Category: Karl Marx
Karl Marx- Wage, Labour and Capital 1847 (Part I)
| July 2, 2017 | 8:57 pm | Karl Marx | No comments

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Karl Marx- Wage, Labour and Capital 1847 (Part I)

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Wage, Labour and Capital.
By Karl Marx. 
First Published: April 1849.
Source: From the original 1891 pamphlet via Marxists Internet Archives.
PART I.
INTRODUCTION.
BY FRIEDRICH ENGELS.
This pamphlet first appeared in the form of a series of leading articles in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung, beginning on April 4th, 1849. The text is made up of from lectures delivered by Marx before the German Workingmen’s Club of Brussels in 1847. The series was never completed. The promise “to be continued”, at the end of the editorial in Number 269 of the newspaper, remained unfulfilled in consequence of the precipitous events of that time: the invasion of Hungary by the Russians [Tsarist troops invaded hungary in 1849 to keep the Austrian Hapsburg dynasty in power], and the uprisings in Dresden, Iserlohn, Elberfeld, the Palatinate, and in Baden [Spontaneous uprisings in Germany in May-July 1849, supporting the Imperial Constituion which were crushed in mid-July], which led to the suppression of the paper on May 19th, 1849. And among the papers left by Marx no manuscript of any continuation of these articles has been found.
“Wage-Labor and Capital” has appeared as an independent publication in several editions, the last of which was issued by the Swiss Co-operative Printing Association, in Hottingen-Zurich, in 1884. Hitherto, the several editions have contained the exact wording of the original articles. But since at least 10,000 copies of the present edition are to be circulated as a propaganda tract, the question necessarily forced itself upon me, would Marx himself, under these circumstance, have approved of an unaltered literal reproduction of the original?
Marx, in the ’40s, had not yet completed his criticism of political economy. This was not done until toward the end of the fifties. Consequently, such of his writings as were published before the first installment of his Critique of Political Economy was finished, deviate in some points from those written after 1859, and contain expressions and whole sentences which, viewed from the standpoint of his later writings, appear inexact, and even incorrect. Now, it goes without saying that in ordinary editions, intended for the public in general, this earlier standpoint, as a part of the intellectual development of the author, has its place; that the author as well as the public, has an indisputable right to an unaltered reprint of these older writings. In such a case, I would not have dreamed of changing a single word in it. But it is otherwise when the edition is destined almost exclusively for the purpose of propaganda. In such a case, Marx himself would unquestionably have brought the old work, dating from 1849, into harmony with his new point of view, and I feel sure that I am acting in his spirit when I insert in this edition the few changes and additions which are necessary in order to attain this object in all essential point.
Therefore, I say to the reader at once: this pamphlet is not as Marx wrote it in 1849, but approximately as Marx would have written it in 1891. Moreover, so many copies of the original text are in circulation, that these will suffice until I can publish it again unaltered in a complete edition of Marx’s works, to appear at some future time.
My alterations centre about one point. According to the original reading, the worker sells his labor for wages, which he receives from the capitalist; according to the present text, he sells his labor-power. And for this change, I must render an explanation: to the workers, in order that they may understand that we are not quibbling or word-juggling, but are dealing here with one of the most important points in the whole range of political economy; to the bourgeois, in order that they may convince themselves how greatly the uneducated workers, who can be easily made to grasp the most difficult economic analyses, excel our supercilious “cultured” folk, for whom such ticklish problems remain insoluble their whole life long.
Classical political economy [1] borrowed from the industrial practice the current notion of the manufacturer, that he buys and pays for the labor of his employees. This conception had been quite serviceable for the business purposes of the manufacturer, his bookkeeping and price calculation. But naively carried over into political economy, it there produced truly wonderful errors and confusions.
Political economy finds it an established fact that the prices of all commodities, among them the price of the commodity which it calls “labor”, continually change; that they rise and fall in consequence of the most diverse circumstances, which often have no connection whatsoever with the production of the commodities themselves, so that prices appear to be determined, as a rule, by pure chance.
As soon, therefore, as political economy stepped forth as a science, it was one of its first tasks to search for the law that hid itself behind this chance, which apparently determined the prices of commodities, and which in reality controlled this very chance. Among the prices of commodities, fluctuating and oscillating, now upward, now downward, the fixed central point was searched for around which these fluctuations and oscillations were taking place. In short, starting from the price of commodities, political economy sought for the value of commodities as the regulating law, by means of which all price fluctuations could be explained, and to which they could all be reduced in the last resort. And so, classical political economy found that the value of a commodity was determined by the labor incorporated in it and requisite to its production. With this explanation, it was satisfied. And we, too, may, for the present, stop at this point. But, to avoid misconceptions, I will remind the reader that today this explanation has become wholly inadequate. Marx was the first to investigate thoroughly into the value-forming quality of labor and to discover that not all labor which is apparently, or even really, necessary to the production of a commodity, imparts under all circumstances to this commodity a magnitude of value corresponding to the quantity of labor used up.
If, therefore, we say today in short, with economists like Ricardo, that the value of a commodity is determined by the labor necessary to its production, we always imply the reservations and restrictions made by Marx. Thus much for our present purpose; further information can be found in Marx’s Critique of Political Economy, which appeared in 1859, and in the first volume of Capital. But, as soon as the economists applied this determination of value by labor to the commodity “labor”, they fell from one contradiction into another. How is the value of “labor” determined? By the necessary labor embodied in it. But how much labor is embodied in the labor of a laborer of a day a week, a month, a year. If labor is the measure of all values, we can express the “value of labor” only in labor.
But we know absolutely nothing about the value of an hour’s labor, if all that we know about it is that it is equal to one hour’s labor. So, thereby, we have not advanced one hair’s breadth nearer our goal; we are constantly turning about in a circle. Classical economics, therefore, essayed another turn. It said: the value of a commodity is equal to its cost of production. But, what is the cost of production of “labor”? In order to answer this question, the economists are forced to strain logic just a little. Instead of investigating the cost of production of labor itself, which, unfortunately, cannot be ascertained, they now investigate the cost of production of the laborer.
And this latter can be ascertained. It changes according to time and circumstances, but for a given condition of society, in a given locality, and in a given branch of production, it, too, is given, at least within quite narrow limits. We live today under the regime of capitalist production, under which a large and steadily growing class of the population can live only on the condition that it works for the owners of the means of production — tools, machines, raw materials, and means of subsistence — in return for wages. On the basis of this mode of production, the laborer’s cost of production consists of the sum of the means of subsistence (or their price in money) which on the average are requisite to enable him to work, to maintain in him this capacity for work, and to replace him at his departure, by reason of age, sickness, or death, with another laborer — that is to say, to propagate the working class in required numbers. Let us assume that the money price of these means of subsistence averages 3 shillings a day. Our laborer gets, therefore, a daily wage of 3 shillings from his employer. For this, the capitalist lets him work, say, 12 hours a day.
Our capitalist, moreover, calculates somewhat in the following fashion: Let us assume that our laborer (a machinist) has to make a part of a machine which he finishes in one day. The raw material (iron and brass in the necessary prepared form) costs 20 shillings. The consumption of coal by the steam-engine, the wear-and-tear of this engine itself, of the turning-lathe, and of the other tools with which our laborer works, represent, for one day and one laborer, a value of 1 shilling. The wages for one day are, according to our assumption, 3 shillings. This makes a total of 24 shillings for our piece of a machine. But, the capitalist calculates that, on an average, he will receive for it a price of 27 shillings from his customers, or 3 shillings over and above his outlay. Whence do they 3 shillings pocketed by the capitalist come?
According to the assertion of classical political economy, commodities are in the long run sold at their values, that is, they are sold at prices which correspond to the necessary quantities of labor contained in them. The average price of our part of a machine — 27 shillings — would therefore equal its value, i.e., equal the amount of labor embodied in it. But, of these 27 shillings, 21 shillings were values were values already existing before the machinist began to work; 20 shillings were contained in the raw material, 1 shilling in the fuel consumed during the work and in the machines and tools used in the process and reduced in their efficiency to the value of this amount. There remains 6 shillings, which have been added to the value of the raw material. But, according to the supposition of our economists, themselves, these 6 shillings can arise only from the labor added to the raw material by the laborer. His 12 hours’ labor has created, according to this, a new value of 6 shillings.
Therefore, the value of his 12 hours’ labor would be equivalent to 6 shillings. So we have at last discovered what the “value of labor” is. “Hold on there!” cries our machinist. “Six shillings? But I have received only 3 shillings! My capitalist swears high and day that the value of my 12 hours’ labor is no more than 3 shillings, and if I were to demand 6, he’d laugh at me. What kind of a story is that?” If before this we got with our value of labor into a vicious circle, we now surely have driven straight into an insoluble contradiction. We searched for the value of labor, and we found more than we can use. For the laborer, the value of the 12 hours’ labor is 3 shillings; for the capitalist, it is 6 shillings, of which he pays the workingman 3 shillings as wages, and pockets the remaining 3 shilling himself. According to this, labor has not one but two values, and, moreover, two very different values! As soon as we reduce the values, now expressed in money, to labor-time, the contradiction becomes even more absurd.
By the 12 hours’ labor, a new value of 6 shillings is created. Therefore, in 6 hours, the new value created equals 3 shilling — the mount which the laborer receives for 12 hours’ labor. For 12 hours’ labor, the workingman receives, as an equivalent, the product of 6 hours’ labor. We are, thus, forced to one of two conclusions: either labor has two values, one of which is twice as large as the other, or 12 equals 6! In both cases, we get pure absurdities. Turn and twist as we may, we will not get out of this contradiction as long as we speak of the buying and selling of “labor” and of the “value of labor”. And just so it happened to the political economists. The last offshoot of classical political economy — the Ricardian school — was largely wrecked on the insolubility of this contradiction. Classical political economy had run itself into a blind alley.
The man who discovered the way out of this blind alley was Karl Marx. What the economists had considered as the cost of production of “labor” was really the cost of production, not of “labor”, but of the living laborer himself. And what this laborer sold to the capitalist was not his labor. “So soon as his labor really begins,” says Marx, “it ceases to belong to him, and therefore can no longer be sold by him.” At the most, he could sell his future labor — i.e., assume the obligation of executing a certain piece of work in a certain time. But, in this way, he does not sell labor (which would first have to be performed), but not for a stipulated payment he places his labor-power at the disposal of the capitalist for a certain time (in case of time-wages), or for the performance of a certain task (in case of piece-wages). He hires out or sells his labor-power. But this labor-power has grown up with his person and is inseparable from it. Its cost of production, therefore, coincides with his own cost of production; what the economist called the cost of production of labor is really the cost of production of the laborer, and therewith of his labor-power. And, thus, we can also go back from the cost of production of labor-power to the value of labor-power, and determine the quantity of social labor that is required for the production of a labor-power of a given quantity, as Marx has done in the chapter on “The Buying and Selling of Labor Power”. [Capital, Vol.I] Now what takes place after the worker has sold his labor-power, i.e., after he has placed his labor-power at the disposal of the capitalist for stipulated-wages — whether time-wages or piece-wages? The capitalist takes the laborer into his workshop or factory, where all the articles required for the work can be found — raw materials, auxiliary materials (coal, dyestuffs, etc.), tools, and machines. Here, the worker begins to work. His daily wages are, as above, 3 shillings, nd it makes no difference whether he earns them as day-wages or piece-wages.
We again assume that in 12 hours the worker adds by his labor a new value of 6 shillings to the value of the raw materials consumed, which new value the capitalist realizes by the sale of the finished piece of work. Out of this new value, he pays the worker his 3 shillings, and the remaining 3 shillings he keeps for himself. If, now, the laborer creates in 12 hours a value of 6 shilling, in 6 hours he creates a value of 3 shillings. Consequently, after working 6 hours for the capitalist, the laborer has returned to him the equivalent of the 3 shillings received as wages.
After 6 hours’ work, both are quits, neither one owing a penny to the other. “Hold on there!” now cries out the capitalist. “I have hired the laborer for a whole day, for 12 hours. But 6 hours are only half-a-day. So work along lively there until the other 6 hours are at an end — only then will we be even.” And, in fact, the laborer has to submit to the conditions of the contract upon which he entered of “his own free will”, and according to which he bound himself to work 12 whole hours for a product of labor which cost only 6 hours’ labor. Similarly with piece-wages. Let us suppose that in 12 hours our worker makes 12 commodities. Each of these costs a shilling in raw materials and wear-and-tear, and is sold for 2.5 shillings. On our former assumption, the capitalist gives the laborer .25 of a shilling for each piece, which makes a total of 3 shillings for 12 pieces. To earn this, the worker requires 12 hours. The capitalist receives 30 shillings for the 12 pieces; deducting 24 shillings for raw materials and wear-and-tear, there remains 6 shillings, of which he pays 3 shillings in wages and pockets the remaining 3. Just as before! Here, also, the worker labors 6 hours for himself — i.e., to replace his wages (half-an-hour in each of the 12 hours), and 6 hours for the capitalist. The rock upon which the best economists were stranded, as long as they started out from the value of labor, vanishes as soon as we make our starting-point the value of labor-power. Labor-power is, in our present-day capitalist society, a commodity like every other commodity, but yet a very peculiar commodity. It has, namely, the peculiarity of being a value-creating force, the source of value, and, moreover, when properly treated, the source of more value than it possesses itself.
In the present state of production, human labor-power not only produces in a day a greater value than it itself possesses and costs; but with each new scientific discovery, with each new technical invention, there also rises the surplus of its daily production over its daily cost, while as a consequence there diminishes that part of the working-day in which the laborer produces the equivalent of his day’s wages, and, on the other hand, lengthens that part of the working-day in which he must present labor gratis to the capitalist. And this is the economic constitution of our entire modern society: the working class alone produces all values. For value is only another expression for labor, that expression, namely, by which is designated, in our capitalist society of today, the amount of socially necessary labor embodied in a particular commodity. But, these values produced by the workers do not belong to the workers.
They belong to the owners of the raw materials, machines, tools, and money, which enable them to buy the labor-power of the working class. Hence, the working class gets back only a part of the entire mass of products produced by it. And, as we have just seen, the other portion, which the capitalist class retains, and which it has to share, at most, only with the landlord class, is increasing with every new discovery and invention, while the share which falls to the working class (per capita) rises but little and very slowly, or not at all, and under certain conditions it may even fall.
But, these discoveries and inventions which supplant one another with ever-increasing speed, this productiveness of human labor which increases from day to day to unheard-of proportions, at last gives rise to a conflict, in which present capitalistic economy must go to ruin. On the one hand, immeasurable wealth and a superfluidity of products with which the buyers cannot cope.
On the other hand, the great mass of society proletarianized, transformed into wage-laborers, and thereby disabled from appropriating to themselves that superfluidity of products. The splitting up of society into a small class, immoderately rich, and a large class of wage-laborers devoid of all property, brings it about that this society smothers in its own superfluidity, while the great majority of its members are scarcely, or not at all, protected from extreme want. This condition becomes every day more absurd and more unnecessary. It must be gotten rid of; it can be gotten rid of.
A new social order is possible, in which the class differences of today will have disappeared, and in which — perhaps after a short transition period, which, though somewhat deficient in other respects, will in any case be very useful morally — there will be the means of life, of the enjoyment of life, and of the development and activity of all bodily and mental faculties, through the systematic use and further development of the enormous productive powers of society, which exists with us even now, with equal obligation upon all to work. And that the workers are growing ever more determined to achieve this new social order will be proven on both sides of the ocean on this dawning May Day, and on Sunday, May 3rd. [Engels is refering to the May Day celebrations of 1891]
FREDERICK ENGELS,
London, April 30, 1891.
Footnotes:
[1] “By classical political economy, I understand that economy which, since the time of W. Petty, has investigated the real relations of production in bourgeois society, in contradistinction to vulgar economy, which deals with appearances only, ruminates without ceasing on the materials long since provided by scientific economy, and there seeks plausible explanations of the most obtrusive phenomena for bourgeois daily use, but for the rest confines itself to systematizing in a pedantic way, and proclaiming for everlasting truths, trite ideas held by the self-complacent bourgeoisie with regard to their own world, to them the best of all possible worlds.” (Karl Marx, Capital, Vol.I, p.93f.)
PRELIMINARY.
 
