays white labor too much to make a profit from those workers alone. Put a British naval embargo around French international commerce in the 1800s and the French capitalists would still expand and survive in that progressive phase of capitalism. Put a Maoist blockade on the commerce of U.S. imperialism in 1992, and the ball game is over. Anyone who doubts this should look at First World profit margins and where they come from. Imperialists do not appropriate surplus labor from white workers right now and could not survive without their source of profits: the Third World. To make profits without the Third World, the First World capitalists would have to cut First World workers’ wages drastically.

Henwood’s answer shows both ignorance and Amerika-first chauvinism. Taking GNP and dividing by the number of hours worked in the United States, Doug comes up with a figure of $27.85 per worker per hour. This calculation shows that Henwood did not understand MIM’s argument regarding super-exploitation of the Third World. The GNP is the monetary value of all the goods and services sold in the United States for a year. The GNP includes the value of the unremunerated dead labor of the Third World. That dead labor is paid for by the time it reaches the sales stage, the point at which the GNP is calculated. However, the people who get paid for that dead labor are not the Third World laborers, but the imperialist exploiters and the labor aristocracy. The income the GNP counts is from the exploiters and the labor aristocracy and the Third World within the borders of the United States. The GNP figures do not say where that income largely comes from—the dead labor of the Third World.

Another problem with comparing wages with GNP figures is that GNP figures include items that go to the labor aristocracy beyond wages such as public service. The only part of the GNP that does not go to salaries or wages (and other incomes) is profits.

Where do the profits go?

The other calculation that Henwood trots out is the added value from manufacturing workers. To the extent that he implies that capitalists take the bulk of added value from manufacturing workers (64% in 1988) and simply keep it as profit, MIM does not agree. To the extent that Henwood points to a relationship between manufacturing workers and other sectors of the labor aristocracy, there is a point. The 64% does not go to the capitalists as profit, but to other labor aristocracy people—clerical and sales people—again mostly white-collar white workers.

A capitalist class raking in trillions in profits every year is convenient for the fantasy of white working-class exploitation. Unfortunately, most Amerikan leftists have a naive view like this. They imagine their critique of capitalism depends on the amazing consumption of the capitalists and the tremendous inequality within the Amerikan nation. But they grossly exaggerate that inequality. The problem is not that capitalists make trillions in profits, but that production is organized in a capitalist fashion—thus creating the wrong goods, overproduction, environmental degradation and world war.

Instead, the bulk of the 64% fluff Henwood refers to is attributable to the fact that over half of Amerikan workers are white-collar, according to the 1980 census. Part of that fluff is collected in the form of taxes, which does not go directly into capitalist pockets. But most of the 64% goes into the labor aristocracy’s pockets, especially retirement pensions and workers in the military—with a percentage of profits leftover for the corporations supplying the government.

MIM should thank Henwood for replying and simplifying the chore of proving that the Amerikan left has no sense of proportion. Perhaps in future articles Henwood or someone from MIM could treat the wealth of the capitalist class. Listening to Henwood, one would have thought that the United States created thousands of billionaires every year.

Instead, if people look at the new wealth of the capitalist class created every year, they will find that it is much smaller than the super-profits sucked in from the Third World each year. The reason is that the labor aristocracy produces no surplus labor for the capitalists and instead gets a share of the Third World super-profits. The capitalist class accumulates wealth fast, but not fast enough to suck in both super-profits from the Third World and profits from the labor aristocracy.

The implication of both Henwood’s GNP and value-added figures—that the capitalists suck in trillions in profits every year—is just a calculation error of the overly excited Amerikan left. Profits have never exceeded even half a trillion-dollars a year. In 1990, they were $293.3 billion, or 6.6% of the $4.4 trillion GNP, and that was a good year for profits.(4)

After-tax profits in 1989 (the most recent figures available) amounted to $172.6 billion. Out of that the capitalists admit to obtaining $50.9 billion from abroad, which still does not count super-exploited labor done in the Third World.(5)

Even in these profits, the labor aristocracy takes a large part in dividends—both in privately owned and pension-owned stocks—and in shareholding in banks, especially credit unions. The capitalist class is not raking in $173 billion in new wealth every year. Only a vulgar Marxist view fantasizing about the consumption of the capitalists could imagine anything close to what Henwood is talking about.

Overall, those $173 billion in profits are puny indeed. Any comrade who thinks about what it means that only 3.9% of GNP is profits will realize that it is simply not possible the white working class is exploited. In fact, those profits are so small because of overpayment in dead labor to the labor aristocracy.

Within those puny profits, the capitalist class owns a large share. The top 1% of families owns 51% of the market value of the stocks owned by families (as of figures collected for 1960 and 1971 which are the most recent available). That means that 49% of those stocks privately held are held by people outside the top 1%! That’s not to mention the stocks held by institutions, the profits
of which go to benefit the labor aristocracy—colleges, pension funds, etc.

The assets of the top 1% are always in the 50% to 60% range. One could dispute the number of capitalists in the United States and say this 1% figure is too low. But if we look at the top 2%, 5% or 20% of the population and call them capitalist, we are talking about a lot of people who are not millionaires. In 1958, it only took $60,000 in assets to make it into the top 1.5%.(6) As of 1970, there were still fewer than 1 million millionaires. That was only about 1% of the population if we assume a household size of 2.5. In fact, according to J. Sakai, citing the top 1% of the population as capitalists overestimates the size of the capitalist class. In 1970, the average wealth of that group was $1.32 million, which means a large portion of that group owns less than $1.32 million since we must account for the billionaires and multi-millionaires. According to Sakai, that 1% is partially petty bourgeoisie.(7)

Considering the distribution of assets and hence profits, it seems possible that only a half or two-thirds of each year’s $173 billion in profits actually ends up in the hands of capitalists—people who can live off of owning the means of production. (MIM uses this definition so that people who own merely 1 share of stock or even 100 shares of stock are not counted as capitalists.) And that other large share of profits goes to the labor aristocracy, even after the labor aristocracy receives inflated, non-exploitative wages.

