On patriarchy, coconuts, and feminism

On patriarchy, coconuts, and feminismpalm-trees-on-the-island


First Worldism is a bag of dogmas that are uncritically accepted by most so-called revolutionaries today. In its most general form, First Worldism is the belief that there is a significant proletariat, a significant social base for revolution in the First World. It would be a mistake to think that First Worldism is simply about First World workers. There are many other ways that First Worldism is smuggled into the revolutionary movement. For example, one form of First Worldism looks to cobble together a stand-in proletariat from national minorities or oppressed nation populations in the First World. Yet another is to cobble together a stand-in proletariat from First World queers. Yet another is to try to cobble together a stand-in proletariat from First World women.These latter political lines are some of the last bastions of First Worldism. Perhaps because First Worldist organizations are dominated by men who want to do right by their women comrades, perhaps because of lingering guilt of male activists, perhaps because of identity politics, First Worldist feminism is considered sacrosanct. It is considered off limits even by those who might otherwise considered themselves “Third Worldists.” It is a strange “Third Worldism” that considers the majority of the First World population, First World women, to be so oppressed to be a revolutionary agent. So more and more First Worldists turn to First Worldist feminism and gender activism. First Worldism gets a second or third life. So First Worldism must die yet again. Only, this time, ever greater levels of farce that surrounds its demise.

How can First World women benefit by the patriarchal oppression of Third World women? Let’s explain it by imagining  two, small islands. One island is called “Fiwo.” It has a male and a female on it, Jack and Jacky. The second island is called “Tiwo.” It has a male and a female on it, Pat and Patricia. Jack and Jacky both like coconuts. However, it is very difficult to get coconuts. Gathering Coconuts is hard work. Jack and Jacky happen to have a gun that washed up one day on their island. Jack and Jacky pay an armed visit to Tiwo. There, they threaten the population of Tiwo. “Ten coconuts a day or you will both die!” Pat and Patricia are forced to meet their demands. Pat gathers three coconuts, but then gets tired. Pat comes up with a plan. Since Tiwo has strong traditions that demand women must do what men say, Pat demands Patricia gather the remaining seven coconuts. After all, Pat says, “You must follow my commands. We can’t go against tradition.” Furthermore, Pat, being a male, is a bit larger than Patricia. He adds, “and if you don’t gather the seven, I will beat you.” In the face of so much pressure, Patricia relents. She spend her day gathering the seven coconuts for Jack and Jacky who then distribute the full ten coconuts evenly. Since Jack and Jacky do not have to spend their time gathering coconuts, they use their free time to hunt and gather. The standard of living of all the inhabitants of Fiwo increase because of the imperialist and patriarchal oppression of Tiwo. Even though Jacky is a women, she benefits from the imperialist and patriarchal oppression of another women, Patricia.

In this simple thought experiment, it is easy to see how a woman can benefit from the patriarchal oppression of another women. It should not be too difficult to imagine how a woman in an imperialist country can benefit not simply through economic oppression of a woman in the Third World, but also the patriarchal oppression of a woman in the Third World. It should be easy to see how women in the Third World are pressed into working some of the worst jobs, pressed into maintaining the domestic sphere in an unfair way, pressed sometimes into horrible marriages where they are forced to be slaves to their husbands, etc. And, this patriarchal oppression squeezes even more out of the Third World woman than economic oppression by itself. There is a extra value that is consumed by the First World population, both male and female, that is over and above what would be generated by the economic oppression of of Third World women by itself, above what would be generated if men and women in the Third World were equally exploited. This extra value can, in part, be accounted for by patriarchal oppression of the Third World working woman. This extra value can, in part, be account for by the patriarchal oppression of the Third World woman in the domestic sphere also.