From various quarters we have been reproached for neglecting to portray the economic conditions which form the material basis of the present struggles between classes and nations. With set purpose we have hitherto touched upon these conditions only when they forced themselves upon the surface of the political conflicts.
 It was necessary, beyond everything else, to follow the development of the class struggle in the history of our own day, and to prove empirically, by the actual and daily newly created historical material, that with the subjugation of the working class, accomplished in the days of February and March, 1848, the opponents of that class — the bourgeois republicans in France, and the bourgeois and peasant classes who were fighting feudal absolutism throughout the whole continent of Europe — were simultaneously conquered; that the victory of the “moderate republic” in France sounded at the same time the fall of the nations which had responded to the February revolution with heroic wars of independence; and finally that, by the victory over the revolutionary workingmen, Europe fell back into its old double slavery, into the English-Russian slavery. The June conflict in Paris, the fall of Vienna, the tragi-comedy in Berlin in November 1848, the desperate efforts of Poland, Italy, and Hungary, the starvation of Ireland into submission — these were the chief events in which the European class struggle between the bourgeoisie and the working class was summed up, and from which we proved that every revolutionary uprising, however remote from the class struggle its object might appear, must of necessity fail until the revolutionary working class shall have conquered; — that every social reform must remain a Utopia until the proletarian revolution and the feudalistic counter-revolution have been pitted against each other in a world-wide war . In our presentation, as in reality, Belgium and Switzerland were tragicomic caricaturish genre pictures in the great historic tableau; the one the model State of the bourgeois monarchy, the other the model State of the bourgeois republic; both of them, States that flatter themselves to be just as free from the class struggle as from the European revolution.
But now, after our readers have seen the class struggle of the year 1848 develop into colossal political proportions, it is time to examine more closely the economic conditions themselves upon which is founded the existence of the capitalist class and its class rule, as well as the slavery of the workers.
We shall present the subject in three great divisions:
The Relation of Wage-Labor to Capital, the Slavery of the Worker, the Rule of the Capitalist.
The Inevitable Ruin of the Middle Classes [petty-bourgeois] and the so-called Commons [peasants] under the present system.
The Commercial Subjugation and Exploitation of the Bourgeois classes of the various European nations by the Despot of the World Market — England.
We shall seek to portray this as simply and popularly as possible, and shall not presuppose a knowledge of even the most elementary notions of political economy. We wish to be understood by the workers. And, moreover, there prevails in Germany the most remarkable ignorance and confusion of ideas in regard to the simplest economic relations, from the patented defenders of existing conditions, down to the socialist wonder-workers and the unrecognized political geniuses, in which divided Germany is even richer than in duodecimo princelings. We therefore proceed to the consideration of the first problem.
WHAT ARE WAGES?
HOW ARE THEY DETERMINED?
If several workmen were to be asked: “How much wages do you get?”, one would reply, “I get two shillings a day”, and so on. According to the different branches of industry in which they are employed, they would mention different sums of money that they receive from their respective employers for the completion of a certain task; for example, for weaving a yard of linen, or for setting a page of type. Despite the variety of their statements, they would all agree upon one point: that wages are the amount of money which the capitalist pays for a certain period of work or for a certain amount of work.
Consequently, it appears that the capitalist buys their labor with money, and that for money they sell him their labor. But this is merely an illusion. What they actually sell to the capitalist for money is their labor-power. This labor-power the capitalist buys for a day, a week, a month, etc. And after he has bought it, he uses it up by letting the worker labor during the stipulated time. With the same amount of money with which the capitalist has bought their labor-power (for example, with two shillings) he could have bought a certain amount of sugar or of any other commodity. The two shillings with which he bought 20 pounds of sugar is the price of the 20 pounds of sugar. The two shillings with which he bought 12 hours’ use of labor-power, is the price of 12 hours’ labor. Labor-power, then, is a commodity, no more, no less so than is the sugar. The first is measured by the clock, the other by the scales.
Their commodity, labor-power, the workers exchange for the commodity of the capitalist, for money, and, moreover, this exchange takes place at a certain ratio. So much money for so long a use of labor-power. For 12 hours’ weaving, two shillings. And these two shillings, do they not represent all the other commodities which I can buy for two shillings? Therefore, actually, the worker has exchanged his commodity, labor-power, for commodities of all kinds, and, moreover, at a certain ratio. By giving him two shillings, the capitalist has given him so much meat, so much clothing, so much wood, light, etc., in exchange for his day’s work. The two shillings therefore express the relation in which labor-power is exchanged for other commodities, the exchange-value of labor-power
The exchange value of a commodity estimated in money is called its price. Wages therefore are only a special name for the price of labor-power, and are usually called the price of labor; it is the special name for the price of this peculiar commodity. which has no other repository than human flesh and blood.
Let us take any worker; for example, a weaver. The capitalist supplies him with the loom and yarn. The weaver applies himself to work, and the yarn is turned into cloth. The capitalist takes possession of the cloth and sells it for 20 shillings, for example. Now are the wages of the weaver a share of the cloth, of the 20 shillings, of the product of the work? By no means. Long before the cloth is sold, perhaps long before it is fully woven, the weaver has received his wages. The capitalist, then, does not pay his wages out of the money which he will obtain from the cloth, but out of money already on hand. Just as little as loom and yarn are the product of the weaver to whom they are supplied by the employer, just so little are the commodities which he receives in exchange for his commodity — labor-power — his product. It is possible that the employer found no purchasers at all for the cloth. It is possible that he did not get even the amount of the wages by its sale. It is possible that he sells it very profitably in proportion to the weaver’s wages. But all that does not concern the weaver. With a part of his existing wealth, of his capital, the capitalist buys the labor-power of the weaver in exactly the same manner as, with another part of his wealth, he has bought the raw material — the yarn — and the instrument of labor — the loom. After he has made these purchases, and among them belongs the labor-power necessary to the production of the cloth he produces only with raw materials and instruments of labor belonging to him. For our good weaver, too, is one of the instruments of labor, and being in this respect on a par with the loom, he has no more share in the product (the cloth), or in the price of the product, than the loom itself has.
Wages, therefore, are not a share of the worker in the commodities produced by himself. Wages are that part of already existing commodities with which the capitalist buys a certain amount of productive labor-power.
Consequently, labor-power is a commodity which its possessor, the wage-worker, sells to the capitalist. Why does he sell it? It is in order to live.
But the putting of labor-power into action — i.e., the work — is the active expression of the laborer’s own life. And this life activity he sells to another person in order to secure the necessary means of life. His life-activity, therefore, is but a means of securing his own existence. He works that he may keep alive. He does not count the labor itself as a part of his life; it is rather a sacrifice of his life. It is a commodity that he has auctioned off to another. The product of his activity, therefore, is not the aim of his activity. What he produces for himself is not the silk that he weaves, not the gold that he draws up the mining shaft, not the palace that he builds. What he produces for himself is wages ; and the silk, the gold, and the palace are resolved for him into a certain quantity of necessaries of life, perhaps into a cotton jacket, into copper coins, and into a basement dwelling. And the laborer who for 12 hours long, weaves, spins, bores, turns, builds, shovels, breaks stone, carries hods, and so on — is this 12 hours’ weaving, spinning, boring, turning, building, shovelling, stone-breaking, regarded by him as a manifestation of life, as life? Quite the contrary. Life for him begins where this activity ceases, at the table, at the tavern, in bed. The 12 hours’ work, on the other hand, has no meaning for him as weaving, spinning, boring, and so on, but only as earnings, which enable him to sit down at a table, to take his seat in the tavern, and to lie down in a bed. If the silk-worm’s object in spinning were to prolong its existence as caterpillar, it would be a perfect example of a wage-worker.
Labor-power was not always a commodity (merchandise). Labor was not always wage-labor, i.e., free labor. The slave did not sell his labor-power to the slave-owner, any more than the ox sells his labor to the farmer. The slave, together with his labor-power, was sold to his owner once for all. He is a commodity that can pass from the hand of one owner to that of another. He himself is a commodity, but his labor-power is not his commodity. The serf sells only a portion of his labor-power. It is not he who receives wages from the owner of the land; it is rather the owner of the land who receives a tribute from him. The serf belongs to the soil, and to the lord of the soil he brings its fruit. The free laborer , on the other hand, sells his very self, and that by fractions. He auctions off eight, 10, 12, 15 hours of his life, one day like the next, to the highest bidder, to the owner of raw materials, tools, and the means of life — i.e., to the capitalist. The laborer belongs neither to an owner nor to the soil, but eight, 10, 12, 15 hours of his daily life belong to whomsoever buys them. The worker leaves the capitalist, to whom he has sold himself, as often as he chooses, and the capitalist discharges him as often as he sees fit, as soon as he no longer gets any use, or not the required use, out of him. But the worker, whose only source of income is the sale of his labor-power, cannot leave the whole class of buyers, i.e., the capitalist class , unless he gives up his own existence. He does not belong to this or that capitalist, but to the capitalist class ; and it is for him to find his man — i.e., to find a buyer in this capitalist class.
Before entering more closely upon the relation of capital to wage-labor, we shall present briefly the most general conditions which come into consideration in the determination of wages. Wages, as we have seen, are the price of a certain commodity, labor-power. Wages, therefore, are determined by the same laws that determine the price of every other commodity. The question then is, How is the price of a commodity determined?
BY WHAT IS THE PRICE OF A COMMODITY DETERMINED?
By the competition between buyers and sellers, by the relation of the demand to the supply, of the call to the offer. The competition by which the price of a commodity is determined is threefold.
The same commodity is offered for sale by various sellers. Whoever sells commodities of the same quality most cheaply, is sure to drive the other sellers from the field and to secure the greatest market for himself. The sellers therefore fight among themselves for the sales, for the market. Each one of them wishes to sell, and to sell as much as possible, and if possible to sell alone, to the exclusion of all other sellers. Each one sells cheaper than the other. Thus there takes place a competition among the sellers which forces down the price of the commodities offered by them.
But there is also a competition among the buyers; this upon its side causes the price of the proffered commodities to rise.
Finally, there is competition between the buyers and the sellers: these wish to purchase as cheaply as possible, those to sell as dearly as possible. The result of this competition between buyers and sellers will depend upon the relations between the two above-mentioned camps of competitors — i.e., upon whether the competition in the army of sellers is stronger. Industry leads two great armies into the field against each other, and each of these again is engaged in a a battle among its own troops in its own ranks. The army among whose troops there is less fighting carries of the victory over the opposing host.
Let us suppose that there are 100 bales of cotton in the market and at the same time purchasers for 1,000 bales of cotton. In this case, the demand is 10 times greater than the supply. Competition among the buyers, then, will be very strong; each of them tries to get hold of one bale, if possible, of the whole 100 bales. This example is no arbitrary supposition. In the history of commerce we have experienced periods of scarcity of cotton, when some capitalists united together and sought to buy up not 100 bales, but the whole cotton supply of the world. In the given case, then, one buyer seeks to drive the others from the field by offering a relatively higher price for the bales of cotton. The cotton sellers, who perceive the troops of the enemy in the most violent contention among themselves, and who therefore are fully assured of the sale of their whole 100 bales, will beware of pulling one another’s hair in order to force down the price of cotton at the very moment in which their opponents race with one another to screw it up high. So, all of a sudden, peace reigns in the army of sellers. They stand opposed to the buyers like on e man, fold their arms in philosophic contentment and their claims would find no limit did not the offers of even the most importunate of buyers have a very definite limit.
If, then, the supply of a commodity is less than the demand for it, competition among the sellers is very slight, or there may be none at all among them. In the same proportion in which this competition decreases, the competition among the buyers increases. Result: a more or less considerable rise in the prices of commodities.
It is well known that the opposite case, with the opposite result, happens more frequently. Great excess of supply over demand; desperate competition among the sellers, and a lack of buyers; forced sales of commodities at ridiculously low prices.
But what is a rise, and what a fall of prices? What is a high and what a low price? A grain of sand is high when examined through a microscope, and a tower is low when compared with a mountain. And if the price is determined by the relation of supply and demand, by what is the relation of supply and demand determined?
Let us turn to the first worthy citizen we meet. He will not hesitate one moment, but, like Alexander the Great, will cut this metaphysical know with his multiplication table. He will say to us: “If the production of the commodities which I sell has cost me 100 pounds, and out of the sale of these goods I make 110 pounds — within the year, you understand — that’s an honest, sound, reasonable profit. But if in the exchange I receive 120 or 130 pounds, that’s a higher profit; and if I should get as much as 200 pounds, that would be an extraordinary, and enormous profit.” What is it, then, that serves this citizen as the standard of his profit? The cost of the production of his commodities. If in exchange for these goods he receives a quantity of other goods whose production has cost less, he has lost. If he receives in exchange for his goods a quantity of other goods whose production has cost more, he has gained. And he reckons the falling or rising of the profit according to the degree at which the exchange value of his goods stands, whether above or below his zero — the cost of production.
We have seen how the changing relation of supply and demand causes now a rise, now a fall of prices; now high, now low prices. If the price of a commodity rises considerably owing to a failing supply or a disproportionately growing demand, then the price of some other commodity must have fallen in proportion; for of course the price of a commodity only expresses in money the proportion in which other commodities will be given in exchange for it. If, for example, the price of a yard of silk rises from two to three shillings, the price of silver has fallen in relation to the silk, and in the same way the prices of all other commodities whose prices have remained stationary have fallen in relation to the price of silk. A large quantity of them must be given in exchange in order to obtain the same amount of silk. Now, what will be the consequence of a rise in the price of a particular commodity? A mass of capital will be thrown into the prosperous branch of industry, and this immigration of capital into the provinces of the favored industry will continue until it yields no more than the customary profits, or, rather until the price of its products, owning to overproduction, sinks below the cost of production.
Conversely: if the price of a commodity falls below its cost of production, then capital will be withdrawn from the production of this commodity. Except in the case of a branch of industry which has become obsolete and is therefore doomed to disappear, the production of such a commodity (that is, its supply), will, owning to this flight of capital, continue to decrease until it corresponds to the demand, and the price of the commodity rises again to the level of its cost of production; or, rather, until the supply has fallen below the demand and its price has risen above its cost of production, for the current price of a commodity is always either above or below its cost of production.
We see how capital continually emigrates out of the province of one industry and immigrates into that of another. The high price produces an excessive immigration, and the low price an excessive emigration.
We could show, from another point of view, how not only the supply, but also the demand, is determined by the cost of production. But this would lead us too far away from our subject.
We have just seen how the fluctuation of supply and demand always bring the price of a commodity back to its cost of production. The actual price of a commodity, indeed, stands always above or below the cost of production; but the rise and fall reciprocally balance each other , so that, within a certain period of time, if the ebbs and flows of the industry are reckoned up together, the commodities will be exchanged for one another in accordance with their cost of production. Their price is thus determined by their cost of production.
The determination of price by the cost of production is not to be understood in the sense of the bourgeois economists. The economists say that the average price of commodities equals the cost of production: that is the law . The anarchic movement, in which the rise is compensated for by a fall and the fall by a rise, they regard as an accident. We might just as well consider the fluctuations as the law, and the determination of the price by cost of production as an accident — as is, in fact, done by certain other economists. But it is precisely these fluctuations which, viewed more closely, carry the most frightful devastation in their train, and, like an earthquake, cause bourgeois society to shake to its very foundations — it is precisely these fluctuations that force the price to conform to the cost of production. In the totality of this disorderly movement is to be found its order. In the total course of this industrial anarchy, in this circular movement, competition balances, as it were, the one extravagance by the other.
We thus see that the price of a commodity is indeed determined by its cost of production, but in such wise that the periods in which the price of these commodities rises above the costs of production are balanced by the periods in which it sinks below the cost of production, and vice versa. Of course this does not hold good for a single given product of an industry, but only for that branch of industry. So also it does not hold good for an individual manufacturer, but only for the whole class of manufacturers.
The determination of price by cost of production is tantamount to the determination of price by the labor-time requisite to the production of a commodity, for the cost of production consists, first of raw materials and wear and tear of tools, etc., i.e., of industrial products whose production has cost a certain number of work-days, which therefore represent a certain amount of labor-time, and, secondly, of direct labor, which is also measured by its duration.
BY WHAT ARE WAGES DETERMINED?
Now, the same general laws which regulate the price of commodities in general, naturally regulate wages , or the price of labor-power. Wages will now rise, now fall, according to the relation of supply and demand, according as competition shapes itself between the buyers of labor-power, the capitalists, and the sellers of labor-power, the workers. The fluctuations of wages correspond to the fluctuation in the price of commodities in general. But within the limits of these fluctuations the price of labor-power will be determined by the cost of production, by the labor-time necessary for production of this commodity: labor-power.
What, then, is the cost of production of labor-power?
It is the cost required for the maintenance of the laborer as a laborer, and for his education and training as a laborer.
Therefore, the shorter the time required for training up to a particular sort of work, the smaller is the cost of production of the worker, the lower is the price of his labor-power, his wages. In those branches of industry in which hardly any period of apprenticeship is necessary and the mere bodily existence of the worker is sufficient, the cost of his production is limited almost exclusively to the commodities necessary for keeping him in working condition. The price of his work will therefore be determined by the price of the necessary means of subsistence.
Here, however, there enters another consideration. The manufacturer who calculates his cost of production and, in accordance with it, the price of the product, takes into account the wear and tear of the instruments of labor. If a machine costs him, for example, 1,000 shillings, and this machine is used up in 10 years, he adds 100 shillings annually to the price of the commodities, in order to be able after 10 years to replace the worn-out machine with a new one. In the same manner, the cost of production of simple labor-power must include the cost of propagation, by means of which the race of workers is enabled to multiply itself, and to replace worn-out workers with new ones. The wear and tear of the worker, therefore, is calculated in the same manner as the wear and tear of the machine.
Thus, the cost of production of simple labor-power amounts to the cost of the existence and propagation of the worker. The price of this cost of existence and propagation constitutes wages. The wages thus determined are called the minimum of wages. This minimum wage, like the determination of the price of commodities in general by cost of production, does not hold good for the single individual , but only for the race. Individual workers, indeed, millions of workers, do not receive enough to be able to exist and to propagate themselves; but the wages of the whole working class adjust themselves, within the limits of their fluctuations, to this minimum.
Now that we have come to an understanding in regard to the most general laws which govern wages, as well as the price of every other commodity, we can examine our subject more particularly.
Carolus Wimmer: The Great October Revolution and its Influence on Latin America