Puny profits that actually end up in capitalist hands each year—under $150 billion or 3% of the GNP—are easily explained by the exploitation of national minority workers within U.S. borders. These workers get about 70% of what white workers get, and that’s only if they’re documented. Let’s be generous to the labor aristocracy and assume that the imperialists pay all the documented and undocumented minority workers an average of 70% of what white workers get (a very liberal estimate). Now look at the portion of GNP accounted for by national minority workers within U.S. borders—20%.

Giving 70% of that amount to minority workers leaves 6% of GNP as the difference in pay between white and national minority workers generated by discrimination alone. Six percent of GNP is nearly all the profits before taxes! That leaves the labor aristocracy to get paid for all its dead labor while receiving all the super-profits from the Third World outside U.S. borders. (See the appendices for more on these calculations.)

There is no way that the white working class is exploited. The $173 billion does go almost entirely to the top half of Amerika, according to Domhoff. But we’ve already shown that the profits are just too small not to be accounted for solely by exploitation of the national minorities within U.S. borders.

In Marx’s day, the value of the British GNP was pretty much the result of the labor of British workers, especially compared with today’s GNP. In 1991, Henwood makes the mistake of keeping Marx’s assumptions as they apply to individual First World markets. Henwood makes no effort to account for the exploitation and super-exploitation of Third World workers that
go into making the U.S. GNP. The reason Henwood does not count the unrenumerated Third World labor and simply assumes that all GNP is the product of U.S. workers is simple—Amerika first chauvinism.

MIM does not attempt to organize the white working class as a group because it is not exploited and does not have a material interest in revolution. Working to organize the white working class would make the party a proimperialist, reformist party—the history of the Amerikan working class makes this clear.

The mass base for revolution will come from the exploited and superexploited—mostly in the Third World—and MIM seeks to organize all who work in the interests of the oppressed.

1. Seymour Melman, Profits Without Production, Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania Press, 1987, p. 38.
2. Melman, op. cit., 34.
3. Revolutionary Communist League, Class Struggle, vol. 15, no. 6-7, p.
4. Pulse of Capitalism, Issue No. 91-3, p. 4.
5. Statistical Abstract of the United States 1991, p. 548.
6. William Domhoff, Who Rules America Now? A View for the ’80s, New
York: Simon & Schuster, 1983.
7. MIM Theory 9, 10.
8. For a review of the avenues of exploitation of the Third World, read Alain de Janvry, The Agrarian Question and Reformism in Latin America, especially pp. 50-60. Chapter 1 provides a state-of-the-art and more thorough answer to the questions raised here.
In case anyone wanted to know what good ol Henwood is up to these days:

we didn't

lenochodek posted:

i was specifically thinking of what vickery calls poor-peasantism, although looking at his work again today, i might have read a bit too much and too selectively into this originally, his analysis is not especially incompatible with the paragraphs i quoted from the AWTW piece.

still at points at least he compares aspects of DK ideology with spanish anarchists, more's utopia, spontaneous unstructured peasant rebellions etc in his writings on the nature of the cambodian revolution

he does do that but to me it actually seems to explain some aspects of the revolution better than most other interpretations of it, especially the dynamics among the rank and file cadres. i don't think peasantism is necessarily incompatible with the export market oriented stuff from the 4 year plan. although it is worth noting that vickery was writing at quite an early stage, and i don't think the 4 year plan document was known at that point.

maybe i should make a pol pot thread, don't really want to dilute the MIM theory bonanza going on in here with gibberish about cambodian rice production or whatever..
do it, please, i need more data
Sounds like a holiday in cambodia
if you think MIM theory is totally out there or whatever

On the one hand, there is the tendency of the bourgeoisie and the opportunists to convert a handful of very rich and privileged nations into “eternal” parasites on the body of the rest of mankind, to “rest on the laurels” of the exploitation of Negroes, Indians, etc., keeping them in subjection with the aid of the excellent weapons of extermination provided by modern militarism. On the other hand, there is the tendency of the masses, who are more oppressed than before and who bear the whole brunt of imperialist wars, to cast off this yoke and to overthrow the bourgeoisie. It is in the struggle between these two tendencies that the history of the labour movement will now inevitably develop. For the first tendency is not accidental; it is “substantiated” economically. In all countries the bourgeoisie has already begotten, fostered and secured for itself “bourgeois labour parties” of social-chauvinists. The difference between a definitely formed party, like Bissolati’s in Italy, for example, which is fully social-imperialist, and, say, the semi-formed near-party of the Potresovs, Gvozdyovs, Bulkins, Chkheidzes, Skobelevs and Co., is an immaterial difference. The important thing is that, economically, the desertion of a stratum of the labour aristocracy to the bourgeoisie has matured and become an accomplished fact; and this economic fact, this shift in class relations, will find political form, in one shape or another, without any particular “difficulty”.