This idea should not be that big a leap for those who are familiar with Maoist thinking. Imperialism created a divided world. Imperialism creates a group of wealthy countries at the expense of poor countries. The populations of the wealthy countries have so lavish a lifestyle that the revolutions in those countries are, as Lin Biao famously said, “delayed.” Maoists called these countries “the global city.” These countries are also called “the First World.” Imperialism also creates a group of poor countries, “the global countryside,” “the Third World.” Imperialism transfers wealth from the Third World in order to keep the First World happy. In order to maintain First World development, imperialism interrupts the development of these Third World economies. In order to continue exploiting the Third World for the benefit of the First World, imperialism imposes a unique mode of production, a kind of mal-development, onto the Third World. This is both a mode of production and a political order that combines the worst elements of capitalism with feudalism. The order that results is a fusion of capitalism and feudalism that rejects the progressive, developmental aspects of capitalism. It is a comprador capitalism that does not bring progressive development that benefits the Third World combined with feudal aspects of production and political control. The most barbaric aspects of capitalism are combined with the barbarism of feudalism in order to keep value flowing from the Third World to the First World.

One aspect of feudalism is extreme patriarchy. Historically, feudalism is bound up with a gender apartheid where women are valued much lower than men. The feudal order justifies itself by reference to the family. Feudal lords are seen as father figures whose rule is as natural, it is said, as that of the father over the family. Women and children are often seen as property of the father. This extreme patriarchy is a pillar of semi-feudalism just as it is of traditional feudalism. Extreme patriarchy, as part of semi-feudalism, is propped up and sustained by imperialism. Thus this extreme patriarchy is imposed on the Third World for the benefit of the First World. It should not be hard to see how patriarchal oppression of women in one part of the world can benefit men and women in another part of the world. The brutality that women face in the Third World is part of a global system that provides a lavish lifestyle to people in the First World. Both men and women in the First World have their life options increased by the restriction of life options in the Third World. In this way, we can see how these ideas are not completely alien to the Maoist tradition. In fact, we could even say that this view of gender is implied by Maoist theory, even if it took Leading Light to unpack it.

Most so-called Marxists are no different than liberals when it comes to gender. Although they claim they uphold “proletarian feminism,” the reality is they merely repeat the talking points of liberals, of social democrats. Their feminism is one that looks at the world from the standpoint of the woman in the First World. They then take the outlook and condition of the First World woman to be universal. Just as they mistakenly believe First World men to be their enemy, they see the main enemy of Third World women to be Third World men. They grossly exaggerate the importance of the relatively small gender skirmishes between the First World genders. Then they go on to project their own condition onto the Third World. They claim there is no First World nor Third World women. They claim there is only women. And all women look like themselves, related to the world as they do, should share their interests, etc. And, when women of the Third World do not share their outlook, as they so often do not, First Worldist feminists think Third World women are deeply confused. First Worldist feminism, often masquerading as “proletarian feminism,” takes on the paternalist role of telling Third World women they are backward and in need of education. In its worst form, this is why First Worldist feminists support imperialist wars that target Third World peoples. Imperialists bomb Third World men and women for their own good, so the First Worldist feminist says.

Real proletarian feminism rejects this First Worldist dogma. Real proletarian feminism looks at the world through the eyes of the vast majority of women, the poor masses of the Third World. It is a feminism that understands that what Lenin called “the divide in the working class” is mirrored in the female population globally. There is no reason to simply assume that all women are equally oppressed by patriarchy. There is no reason to assume that women are all oppressed in the same ways. There is no reason to assume that some women cannot benefit from patriarchy just as some workers benefit from capitalism-imperialism. First World women benefit from the oppression of Third World women just as First World workers benefit from the economic oppression of Third World workers. Proletarian feminism understands that life options of First World women are increased often by the restriction of life options for Third World women. Real proletarian feminism, just as real global class analysis, is a guide to what Mao called the “first question” of revolution: “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?”


Simple questions by the numbers..


Simple questions by the numbers.. the majority in the United States: revolutionary or not?


The median annual household income for 2006 was $48,201 (USD) according to the United States Census Bureau. (1) Per household member (including all working and non-working members above the age of 14) it was $26,036 (USD). (2)

What is a median? A median is found by arranging all incomes from poorest to wealthiest and, then, picking the income in the middle, the income that separates the poorest half from the wealthiest half. Half of all households in the United States make more than $48,201 (USD). Per household member, half make more than $26,036 (USD).