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Carolus Wimmer: The Great October Revolution and its Influence on Latin America

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/06/carolus-wimmer-great-october-revolution.html
The Great October Revolution and its Influence on Latin America.
By Carolus Wimmer* / Source: International Communist Review, Issue 7, 2017.
I) Introduction
The hundredth anniversary of the Great October Revolution comes in the midst of a counteroffensive by imperialism and the forces of reaction against the social and political advances of the working class. In these conditions, it becomes especially important to deliver the objective truth about the first victorious proletarian Revolution, its historic global importance for the world’s worker movement, for the struggles to liberate the oppressed peoples from imperialism, and ultimately for all humanity.
In 1917, the proletarian and peasant Revolution did not only triumph throughout wide-reaching Russia, but its bells of freedom also began to sound across the globe. Through the construction of a socialist society and the latter building of Communism, the era in which humanity would jump “from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom”[1]– as the well-known definition from Frederich Engels states- had begun.
With the victory of the October Revolution a new social system had begun to be built. The laws of socialist Revolution, which in their earliest form had been elaborated by Marx and Engels, underwent an immense technical and practical development in the melting pot of the Russian Revolution.
That the arena was a great multinational State, with areas of developed Capitalism and others with clear signs of persistent Feudalism and the slave era, does not take anything away from or reduce the quality of the Revolution. Its own characteristics as a socialist Revolution under the hegemony of the working class; the agglutination of all of the oppressed masses; the situation of the Russian Empire, which reflected the real situation of the world under the dominion of Imperialism, all reaffirm the greatness of October and its core principal as the immense and multifaceted Revolution of our time.
For the Latin American nations, exploited as they were by Imperialism, the Russian Revolution bore a three-fold importance:
1. This severe blow at the heart of Imperialism served as a strong stimulus to all the peoples’ struggles and especially by the recently born proletariat of the colonial and dependent world against their oppressors.
2. It meant a fraternal hand from the most advanced class- which had been able to destroy the essence of Capital- to the ample oppressed masses. The totally new international relations which Russia established, its peaceful and anticolonial policies, and the quantitatively different economic links which it offered opened up impressive new horizons for national liberation struggles and, where chosen, to those who wanted to transit down the road towards Socialism. What’s more, as Soviet power began to establish itself and a new correlation of forces was created in the world, Russia transformed itself into a stronghold which put the brakes on, impeded, and defeated other Imperialist interventions.
3. In the ex-Tsarist Empire, the development of the Revolution became an example into itself with proletarian solutions being found to the problems of national self-determination and the incorporation of very backward regions into a more developed economy and culture.
In Latin America, the October Revolution gave our peoples a new perspective. In many countries Communist Parties were created, and the working class vanguard and the clearest minded intelligentsia opened their arms to Lenin’s cause. Yet its influence was even greater than that: there is not a single important popular movement in Latin America in which the powerful stamp of October cannot be seen[2].
In this year (1917) in Venezuela with its rural and pre-capitalist economic structure and in the midst of a fierce military dictatorship controlled by the USA, there was also something new happening. In the west of the country oil based economic activity was beginning, and with it came the creation of the working class in the region: great masses of handicraft workers, peasants, and fisherman started transforming themselves into oil workers. Inspired by the achievements of the Russian Revolution, these workers came to be the backbone of the formation of the Communist Party of Venezuela in 1931 from the Russian Revolution solidarity movements and from the polemic and heated definitions of the Trade Union movement, who were later to lead the vast solidarity movement with the USSR after the attacks of the Second World War.
II) The Communist International and Latin America
The Communist International, also known as the Third International or Comintern, was born out of the October Revolution and founded in March 1919, relating itself perfectly to the working class traditions of the principal and practice of internationalism. As the bourgeoisie and Capital have international characters, the working class do also, and necessarily had to organize their struggles without regard for national borders. In the face of reactionary bourgeois nationalism in Europe, the working class movement proclaimed the idea of internationalism.
In the second half of the 19th Century the First and Second Internationals had existed. The First International had had just a brief existence due to the strong repression which it suffered. The Second International had a longer duration, but the prevalence of opportunist and reformist tendencies at its heart led the majority of social democratic European parties to ally themselves to the bourgeoisie in their countries and support the warmongering policies which led to the First World War and to what Lenin correctly described as bankruptcy.
One of the first challenges the Third International faced was the urgency of considering the relationship between national and international issues, between State and Revolution, between power and the project, especially because now- for the first time- the Communist movement wasn’t merely in opposition but it was in power and was the State, as in ex-Tsarist Russia. How do you connect these elements which are not necessarily concordant? The response to this challenge can be seen throughout the history of the Communist International.
The work of the Communist International was initially directed towards Central Europe, but with its internationalist vision and so that it functioned better, the world leadership of the Communist movement created regional structures.
The idea that the Communist Party of Russia (Bolshevik) deserved great prestige was  something that was accepted in the communist movement, partly because  it “had more experience and authority” but also because it controlled the Country of the Soviets, representing the strategic rear-guard of the worlds communist movement. However, in organisational terms, the Communist Party of Russia (Bolshevik) was just one more section of the Communist International which, together with the other sectionals, obeyed the collective decisions.
In the case of Latin America, the Communist Parties of Mexico, Argentina, and USA played similar roles with respect to the other parties in the region.
Since the beginning of the 1920’s, there were special departments in Moscow for the Latin American subcontinent. Regional Secretariats were created in 1926, and Latin America was placed under the control of the “Latino” Regional Secretariat (“Latin American” as of 1928), with the number of functionaries living in Moscow who were dedicated to Latin America growing (Latin Americans as well as Europeans). The Regional Secretariat was subordinated to the Executive Committee and acted on all relevant issues connected with Latin America.
In 1919 the first branch of the Communist International in Latin America was opened in Mexico, although it only functioned for a few months. By resolution of the Presidium of the Executive Committee of the Communist International and as part of the process of “bolshevization”, the South American Secretariat was created in 1925 in Buenos Aires with the aim of contributing to the “intensification and unification of Communist ideological training with the objective of creating a stronger relationship between the South American parties and the Communist International”. The South American Secretariat, with its political campaigns and the work of its press organ- the Correspondencia Sudamericana (South American Correspondent)– played a decisive part in the diffusion of the politics of the Communist International in Latin America. It was reorganized in the summer of 1928 and with the Italian-Argentine Victorio Codovilla at the reins, the fulfilment of its workload was guaranteed.
In Mexico it worked alongside the Anti-imperialist League of the Americas (LADLA in Spanish)- which was founded in 1924- and diverse sub-secretaries which had been created in 1928 for the preparation of the First Latin-American Conference of Trade Unions (celebrated in Montevideo in June 1929), as well as with various regional institutions controlled by the Communists. In New York the Caribbean Bureau was created in 1931 to oversee the same tasks as its South American counterpart.
The LADLA was founded at the end of 1924 by the Communist Parties of Mexico and the USA after receiving the proposal from the Communist International. The idea was based on the concept which was developed by Lenin of a united anti-imperialist front. Workers, peasants, students, and intellectuals from across the American Continent were convened as a consequence to unite against the “principal enemy”: the bourgeoisie of each country and North American imperialism.
III)                The Impact of the October Revolution in Latin America
Workers from the Latin American countries, as those from other parts of the world did, warmly applauded the October Revolution, its great leader Lenin and the Leninist policies of peace, and they declared themselves in defence of the world’s first Socialist State and against the Imperialists and counterrevolution.
Often, the people received true and complete information about the deeds of October in Russia late, and the bourgeois press deliberately tried to silence or twist the great happenings of the world’s first socialist Revolution. All the more in vain, as Pablo Neruda would say, were the efforts of Capitalism to organize a confabulation of silence about Soviet Russia, to deform the truth and turn off the light which was arriving from the other side of the ocean[3].
The peoples of Latin America understood the immense importance of what was happening in far off Russia from the very first days. “I vote for the Russian Bolsheviks without hesitation, as they are showing us the path to peace and the liquidation of the barbaric Capitalist bourgeois regime” stated the founder of the Communist Party of Chile, Luis Emilio Recabarren, in the days following the October Revolution. “He who does not defend their cause defends Capitalism and all its horrors” [4].
The progressive Brazilian writer Lima Barreto on the 14th June 1918 wrote that “the Russian Revolution has shaken not only the thrones, but also the social bases of our predatory bourgeois society. The sympathetic wave which has been awoken in our hearts cannot be ignored and it is impossible to drown our desire to see something similar here”[5].
The opinion of the Latin American vanguard was of comprehension and praise for the historic role of the leader of the Proletarian Revolution, V.I. Lenin. The Argentinian scientist José Ingenieros characterized Lenin as a man of “great intelligence” and “illustrious statesmanship”[6] in his work Economic Teachings of the Russian Revolution written in 1920. He also wrote that there had been no obstacles from the dominant bourgeois classes and Governments which may have “stopped the admirable current of good-feeling which the Russian Revolution has awoken across the entire world”[7].
In Argentina, where class rivalry had been considerably exacerbated by the eve of the First World War, 10,000 men took to the streets of Buenos Aires on the 7thNovember 1918 with slogans of support for Soviet Russia.
The 10th Congress of the FORO-V, the largest Trade Union Federation in Argentina, took the decision to “express their most ample solidarity and backing to the workers of Russia… and fervently go out and look for votes of support for the consolidation of the Socialist Federal Republic of Soviets of Russia, so that this supreme aspiration of the proletariat can be established and made a reality”[8].
Victor Codovilla, veteran of the Latin American working class movement and president of the Communist Party of Argentina, remembers that “the most conscious parts of the working class and Argentinian people felt that, with this victory, a new era in the history of humanity had opened up, the era of the fall of Capitalism and of the triumph of Socialism and Communism”[9].
The victory of the October Revolution was welcomed with enthusiasm in Brazil. The workers understood that the October Revolution was a proletarian Revolution, close to the heart of the workers[10], as Astrogildo Pereira, one of the founders of the Brazilian Communist party, recalls. In one example, a public meeting held on the 1st May 1919 in Rio de Janeiro with the participation of 60,000 workers in the Brazilian Capital, approved a message of solidarity with the Russian working class.
Another shining example of proletarian support was the 24-hour strike of 11th July 1919 of the Metal Workers Union in the Federal District of Rio de Janeiro in protest against the intervention of the Imperialist States in Soviet Russia.
The victory of the workers and peasants in Russia was also celebrated by the workers of Cuba. In November 1919 a meeting of workers was held in Habana to commemorate the second anniversary of the October Revolution. The delegates to the Second Workers Congress of Cuba, held in April 1920, sent a fraternal greeting to the soviet workers.
In October 1923, the First Student Congress of Cuba adopted a resolution which protested the unfair isolation to which the new Russia was being subject to by the world powers and to request that the Cuban Government recognize the Socialist Republic of Russia[11].
The heartfelt waves of affection and respect from the Cuban people towards Lenin manifested themselves particularly in the days of January 1924. On the 21st of this month, Antonio Bosch, Mayor of Regla (a suburb of Habana), described Lenin as a “great citizen of the world” and requested that the citizens of the city honour his memory with two minutes of silence and meetings on the 27th January, the day of the funeral of the head of the Proletarian Revolution, in the El Fortin hill where an olive tree would be planted as a symbol of peace “in memory of this date and the deeds which worry us”. More than 1,000 workers, sailors, day labourers, and students from Habana met at the given hour in El Fortin despite the torrential tropical rain where Antonio Bosch and the young Cuban Mercedes Barrero planted an olive tree. Later, all of the meetings progressed to the Municipal Palace where a joint meeting was held in Lenin’s memory. Those at the meeting received telegrams of solidarity from the workers of Santiago of Cuba, Morón, and other cities from the island. The El Fortin Hill has since been called the Lenin Hill[12].
At the start of the 20’s, Soviet Russia was visited by numerous and notable personalities of the Latin American Revolutionary movement. On returning to their countries, they emotionally explained to the workers the achievements of the first proletarian state in the world and published articles and books.
Leader of the Chilean workers and founder of the Communist Party of Chile, Luis Emilio Recabarren, spent more than 40 days in the Soviet country in 1922. In the book which he published after his trip, entitled Rusia obrera y campesina (Worker and Peasant Russia), he wrote that “I went to see if the working class did effectively have political power with which they guarantee the conservation in their hands of economic power … I went to see if the working class had abolished once and for all types of Capitalist exploitation and tyranny. I gladly saw that effectively the Russian workers did indeed have all the strength of political and economic power in their hands, and it seemed that there was not a force in this world able to dispose the Russian proletariat of the power that they had won… I could also testify that the expropriation of the exploiters is so complete that a regime of exploitation and tyranny, such as that which we still put up with in Chile, will never return to Russia”[13].
The speeches of Recabarren in Chile about the Soviet Republic produced immense impressions in the auditoriums. Pablo Neruda remembers that in those days a magnificent Chilean returned from the Soviet Republic which had just been born. His name was Luis Emilio Recabarren, and the return of this titanic personality changed the progress of the ideological currents in Neruda’s generation.
Whilst talking to him and listening to his speeches, he understood the feeling of the great event… Recabarren allowed him to understand, with great simplicity, that an entire age has been left in the past, that from the utopia had been born the practical creation of a new State and of a new society[14].
In the same year of 1922, one of the founders of the Uruguay Communist Party, Francisco Pintos, similarly spent various months in the Soviet Republic.
The economic, political, and military strength of the USSR, the increase in its international prestige, as well as the thriving support from the worlds proletariat and the hopes of the commercial foreign mediums to enter into mercantile-economic relations with the USSR are key factors which forced the Governments of the majority of the Capitalist States to abandon their policies of non-recognition of the Soviet Union and proceed towards the establishment of normal diplomatic relations with her.
The foresight of Lenin, expressed in his speech to the Plenary of Soviets of Moscow on the 20th November 1922, about how “economic relations- and through them diplomatic ones- will normalize themselves, must normalize themselves, and will be normalized without fail” came perfectly true[15].
IV) The October Revolution and its influence in the formation of Communist Parties: an approximation
The October Revolution was a response from the Russian working class, peasants, and soldiers to feudal despotism and Capitalist exploitation. The Latin American working class and workers from the city and countryside similarly understood this: not only were good feelings towards Russia on the increase, but so was the consciousness of the need to follow the example of the Russian Revolution to construct Socialism-Communism.