Edited by toyot ()

2.4 Banking on the Backs of the Oppressed

On Dec. 20, 1991, the U.S. government started loaning money to banks at a rate of 3.5% interest. This interest rate is called the discount rate and is available only to banks, not the ordinary borrower.

In January 1992, the inflation rate was reported for the previous month as 3.6% calculated annually. (If the inflation rate stays the same as it was in December for the whole year, the annual inflation rate will be 3.6%.) In November, it was 4.8%. In other words, the inflation rate exceeds the interest rate available to banks.(1)

If inflation stays higher than 3.5% or if the discount rate goes down further, banks will receive what amounts to a subsidy from U.S. taxpayers, who are themselves heavily subsidized by the Third World. The banks will be paying the government back in money worth less than the money they originally borrowed.

Bankers themselves never let that happen. They never loan money for less than the rate of inflation because they don’t want to go out of business. The owners of banks don’t want to see their assets shrinking from inflation. If inflation is 4%, the banks loan out money at 11%, 13% or even 20%. The government, on the other hand, would happily subsidize the biggest “welfare cheats” out there—white-collar workers and the capitalist class. The government is desperately looking for a way out of the current mess U.S. banks are in. When the government has to take over failing banks it looks bad. People might get ideas about socialism and the failure of capitalism.

Banks profit from Third World loans

U.S. government is giving money away to bankers—in the form of bailouts and now in the form of subsidized loans, even better and much bigger than student loans.

The U.S. bankers, in turn, are giving away money to white-collar people in the form of loans that oppressed people are never able to obtain. The banks really are giving it away when it’s all added up, because the banks are taking losses on these loans to white-collar parasites. The banks’ biggest source of trouble is in real estate speculation that goes sour. Citicorp lost about $600 million that way in 1990. That is why the banks are failing.

Some banks made some loans to the Third World that were not repaid. But it is a white lie to say that Third World loans are the main problem, as implied in all the major newspapers: “He pushed Citicorp into some highly profitable consumer businesses before they were fashionable, but left a legacy of loans to less developed countries that caused heavy losses.”(1) Actually, on the whole, First World banks made $325 billion more from Third World countries in the 1980s than they put in.(2)

Even Citicorp itself is only close to solvent because of huge Third World profits. Brazil alone earns Citicorp $50 million out of its $300 million overseas profits a year. India brings in another $25 million in profits annually for Citicorp.(1)

Developing countries paid out $50 billion more to service loans than they received in new credits in 1988. In 1984, the gap was $10.2 billion. The total for 1985-1988 is nearly $120 billion. Two-thirds of these payments are from Latin America.(3)

The banks exploit the Third World and give the money away to First World people, who in turn pay some of the taxes that subsidize the banks.


1. New York Times 1/20/92, p. C3.
2. Revolutionary Communist League, Class Struggle, vol. 15, no. 6-7, p.11.
3. New York Times 9/18/89, p. 23.

2.5 Who is Really Exploited? First World vs.Third World Labor

The following chart sets the wages of U.S. workers as the standard to find out how the production workers of other countries stack up. For example, if the U.S. average production worker wage was $5 in 1975 and the Peruvian wages was $1, the percentage would be 20%.

Production workers in manufacturing, percent of U.S. wages:

Table 2.1: Statistical Abstract of the United States 1991, p. 851. *Sri Lanka has the
percentage of the U.S. wage in 1987.

Europe and Japan closed the gap with the United States between 1975 and 1989. Europe’s average manufacturing production worker wage is equal to that of the United States in 1989.

Countries like South Korea may eventually join the ranks of the imperialists, but notice that in the sweep-stakes of international capitalism Portugal has fallen from the role of major colonialist to Third World status, at least in this regard. Not surprisingly, most of the countries listed in the U.S. government publication were imperialist countries or small but well-off capitalist countries; it is not possible to gauge the world as a whole from these figures.

Mexico and Brazil—the Third World countries with the largest populations on the list—actually saw a decrease in their wages relative to the United States.

From this limited table we must conclude that the Third World fell further behind U.S. manufacturing wages between 1975 and 1989. Remember, these percentage gaps may decrease while total wealth/income differences still increase. Also, manufacturing wages may catch up with the West while overall income may decrease.

Per capita income figures

Another interesting set of figures is the per capita income in the different countries. The usefulness of these figures are questionable because we do not know the income distribution in the countries and because it is always difficult to compare income figures concocted by paper-shuffling bureaucrats in different countries.

Between 1980 and 1988, per capita income in the United States increased from $16,970 to $19,840, accounting for inflation by using 1988 constant dollars.(1)

Table 2.2: Statistical Abstract of the United States 1991, p. 841.

The above set of countries is especially interesting because of what it says about Portugal and Greece, countries ordinarily thought of as First World.

There seems to be a good case for saying the Portuguese workers are exploited. We might be able to learn something from Greece and Portugal as First World countries. There is also a good case for saying U.S. wages might sink quite a bit and still be better than England’s or France’s.

Table 2.3: Statistical Abstract of the United States 1991, p. 841. *Based on taking 62.2% of the $19,840 figure above. 62.2% comes from the ratio of per capita income (calculated differently), table, p. 460.

Neither France nor England is exactly the model of a revolutionary future. The comparison with U.S. Blacks is intended to raise the question of the Black nation. GNP figures are hard to compare from year to year because they tend to change based on different methods of calculation and data collection. Comparing income between countries is even worse. However, if you have to compare income figures, comparing the United States, Canada and England makes the most sense.