Okay. Let’s convert these numbers using current exchange rates as of February 28, 2008. Let’s ask some questions:

Is someone in Myanmar that makes 26,778,000 Kyats per year part of the proletariat? Is a person in the United States that has access to 26,778,000 Kyats in income or capital a year part of the proletariat?

Is a Filipino that makes 1,054,000 Philippine pesos (PHP) per year part of the proletariat? Is a person in the United States that has access to 1,054,000 Philippine pesos (PHP) in income or capital a year part of the proletariat?

Is an Indian that makes 1,038,000 Indian Rupees (INR) per year part of the proletariat? Is a person in the United States that has access to 1,038,000 Indian Rupees (INR) in income or capital a year part of the proletariat?

Is a Nepalese that makes 1,690,000 Nepalese Rupee (NPR) per year part of the proletariat? Is a person in the United States that has access to 1,690,000 Nepalese Rupee (NPR) in income or capital a year part of the proletariat?

Is a Mexican that makes 278,000 Mexican Pesos (MXN) per year part of the proletariat? Is a person in the United States that has access to 278,000 Mexican Pesos (MXN) in income or capital a year part of the proletariat?

Is a Sri Lankan that makes 2,812,000 Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) per year part of the proletariat? Is a person in the United States that has access to 2,812,000 Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR) in income or capital a year part of the proletariat?

Is a Peruvian that makes 76,065 Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN) per year part of the proletariat? Is a person in the United States that has access to 76,065 Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN) in income or capital a year part of the proletariat?

If you answered “yes” to the above questions, then you are very deluded. You think people with household incomes of $100,000 (USD), 4,049,000 Philippine Pesos (PHP), 3,985,000 Indian Rupees (INP), 6,493,000 Nepalese Rupees (NPR), 1,070,000 Mexican Pesos (MXN), 10,800,000 Sri Lankan Rupees (LKR), 292,000 Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN), are  part of the revolutionary forces in the United States. (3)

If you answered “no” to the above questions, then you are more scientifically inclined or, maybe, you just have a knack for seeing the obvious fact that there is no broad social base for revolution in the United States. You to ought take up Leading Light Communism.

If you refuse to answer these questions publicly, even though you know the correct answers are “no,” then you should consider yourself a coward and a fence-sitter. You should not consider yourself a Marxist. Revolutionary scientists are not afraid to speak the truth.

Who are our friends? Who are our enemies? This is a question of first importance. These are the opening words of Mao’s Selected Works. Those who cannot distinguish friends from enemies globally are not scientific communists. Without revolutionary science, carrying out communist revolution is impossible in the long term.  The main dynamic that shapes our world is the Bourgeois World as a whole oppresses and exploits the Proletarian  World as a whole. Those who can’t see this obvious fact are not communists.


3. (using a rough estimate slightly over the bottom of the fourth quintile)


Two questions on exploitation and sociological mobility

Two questions on exploitation and sociological mobility

13 man wires(

Someone recently asked:

“I have two questions . I am honestly not trying to be flippant or provocative.

1. Does Leading Light theory ignore the possibility that First World workers are able to recognize the general trend of global capitalism, which will end up impoverishing all workers? Does it deny the possibility that being able to do so might make some First World workers identify and support the struggles of the Third World proletariat against their current material interests.

2. Theoretically, if I am receiving pay below the global average one day, and get a raise the next which brings me slightly above, do I automatically become labor aristocracy? And if not how far above the average would my pay have to be?”

Prairie Fire responds:

There is nothing wrong about asking questions. That is what intelligent people do.

1. Global capitalism has not turned out how Marx predicted in the Manifesto. The world has not polarized into “two great classes,” the wage earners and the bourgeoisie. Rather class is much more complicated than that. Marx, in his more scientific works, did not see things so simply. Later Marxists have painted a more accurate picture as reality changes. Science evolves.

What basis is there for saying that capitalism has a “general trend” of impoverishing all workers?  Even Engels began writing of the bourgeoisification of large segments of the population of wage earners. Engels said that whole nations could be bourgeoisified. In Lenin’s time, the Bolsheviks began referring to a “labor aristocracy.” There is Lenin’s famous statement that the “seal of parasitism” affected whole nations. Lin Biao said that the proletarian struggle in the First World was “delayed” while it was vigorous elsewhere. Lenin recognized that it was wrong to simply refer to all workers as though they were the same just as Lin Biao drew a big distinction between the global countryside and global city. Lenin called it a “split in the working class.” The revolutionary tradition has long recognized that not all workers are the same. The world is not so even, so flat.