In 1918 in Argentina, Victorio Codovilla and Rodolfo Ghioldi founded the International Socialist Party, which, with only 92 days since its foundation, decided to affiliate itself to the Communist International the following year. Codovilla, who had started his political activism in his home country in the ranks of the Italian Socialist Party, and was now a resident of Buenos Aires, was amongst the founders of the “Karl Marx Study Centre” in 1912.
In 1919 in Guatemala the League of Patriotic Workers was organized, which only months later was the principal driving force behind the insurrection of the workers against the dictatorship. In 1921 the 1st May was celebrated for the first time in this country.
Also in 1919 the First Socialist Congress of Mexico was held, which, with a majority of votes, decided to incorporate itself into the Communist International. Two months later it opted to change its name in accord with the international organisation which it had just joined: it would now be the Mexican Communist Party.
In Colombia, the Trade Union Federation, the Confederation for Social Action, and the Society of Mutual Assistance met, and, with the representation of 20 associations and guilds, formed a Socialist Party which would be used to promote the independence of the working class from other political parties and religious sects and to fight for working class concessions. Its main initial themes were proclaimed to be freedom, equality, and fraternity.
Despite the fact that we are concentrating on Latin America and the Caribbean, it is also important to mention the foundation of proletarian parties in the USA: the Communist Party and the Workers Communist Party. Both parties worked clandestinely and joined the Communist International, unifying themselves in 1921. The US Communist Party gained legality in 1929.
The people of Guatemala rose up against the dictator in 1920 and were able to overthrow him. This victory bought new energy to the young working class, and class based Trade Union organisation grew with the creation of the Trade Union confederation “Worker’s Union”.
On the 17th July 1920 the Second Congress of the Communist International met in Petrograd, setting the conditions which working class parties would have to meet to be accepted into its ranks. Lenin’s report “On the role of the Communist Party in a proletarian Revolution” was accepted, censuring the opportunist theses of some Trade Unionists which maintained the uselessness of a political party of the working class and the priority of the Trade Unions.
The report assures that revolutionary Trade Unionists “wish to fight against the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie but don’t know how. They don’t understand that the working class without an autonomous party is like a headless tree trunk. The Trade Unionist and Revolutionary industrialist represent a step forward only in comparison with the old, rancid, counterrevolutionary ideology of the Second International. But, in comparison with Revolutionary Marxism, i.e. Communism, Trade Unionism and industrialism are but a step backwards”[16].
Under this Leninist line, the 8th Congress of the Uruguayan Socialist Party decided with a massive majority to incorporate themselves into the Communist International. The following year-1921- they decide to change their name to the Communist Party of Uruguay.
In December 1920, the Socialist Workers Party of Chile which had been founded in 1912 by Luis Emilio Recabarren and which had manifested its warm felt support for the October Revolution in 1919, now decided to join the Communist International. In 1922 it opted for the name of the Communist Party of Chile.
In June 1921, the Constituent Congress of the Red International of Labour Unions met in Moscow with 41 countries, including an important class-based contingent from Latin America.
In 1921 the Third Congress of the Communist International met with the assistance of 50 affiliated parties, including Latin Americans. One of the central objectives was the creation of a unified front which would allow the union of all of the workers in the fight against Capitalism. An ample discussion was held on tactical questions, and guided as it was by Lenin, the Communist International recommended “criticizing in a fraternal, but energetic and clear way, the anarchic-Trade Union tendencies which reject the dictatorship of the proletariat and negate the necessity of a leading, unique, central organization to work with the Revolutionary vanguard, i.e. a Communist party[17]. The Communist International judged the “fusion of the Revolutionary labour organisations and Communists into a united front” as being possible[18].
With this political line numerous unconnected Marxist groups met in March 1922 in Rio de Janeiro by the invitation of A. Pereira, director of the journal “O Movimento Comunista” (The Communist Movement) and resolved to construct the Brazilian Communist Party.
By the end of 1922, the following Communist Parties existed in Latin America, each of which acted as Latin American sections of the Communist International: Argentina (January 1918), Mexico (November 1919), Uruguay (September 1920), Chile (January 1922), Brazil (March 1922) and Guatemala (1922).
As per the logic of the Latin American class struggle, faced by the plan of the Communist International, US Imperialism counter-attacked; and faced with Revolutionary advances by the working class, in 1923 the Fifth Pan-American Conference met in Santiago of Chile.
In 1924, year of the passing away of Vladimir Ilich Lenin in Gorki in January aged 54, a great depression overtook the progressive forces of the world, including the Latin American Communists.
Lenin’s work, however, continued to expand in the Latin American region. This very year the Communist Party of Honduras was founded, instantly confronting the imperialist United Fruit Company with heroic acts, and declaring itself as a sectional of the Comintern on the very day of its foundation.
In August 1925 the Communist Party of Cuba was organized in illegal conditions. Back in February 1917 an insurrection against the Government which was coordinated with numerous strikes had caused US Imperialism to take the opportunity to send marines to invade the island, under legal protection from the Platt Amendment. The occupation lasted until 1922, during which the first steps for the creation of a Communist movement were taken: left wing socialists met and approved a declaration recognising the need for the creation of a unified party, such as the Comintern had suggested. Marxist groups from various cities and villages were organized in build up to August 1925 when, in a clandestine congress, the Communist Party of Cuba was born, with its leaders requesting immediate incorporation into the Comintern.
In Argentina in 1925 a strong anti-imperialist Latin American movement was given form, with great resonance in the intellectual world. Amongst its objectives was “to develop in the Latin American peoples a consciousness of solidarity for national and continental interests, supporting all ideological renovation which pushes for the exercising of popular sovereignty and combatting all types of dictatorship which oppose social reforms”[19].
In 1926 in Ecuador some Marxist-Leninist groups had sprung up since 1920, and in 1924 Ricardo Paredes founded the newspaper ‘La Antorcha’ (‘The Torch’). In 1925 the ‘Ecuadorian Communist Sectional for the Divulgation of the Ideas of Lenin’ was organized, with workers and intellectuals affiliating themselves. In May 1926 the Ecuadorian Socialist Party was formed, incorporating itself to the Comintern in 1928.
In Brazil, the Communists started making contact with the Revolutionary, democratic military movements (lieutenant rank mostly) which Luis Carlos Prestes presided over. From these contacts was born the Worker-Peasant Front.
In most Latin American Countries Anti-imperialist leagues appeared, such as in Mexico and Cuba, which combined the class-based Revolutionary struggle with the international solidarity struggle. Revolutionary intellectuals commonly participated in these organisations, often editing numerous newspapers in which North American Imperialism was challenged with great worth.
By initiative of Ghioldi and Codovilla, in December 1926 the Communist Party of Argentina manifested their solidarity with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, ratifying their energetic opposition to Trotskyism and its conceptions, describing them as “erroneous, adventurous, and anti-Leninist”[20].
Propelled by this Revolutionary and anti-imperialist upsurge, in Nicaragua in July 1927 General Augusto Sandino, the “General of free men”, started the patriotic war of the guerrillas against the invading North American troops. Next to Sandino was the El Salvadorian Communist Farabundo Martí. This movement for national liberation received the support of all of the anti-imperialist sectors of Latin America. The Venezuelan Communists Carlos Aponte and Gustavo Machado were also on the scene. For the people it was the start of a historic struggle which culminated with the victory of the Sandinista Revolution decades afterwards.
At the anti-imperialist Congress held in Brussels in 1927 and presided over by the French writer Henry Barbusse, Latin Americans such as Gustavo Machado (Venezuela), Jose Vasconcelos (Mexico), and Victor Codovilla (Argentina) were present.
Similarly, as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations for the October Revolution in November 1927, some of the most important Revolutionary leaders in the world congregated in Moscow, with the Latin Americans who were present taking advantage of the encounter to discuss strategy and tactics in the Latin American struggle.
In 1928 in Moscow the 6th Congress of Comintern was held, with Latin America being amongst the themes discussed. Taking into account the existence of mass-based organisations, the Congress considered the need to transform “the expression of the will of these mass-based political parties into truly Bolshevik parties”. With this objective the Caribbean Bureau was created, and the Socialist Party of Ecuador and Socialist Revolutionary Party of Colombia were accepted as Comintern sectionals.
In September 1928 the Peruvian Communist Party was founded, with Jose Carlos Mariátegui as its most important leader.
In Colombia, an extraordinary resurgence of the masses, as much in the labour organisations as well as the political parties, drove the conservative Government to consider a law to restrict the constitutional guarantees and prohibit the practices of the Revolutionary Socialist Party (PSR). At the time, the Venezuelan General and anti-dictatorial fighter, Emilio Arevalo Cedeño was exiled in Colombia and, whilst working with the plans of the PSR, was planning an invasion of Venezuela through the plains, giving Cedeño, an ex-telegraphist, the nickname of the “new Sandino”[21].
In June of 1929 the First Communist Conference of Latin America took place in Buenos Aires. Thirty-eight delegates took part from fifteen countries across the region (Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Peru, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Uruguay, Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, and Paraguay) as well as delegates from the Comintern, the Youth Comintern, from the Communist Parties of the United States and France. In the same year, the Caribbean Bureau set up a Support Committee in Barranquilla, Colombia, for the incipient Communist movement which was working clandestinely in Venezuela. At the head of the mission was Gustavo Machado, who later became the President of the Communist Party of Venezuela whilst residing in Bogota.
In Venezuela since 1914 various foreign companies, led by Royal Dutch Shell, were extracting oil from the ground, reaching a total of 332.000 barrels. During this year, work on the first commercial refinery began, with great quantities of handicraft workers, peasants, and fisherman being transformed into oil workers. Inspired by the news of class struggle on the old continent and the victory of the Bolsheviks, political and labour struggles expanded. The US, alongside the Venezuelan dictator, recognized the dangers that the example of the October Revolution could set when, in 1918, they expressed that “the doctrines of the radicals in Europe will have a greater impact in the countries where the ignorant and poor people are deprived of their political rights. Driven by the initiative of the social parties of Mexico and Puerto Rico, a public propaganda campaign is seeking the formation of a Workers League in all of the countries of America. This type of agitation is dangerous for us because our enemies will try to exploit it and some of those will start replicating the extremist doctrines of the Russians, i.e. the redistribution of land and wealth amongst workers and soldiers…”[22].
On the 5th March 1931, the first Communist branch in Venezuela was constructed in clear clandestinity, and on the 1st May the first manifesto from the Venezuelan Communist Party was circulated “to the working people”. The manifesto finished with a phrase from Lenin: “the gun on the shoulder of a worker is the only guarantee of democracy”, and amongst the slogans used was “Long Live Soviet Russia”.
Equally, for the first time in Venezuela, the Bolshevik Revolution was mentioned in a party political document, stating that “in Russia, the largest country in the world and with a population 50 times greater than Venezuela’s, which was submitted to a tyranny as bloody as that of Gomez- the Tsarist regime- the workers and peasants overthrew this Government thirteen years ago and put in place a Government of their own class, a workers and peasant Government called Soviet. The lands of the great landowners have been redistributed to those who directly worked them, and the factories, mines, and businesses have become collective property of the workers Soviets… wages have gone up and prices have fallen and there are no workers unemployed… in the schools, colleges, and universities workers and their children are given preference and the Government covers all of the needs of all of the students. Women enjoy exactly the same rights and advantages as men and are given complete time off for 2 months before and 2 months after giving birth. Under the worker and peasant Government in Soviet Russia comfortable and clean houses are being built for the workers, magnificent tower blocks for rehabilitation centres, hospitals, clubs, libraries, schools for the workers, who enjoy a freedom and comfort that has never been seen before in the world by the class which produces… the workers of the entire world are struggling and organizing to do that which their class brothers have done in Russia”[23].
V)                 Conclusions
“As the exploitation of one individual by another will also be put an end to, the exploitation of one nation by another will also be put an end to”[24] wrote Karl Marx and Frederich Engels in the Communist Manifesto. One hundred years later these words have been made a reality in Latin America and the Caribbean thanks to the October Revolution of 1917 and the presence of Communist Parties.
Despite the fact that Lenin couldn’t apply himself extensively to Latin America, it was not absent from his worries. In his works about Imperialism there are frequent references to Latin America, using Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay to illustrate his theory and show the worst effects of the inter-imperialist contradictions that divided the region. In the First Congress of Soviets he denounced the North American imperialists who “are anxious to devour Mexico” [25].
With the great Revolution of October, the theory of a modern Revolution with its specific anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, and anti-oligarchic characteristics and with its uninterrupted transition to the socialist-communist Revolution expanded to Latin America.
On one hand the objective socio-economic structures existed for the popularization of Marxism-Leninism: Imperialist penetration, Capitalism, a deepening of the class struggle, and agrarian problem which still today have not been solved. On the other hand, the existed an increase in the entire region of liberation movements as part of a global “revolutionary situation of general character” whose apex was the Great October Revolution.
The Communist Parties found in the examples of popular action and socio-political thought the subjective factors which bring alive the Revolutionary processes of the region even today.
Carolus Wimmer.
We commemorate with Revolutionary optimism this 100-year anniversary of the October Revolution expressing as did Lenin in 1905: “the defeat of Russian Tsardom- heroically started by our working class- will change the course of all of the countries, will ease the task of the workers of all nations, of all states, across all of the confines of the Globe”[26].
The history of the last 100 years clearly confirms the truth of this Leninist vision.
[1] Eduardo Viera. Revista Internacional (International Review), Caracas, 1977, pg. 32
[2] Ibid, pg. 33
[3] Pravda, 8.XI, 1964
[4]Pravda, 5.XI, 1967. Quote taken from the pronounced speech in Moscow of Luis Corvalán, General Secretary of the CC of the CP of Chile in the formal meeting dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Great Socialist Revolution of October.
[5] L.Barreto. Obras completas (Complete Works), Sao Paulo, 1956, t. IX, pg.72
[6] J. Ingenieros. Enseñanzas económicas de la revolución rusa. Los tiempos nuevos (Economic Lessons of the Russian Revolution. New Times), Buenos Aires, 1950, pg. 211
[7] Ibid, pg. 229
[8] Nuestra Palabra (Our Word), Buenos Aires, 21.XXX, 1967
[9] Pravda, 7.XI, 1964
[10] A. Pereira. Ensayos de Historia del Brasil (Lessons of Brazilian History), Moscow, 1962, pg. 260. Also see Problemas, 1958, N° 39
[11] Revista Cuba (Cuban Review), November 1967, pg.4
[12] Revista Cuba (Cuban Review), November 1967, pg. 5-6
[13] Revista Internacional (International Review), 1967, N°11, pg. 80
[14] Pravda, 8.XI, 1964
[15] V. I. Lenin. Selected Works in three volumes, Spanish edition, t.3, Moscow, 1966, pg. 754
[16] Ibid, pg.182-183
[17] Ibid, pg. 184
[18] Ibid, pg. 184
[19] Ibid, pg. 188-189
[20] Ibid, pg. 189
[21] Ibid, pg. 193
[22] Ibid, pp. 4-5
[23] J. Sanoja Hernández. 60 años de la URSS y su impacto en el proceso político venezolano (60 Years of the USSR and its impact on the Venezuelan Political Process), Caracas, Cantaclaro Editions, 1983, pp.27-28
[24] Ibid, pg. 8
[25] V. I. Lenin. Complete Works, 2° ed., Buenos Aires, Cartago, t. X, pg. 94
[26] Ibid, pg. 95.
* Director of the Journal “Debate Abierto” (Open Debate), International Relations Secretary of the Communist Party of Venezuela.
MARXISM AND CLASS: SOME DEFINITIONS