If Spanish, Portuguese and Greek workers as a groups are not exploited, then it would be hard to argue that exploited workers are the majority of U.S. Black workers. However, that is to say nothing of the historical basis of national consciousness among U.S. Blacks. Whatever the income situation now, the debts of the white nation to the Black nation are calculated in the trillions of dollars. Annual income is one thing. Wealth built over centuries is another. In any case, this raises the messy issue of where to draw the line between exploited and non-exploited on an international scale.

This per capita income table also shows that some countries are actually going backwards in this decadent imperialist era, despite all the “triumph of capitalism” bullshit. In the years 1980 to 1988, several countries saw a decline in per capita income—mostly Third World countries that could little afford it. The countries actually getting poorer and not just falling behind were Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ethiopia, Iran. Iraq, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, Mozambique, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Uganda,
Yugoslavia and Zaire. Not a single Western European country saw decline, including Portugal and Greece.(1)

Luckily for the bulk of the world’s population, China, India, Indonesia and Bangladesh all saw tiny improvements in per capita income between 1980 and 1988, though in some cases they also had widening income gaps.

Despite these improvements, these countries were still falling behind the super-exploiter countries, which got richer even faster. All materialists should bear in mind that in all these surveys there are different ways of counting things, so we should not haggle too much over the numbers. Take into account a margin for error, but stay on top of the really large inequalities.

Drawing the lines between super-exploitation, exploitation and non-exploitation will always be a messy and crude affair. One option is to use Taiwan and south Korea as countries just emerging from super-exploitation and Portugal as a country with its manufacturing workers falling into super-exploitation.

This means using the following type of breakdown: For example, Greek workers may be workers in an imperialist country who are exploited, because they get 38% of what U.S. manufacturing workers get. They are not super-exploited, most likely because Greece does not really have an imperialist-backed government using force on its workers to prevent their choice of exploiters. In fact, Greece is a bourgeois democracy. Taiwan and South Korea are on the boundary, trying to emerge as bourgeois democracies.

This also means that Amerikan workers could be paid one-half what manufacturing workers receive now and they would still create no surplus value. In other words, they could receive $4.15 an hour and still not be exploited. In conclusion, capitalism on a world scale exploits most working classes while it enriches the minority of imperialist country working classes. Many countries are getting poorer, while the rich are getting richer. MIM seeks to break this system, not organize white workers to gorge themselves on the bounty of the Third World.

1. Statistical Abstract of the United States 1991, p. 841
I'm wondering how useful comparing manufacturing incomes is when looking at exploitation, especially when we look at this data:


Ireland average income	PPP $ 2,606

Korea average income PPP $ 2,598
UK average income PPP $ 2,583
Switzerland avg income PPP $ 2,515
Australia avg income PPP $ 2,514
Japan average income PPP $ 2,418
U.S. average income PPP $ 2,372
Norway average income PPP $ 2,242
Belgium average income PPP $ 2,210
Canada average income PPP $ 2,186
Germany average salary PPP $ 2,176
Taiwan average income PPP $ 2,162
Austria average income PPP $ 2,147
Spain average income PPP $ 2,059
France average income PPP $ 2,043
New Zealand avg income PPP $ 1,913
Netherlands avg income PPP $ 1,912
Finland average income PPP $ 1,870
Singapore avg income PPP $ 1,757
Greece average income PPP $ 1,657
Hong Kong median income PPP $ 1,546
Sweden average salary PPP $ 1,491
Italy average income PPP $ 1,452
Portugal average income PPP $ 1,039
Kuwait average income PPP $ 949
Brazil average income PPP $ 894
Philippines avg income PPP $ 878
Czech Rep avg income PPP $ 842
Slovakia average income PPP $ 818
Hungary average income PPP $ 788
Poland average income PPP $ 758
Lithuania avg income PPP $ 627
Latvia average income PPP $ 589
China average income PPP $ 586
Mexico average income PPP $ 551
Russia average income PPP $ 548
Thailand average income PPP $ 470
Romania average income PPP $ 389

Here is Gross Median Wage PPP per capita from wikipedia:

Edited by pogfan1996 ()

"This also means that Amerikan workers could be paid one-half what manufacturing workers receive now and they would still create no surplus value"

Isn't this a factually incorrect statement if we factor in the fact that U.S. prices are insanely inflated, therefore you can actually pay U.S. workers in a strong currency to assemble parts and profit by selling cars to people in the first world? Cope explains that unequal exchange is all about markups being 1000% as high as if you sold the same third-world manufactured commodity in the same country, and that high interest rates marked a full-on assault on the third world, but then turns around to explain:

"The historical accumulation of transferred surplus-value in the advanced
industrial countries ensures that retailers there can take advantage of
a much larger market for their wares than exists in the Third World."

Which may be true in a sense outside of PPP in wages, but not in the case of someone working as an itinerant farmer in the U.S. who objectively does not 'rely' on the super-exploitation of the first world, or the average Venezuelan worker who was paid in a strong currency before the economy's embargo (which led to food imports being cut).
i don't think i understand your post

i found this part from zak cope's article to be really illustrative of how "value" gets distorted along the manufacturing life of a consumer good


In the logic of the “smiling curve,” the main part of the value of the product is added in the North, while the labor in the South, which manufactures the goods, contributes only a minimal portion thereof. According to this view, multinational corporations perform a public service by reducing the price of consumer goods. In truth, however, low market prices for such goods conceal the fact that workers have to live in miserable conditions due to the low wages and grueling working conditions in the Southern part of the production chains.


