New Book on Parasitism and the Imperialist Working Class: Divided World, Divided Class

The always excellent and intriguing Canadian left-wing Kersplebedeb, publisher and/or distributor of such important texts as Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat, Night-Vision: Illuminating War & Class on the Neocolonial Terrain and Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth has launched its new Kalikot Book Series. The first title to be published as part of the Kalikot series is Zak Cope’s Divided World Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labour Under Capitalism, a work which sets out to chart the history of the labour aristocracy in the capitalist world system.

For those not familiar with Lenin’s theory, the labour aristocracy (sometimes called the aristocracy of labour) is a working class that has been bribed by imperialism. While Many “Leninists” claim to uphold this theory, they refuse to examine the breadth of this pseudo-class and rather try to deny it’s size to the extent that it seems to rarely (if ever) factor into either their analysis or organization. At the same time Lenin himself remarked that the seal of parasitism can mark entire nations. J. Sakai in his book Settlers demonstrates this clearly in the history of the United States. Other important contributions to the theory of the labour aristocracy demonstrate that it was not a phenomenon born into the world fully developed in the era of imperialism, but in fact goes right back to what Marx referred to as the primitive accumulation of capital

Cope demonstrates that the history of the labour aristocracy from its roots in colonialism to its birth and eventual maturation into a full-fledged middle class in the age of imperialism. It argues that pervasive national, racial and cultural chauvinism in the core capitalist countries is not primarily attributable to ‘false class consciousness’, ideological indoctrination or ignorance as much left and liberal thinking assumes. Rather, these and related forms of bigotry are concentrated expressions of the major social strata of the core capitalist nations’ shared economic interest in the exploitation and repression of dependent nations.

The book demonstrates not only how redistribution of income derived from super-exploitation has allowed for the amelioration of class conflict in the wealthy capitalist countries, it also shows that the exorbitant ‘super-wage’ paid to workers there has meant the disappearance of a domestic vehicle for socialism, an exploited working class. Rather, in its place is a deeply conservative metropolitan workforce committed to maintaining, and even extending, its privileged position through imperialism

The book is intended as a major contribution to debates on the international class structure and socialist strategy for the twenty-first century.

The book will be available from AK Press, Amazon, etc. – but remember you can also get copies directly from Kersplebedeb at website!\

What People Are Saying

“Dr. Cope presents a thought provoking study of the political economy of the world system by focusing on the concept of a global labour aristocracy. Within the world system, which has also been described as a global apartheid system by some, enormous differences exist between workers’ wages and living conditions, depending on where the workers are located. The author details how a global labour aristocracy in core countries benefits at the expense of workers in periphery countries. The mechanisms supporting such a situation are identified as exploitation, imperialism and racism. The book is a valuable contribution to globalization critique.”

– Gernot Köhler, Professor (retired) of Computer Studies at the Department of Computing and Information Management, Sheridan College, Ontario, Canada and author of The Global Wage System: A Study of International Wage Differences and Global Economics: An Introductory Course

“How can we link the division between the poor and the rich people in one and any country and the division between the rich and poor nations together into an analytical framework? The answer lies in the concept of ‘the embourgeoisement of the working people’ of the rich core countries and the fact that colonialism and national chauvinism have gone hand in hand so as to breed a ‘labour aristocracy’. This book is a must-read for anyone who cares about fairness. Zak Cope brings together brilliantly the concepts of nation, race and class analytically under the umbrella of capitalism, by situating racism in the class structure and by locating class in the context of the global economy.”

– Mobo Gao, Chair of Chinese Studies and Director of the Confucius Institute at the Centre for Asian Studies, University of Adelaide, and author of The Battle for China’s Past: Mao and the Cultural Revolution

“This is a surprising book. At a time when confusion about Globalization surrounds us, Zak Cope pulls us towards what is fundamental. He outlines the 19th & 20th century recasting of the diverse human world into rigid forms of oppressed colonized societies and oppressor colonizing societies. A world divide still heavily determining our lives. Working rigorously in a marxist-leninist vein, the author focuses on how imperialism led to a giant metropolis where even the main working class itself is heavily socially bribed and loyal to capitalist oppression. Much is laid aside in his analysis, in order to concentrate on only what he considers the most basic structure of all in world capitalist society. This is writing both controversial and foundational at one and the same time.”

– J. Sakai, author of Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletaria


Posted on September 14, 2012, in Economics, Imperialism & Colonialism, Revolutionary Theory, White Power and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Uhuru greetings!

    Thank you for this review.

    I would like to note that the primary question in Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s theory of African Internationalism is not that it contributes to the understanding of the labor aristocracy, which is something he has very rarely addressed. What Chairman Omali has uncovered and continues to deepen is the fact that the entire white population, regardless of income or social stratum, is an oppressor nation sitting on the pedestal of the oppression of African, Indigenous and colonized peoples.