http://www.mltranslations.org/Britain/Marxclass.htm
MARXISM AND CLASS: SOME DEFINITIONS
A paper from the COMMUNIST LEAGUE (Britain)
The Concept of Social Class
The concept of social class as “a division or order of society according to status (‘The Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 3; Oxford; 1989; p. 279) is a very ancient one, the English word ‘class’ being derived from the Latin ‘classis’, meaning each of the “… ancient divisions of the Roman people” (Charles T. Onions (Ed.): ‘The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology’; Oxford; 1985; p. 180). Servius Tullius, king of Rome in the 6th century BC, organised a classification system which divided citizens into five classes according to wealth”. (‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1994; p. 455).

The Marxist Definition of Class
Marxist-Leninists accept the concept of social class put forward above, but hold that a person’s social class is determined not by the amount of his wealth, but by the source of his income as determined by his relation to labour and to the means of production.

“Classes are large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated by law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organisation of labour, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and their mode of acquiring it”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘A Great Beginning: Heroism of the Workers in the Rear: ‘Communist Subbotniks’ in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 29; Moscow; 1965; p. 421).

To Marxist-Leninists, therefore, the class to which a person belongs is determined by objective reality, not by someone’s opinion.

On the basis of the above definition, Marxist-Leninists distinguish three basic classes in 19th century Britain:

“There are three great social groups, whose members… live on wages, profit and ground rent respectively”. (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p. 886).

These three basis classes are 1) the proletariat or working class, 2) the bourgeoisie or capitalist class and 3) the landlord class, respectively.

The Landlord Class
Marxist-Leninists define the landlord class as that class which owns land and derives its income from ground rent on that land:

“Land becomes… personified and… gets on its hind legs to demand… its share of the product created with its help…: rent (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p. 824-25).

With the development of capitalist society, however, the landlord class progressively loses its importance and a new class emerges — the petty bourgeoisie. Thus, in a developed capitalist society, there are still three basic classes, but these are now: 1) the capitalist class or bourgeoisie; 2) the petty bourgeoisie; and 3) the working class or proletariat:

“Every capitalist country… is basically divided into three main forces: the bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Constitutional Illusions’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 6; Moscow; 1964; p. 202).

The Bourgeoisie
The English word ‘bourgeoisie‘ is derived from the French word ‘bourgeoisie’ meaning “… the trading middle class” (Charles T. Onions (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 110) as distinct from the landlord class.

Marxist-Leninists define the bourgeoisie or capitalist class as

“…the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labour”. (Friedrich Engels: Note to: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 204).

The capitalist class includes persons whose remuneration may come nominally in the form of a salary, but which is in fact due to their position in the capitalist class (e.g., the directors of large companies). It also includes persons who are not employers, but who serve the capitalist class in high administrative positions:

“The latter group contains sections of the population who belong to the big bourgeoisie: all the rentiers (living on the income from capital and real estate…), then part of the intelligentsia, the high military and civil officials, etc. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Development of Capitalism in Russia’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1960; p. 504).

It also includes the dependents of these persons.

The Proletariat
The English word ‘proletariat‘ is derived from the Latin ‘proles’, meaning ‘offspring’, since according to Roman law a proletarian served the state “… not with his property, but only with his offspring (Charles T. Onions (Ed.): ibid.; p. 714).

Marxist-Leninists define the proletariat or working class as

“…that class of modern wage labourers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labour power in order to live (Friedrich Engels: Note to the 1888 English Edition of: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 204).

In modern society, “… the proletariat alone is a really revolutionary class”. (Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in:

Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 216) so that, in producing the proletariat, the bourgeoisie produces “… its own gravediggers”. (Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 218).

The ‘Middle Class’
The term ‘middle class’ is used by Marxists — including Marx and Engels themselves — in two different ways:

Firstly, in the historical sense,

“… in the sense of… the French word ‘bourgeoisie that possessing class which is differentiated from the so-called aristocracy (Friedrich Engels: Preface to ‘The Condition of the Working Class in England: From Personal Observation and Authentic Sources’, in: Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 4; Moscow; 1975; p. 304).

secondly, when speaking of modern capitalist society, with the meaning of petty bourgeoisie’, discussed in the next section.

The Petty Bourgeoisie
Between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, stands the petty bourgeoisie:

“In countries where modern civilisation has become fully developed, a new class of petty bourgeois has been formed” (Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London,’ 1943; p. 231).

The English term ‘petty bourgeoisie’ is an anglicisation of the French term ‘petite bourgeoisie’, meaning ‘little bourgeoisie’. Marxist-Leninists define the petty bourgeoisie as a class which owns or rents small means of production which it operates largely without employing wage labour, but often with the assistance of members of their families: “A petty bourgeois is the owner of small property”, (Vladimir I. Lenin: Note to: ‘To the Rural Poor’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 2; London; 1944; p. 254).

As a worker, the petty bourgeois has interests in common with the proletariat; as owner of means of production, however, he has interests in common with the bourgeoisie. In other words, the petty bourgeoisie has a divided allegiance towards the two decisive classes in capitalist society.

Thus, the ‘independent’ petty bourgeois producer

“… is cut up into two persons. As owner of the means of production he is a capitalist; as a labourer he is his own wage- labourer”. (Karl Marx: ‘Theories of Surplus Value’, Part 1; Moscow; undated; p. 395).

and consequently petty bourgeois “…are for ever vacillating between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie”. (Joseph V. Stalin: ‘The Logic of Facts’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 4; Moscow; 1953; p. 143).

This divided allegiance between the two decisive classes in modern capitalist society applies also to a section of employed persons — those who are involved in superintendence and the lower levels of management — e.g., foremen, charge-hands, departmental managers, etc. These employees have a supervisory function, a function is to ensure that the workers produce a maximum of surplus value for the employer. On the one hand, such persons are exploited workers, with interests in common with the proletariat (from which they largely spring); on the other hand, their position as agents of the management in supervising the efficient exploitation of their fellow employees gives them interests in common with the bourgeoisie:

“An industrial army of workmen, under the command of a capitalist, requires, like a real army, officers (managers) and sergeants (foremen, overlookers) who, while the work is being done, command in the name of the capitalist”, (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: An Analysis of Capitalist Production’, Volume 1; Moscow; 1959; p. 332).

“The labour of supervision and management… has a double nature. On the one hand, all labour in which many individuals cooperate necessarily requires a commanding will to coordinate and unify the process…. This is a productive job…. On the other hand, this supervision work necessarily arises in all modes of production based on the antithesis between the labourer, as the direct producer, and the owner of the means of production. The greater this antagonism, the greater the role played by supervision”. (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p. 383-84).

Because of this divided allegiance, which corresponds to that of the petty bourgeoisie proper, Marxist-Leninists place such employees (and their dependents) in the petty bourgeoisie. For the same reason, Marxist-Leninists also place persons in the middle and lower ranks of the coercive forces of the capitalist state — the army and police — (and their dependents) in the petty bourgeoisie.

The Polarisation of Capitalist Society
Because of the small size of their means of production, petty-bourgeois are in constant danger of sinking into the proletariat:

“The lower strata of the middle class… sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital… is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly their specialised skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production”. (Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’ in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 213).

“The working class gains recruits from the higher strata of society… A mass of petty industrialists and small rentiers are hurled down into its ranks”. (Karl Marx: ‘Wage-Labour and Capital’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943′ p. 280).

and even the old, once highly respected petty bourgeois professions become proletarianised:

“The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage-labourers”. (Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’, in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 208).

Thus, as capitalist society develops, it becomes increasingly polarised into two basic classes — wealthy bourgeois and poor proletarians:

“Society as a whole is more and more splitting up… into two great classes facing each other — bourgeoisie and proletariat”. (Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels: ‘Manifesto of the Communist Party’, in: Karl Marx: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 1; London; 1943; p. 205-06).

“Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, agony of toil, slavery, ignorance, brutality, moral degradation, at the opposite pole”. (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’. Volume 1; Moscow; 1959; p. 645).

The Peasantry
The English word ‘peasant is derived from the Latin ‘pagus’, meaning a “… country district”. (Charles T. Onions (Ed.): op. cit.; p. 660) and is defined as “… one who lives in the country and works on the land”. (The Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 11; Oxford; 1989; p.402).

The above definition excludes the landlord class from the peasantry since, even if a landlord ‘lives in the country’ he does not work on the land’, but derives his income from ground rent.

The peasantry do not form a class of society, but consist of a number of different classes which live in the country and work on the land:

“It is best to distinguish the rich, the middle and the poor peasants” (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘To the Rural Poor: An Explanation for the Peasants of what the Social-Democrats want’ (hereafter listed as ‘Vladimir I. Lenin (1903’), in ‘Selected Works’, Volume 2; London; 1944; p. 261).

The peasantry is composed of:

Firstly, rich peasants, or rural capitalists, who employ labour, that is, who exploit poorer peasants:

“One of the main features of the rich peasants is that they hire farmhands and day labourers. Like the landlords, the rich peasants also live by the labour of others…. They try to squeeze as much work as they can out of their farmhands, and pay them as little as possible”. (Vladimir I. Lenin (1903: ibid.; p. 265).

Sometimes rich peasants are called ‘kulaks’, a word derived from the Russian ‘kulak’, originally meaning a “… tight-fisted person”. (‘The Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 8; Oxford; 1989; p. 543).

Secondly, the middle peasants or the rural petty bourgeoisie, who own or rent land but who do not employ labour. Speaking of the middle peasantry, Lenin says:

“Only in good years and under particularly favourable conditions is the independent husbandry of this type of peasant sufficient to maintain him and for that reason his position is a very unstable one. In the majority of cases the middle peasant cannot make ends meet without resorting to loans to be repaid by labour, etc., without seeking subsidiary’ earnings on the side”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Development of Capitalism in Russia’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 1; p. 235).

Thirdly, the poor peasants or rural proletariat. The poor peasant lives

“… not by the land, not by his farm, but by working for wages…. He… has ceased to be an independent farmer and has become a hireling, a proletarian”. (Vladimir I. Lenin (1900): op. cit.; p. 265-67).