The iPad is produced by Apple, a U.S.-based company. Between mid-2010 and mid-2011, Apple sold a little more than 100 million iPads. Apple is the exemplary instance of a “fabless”—fabricationless—company. Apple develops, designs, patents, and sells computers and communications equipment while it outsources the actual manufacturing process of the goods it sells. All iPads are assembled in China. Apple has integrated 748 suppliers of materials and components into its production chain, 82 percent of them based in Asia—351 of which are in China.12

At each node in the production chain, there are inputs of materials to which are added wages, management, overhead costs, and profits. The total monetized price of these factors, in all nodes of the chain, equals the sales price. This is what Clelland calls the “bright value” in a commodity chain.13

The market price of an iPad in 2010–2011 was $499, with the factory price being $275. Of the factory price, barely $33 went to production wages in the South, while fully $150 of Apple’s gross profit margin went to high design, marketing, and administrative salaries, as well as research and development and operating costs sustained mainly in the global North.14 The distribution of this “value” in wage and profits is well represented by the “smile curve.”

However, the capitalist world-economy takes the form of an iceberg. The most studied part—the “bright value” appearing above the surface—is supported by a huge underlying structure that is out of sight. Unlike the iceberg, the world-economy is a dynamic system based on flows of value from the underside toward the top—from South to North. These flows include drains that take two forms: visible monetized flows of bright value and hidden flows that carry “dark value” generated by the unrecorded value of cheap labor and labor reproduction by the informal—non-wage-labor—sector and unpaid ecological externalities. The term “dark value” is inspired by the recognition by physicists that ordinary matter and energy account for only 5 percent of the known universe, “dark matter” and “dark energy” account for the rest. Just as unaccounted dark energy drives the expansion of the universe, “dark value” is hidden, uncompensated labor that drives the expansion of the capitalist world-system.15

If the iPad were to be assembled in the United States, the wage cost of production would not be $45 but $442. And if we go one step deeper into the production structure of the iPad, into the sub-components and raw materials inputs, we learn that most of these material inputs are also produced in the South with an approximate wage-cost of $35 per iPad. If this production also took place in the United States, its wage cost would be approximately $210.

The workers in Apple’s iPad production chain are not paid less because their productivity is lower than that of workers in the North. In fact, they are probably more productive. Apple’s suppliers are world leaders employing state-of-the-art technology. Their managerial personnel drive employees using Taylorist methods and longer work weeks not legally tolerated in the North. Suppliers organize schedules to intensify worker productivity, with daily shifts of twelve hours and tight speedup supervision being routine. Working weeks surpass sixty hours because workers are required to work overtime exceeding legal regulations.16 Thus it is not surprising that in 2011 when Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple, was asked at a White House dinner by President Obama “What would it take for Apple to bring its manufacturing home?” Jobs replied: “Those jobs aren’t coming back.”17

By the time a commodity has gone through numerous nodes of a global chain to arrive at the doorstep of the consumer, it has incorporated not only the inputs of low-paid labor-power but also massive amounts of underpaid and unpaid labor and ecological inputs. Capitalists drain hidden surpluses from household and informal-sector activities. A long dark-value chain of food producers and informal-sector activities is needed to generate the productive capacity and the survival maintenance of every waged laborer. This flow of dark value lowers the reproduction costs of peripheral labor and, thus, the wage level that capitalists pay. These household and informal sectors are not outside capitalism, but are intrinsic components of global commodity chains.

Ecological degradation, pollution, and depletion comprise an array of externalities through which Apple suppliers extract dark value. Each iPad uses thirty-three pounds of minerals (some of which are rare and limited in supply), seventy-nine gallons of water, and enough fossil fuel–based electricity to generate sixty-six pounds of carbon dioxide. Moreover, the production of an iPad generates 105 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions.18 All of these ecological burdens are put on the shoulders of China and other Asian countries, while the product is consumed in the North. Ecological degradation is an externality that is embedded in the iPad as dark value. Looking only at pollution costs, Clelland estimates that Apple escapes the costs of $190 per unit that it would have to pay in the United States for ecological externalities.19 Capitalism is dependent upon, even driven by, all these forms of dark value. These factors never appear in the accounting of production costs; they are invisible “gifts” to capitalists and to buyers.

Marx thought that the value of labor-power must decline with the increased productivity of labor, and that where it did not, the tendential fall in the general rate of profit thus occasioned must intensify. Under imperialism and the global system of national oppression established thereby, however, monopoly capital is able to guarantee low cost prices for workers’ consumption goods produced by superexploited labor in the South. Alongside the parallel cheapening of constant capital through low cost intermediate and raw materials goods imports, the sale of inexpensive consumer goods imports to (superwaged) workers in the imperialist countries cheapens the value of labor-power there, thus increasing the level of supposed “surplus value” produced locally. As such, northern workers appear to be more productive in terms of the profits they generate. In terms of “productivity,” however, the principal measure of “productivity” is not “value added” per hour of labor—this depending upon sales prices inflated by monopoly, transfer pricing, unequal exchange, and state, military, and police intervention to repress labor costs overseas—but hourly labor costs relative to profits generated at the global level.