Engels and Lenin recognized that bourgeoisification was increasing, that the split in the working class was growing. That was about 100 years ago. The trend that they recognized has increased by leaps and bounds over the past century. Today, the First World contains no significant proletariat, no revolutionary class. Its working class should be regarded as part of the global bourgeoisie or as part of the labor aristocracy. Even the poorest sectors of the US working class make more than their fair share of the global social product. Why would they want to overthrow the system and replace it with an egalitarian one? They wouldn’t and don’t, of course. Workers in the First World and workers in the Third World do not belong to the same class.

Even if it were the case that there was a general trend to lower the wages of all workers, it would still not mean that First World workers are a proletariat. Just because First World workers may become exploited 100 years from now does not mean that the First World working class currently has an interest in throwing off the system. There are segments of the bourgeoisie who, in a future crisis, will fall into the class of exploited workers. That does not mean that we relate to the current bourgeoisie as though they are proletarians now. Capitalism is an unstable system. Marx called it anarchistic. It is prone to crisis. Lots of things can happen. However, we relate to the global class structure as it is now, not how it might be a century from now. People are driven largely by their current class interests, not by their possible class interests a century from now.

2. Today, the world economy is basically a single giant unit. The process of globalization has been going on for hundreds of years. Except for a few remaining isolated tribes in places like the Amazon, everyone is part of this global causal nexus. Also, the global social product is finite. The global economy only produces a limited amount of value every year. One consequence of this is  that if one person is getting more, someone else is getting less. Think of the world economy as rivers of value. Value flows to some people more than it flows to others. People get more value based on all kinds of interrelated things, based on power,  social and economic position, gender, etc.

Now, there are a couple of ways we can look at exploitation. One way is to tie exploitation to the value of labor. This is based on the labor theory of value. We assign a value to labor as Comrade Serve the People has based on taking the global surplus and dividing it by those who labor. Then we ask: who makes more than that and who makes less. According to this scheme, those who make more than the value of labor are receiving that extra value from someone else. Therefore, they are net exploiters. If they work, we can call them part of the labor aristocracy. Those who make less are exploited. This approach has certain drawbacks, especially given the growth of the non-working and non-productive poor of the Third World.

Another way to look at  exploitation is to divide up the global surplus by the number of people in the world. Since socialism is about equality, we can use the principle of equality  as a kind of regulative idea. Those who receive more than an equal share of the social product are, therefore, exploiters. Those who make less are exploited. According to both approaches, First World workers are not generally exploited; they are exploiters. We can extend this method by looking beyond the global surplus. We can also see how access to quality leisure time is distributed worldwide. For example, First World people have far more access to quality time than Third World people. We can come up with a set of primary goods. We can then see who are the winners and who are the losers in the global distribution.

Overall, people’s range of behaviors are a function of class, nation, gender, etc. This is part of what Marx called historical materialism. However, people are not divided sharply into distinct categories. Rather, the world is a continuum of gray. There are people who may move from the being exploited to being an exploiter. They may retain the outlook of the oppressed for sometime after that, even though it will tend to fade. Sometimes when this affects large groups, we refer to this as “proletarian memory.” For example, look at Northern Ireland. There is a higher degree of internationalist sentiment there even though Northern Ireland is part of the First World and contains no significant proletariat. National oppression can also help preserve a degree of proletarian, internationalist sentiment in the culture. However, over time, as a country becomes less and less exploited, as it becomes more and more bourgeoisified, proletarian memory fades. We see this kind of phenomenon all the time in other contexts. A corporation may hire a Black person from the hood in order to deflect criticism from itself. The new employee, although recently wealthy, may still retain the marks of his past in his outlook. However, over time, he will tend to integrate into his new surroundings, his loyalties and psychology will fully shift. He will “sell out.” We see this happen all the time in the music industry. This can work the other way too. Someone who has fallen from the position of exploiter to exploited can retain the outlook of his previous position for some time. Over time, however, the best general marker for showing whether someone is a potential friend or enemy is whether or not they  “have nothing to lose but their chains.” Marx understood this very well.