Sometimes Marxist-Leninists describe poor peasants as “… semi-proletarians“, (Vladimir I. Lenin (1900): ibid.; p. 267) to distinguish them from urban proletarians, regarded as ‘full’ proletarians.

Neo-Marxism
‘Revisionism’ is “… a trend hostile to Marxism. within Marxism itself”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Marxism and Revisionism’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 15; Moscow; 1963; p. 32). In other words, a revisionist poses as a Marxist but in fact puts forward a programme which objectively serves the interests of a bourgeoisie:

“The revisionists spearheaded their struggle mainly against Marxism-Leninism… and replaced this theory with an opportunist, counterrevolutionary theory in the service of the bourgeoisie and imperialism (Enver Hoxha: Report to the 5th Congress of the Party of Labour of Albania, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; Tirana; 1982; p. 190).

Despite all the torrents of propaganda levelled against it, Marxism- Leninism still retains enormous prestige among working people all over the world. It is for this reason that many modern revisionists call themselves ‘Neo-Marxists’ or ‘Western Marxists’ — claiming that they are not revising Marxism, but merely bringing it up to date, bringing into the age of the electronic computer which Marx and Engels never knew.

In general, ‘neo-Marxists’ pay their loudest tributes to Marx ‘s early writings, before he became a Marxist. ‘Neo-Marxism’ is essentially a product not merely of universities, but of the worst kind of university lecturer who equates obscurantism with intellectualism. One sees admiring students staggering from his lectures muttering ‘What a brilliant man! I couldn’t understand a word!’.

Even sociologists sympathetic to ‘neo-Marxism’ speak of “… the extreme difficulty of language characteristic of much of Western Marxism in the twentieth century”. (Perry Anderson: ‘Considerations of Western Marxism’; London; 1970; p. 54).

But, of course, this obscure language has a great advantage for those who use it, making it easy to claim, when challenged, that the challenger has misunderstood what one was saying.

Much ‘Neo-Marxism’ is an eclectic hotchpotch of Marxism with idealist philosophy — giving it, it is claimed, a ‘spiritual aspect’ lacking in the original. A typical example is the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who writes: “I believe in the general schema provided by Marx”, (Jean-Paul Sartre: ‘Between Existentialism and Marxism’; London; 1974;

p. 53), but — and it is a big ‘but’ — it must be a ‘Marxism’ liberated from “… the old guard of mummified Stalinists”. (Jean-Paul Sartre: ibid.; p. 53). And how, according to Sartre, is this ‘liberation’ to be effected? By merging it with the existentialism of the Danish idealist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard! “Kierkegaard and Marx… institute themselves… as our future”. (Jean-Paul Sartre: ibid.; p. 169).

However, this paper is concerned only with revisionist theories which are based on distortions of the Marxist-Leninist definition of class.

In particular, it will be concerned with ‘neo-Marxist’ definitions of the proletariat which narrow and restrict it as a class. While to these ‘neo-Marxists’ the proletariat may still be, in words, ‘the gravedigger of capitalism’, they portray it as a gravedigger equipped with a teaspoon instead of a spade.

The Unemployed
Some ‘neo-Marxists’ exclude the unemployed from the proletariat on the grounds that someone who is not working cannot be regarded as a member of the working class!

But Marx explicitly characterises the unemployed, the “… industrial reserve army”, (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production Volume 1; Moscow; 1959; p. 628) as part of the working class, as “… a relative surplus population among the working class”, (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1974; p. 518) and speaks of “… the working class (now actively reinforced by its entire reserve army)”. (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1974; p. 414).

Clearly, therefore, the founders of Marxism did not exclude the unemployed from the working class.

Non-Productive Labour
Other ‘neo-Marxists’ exclude all workers engaged in non-productive labour from the working class.

Certainly, for the purpose of analysing the complexities of capitalist society, Marx differentiated labour into productive and unproductive labour. According to Marx, “… only that labour is productive which creates a surplus value“. (Karl Marx: ‘Theories of Surplus Value’, Part 1; Moscow; n.d.; p 45).

It is on this basis that the Greek revisionist Nicos Poulantzas excludes non-productive workers from the working class:

“I have a rather limited and restricted definition of the working class. The criterion of productive and unproductive labour is sufficient to exclude unproductive workers from the working class”. (Nicos Poulantzas: ‘Classes in Contemporary Capitalism’; London; 1975; p 119, 121).

Poulantzas therefore assigns non-productive workers to the “… new petty bourgeoisie” (Nicos Poulantzas: ibid.; p. 117) asserting that “… the new petty bourgeoisie constitutes a separate class” (Nicos Poulantzas: ibid.; p. 115).

But

“… the distinction between productive and unproductive labour has nothing to do… with the particular speciality of the labour (Karl Marx: ‘Theories of Surplus Value’, Part 1; Moscow; n.d.; p 186).

The same kind of labour may be productive or unproductive:

“The same labour can be productive when I buy it as a capitalist, and unproductive when I buy it as a consumer”. (Karl Marx: ‘Theories of Surplus Value’, Part 1; Moscow; n.d.; p. 186).

For example, a teacher in a private school is engaged in productive labour (in the Marxist sense of the term), because his labour produces surplus value for the proprietors of the school. But a teacher in a state school, working under identical conditions, is engaged in unproductive labour, because his labour does not create surplus value.

Furthermore, many kinds of unproductive labour, such as the labour of clerical workers in a capitalist production firm,

“… while it does not create surplus value, enables him (the employer — Ed.) to appropriate surplus value which, in effect, amounts to the same thing with respect to his capital. It is, therefore, a source of profit for him”. (Karl Marx: ‘Capital: A Critique of Political Economy’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1971; p. 294).

Thus the question of whether an employee is engaged in productive or unproductive labour has no relevance to the question of whether he belongs to the proletariat.

The ‘Labour Aristocracy’
In developed capitalist states,

“… the bourgeoisie, by plundering the colonial and weak nations, has been able to bribe the upper stratum of the proletariat with crumbs from the superprofits”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: Draft Programme of the RCP (B), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 29; Moscow; 1965; p. 104).

Superprofits are profits

“… obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their ‘own’ country”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: Preface to the French and German Editions of ‘Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 22; Moscow; 1964; p. 193).

Marxist-Leninists call employees in receipt of a share in such super profits “… the labour aristocracy”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ibid.; p. 194).

Some ‘neo-Marxists’ exclude employees who share in superprofits from the proletariat. Thus, according to the London-based ‘Finsbury Communist Association’, in Britain “… the proletariat consists of the workers on subsistence wages or below” (Finsbury Communist Association: ‘Class and Party in Britain’; London; 1966; p. 4).

However, Lenin defines the labour aristocracy as a part of the proletariat, as a “… privileged upper stratum of the proletariat”, (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Imperialism and the Split in Socialism’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 23; Moscow; 1965; p. 110) as “… the upper stratum of the proletariat”, (Vladimir I. Lenin: Draft Programme of the RCP (B), in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 29; Moscow; 1965; p. 104) as “… the top strata of the working class”. (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘How the Bourgeoisie utilises Renegades”, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 30; Moscow; 1965; p. 34).

Furthermore, while Lenin characterises the ‘labour aristocracy’ as “… an insignificant minority of the working class”, (Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘Under a False Flag’, in: ‘Collected Works’, Volume 21; Moscow; 1964; p. 152) the ‘Finsbury Communist Association’ presents it as “… the overwhelming majority of Britain’s workers” (Finsbury Communist Association: ‘Class and Party in Britain’; London; 1966; p. 5).

Thus, according to the ‘Finsbury Communist Association’, the British imperialists pay the overwhelming majority of Britain’s workers’ above the value of their labour power. Since there is not even a Marxist-Leninist party, much less a revolutionary situation, in Britain at present, this can only be out of the sheer goodness of their hearts!

Clearly the ‘neo-Marxist’ picture of imperialism bears no relation to reality. It merely lends spurious support to the false thesis that, since the workers in developed capitalist countries are ‘exploiters’, the future for socialism lies only in the less developed countries in the East!

Conclusion
The most urgent task facing Marxist-Leninists today is to rebuild unified Marxist-Leninist parties in each country, united in a Marxist-Leninist International.

But such parties, and such an international, can be built only on the basis of agreement on Marxist-Leninist principles.

Perhaps agreement to accept a few simple definitions put forward long ago by the founders of Marxism-Leninism, and to reject their revisionist distortions, might constitute a small step in that direction.

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Tactics of the Class Struggle of the Proletariat

https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1914/granat/ch05.htm

Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Karl Marx

A Brief Biographical Sketch With an Exposition of Marxism


Tactics of the Class Struggle of the Proletariat

After examining, as early as 1844-45, one of the main shortcomings in the earlier materialism—namely, its inability to understand the conditions or appreciate the importance of practical revolutionary activity—Marx, along with his theoretical work, devoted unremitting attention, throughout his lifetime, to the tactical problems of the proletariat’s class struggle. An immense amount of material bearing on this is contained in all the works of Marx, particularly in the four volumes of his correspondence with Engels, published in 1913. This material is still far from having been brought together, collected, examined and studied. We shall therefore have to confine ourselves here to the most general and brief remarks, emphasizing that Marx justly considered that, without this aspect, materialism is incomplete, onesided, and lifeless. The fundamental task of proletarian tactics was defined by Marx in strict conformity with all the postulates of his materialist-dialectical Weltanschauung [“world-view”]. Only an objective consideration of the sum total of the relations between absolutely all the classes in a given society, and consequently a consideration of the objective stage of development reached by that society and of the relations between it and other societies, can serve as a basis for the correct tactics of an advanced class. At the same time, all classes and all countries are regarded, not statistically, but dynamically —i.e., not in a state of immobility—but in motion (whose laws are determined by the economic conditions of existence of each class). Motion, in its turn, is regarded from the standpoint, not only of the past, but also of the future, and that not in the vulgar sense it is understood in by the “evolutionists”, who see only slow changes, but dialectically: “…in developments of such magnitude 20 years are no more than a day,“ Marx wrote to Engels, “thought later on there may come days in which 20 years are embodied” (Briefwechsel, Vol. 3, p. 127).[2]

At each stage of development, at each moment, proletarian tactics must take account of this objectively inevitable dialectics of human history, on the one hand, utilizing the periods of political stagnation or of sluggish, so-called “peaceful” development in order to develop the class-consciousness, strength and militancy of the advanced class, and, on the other hand, directing all the work of this utilization towards the “ultimate aim” of that class’s advance, towards creating in it the ability to find practical solutions for great tasks in the great days, in which “20 years are embodied”. Two of Marx’s arguments are of special importance in this connection: one of these is contained in The Poverty of Philosopy, and concerns the economic struggle and economic organizations of the proletariat; the other is contained in the Communist Manifesto and concerns the asks of the proletariat. The former runs as follows:

“Large-scale industry concentrates in one place a crowd of people unknown to one another. Competition divides their interests. But the maintenance of wages, this common interest which they have against their boss, unites them in a common thought of resistance—combination…. Combinations, at first isolated, constitute themselves into groups … and in face of always united capital, the maintenance of the association becomes more necessary to them [i.e., the workers] than that of wages…. In this struggle—a veritable civil war—all the elements necessary for coming battle unite and develop. Once it has reached this point, association takes on a political character. (Marx, The Poverty of Philosopy, 1847)

Here we have the programme and tactics of the economic struggle and of the trade union movement for several decades to come, for all the lengthy period in which the proletariat will prepare its forces for the “coming battle.” All this should be compared with numerous references by Marx and Engels to the example of the British labor movement, showing how industrial “property” leads to attempts “to buy the proletariat” (Briefwechsel, Vol. 1, p. 136).[3] to divert them from the struggle; how this prosperity in general “demoralizes the workers” (Vol. 2, p. 218); how the British proletariat becomes “bourgeoisified”—“this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie” Chartists (1866; Vol. 3, p. 305)[4]; how the British workers’ leaders are becoming a type midway between “a radical bourgeois and a worker” (in reference to Holyoak, Vol. 4, p. 209); how, owning to Britain’s monopoly, and as long as that monopoly lasts, “the British workingman will not budge” (Vol. 4, p. 433).[5] The tactics of the economic struggle, in connection with the general course (and outcome) of the working-class movement, are considered here from a remarkably broad, comprehensive, dialectical, and genuinely revolutionary standpoint.

The Communist Manifesto advanced a fundamental Marxist principle on the tactics of the political struggle:

“The Communists fight for the attainment of the immediate aims, for the enforcement of the momentary interests of the working class; but in the movement of the present, they also represent and take care of the future of that movement.” That was why, in 1848, Marx supported the party of the “agrarian revolution” in Poland, “that party which brought about the Krakow insurrection in 1846.”[1]

In Germany, Marx, in 1848 and 1849, supported the extreme revolutionary democrats, and subsequently never retracted what he had then said about tactics. He regarded the German bourgeoisie as an element which was “inclined from the very beginning to betray the people” (only an alliance with the peasantry could have enabled the bourgeoisie to completely achieve its aims) “and compromise with the crowned representatives of the old society.” Here is Marx’s summing-up of the German bourgeois-democratic revolution—an analysis which, incidentally, is a sample of a materialism that examines society in motion, and, moreover, not only from the aspect of a motion that is backward:

“Without faith in itself, without faith in the people, grumbling at those above, trembling before those below … intimidated by the world storm … no energy in any respect, plagiarism in every respect … without initiative … an execrable old man who saw himself doomed to guide and deflect the first youthful impulses of a robust people in his own senile interests….” (Neue Rheinische Zeitung, 1848; see Literarischer Nachlass, Vol. 3, p. 212.)[6]

About 20 years later, Marx declared, in a letter to Engels (Briefwechsel, Vol. 3, p.224), that the Revolution of 1848 had failed because the bourgeoisie had preferred peace with slavery to the mere prospect of a fight for freedom. When the revolutionary period of 1848-49 ended, Marx opposed any attempt to play at revolution (his struggle against Schapper and Willich), and insisted on the ability to work in a new phase, which in a quasi-“peaceful” way was preparing new revolutions. The spirit in which Marx wanted this work to be conducted is to be seen in his appraisal of the situation in Germany in 1856, the darkest period of reaction: “The whole thing in Germany will depend on the possibility of backing the proletarian revolution by some second edition of the Peasant War” (Briefwechsel, Vol. 2, p. 108).[7] While the democratic (bourgeois) revolution in Germany was uncompleted, Marx focused every attention, in the tactics of the socialist proletariat, on developing the democratic energy of the peasantry. He held that Lassalle’s attitude was “objectively… a betrayal of the whole workers’ movement to Prussia” (Vol. 3, p.210), incidentally because Lassalle was tolerant of the Junkers and Prussian nationalism.