Contrary to the claims of many metropolitan labor activists, then, it is not only capitalists in the North who benefit materially from the superexploitation of low-wage southern labor. “In the case of the iPad, most of the expropriated dark value is realized, not as corporate profit, but as consumer surplus in the form of cheaper goods. Consequently, the core citizen becomes an unwitting beneficiary of this exploitative system when (s)he uses one waged hour to purchase a product that embodies many more lower-waged and unpaid hours and many under-valued material and ecological inputs.”20

Edited by pogfan1996 ()

I'm trying to point out that if you use currency valuation as a basic metric for figuring out superwages or surplus value exploitation, can't you run into the problem of not accounting for the fact that the power of that currency doesn't actually represent the cost around the proletarian who needs consumer goods (not an ipad) to sustain themselves, or in the case of Venezuela, the lack of a developed food manufacturing sector that relies on imports? That's the reason I mention unequal exchange and commodities being marked up significantly.
wouldn't PPP adjust for the strength of currency and its ability to purchase food/shelter for people in different countries? venezuela's PPP per capita has been cut in half since obama/trump ramped up the war against them
PPP is stuff like the Big Mac Index that the Economist does as a semi-joke. Basically it singles out one commodity that is theoretically the same in two places. The Economist does a McDonald's hamburger version as a semi-joke.

First world workers are obviously richer but my contention is with the fact that MIM believes that American workers don't experience surplus value exploitation because the absolute bottom-rung of capitalist thuggery has a higher profit margin in Bangladesh.
the CRO shut down their blog, i think that makes MIM Prisons and LLCO the last MIM-inspired organizations left
Would you include the Organization for the Liberation of Oppressed People as being in that lineage?

filler posted:

Would you include the Organization for the Liberation of Oppressed People as being in that lineage?

Yeah, oversight on my part, I forgot about them


serafiym posted:

I'm trying to point out that if you use currency valuation as a basic metric for figuring out superwages or surplus value exploitation, can't you run into the problem of not accounting for the fact that the power of that currency doesn't actually represent the cost around the proletarian who needs consumer goods (not an ipad) to sustain themselves, or in the case of Venezuela, the lack of a developed food manufacturing sector that relies on imports? That's the reason I mention unequal exchange and commodities being marked up significantly.

I'm not great at understanding math and economics but I think I had a similar concern here. I agree with MIM that the vast majority of working people in the US aren't being exploited due to the high wages and access to cheap luxury items. However, maybe I'm misunderstanding something but they seem to suggest even those making minimum wage or less, homeless, etc. aren't being exploited because third world wages are so much lower. Like to me, being exploited means struggling to survive in terms of discrimination, shelter, food, hygiene, etc. so I don't see why only the prison population is considered worthy of support.


Synergy posted:

serafiym posted:

I'm trying to point out that if you use currency valuation as a basic metric for figuring out superwages or surplus value exploitation, can't you run into the problem of not accounting for the fact that the power of that currency doesn't actually represent the cost around the proletarian who needs consumer goods (not an ipad) to sustain themselves, or in the case of Venezuela, the lack of a developed food manufacturing sector that relies on imports? That's the reason I mention unequal exchange and commodities being marked up significantly.

I'm not great at understanding math and economics but I think I had a similar concern here. I agree with MIM that the vast majority of working people in the US aren't being exploited due to the high wages and access to cheap luxury items. However, maybe I'm misunderstanding something but they seem to suggest even those making minimum wage or less, homeless, etc. aren't being exploited because third world wages are so much lower. Like to me, being exploited means struggling to survive in terms of discrimination, shelter, food, hygiene, etc. so I don't see why only the prison population is considered worthy of support.

My understanding is that they would consider many of them to be lumpenproletariat under 4 main categories (prison system, underground economy, public assistance dependents, homeless)

"Exploitation" has a specific meaning in Marxist theory, it is based on an understanding of where profits/surplus value come from under capitalist production.

Here are a couple videos that help illustrate the standard Marxist approach

MIM has a good essay on the lumpen in the US as well, I'm quoting from the conclusions at the end


We conclude that conservatively we can count 20-25% of the New Afrikan nation as part of the lumpen. Among Raza we calculate between 15-20% as part of the lumpen or migrant proletarian.

To separate out the lumpen from the migrant proletariat among Raza we need to look at the number of migrant Raza in the United $tates. A Pew Hispanic Center 2005 report estimated 11.5 to 12 million total "illegal immigrants," 56% from Mexico, and 22% from other Latin American countries. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2009 estimated 10.7 million "illegal immigrants," 62% from Mexico, and at least 15% from other Latin American countries. These numbers give us an estimate of between 8 and 9 million Latin American migrants in the United $tates. If the census accurately counts Latin American migrants, 17% of this population (based on 8,500,000 migrants) is not in the U.$. legally and most of that group would be migrant proletariat. That leaves a rather small group of lumpen. We can probably assume, however, that the census undercounts migrant workers because of both the transitory nature of the population and the fear around filling out government paperwork. Based on this reasonable assumption, we can perhaps estimate that the lumpen population among Raza is between 5-10% of the total population.

Given the volatility of the people who are still young and are excluded from the system economically and along national lines, the imperialists have no interest in an expanding lumpen class. And the only internal contradiction that would force an expanding lumpen class in the imperialist countries is extreme economic crisis.

As a baseline we can say conservatively that around 2010 the lumpen class represented about 20% of New Afrika, 5% of Raza and 30% of First Nations. This population represents about 4% of the overall population of the United $tates, and there is no strong evidence of the First World lumpen increasing in a significant way in recent years.

One example MIM had cited in support of the Panther theory of an expanding lumpen due to mechanization was the skyrocketing prison population centered around the 1990s, but spanning the time between the demise of the Panthers and today. While the numbers are staggering, this is still a tiny proportion of the oppressed nations. And rather than being the product of shifting economic conditions, we argue that they are primally a product of the open conflict between the white nation and oppressed nations in the United $tates via the white power structure of the state.