People do not “automatically” anything. The world is a gray place. Wittgenstein is more useful than Aristotle here. The world is not chopped up into clearly defined things. There are always anomalies, hard cases, etc. The world is shady. Mao said the question of first importance was the question of friends and enemies. This is because making revolution is a process of aligning friends to over overthrow enemies. To answer Mao’s question requires dividing up the world into socioeconomic groups. We have to understand the world to change it. First Worldism divides up the world in a way that does not correspond with the world at all. First Worldism does not predict or explain. Leading Light Communism, by contrast, does. First Worldism, whether in its Trotskyist guises, Maoist guises, or whatever, is completely unscientific. It is pure dogma. Leading Light Communism is the most advanced revolutionary science today.

Americans have less than 1,000 dollars to their name?

Americans have less than 1,000 dollars to their name?53542f0adbfa3f61c000e120-_w-540_s-fit_


A recent Esquire article reports:

“In a recent survey, 56 percent of Americans said they have less than $1,000 in their checking and savings accounts combined, Forbes reports. Nearly a quarter (24.8 percent) have less than $100 to their name. Meanwhile, 38 percent said they would pay less than their full credit card balance this month, and 11 percent said they would make the minimum payment—meaning they would likely be mired in debt for years and pay more in interest than they originally borrowed. It paints a daunting picture of the average American coming out of the spend-heavy holiday season: steeped in credit card debt, living paycheck-to-paycheck, at serious risk of financial ruin if the slightest thing goes wrong.” (1)

The First Worldist has the metaphysical conviction that First World workers are exploited and revolutionary. They cannot even conceive of the possibility they are wrong. They cannot even imagine a possible piece of empirical evidence to prove them wrong. Unlike scientific assertions, which are fallible, which have the possibility of being false, the assertions of the First Worldists are metaphysical.  It is rare that First Worldists ever try to provide any evidence for their beliefs. When they do try to offer up empirical evidence, they reproduce the talking points of the liberal, social-democracy. Recently, First Worldists are circulating the statistic that a little over half of the American population have less than a total of 1,000 dollars in their bank accounts. This is, for the First Worldist, an indictment of the capitalist system and it is proof that there is indeed an American proletariat, an American revolutionary class. However, reality is very different. The reality is that the recent report does not imply what the First Worldist thinks it does.

Firstly, 1,000 dollars is not the piddly sum that the article makes it out to be. This amount of 1,000 dollars is roughly equal to the median income per year globally. In other words, half of humanity lives and dies on 1,000 dollars or less a year. For example, there are more people in India making less than 292 dollars per year than exist in the United States.  Even the poorest working American earns an income that makes them part of the richest 15 percent globally. Most people in the world do not have the ability to afford the luxuries that nearly all Americans can afford. Hundreds of millions live on the verge of starvation. There are 800 million people who lack access to safe drinking water. Most people in the world would be happy to discover they have 1,000 dollars or 500 dollars or even 100 dollars in their bank accounts because most people have access to nothing. Most people live as Marx described the proletariat. They literally live at subsistence or even sub-subsistence. Many look with envy at the lifestyle of Americans. Most would be delighted with the computers, phones, ovens, refrigerators, cars, apartments and houses of Americans. Most would be delighted with the conditions of the American workplace. It shows just how much privilege Americans have that nothing is good enough for them. Like the spoiled rich child, no gift is enough. Everything is an intolerable hell for the American.  (2)  (3) (4)

Secondly, First Worldists do not understand the role of debt in a country like the United States. Having debt is not always a sign of poverty. In fact, debt in the First World is often a sign of access to capital. Debt allows Americans to live far above their incomes. For example, Americans are able to take out loans for homes or cars and other items that give them access to a higher standard of living that they cannot pay for at the moment.  For example, home ownership in the United States is 63.4 percent. (5) Such a high homeownership rate could not be accomplished without the ability to accrue large debt by Americans. Most Americans are in debt, but they are usually not worse off for it. In fact, most Americans can access more capital in the form of debt through credit cards, loans, etc., than many Third World  people can earn in a lifetime. Debt is a way by which most Americans live far above their means. That nearly a quarter only have 100 dollars or less in their bank accounts does not mean they do not have access to credit in order to live above their means. Nor does it reflect the kind of home they have, car they drive, nor the amount of their luxury consumption. Looking at a bank statement is not an accurate measure of poverty or standard of living.