    Thus, the Euro-centric worldview that pervades every sector of white society, from left to right, from impoverished to wealthy is the same as the imperialist ruling class and has a material basis in the stolen labor, land and resources of the majority of humanity. All sectors of white people were transformed from a feudal existence into life as the beneficiaries of capitalism through Europe’s assault on Africa, turning the entire continent into a “warren” for the commodification of African human beings and the genocide of the indigenous people whose lands and resources were stolen to present opportunity for white workers streaming into the Americas from Europe.

    As Chairman Omali said this weekend in a political education session broadcast on Uhuru News (and still available to listen to at, imperialism is not an outgrowth of capitalism. The reality is reverse–parasitic capitalism was born of European imperialism at the expense of millions of others. The “forward motion” of capitalism for Europeans pushed the rest of the world backwards, destroying their civilizations and economies and pushing them into poverty and oppression.

    To say that there is a “labor aristocracy” is to imply that there is part of the white working class that is somehow in the same situation as those workers who are colonially oppressed whether around the world or inside the US. What Chairman Omali shows is that even white workers live on parasitic capitalism’s pedestal built on the bodies of the oppressed nations.

  2. Posoh Chairwoman Hess. Thanks for dropping by to comment! I’ve long been very appreciative of your work, both as the Chairwoman of APSC and as an author. I’ve told I don’t know how many people that they must read Overturning the Culture of Violence.

    Anyway, I agree almost entirely with what you say, and about Chairman Omali’s theorization of African Internationalism, especially regarding the relationship between imperialism and capitalism and the parasitic pedestal upon which the entire White population sits.

    Regarding the “labour aristocracy” though, I believe it is simply a question of terminology. I was trained in “leftism” by Marxists (most specifically Trotskyists, but later Maoists as well), and so I tend to fall back on the terminology employed by Marx, Lenin etc when I know of no other term. So when I use the term “labour aristocracy” above I am referring both to the international social grouping, as well as also the concept of it – which is that imperialism can, and most definitely does, “bribe” the working class of the imperialist nations (the White European nation, and others, like the Japanese etc). This is cited by most authors as being in the form of greatly improved material conditions (wages just being one facet of that), but also as the Uhuru Movement correctly points out, an incredible amount of social wealth as well (for example, the ability of a White woman to be able to have an African man murdered by a White mob simply by pointing and saying “he touched me”). As an international social group, the labour aristocracy (those workers with a material interest in the continuance of parasitic capitalism and imperialism) contrasts with the “proletariat”, which is that social grouping that, as Marx put it, has nothing to loose but its chains. Unlike orthodox Marxists, Marxists-Leninists, Trotskyists etc I do not believe that simply being a worker makes one proletarian. In fact, I have gone out of my way in a number of articles to demonstrate this, drawing most especially from the theory and analysis of Chairman Omali. You can check out such examples here, here and here.

    I agree with the the theory of Chairman Omali, and also the historical work of authors like J. Sakai, that the entirety of the White working class is bribed by imperialism through material and social wealth giving them a material basis for solidarity with imperialism. Hence, from my worldview the “labour aristocracy” does not imply, as you say, “that there is part of the white working class that is somehow in the same situation as those workers who are colonially oppressed”, because in fact the entire White working class is part of the labour aristocracy. One of the key differences between myself and so-called “Marxists” though is that they see the “labour aristocracy” as a late development during the era of imperialism (similar to how they see imperialism itself as a late development of capitalism, and not its source). I believe Chairman Omali and the Uhuru Movement has expertly demonstrated that this “bribery” of the White working class goes all the way back to its origin as a class, when colonial rape and pillage provided the material force to transform them from feudal peasants tied to the land to landless wage workers.

    So again, I believe it is simply a matter of terminology. I believe the central message of both this book and also African Internationalism is that parasitism must be understood as the centrally defining feature of the capitalist world system. This what everyone from Marxists to Marxist-Leninists to Maoists to Trotskyists to anarchists and pretty much everyone in between fails to understand, and that is why they have failed to organize any kind of serious revolutionary movement within the imperialist countries.


  3. Greetings to you both, and thanks for posting this brief summary and review. This book will likely bring this discussion of the division of labor under capitalism more to the forefront of discourse, which is potentially a very good thing…

    In regards to a ‘labor aristocracy,’ it’s a somewhat semantic term that can have different meanings. Originally Lenin and Engels uses it to describe the upper level of workers in a given imperialist country. Today that understanding is a bit lacking, seeing as how entire continents have been uplifted due to the continuing exploitation of the Third World. In any case, a labor aristocracy could just mean any group of workers which make enough to placate them (and hence, you could have a Guatemalan labor aristocracy so to speak), but far more relevant, the is a global labor aristocracy which is entirely separate from the proletariat in that the former is a net exploiter of the latter via modern imperialism.

    I tend to think of class as something directly tied to economic activity. Oppression, on the other hand, is how class is socially construed and maintained. I.e. White settler colonialists employed national oppression in order to facilitate the rabid exploitation of Blacks/New Afrikans, Mexicanos/Chicanos, and Native peoples. That is to say that someone could be oppressed without being exploited, but exploitation is always accompanied of some structural oppression.

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