The police and prisons were the white nation's stick and the economic opportunities and integration were the carrot presented to the oppressed immediately following the strong liberation movements of the 1960s/70s. Therefore, if we see oppressed nation prison populations shift into a downward trend, that would support the idea that the carrot is increasing in effectiveness in integrating them into Amerika.

The flip side of that is as long as oppressed nation prisoners keep increasing, we have strong evidence of an antagonistic contradiction along the lines of nation in the United $tates. Of course we have seen the trend level off a bit in recent years, ironically, largely in response to economic crisis. But it is too soon to say what that means.

Value itself is an abstraction which is a reflection, in the realm of thought, of the visibly discernible movement of prices and the behavior of capitalists; it can't be quantified because it's a social relation and bourgeois statistics certainly can't capture it because value only makes itself felt as it were as 'the invisible hand'. So it's a fools errand to try to determine at what exact point someone becomes a labor aristocrat and at what exact point someone is a proletarian with reference to wages. The point is that from the perspective of the totality of capitalist production it's quite unimportant whether a little surplus-value is produced in the first world and therefore if there's a little exploitation, because the structure of the world economy is such that first world capital at its current size quite simply can't be valorized by its own working class given the preponderance of unproductive labor and super-wages, and the fact that wages are not equalized such that in aggregate we see the consequent political phenomena we associate with the labor aristocracy even if there's individuals who are exploited in the first world

Edited by marlax78 ()


MIM prisons on the recent organizational issues

As the launch of a new Maoist Internationalist Movement newsletter was scheduled to occur in the next week or so, we are addressing in part the events of the last 6 weeks that have delayed this project indefinitely. There were a series of splits, degenerations and internal struggles within our movement that came to a head last month. We are still assessing where things will fall, as we work to keep the prison ministry projects operating.

Newsletter indefinitely delayed by splits and degenerations

"u as individual=labor aristocrat" "no i as individual aint" is a singularly unproductive conversation. however it is a lot of fun and revolutionaries need to take time for self care
i agree with this third worldist stuff concluding that racism chauvinism imperialism blah blah running amok among crackers is the result of material circumstances and not some weak ass concept like "false consciousness" but then i cant figure out at all why the third world proles also have bad politics. i mean given their material circumstances the exact opposite is supposed to happen but many of them are also racist or got similar bad politics. either the concept "false consciousness" applies to them or there is some material shit that i am missing
A big part of it is probably all the anticommunist murder i think. The classic gambit of killing all the communists and using that to "demonstrate" that communism is weak. Then all the usual suspects i guess, sheepdogs guiding people to dead ends, false promises of reforms, radio liberty/radio free whatever and other US groups exporting fascist ideology from the core, etc. Also its probably better than in the US either way
the original formulation of false consciousness was never restricted to first world labour aristocracy. it just named the fact that the ruling ideology for many proletarians was the ideology of the ruling class. gramsci obviously expanded on this with his work on cultural hegemony. the mechanisms for how cultural hegemony is and was enforced varies from context to context, but as c_man states, a lot of it is just simple murder of communists combined with propaganda.
2.6 The Petty-bourgeoisie: International Comparisons

If we look at things internationally, we should compare the petty bourgeoisie of the Third World with the labor aristocracy of the First World. Then we will find that the labor aristocracy does better than the petty bourgeoisie, and is up to bourgeois standards in some countries, such as Eastern Europe or China.

There is no comparison between the accountants, lawyers, judges, doctors and professors of China with the labor aristocracy in the United States. The labor aristocracy here could go to China and hire those petty bourgeoisie on their credit cards. The reason is that the absolute gap between rich countries and poor countries has steadily expanded to its present state. This enables the labor aristocracy to appropriate some labor from the Third World.

In China today, most professors make around $50 a month. Most doctors make less. “Rich” peasants, who own their own property and house, make the equivalent of $3,000 a year, while the vast majority still make under $1,000 a year. China has imported the term “millionaire.” It refers to people making $25,000 a year. These peasants making $25,000 are exploiting sharecroppers (hired hands) and deserve the term “millionaire” in the Chinese context. Those are the facts (available in Beijing Review) on one-quarter of the world’s population.

2.7 “Leftist" Myths on Amerikan Labor Refuted

The Willie Horton-“Black rapist” ads of 1988 won George Bush the presidency. This and flag-waving ACLU-baiting were the ultimate in grossness, but they worked on the Amerikan working class. They tapped into the national chauvinism of the white working class based on the material reality of its super-profit soaked existence, living off the labor of Third World peoples.

In elections everything is concentrated symbolism. The winner is the one that does the best advertisements succinctly summing up how it’s going to be if the white working class picks the winner’s bourgeois faction to rule. The bourgeoisie has an agreement—whichever bourgeois faction cons and bribes the white workers best deserves to rule. On the Democratic side, the cheap tricks are the ones stoking up white working-class fears of economic degradation. Liberal newspapers such as the New York Times try to manipulate these fears so that the liberal bourgeoisie can rule, so Amerikans buy Amerikan, so foreign “aid” is not so emphasized and so white people find another reason to tighten the screws on the Third World—not so capitalism will be overthrown.

Both the Democrats and Republicans are racists, because they are parties of imperialism. The only difference is that the Democrats and “left” alternative parties coax the white workers by falsely emphasizing how oppressed they are. The white workers know this is not Guatemala, but they take the Democratic rhetoric as an offer for a better imperialist deal for the white working class.