“In a predominantly agricultural country,” Engels wrote in 1865, in exchanging views with Marx on their forthcoming joint declaration in the press, “…it is dastardly to make an exclusive attack on the bourgeoisie in the name of the industrial proletariat but never to devote a word to the patriarchal exploitation of the rural proletariat under the lash of the great feudal aristocracy” (Vol. 3, p. 217).[8]

From 1864 to 1870, when the period of the consummation of the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Germany was coming to an end, a period in which the Prussian and Austrian exploiting classes were struggling to complete that revolution in one way or another from above, Marx not only rebuked Lassalle, who was coquetting with Bismarck, but also corrected Liebknecht, who had “lapsed into Austrophilism” and a defense of particularism; Marx demanded revolutionary tactics which would combat with equal ruthlessness both Bismarck and the Austrophiles, tactics which would not be adapted to the “victor”—the Prussian Junkers—but would immediately renew the revolutionary struggle against him despite the conditions created by the Prussian military victories (Briefwechsel, Vol. 3, pp. 134, 136, 147, 179, 204, 210, 215, 418, 437, 440-41).

In the celebrated Address of the International of September 9 1870, Marx warned the French proletariat against an untimely uprising, but when an uprising nevertheless took place (1871), Marx enthusiastically hailed the revolutionary initiative of the masses, who were “storming heaven” (Marx’s letter to Kugelmann).

From the standpoint of Marx’s dialectical materialism, the defeat of revolutionary action in that situation, as in many other, was a lesser evil, in the general course and outcome of the proletarian struggle, than the abandonment of a position already occupied, than surrender without battle. Such a surrender would have demoralised the proletariat and weakened its militancy. While fully appreciating the use of legal means of struggle during periods of political stagnation and the domination of bourgeois legality, Marx, in 1877 and 1878, following the passage of the Anti-Socialist Law,[9] sharply condemned Most’s “revolutionary phrases”; no less sharply, if not more so, did he attack the opportunism that had for a time come over the official Social-Democratic Party, which did not at once display resoluteness, firmness, revolutionary spirit and the readiness to resort to an illegal struggle in response to the Anti-Socialist Law (Briefwechsel, Vol. 4, pp. 397, 404, 418, 422, 424; cf. also letters to Sorge).


Notes 

[1] The reference is to the democratic uprising for national liberation in the Krakow Republic which in 1815 was placed under the joint control of Austria, Prussia and Russia. The rebels set up a National Government which issued a manifesto proclaiming abolition of feudal services and promising to give the peasants lands without redemption. In its other proclamations it announced the establishment of national workshops with higher wages and the introduction of equal rights for all citizens. Soon, however, the uprising was suppressed.—Ed.

A Masterpiece of Human Intelligence: Quotes from Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” (1867)
| May 29, 2017 | 12:58 pm | Analysis, class struggle, Economy, Karl Marx, Labor | No comments

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Masterpiece of Human Intelligence: Quotes from Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” (1867)

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/05/a-masterpiece-of-human-intelligence.html
On the occasion of the 150 years since the publication of “Das Kapital” (The Capital)- the most significant book for the world’s working class- we remember some basic thoughts written by Karl Marx. 
The commodity is first of all, an external object, a thing which through its qualities satisfies human needs of whatever kind. The nature of these needs, whether they arise, for example, from the stomach, or the imagination, makes no difference. Nor does it matter here how the thing satisfies man’s need, whether directly as a means of subsistence, i.e. an object of consumption, or indirectly as a means of production
  • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 1, pg. 41.
Every commodity is compelled to chose some other commodity for its equivalent.
  • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 3, pg. 65.
The whole mystery of commodities, all the magic and necromancy that surrounds the products of labor as long as they take the form of commodities, vanishes therefore, so soon as we come to other forms of production.
  • Vol. I, ch.1, section 4.
A commodity appears, at first sight, a very trivial thing, and easily understood.Its analysis shows that it is, in reality, a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.
  • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 4, pg. 81.
The religious world is but the reflex of the real world.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 1, Section 4, pg. 91.
Money is a crystal formed of necessity in the course of the exchanges, whereby different products of labour are practically equated to one another and thus by practice converted into commodities.
    • Vol. I, Ch. 2, pg. 99.
Capital is money, capital is commodities. … By virtue of it being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.
  • Vol. I, Ch. 4, pp. 171–172.
As capitalist, he is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital. But capital has one single life impulse, the tendency to create value and surplus-value, to make its constant factor, the means of production, absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus-labour. Capital is dead labor,that vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.

  • Vol. I, Ch. 10, Section 1, p. 257.
If this labourer were in possession of his own means of production, and was satisfied to live as a labourer, he need not work beyond beyond the time necessary for the reproduction of his means of subsistence, say 8 hours a day.
  • Vol. I, Ch. 11, pg. 336.
The directing motive, the end and aim of capitalist production, is to extract the greatest possible amount of surplus value, and consequently to exploit labor-power to the greatest possible extent.
  • Vol. I, Ch. 13, pg. 363.
Unlimited exploitation of cheap labour-power is the sole foundation of their power to compete.
  • Vol. I, Ch. 15, Section 8, pg. 520.
Capitalist production, therefore, develops technology, and the combining together of various processes into a social whole, only by sapping the original sources of all wealth — the soil and the labourer.
  • Vol. I, Ch. 15 (last sentence), pg. 556.
In capitalist society spare time is acquired for one class by converting the whole life-time of the masses into labour-time.
  • Vol. I, Ch. 17, Section IV, pg. 581.
One capitalist always kills many.
  • Vol. I, Ch. 32, p. 836.
The monopoly of capital becomes a fetter upon the mode of production, which has sprung up and flourished along with, and under it. Centralisation of the means of production and socialisation of labour at last reach a point where they become incompatible with their capitalist integument. This integument is burst asunder. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated.
  • Vol. I, Ch. 32, p. 837.
We have just seen that, apart from money-capital, circulating capital is only another name for commodity-capital. But to the extent that labour power circulates in the market,it is not capital, no form of commodity-capital. It is not capital at all; the labourer is not a capitalist, although he brings a commodity to market, namely his own skin.
  • Vol. II, Ch. X, p. 211.
But simultaneously with the development of capitalist production the credit system also develops. The money-capital which the capitalist cannot as yet employ in his own business is employed by others, who pay him interest for its use.
  • Vol. II, Ch. XVII, p. 325.
Since property here exists in the form of stock, its movement and transfer become purely a result of gambling on the stock exchange, where the little fish are swallowed by the sharks and the lambs by the stock exchange wolves.
  • Vol. III, Ch. XXVII, The Role of Credit, p. 440.
“Just as the savage must wrestle with Nature to satisfy his wants, to maintain and reproduce life, so must civilised man, and he must do so in all social formations and under all possible modes of production. With his development this realm of physical necessity expands as a result of his wants; but, at the same time, the forces of production which satisfy these wants also increase. Freedom in this field can only consist in socialised man, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature; and achieving this with the least expenditure of energy and under conditions most favourable to, and worthy of, their human nature. But it nonetheless still remains a realm of necessity. Beyond it begins that development of human energy which is an end in itself, the true realm of freedom, which, however, can blossom forth only with this realm of necessity as its basis. The shortening of the working-day is its basic prerequisite”.
– Vol. III.
Dimitris Koutsoumbas: The significance of the October Revolution in the era of the transition from capitalism to socialism-communism

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dimitris Koutsoumbas: The significance of the October Revolution in the era of the transition from capitalism to socialism-communism

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/05/dimitris-koutsoumbas-significance-of.html
By Dimitris Koutsoumbas*.
Source: International Communist Review, Issue 7, 2017.
 
In 2017 we will honour the 100th anniversary of the Great Socialist Revolution that took place in 1917 in Russia. This event marked and determined the course of millions of people, not just within the geographical confines of the first workers’ state in the history of humanity, the USSR, but it also had an impact of every corner of the planet for many decades.
October demonstrates the working class’s potential and capacity to implement its historical mission as the only truly revolutionary class, to lead the first attempt to construct socialism-communism.
At the same time, October shows the irreplaceable role of the guiding force of the socialist revolution, the communist party.
Great October demonstrates the enormous strength of proletarian internationalism. Despite the developments after the overthrow of socialism in 1989-1991, the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, with all the theoretical and practical experience and maturity that we have acquired over the years, makes us even more certain and categorical about the timeliness and necessity of socialism-communism.
The counterrevolutionary overthrows do not change the character of the era. The 21st century will be the century of a new upsurge of the global revolutionary movement and a new series of socialist revolutions.
The daily struggles for partial and more general gains are undeniably necessary, but they cannot provide substantial, long-term and permanent solutions. Socialism remains the only way out.
The necessity of socialism is highlighted by the sharpening of the contradictions in the contemporary capitalist world, the international imperialist system. The material preconditions for socialism, i.e. labour power and the means of production, have matured within capitalism itself.
Capitalism has socialized labour and production to unprecedented levels. The working class, the main productive force, constitutes the majority of the economically active population. However, the means of production, the products of social labour are privately owned by the capitalists.
This contradiction is the root cause of all the crisis phenomena of contemporary capitalist societies, such as economic crises, the destruction of the environment, the drug problem, the long working day despite the great increase of labour productivity, and which of course coexists with unemployment, under-employment and semi-employment, the intensification of the exploitation of labour power etc.
At the same time, however, this reality signals the need to abolish private ownership of the concentrated means of production, to socialize them and use them in a planned way in social production, the planning of the economy by workers’ power so that the relations of production correspond to the level of development of the forces of production.
 
***
The impact of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the first victorious battle in history for the emancipation of the working class, remains undiminished to this day. Socialism was transformed from a prediction into a specific reality.
The victory of the revolution provided the possibility of condensing its lessons into a complete theory for socialist revolution and the party. The lessons from it provided the ideological and political basis for the establishment of the Communist International, for a new impetus for the international communist movement.
The theoretical legacy of October, enriched by the experience of the socialist revolutions that then followed, is priceless.
It confirmed in practice the correctness of the Marxist-Leninist theory of the revolution, which flows from the complete systematic analysis of imperialism i.e. that the revolution matures over the course of historical developments and breaks out in a period determined by a combination of objective and subjective causes.
The imperialists and all kinds of renegades distort or conceal the importance of the October Revolution because they obviously understand full well that through its victory the theory and ideas of Marxism became a material force, that millions of workers all over the world mobilized and continue to mobilize against capital’s power, were victorious and organized their own state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is founded on the direct producers, the working majority, and is the highest form of democracy that humanity has ever seen.
The Paris Communards in the 19th century took and held power for just 70 days; the new charge to heaven lasted 70 years, constructed socialism, and made an enormous contribution all over the world, surpassing the confines of one country.
The nihilistic stance towards the socialism we knew, the adoption of views that say it was a total failure-because its course was interrupted-is an unscientific stance and an ahistorical one and leads to impasses.
Socialism was constructed, developed, and began to solve the major economic and social problems. It was not possible for a number of reasons for it to highlight and most of all liberate, over the entire course of its construction, the inherent potential for the constant development and perfecting of production, to consolidate itself in its struggle against the capitalist system.
However, this does not negate the contribution and role of the socialist system, as it was formed in the 20th century, irrespective of deficiencies, weaknesses and mistakes that appeared during this difficult course.
What the October Revolution objectively signaled is the undeniable fact that socialism is the future of humanity. It is the system that through the historical development of society will create new social relations, socialist-communist ones, focusing on the people and the satisfaction of all their needs.
 
***
The October Revolution in practice confirmed the Leninist analysis concerning the weakest link in the imperialist chain. Up until that point what was missing in the international movement was the theoretical foundation for the possibility of the socialist revolution being victorious in one country or a group of countries, which would emerge as weak links, as a result of the sharpening of the internal contradictions under the influence of international developments.
Of course due to uneven economic and political development, such characteristics can manifest themselves in countries of a medium and lower level of development, where the revolutionary process of course can begin more easily but where it is exceptionally difficult for socialist construction to continue victoriously. Lenin’s analyses contributed to the development of Marxism and to the strategic thinking of the Bolsheviks as a whole.
The contribution of Lenin and the Bolshevik party was decisive in the confrontation against the section of social-democracy which, violating the decisions of the 2nd International, supported the bourgeois classes of their countries, sometimes by voting for war credits in Parliament, other times by participating in governments that waged wars, supposedly so that there could be a “peaceful development”, defending the “imperialist peace” with a gun to the people’s heads. A political line which inevitably entangled them even more deeply in the imperialist war, in the sharpening of the contradictions and antagonisms of the imperialist states and their alliances.
Lenin with the strategic line that he followed determined that from the standpoint of the revolutionary movement of the working class that aims to take power via a revolution, the issue is not a simple “pacifist” opposition to war, but chiefly the utilization of ruptures, which objectively in such conditions, are created in the imperialist camp, the utilization of the weakening of the bourgeoisie in each country with the aim of transforming this imperialist war in each country, whether the country is an “aggressive” or “defensive” stance, into a struggle to overthrow bourgeois power that brings death and poverty for the children of the working class and people.
The October Revolution confirmed the Leninist position that the modern era, the era of monopoly capitalism, i.e. the imperialist stage of capitalism, is the era of the transition from capitalism to socialism-the era of socialist revolutions.
The Great October Socialist Revolution also confirmed the role of opportunism as the ideological-political expression of bought off sections of the working class, as the impact of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology on the labour movement.
Lenin, on the basis of the experience of the October revolution, engaged in particular with issues of the power of the new workers’ state, the dictatorship of the proletariat. He studied the experience of the Paris commune in detail, the experience of the Soviets of the 1905 revolution in Russia, the role of the state on the basis of the conclusions of Marx and Engels.
He made a particular contribution to identifying the seeds of the organs of the new power, the character of the dictatorship of the proletariat, as a higher form of state organization of class power for the transition from the early imperfect socialist society to the fully communist society, in both form and content.
These are lessons and experiences that have timeless value for today as regards the organization of the workers’-people’s struggle, when the class struggle is sharpening in conditions of a revolutionary crisis, a revolutionary situation, as regards the organization and expression of the alliance of the working class with the poor popular strata, its natural allies, the poor farmers and self-employed, with the working class in the vanguard, their transformation into a revolutionary forces capable of leading the decisive confrontation against bourgeois power and forming new worker’s-people’s institutions of the new power.
 