Thirdly, the language of the report itself shows just how privileged Americans are. The First Worldist concludes that Americans are exploited, so impoverished by debt, because — and here is the punchline — “the average American [is] coming out of the spend-heavy holiday season.” In the bizarre First Worldist illogic, Americans are too poor now because they spent too much on luxuries. Most people on this Earth will never own even a fraction of the luxuries that Americans do. It is a sign of sickening decadence that Americans consider buying too much as a sign of poverty. This shows just how disconnected First Worldists are from the real proletariat in the Third World. (6)

Are there some Americans who have a hard time? Yes, some. Does some genuine poverty exist in the United States? Of course there is some. However, the First Worldist exaggerates the condition of the few to be the general condition of Americans. The First Worldist points to small pockets of poverty as though those pockets represent all of the United States. The reality is that the small pockets of poverty that exist in the United States are too scattered, too dynamic, and too few to be a relevant social force for genuine revolution. This is true of the First World generally. There is a reason that there has never been a real, proletarian, communist revolution in the First World. The reason is that the objective conditions for revolution simply do not exist in the First World. There is no proletariat, no social base, for revolution in the First World. The proletariat is the key to revolution everywhere. And the proletariat is in the Third World. To make revolution in the First World, we must turn our practice to the Third World. The key to revolution everywhere is the Global People’s War of the Leading Light.








A First World revolutionary social base?

Are there any groups in the First World with revolutionary potential at all?immigrants_mexico


“Dear Leading Light,

Are there any groups in the First World with revolutionary potential at all? I understand that most First World workers possess none.  Are some sweatshop employees, so-called “illegal” Mexican workers, and possibly some prisoners groups in the First World exploited? Can these groups, or any others in the First World, be considered potential allies of the Third World proletariat?  Thank you for your time.”

MSH responds:

Thank you for writing.

In the 1960s and 1970s, for example, some around national liberation and youth movements sought to find a “stand-in proletariat” since the First World working class was thoroughly reactionary. Some sought a “stand-in proletariat” in the rebel youth, others within the lumpen. These views could be found around the Weather Underground and Black Panther circles respectively.  Later, others  sought to make First World women a “stand-in proletariat.” These “stand-in proletariat” theories were not based on thorough material analysis. Rather, they were based mostly on desperation and wishful thinking.

The reality is that there is no significant First World proletariat. There is no significant revolutionary class or socioeconomic group in the First World. The Leading Lights were the first to really address this fact about global class scientifically. This is one reason why Leading Light Communism is the fourth and latest stage of revolutionary science. However, there are exploited and dismally oppressed groups in the First World. These groups tend to be insignificant in terms of making revolution. Sweatshop employees, some migrant populations, some prisoners are exploited in the First World. These populations are very much oppressed. Nonetheless,  these groups are too small, too dispersed, too dynamic, to constitute a reliable and significant revolutionary agent. It may be more fruitful to seek allies amongst these groups than amongst the First World, especially United States, working class. However, it is probably as fruitful to look for allies amongst lumpen, intellectuals, professionals, and youth. Just because these demographic groups are better places to look for allies doesn’t mean the groups themselves are a social base for revolution. First World revolutionaries should become comfortable with the fact that anywhere they look in the First World, the majority will be against them.

Revolutionaries in the First World exist in conditions very different than the Third World. Revolutionaries in the First World cannot mechanically copy the organizational strategies and tactics of the past. To do so is what Mao called a “Wang Ming” error. Rather, they need to create Jacobin strategies that recognize the sad situation that that they find themselves in. Old dogma won’t cut it. Only a creative, living revolutionary science is capable of meeting this challenge. These thoughts guide our movement: 1. global class analysis, 2. global people’s war, 3. cultural revolution, 4. the New Power of the proletariat of the Third World over the First World. Leading Light Communism leads the way.