The 1992 elections are coming up and the Democrats are searching for the right 30-second ad to win over the white working class. It does not matter what the facts are: the image of Joe Steelworker working at McDonald’s is a potent symbolism. Here MIM tries to take the claims seriously and refute them factually.

Capitalism is always subject to major crises and financial bubbles. The current recession may prove to change things very quickly, but MIM always bases its strategy on the facts at hand, not wishful speculations on conditions in the future. In any case, if there is an economic catastrophe, the actions of the white working class will be determined in large part by its past. To understand the consciousness of Amerikan workers, we must understand their conditions over the past 10, 20 and 30 years. This is a review of the most up-to-date data available—the data in the Statistical Abstract of the United States 1991, which includes the 1990 U.S. Census data.

Myth vs. Fact

Myth: The majority of salaried people are in manufacturing

Fact: In 1988, only 16-18% of U.S. workers worked in manufacturing. In 1988, 19.1 million people were working in manufacturing, maybe 21.3 million, depending on how it was counted. There were a total of 116.7 million employed workers. That means only 16-18% of workers are in manufacturing.

In the United States, more people worked in managerial or professional occupations alone—30.4 million in 1989.(1) The old Progressive Labor Party reductionist point of view focuses on these manufacturing workers. Hopefully, that view does not hold, as Marx did, that they would become the majority.

Myth: The labor aristocracy is dying. The proof is the decline in
manufacturing jobs.

Fact: Both the wages and size of the manufacturing worker group
have stayed the same since the 1960s.
millions of manufacturing workers

In 1982 constant dollars, manufacturing workers made an average of $8.33 an hour in 1970 and $8.29 in 1989.(2) Despite 20 years of social-democratic yammering to the contrary, both the wages and size of the manufacturing worker group stayed the same. The rest of the economy grew—especially white collar occupations—and made the Euro-Amerikan workers as a group even more pro-imperialist.

Myth: Even white workers cannot get good jobs anymore.

Fact: White employment in professional and managerial jobs continues to grow.

Between 1983 and 1989, the ranks of professional and managerial employees increased 6.8 million. While Blacks and “Hispanics” make up 17.5% of all employees, they make up 9.8% of these jobs, which are the best ones counted in the U.S. Census.

To understand the scale of this shift of income to a sector of white workers, let’s compare it to much ballyhooed lay-offs. General Motors recently announced 70,000 layoffs. If 97 companies did the same thing as GM, that would make up for the gain of 6.8 million jobs. However, since those 6.8 million new professional and managerial jobs are still better-paid than the ones eliminated, while workers as a group would still be better off in 1992 than they were in 1982.

How do we know that the new jobs in professions and management are good jobs? First, the average wages for all white workers don’t change much. Second, the median weekly earnings of this category are higher than for any other group of workers—$583 a week in 1989.

Broken down this way, there are 8.84 million service workers and 1.38 million farming, forestry and fishing workers. The other 74.4 million workers in 1989 were in the higher paying sectors.

The government has two main ways of classifying job categories. Economists and sociologists have several more. It is important not to mix them together. Note that the above method of counting service workers focuses on the poorest service workers. Other classifications count people paid increasingly higher wages as service workers. Hence, it is very important not to combine two ways of classifying workers, using the low pay figures of one group of service workers which is small to represent the pay of another classification of service workers which is large.

For example, using a third but rarely used means of classifying jobs, the government says all jobs that are not mining, construction or manufacturing are considered service jobs. By this standard that classifies most workers as service workers, the average hourly wage of service workers is $10.34 as of 1990. It’s $12.14 for the workers in mining, construction and manufacturing.

Then when you add in paid leave, supplemental pay, insurance, pensions, unemployment and workers compensation, the wage is $13.97 an hour in services and $17.55 in non-services.(3)

Myth: The fall of the labor aristocracy is evident in the decline of hourly wages in constant dollars.

Fact: This myth is half true, but omits the trend toward paying more for benefits like health-care plans.

In 1970, workers (excluding agriculture and government) averaged $8.03 an hour in 1982 dollars. By 1989, it was $7.64 an hour in 1982 dollars.(4) When private benefit plans and social insurance costs are added in, however, we find that workers have enjoyed a steady growth in hourly compensation since 1960. To parallel the fact above, this index of compensation adjusted for inflation rose from 91.9 in 1970 to 103.5 in 1989.(5) In 1960, this index stood at 69.2.

Even if there had been a decline in hourly wages, it offset by housewives’ entering the work force for the first time. In 1970, 49% of women worked, but by 1989, the figure was 68.3%.(6)

The relative lack of experience of new workers is one reason for the decline of hourly wages, in addition to gender discrimination. All things considered the relative steadiness of the hourly wage and growth of family income and per capita income is an amazing feat of the Amerikan nation’s decadence at the expense of the rest of the world.

Myth: Joe Steelworker lost his job and went to work at McDonald’s.

Fact: There are very few isolated cases of former labor-aristocracy workers turned to McDonald’s workers.

Of workers receiving minimum wage, 58.7% are under age 24.(7) In Amerika, the McDonald’s jobs grow fast, but they are filled by young people who stay a year or two and then move on. This is why the per capita income has increased so fast instead of declining with the growth of the low-pay job sectors.

In fact, of all the hundreds of individual occupations classified by the U.S. government, the McDonald’s-type job is the one with the lowest median stay in employment (as well as one of the highest levels of national minority employment).

Only 5.1% of all workers receive minimum wage or less.(7) Of course, that does not count undocumented workers.