***
The KKE, studying the valuable experience of the October Revolution, Lenin’s legacy, the experience of the International Communist Movement itself expressed the conclusions from this research in a number of analyses and documents (Reflections on the causes of the overthrows in 1995, the 18th Congress’ decision in 2009 on the experience of the USSR and socialist construction and the causes of the overthrows, the National Conference on the History of the Party in 2011, the elaboration of the new Programme and Statutes of the Party at the 19th Congress in 2013).
We came to the crucial conclusion that the definition of the political goal, worker’s power, must be carried out on the basis of the objective definition of the character of the era, something that determines the class that is objectively in the foreground of social development.
This defines the character of the revolution and not the correlation of forces which other Communist Parties focus on.
Of course, the correlation between the two basic rival classes, the bourgeois class and the working class, as well as the stance of the intermediate strata, is a decisive factor for the timing of the socialist revolution. In this sense, a CP must take the correlation of class forces into account, in Leninist terms, i.e. in terms of the relations of the classes with power.
The CP must at the same time take into account and calculate the correlation of forces inside the labour movement, the movements of its social allies, as an necessary element for suitable maneuvers, slogans so that the masses can be drawn to the struggle for power on the basis of their own experience.
However this can in no instance become an alibi for the submission of the labour and communist movement to any form of bourgeois governance, for its participation in or toleration of this in the framework of capitalism.
All the flowers of bourgeois and opportunist ideological constructs bloomed in Greece in recent years. There was and still is a lot of discussion in relation to the need to create “left”, “progressive”, “democratic”, “anti-right”, “anti-memorandum”, “patriotic”, “national”, “ecumenical” government (All these names have been used to describe such governments) as an immediate proposal for a way out of the economic crisis and anti-people political line.
These proposals are being made both by the traditional and the newly formed bourgeois parties, as well as by parties on the “left” wing of the political spectrum. The labour movement must reject all those traps that aim to manipulate the workers’-people’s struggle and to co-opt the movement.
Of course, the unrepentant “Mensheviks” are also present today along with other tardy “communists” who, apart from anything else, follow the development of revolutionary thinking in a delayed way. They ahistorically promote Leninist analysis dating from before the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia in February 1917, regarding the possibility of a temporary government of workers and peasants, in conditions when Tsarist power had not yet been overthrown. What has this got to do with the situation today?
It is undeniable that the conditions of that period were entirely different, as we are talking about a revolutionary situation, with the people organized in the Soviets, armed. We are talking about a bourgeois state that had not had time to establish all its mechanisms.
In the current conditions of a non-revolutionary situation, of bourgeois power well established for many decades with a fully organized bourgeois state, such a goal of a transitional-temporary government in essence means cooperation with bourgeois forces in order to provide capitalism with breathing space, so that the system can overcome temporary or more general difficulties.
And what is even more important. Why should the revolutionary movement elevate a thought concerning a possible scenario, which was never realized in the end, into a general theoretical principle and not generalize the strategy of Lenin and the Bolsheviks that actually led to victory?
Of course, all these well-wishers today say nothing about the positions and political actions of Lenin, beginning in April, after the fall of Tsarism, proclaiming the victorious social revolution in Russia and leading the proletariat for the first time in history to storm heaven and carry out the revolution, breaking the ice, opening up and forging the path for socialism-communism.
Historical experience has taught us that first “workers'” and “left” governments emerged from social-democratic parties or as coalition governments of social-democratic parties with other bourgeois parties. There has been no instance in the history of the international labour movement and in the period immediately after World War I in particular, when such governments did not arise as a result of the maneuvering of the bourgeoisie in order to deal with a revolutionary upsurge, in order to assimilate the workers’-people’s discontent in conditions of a very deep economic crisis before or after a war.
The goal of such a “left”, “workers'” government in the framework of capitalist power, without a revolutionary overthrow, via parliamentary processes, was later adopted by CPs as an intermediate goal with transitional measures. The aim of this, as they believed, was to facilitate the struggle for socialism and solve some pressing popular demands.
However, experience demonstrates that, despite the good intentions of CPs, they were not able to open a window even and certainly not a path to socialism anywhere, and were also not able to stabilize some gains of the people’s movement. This includes the experience before and after World War II and up to the present day. Communist Parties found themselves in the end organizationally, ideologically and politically disarmed.
The historical experience and significance of the Great October Revolution is incomparable. It confirms that the salvation of the working class and the other popular strata, in conditions of an economic and political crisis, in conditions of imperialist war, is only possible by overthrowing capitalist power and ownership, which of course presupposes the weakening and complete bankruptcy of its various “left” forms, represented by the dangerous trends of reformism-opportunism and the governmental left, as is expressed in Greece by SYRIZA, as well as by its occasional satellites, such as Popular Unity, ANTARSYA and other marginal groups-both in quality and quantity-which give them the pretext of a false broadness.
 
***
The experience and theoretical analysis of the Bolsheviks together with their revolutionary activity in the period from the 1905 revolution to the October Revolution of 1917 has major timeless importance for communists all over the world. It is related to every aspect of the activity of a revolutionary party, which has not lost the goal of workers’ power.
It provides valuable experience for the work of communists amongst broad working class masses, inexperienced working class masses and poor popular strata. It demonstrates the constant and at the same time contradictory features of the development of the working class’s alliance with other allied popular strata.
It teaches us that heightened militant and even revolutionary attitudes coexist with confused and disorienting standpoints and views. Of course the most robust attitudes develop amongst the industrial workers, the working class.
Consequently, it is very important for the ideological and political vanguard, the communist party, to elaborate and stick closely to the political line, to intervene substantially and specifically so that the movement of insurgent masses, the militant protests, planned confrontation and subversive activity take on a revolutionary orientation. Indeed, it must take into account that within the ranks of the movement there are forces active which are influenced by bourgeois ideology, a plethora of wavering petty bourgeois forces that bring these views into the ranks of the vanguard.
The ability of the Bolshevik Party, headed by Lenin, to constantly adapt did not lead it into following the mistaken path of erasing the essence of its goal for the revolutionary overthrow of the system and workers’ power. The ability to fulfill each task through correct adjustments should not lead to the gradual change of the strategic goal in the name of being adaptable. This is a crucial question for every CP.
Otherwise, there is a real danger of being dispersed amongst the masses, of being co-opted to positions inside the system, of transforming your strategy into one continuous set of maneuvers and tactics. Of course, one must always be aware that you can also be led onto a path that is equally painful for the working class and of course painless for the bourgeois class i.e. the path of isolation, retrenchment and dogmatism.
The communist parties today must constantly seek to creatively use the method and experience of the Bolsheviks, of that party’s leadership and Lenin, in their daily activity and the way in which they combined theoretical work with the study of domestic and international developments and the experience of the class struggle itself.
Through this process, a clear Marxist-Leninist answer can be provided to the following question, why was the victorious strategy of the Bolsheviks not at the centre of the analyses of the International Communist Movement, why did the CPs operate mainly on the basis of the previous analyses, in essence depriving the Leninist line of its revolutionary workers’ content and leading many CPs into sliding into social-democratic positions and opportunism?
 
***
The fact that the revolutionary content and gains which came as a result of the October Revolution over the course of decades were weakened due to the impact of trying to solve existent problems of socialist construction in a mistaken direction, by following capitalist recipes, as we often say, a course that chronologically coincided with the decisions of the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, does not change or alter the internal dynamism of socialist construction or of course the decisive importance of the Great October Revolution of 1917.
Socialism did not endure in its first great attempt, in the struggle against the old, against reaction both domestically and internationally, something that resulted in its degeneration and in the end its overthrow, which entered its final phase in the 1980s through the notorious Perestroika and was completed through the counterrevolution and capitalist restoration in the USSR and the other socialist countries of Europe and Asia at the beginning of the 1990s.
Of course, the imperialist encirclement of the socialist system was a powerful fact that fed the internal problems and contradictions. It led to decisions that made socialist construction more difficult. One aspect, which is very rarely highlighted, is the objective fact that the arms race that the socialist countries were driven into participating in, above all the USSR, in confrontation with imperialist barbarity absorbed a large section of the economic and other resources of the Soviet Union and the other countries.
At the same time, the line of “peaceful coexistence” that mainly developed at the 20th Congress of the CPSU and afterwards, allowed for the fostering of many utopian views that it is possible for imperialism to give up on war and military methods.
The developments in the International Communist Movement, the split in the ICM, issues to do with its strategy also played a serious role in the formation of the global correlation of forces.
The dissolution of the Communist International in 1943, under specific historical political conditions, signaled in any case the absence of a centre for the elaboration of a revolutionary workers’ strategy against the international bourgeoisie, the international capitalist system.
Despite the fact that the conditions for the sharpening of the class contradictions during the 2nd World War sharpened, the anti-fascist struggle of the peoples led to the overthrow of bourgeois power only in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, with the decisive contribution of the Red Army.
The Communist Parties in the capitalist West were not able to elaborate a strategy to transform the imperialist war or liberation struggle into struggle to conquer state power.
After the end of World War II, the lack of organizational connection between the CPs to form an independent strategy against the unified strategy of international imperialism became apparent. The International Conferences that took place later were not able to contribute to the ideological unity and the formation of a revolutionary strategy.
Our party has learned from its weaknesses and mistakes during the past, such as the lack of theoretical and political readiness to understand the development of the counterrevolution in the USSR in a timely fashion.

We consider that it is the responsibility and right of every CP to study the theoretical issues of socialism, to evaluate the course of socialist construction, to draw conclusions for the battle against opportunism at an international level, to prepare the party and class forces in general in order to explain the class struggle at an international level, to provide a scientific class explanation of the setbacks to social progress and development. In this internationalist and communist spirit, we try to follow the developments today in countries like China, Vietnam, Cuba and other countries.

The scientific explanation and defense of socialism’s contribution in the 20th century is an element that strengthens the revolutionary strategy of the communist movement.
The study of the contradictions, of the subjective mistakes of the historical progress as a whole is a process that develops the theory of socialism-communism, which will revive the communist movement ideologically and politically and will provide it with overwhelming strength in its new offensive and final victory.
We are convinced that the final victory will be emerge from the repeated defeats. The “defeat” of the October revolution by the counterrevolution of 1989-1991 can become a school for the next revolution. As a great intellectual wrote (the Hungarian, Laszlo Gurko): “The revolution is the greatest elation of humanity. Whoever has tasted it once never forgets its taste.”
Amongst our most important tasks today is to restore the workers’ knowledge about the truth of socialism in the 20th century, without idealizations, objectively and free of the slanders of the bourgeoisie, which are based on the catastrophes brought about by the counterrevolution.
Capitalism may still be strong today, but it is not invincible. The people are powerful when they struggle with the correct strategy. We look upon the 21st century with optimism.
The 20th century began with the greatest offensive launched by the proletariat in any era and ended with its temporary defeat. The 21st century will bring new offensives and revolutionary victories, the final and this time irreversible overthrow of capitalism and the construction of socialism-communism.
The spectre of socialism-communism is today haunting the bloody dreams of the bourgeois the world over. We must take the decision to become their permanent nightmare.
* General Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
Greed and Inequality, Not Marxism, Are the Threat to British Society in 2017
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Greed and Inequality, Not Marxism, Are the Threat to British Society in 2017

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John Wight
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https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201705121053542484-britain-elections-marxism-opinion/

Well now we know: Karl Marx’s famous (or infamous, depending on your viewpoint) admonition at the very beginning of his equally famous/infamous Communist Manifesto – i.e. that “a specter is haunting Europe” – should be amended to read “a specter is haunting the UK general election.”

The specter of Marx in an election to decide whether the current Tory Party incumbent Theresa May will remain Britain’s prime minister on June 8, or whether Jeremy Corbyn will replace her, has featured prominently recently, employed to paint the Labour Party — specifically Corbyn and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell — as dangerous Marxist radicals intent on turning the UK into a Soviet Union mark II.

It would be laughable if not so serious in the context of a British establishment and political culture that has lurched so far to the right in recent years that any party or politician that articulates even a tincture of leftist views or ideas is regarded as the enemy within.

Marx, as most reading this will be aware, is one of the most important, if controversial, thinkers who every lived. In this respect, he belongs up there with Democritus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Erasmus, Spinoza, Locke, Adam Smith, and David Hume. His ideas have inspired millions since they came to prominence at the end of the 19th century, along with revolutions and anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles across the world. It is no surprise that even now, despite the Soviet-led Communist bloc having passed into history almost three decades ago, and with China having abandoned hard-line communism with the passing of Mao, Marx’s ideas continue to strike fear into the hearts of elites in the UK and throughout the West.

German philosopher and economist Karl Marx. Late 1870s. Reproduction
© Sputnik/ A. Sverdlov
German philosopher and economist Karl Marx. Late 1870s. Reproduction

A philosopher, historian, economist and social critic, Marx dedicated his life to the revolutionary transformation of a world dominated by capitalism — in which workers (the proletariat) were treated as chattel, their labor exploited by the bourgeoisie in return for a miserly existence underpinned by poverty, immiseration and truncated lives — into a world underpinned by socialism in which material abundance would be distributed not according to human greed but human need.

In his most famous work, the previously mentioned Communist Manifesto of 1848, Marx writes:

“The modern worker… instead of advancing with industrial progress, sinks ever deeper beneath the circumstance of his own class. The worker becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more quickly than population and wealth.”

Though the above passage concerns the condition of workers in mid-19th century Britain, at the height of the country’s Industrial Revolution, who could argue with Marx’s analysis when applied to the condition in which working families and the poor across the UK in 2017 find themselves? Foodbanks, zero hours contracts, poverty wages, record levels of poverty, homelessness — this is the lived reality for increasing numbers of the country’s citizens, many of them in work. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, according to the annual Sunday Times Rich List the UK’s 1000 richest people have seen a 14% increase in their wealth since 2016.Surely such a disjuncture between the poor and the rich is incompatible with a country’s right to consider itself civilized?

Where Marx got it wrong was not in his analysis of the history and inner workings of capitalism, but with his analysis that capitalism had reached the end of its historically progressive role when it came to innovation and dynamism as a mode of production responsible for the production of such a surplus of wealth and material goods that it had lifted humanity out of the realms of necessity into the epoch of abundance. However, private ownership of production and the surplus produced needed to be transformed into social ownership in order to organize its distribution for the benefit of all rather than allow it to remain in the hands of the few. For him this meant revolution.

What he failed to predict was the ability of working people to interdict in the capitalist system of production, distribution, and exchange by organizing themselves into trade unions in order to exercise their collective bargaining power against the bosses. Moreover the trade union movement in the UK produced the Labour Party at the turn of the last century, whose founding principles were based on the political advancement of the rights and interests of the country’s working class.

The politics and worldview championed by Labour, which came to be known as social democracy, brought into being the welfare state, National Health Service, state pensions, council housing, and full employment after the Second World War. Yes, even under these radical reforms you still had rich people, just not as rich in comparison to ordinary working people.

Returning the Labour Party to something resembling its founding principles is, in sum, the reason the establishment in Britain has extended itself in slandering and attacking Jeremy Corbyn so aggressively. In truth, the Labour leader’s politics have far more in common with Fabianism (soft socialism) than they do Marxism. Indeed, if anything, Theresa May and the Tories have more in common with Marx than Corbyn does, considering the class war they have unleashed against working people under the rubric of austerity — rolled out in response to the 2007-08 economic crisis and which has more to do with ideology than economics.

What this right-wing British establishment need to understand is that while you have nurses being forced to resort to foodbanks in order to feed themselves and their families in the sixth richest economy in the world, the ideas of Karl Marx will retain their relevancy. Indeed, along with the Sunday Times Rich List, such a state of affairs reveals that the threat to British society in 2017 lies not with Marxism but greed and inequality.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.