The Slum within the Global Countryside

The Slum within the Global  Countryside: Reflections inspired by Mike Davis’ Planet of Slums slum
Prairie Fire


“The brutal tectonics of neoliberal globalization since 1978 are analogous to the catastrophic process that shaped a ‘Third World’ in the first place, during the era of late-Victorian imperialism (1870-1900). At the end of the nineteenth century, the forcible incorporation into the world market of the great subsistence peasantries of Asia and Africa entailed the famine deaths of millions and the uprooting of tens of millions more from traditional tenures. The end result (in Latin America as well) was rural ‘semi-proletarization,’ the creation of a huge global class of immiserated semi-peasants and farm laborers lacking existential security of subsistence. As a result, the twentieth century became an age not of urban revolutions, as classical Marxism had imagined, but of epochal rural uprisings and peasant-based wars of national liberation.” (1)

Chen Boda and Lin Biao were the ones who really systematized Mao’s contributions. Chen Boda was the one who spoke of Mao’s contributions as the universal Marxism for the colonial world. Lin Biao introduced the idea that Mao’s contributions were a new stage. And it was Lin Biao who first introduced the concept of the global people’s war. World revolution was seen as a global people’s war, a wave of world revolution that spread across the global countryside to encircle the global city. This powerful metaphor has been, and continues to be, a key part of the highest revolutionary science to date, Leading Light Communism. However, the world is changing drastically. For the first time in history, the majority of humanity lives in cities, not rural areas. (2) This explosive demographic shift is part of a revolutionary change in human geography, perhaps comparable to the neolithic or industrial revolution. One of the most important implications of this shift is the growth of the global slum, especially within the global countryside, within the Third World. To change the world, we must understand it. For those seeking to make revolution in the twenty-first century, it will be necessary to understand the shifting social topographies that revolutionaries will have to deal with. The global slum must be integrated into our conception of people’s war.

The New Urban Explosion

There has been a population explosion in world, especially urban population. Today, the urbanization rate in parts of the Third World is greater than Victorian Europe of the industrial revolution was (3):sc01

According to Mike Davis’ Planet of Slums:

“The world’s urban labor force has more than doubled since 1980, the present urban population — 3.2 billion — is larger than the total population of the world when John F. Kennedy was inaugurated. The global countryside, meanwhile, has reached its maximum population and will begin to shrink after 2020. As a result, cities will account for virtually all future world’s population growth, which is expected to peak at about 10 billion in 2050.” (4)

Not all this growing population of the urban poor live in slums. (5) However, the slum-dweller is growing faster than any other demographic group. Slums have multiplied. There are more than 200,000 slums on earth. These slums can be a few hundred people or contain more than a million.sc21

There is also the phenomenon of the megaslum:sc22

Megaslums are created when shantytowns and squatter communities merge into continuous belts of informal housing and poverty, usually on the edge of urban areas. (6) Gautum Chatterjee warns, “If such a trend continues unabated, we will have only slums and no cities.” (7) Using conservative estimates, there were 921 million slum-dwellers in 2001 and more than one billion in 2005, “nearly equal to the population of the world when the young Engels first ventured onto the mean streets of St. Giles and Old Town Manchester in 1844.”  (8) In the next few years, Black Africa will have 332 million slum-dwellers, a number that will continue to double every fifteen years. (9) Gaza, considered by some to be the world’s largest slum, is an urbanized amalgamation of refugee camps. Two-thirds of the population subsist on less than 2$ a day. (10) “Of the 500,000 people who migrate to Delhi each year, it is estimated that fully 400,000 end up in slums; by 2015 India’s capital will have a slum population of more than 10 million.” (11) The majority of the world’s urban poor no longer live in inner cities, from where many have been evicted. (12) Rather, they live in the slums on the periphery of Third World cities. (13)  The new poor usually exist on the edges of cities, not in the centers.sc32

Thus the stereotypical patter of the American city is reversed. No longer is it rich suburbia on the edge of  a poor downtown. The emerging pattern in the Third World city is very different:

“[T]he principal function of the Third World urban edge remains as a human dump. In some cases, urban waste and unwanted immigrants end up together, as in such infamous ‘garbage slums’ as the aptly named Quarantina outside Beirut, Hillat Kusha outside Khartoum, Santa Cruz Meyehualco in Mexico City, the former Smokey Mountain in Manila, or the huge Dhapa dump and slum on the fringe of Kolkata. Equally common are the desolate government camps and crude site-and-service settlements that warehouse populations expelled in the course of municipal wars against slums. Outside of Penang and Kuala Lumpur, for example, slum evictees are marooned in minimalist transit camps.”  (14)

Historically, imperialism inflicts tremendous pain on the Third World, especially its countryside.  Many things cause people to move to the city to seek a better life: poverty, violence, war, etc. However, all of these existed before the modern period. Prior to the 1950s and 1960s, slums in the Third World experienced slow growth. It was only later that there was a great acceleration. To understand why slums grew so rapidly in the second half of the twentieth century, it is necessary to understand why growth was slower in the first half. Even though European colonial powers were responsible for creating slums,  colonial policies were often a fetter on slum growth. Colonial policies sought to prevent peasants and refugees from overwhelming cities, which were often centers of colonial administration. Colonial policies aimed at keeping the colonial social peace. They segregated cities according to nationality, color, and class. They sought to discipline rural migrations.  When regimes of the Third World gained nominal independence and became neocolonies, some of these fetters were removed. (15) As the nature of  underdevelopment changed from mono-crop and extraction-based underdevelopment to industrialized underdevelopment, and though the process of globalization, restrictions on migrations to urban centers were lifted. Originally, in a repeat of the industrial revolution in Europe, this helped to create the workforce necessary for the new industries, which were located in urban areas of the Third World. However, soon the flood of migration outpaced the needs of industry. This created a surplus humanity and the modern slum. In addition,  neo-liberal economic policies  contributed to the rise of the new urban poor and slumification. The austerity measures and structural adjustment policies imposed on the Third World by the First World and international lending agencies, especially from the 1980s to the present, and the end of big-state, slow-growth regimes only contributed to the slumification of the Third World city.  (16)

“In Latin America and the Caribbean, SAP-enforced austerity during the 1980s reduced public investment in sanitation and potable water, thus eliminating the infant survival advantage previously enjoyed by poor urban residents. In Mexico, following the adoption of a second SAP in 1986, the percentage of births attended by medical personnel fell from 94 percent in 1983 to 45 percent in 1988, while maternal mortality soared from 82 per 100,000 in 1980 to 150 in 1988.” (17)

“The massive transfer of resources from poor African countries to wealthy Northern creditors is one of the factors that has critically weakened health care and education in the countries that are now worst affected by the pandemic [of HIV/AIDS].” (18)

“[T]he coerced tribute that the Third World pays to the First World has been the literal difference between life and death for millions of people.” (19)

Just as changes in the imperial order contributed to the new urban landscape, so too has the collapse of both real and imagined socialism. Both socialist and revisionist regimes tried to enforce an orderly relationship between town and countryside. (20) However, this mostly ended with the end of the cold war. During the 1980s, under the revisionist, capitalist regime of Deng Xiaoping, China, for example, moved away from Maoist policies that sought to eliminate the contradiction between town and countryside. The revisionists moved away from the Maoist approach of balanced development. The Great Leap and Cultural Revolution aspiration of bringing the positive aspects of urbanization to the countryside, factory production, cultural and education, and services, was largely abandoned. As part of the capitalist restoration process, the revisionists began to relax restrictions on urban growth in the 1980s. (21) The result was urban overspilling into the rural, destroying farmland. (22) Revisionist policies reconfigured the relationship of both town and countryside, but not the way that Maoists imagined during the socialist period:

“The result of this collision between the rural and the urban in China, much of Southeast Asia, India, Egypt, and perhaps West Africa is a hermaphroditic landscape, a partially urbanized countryside that Guldin argues may be ‘a significant new path of human settlement and development… a form neither rural nor urban but a blending of the two wherein a dense web of transactions ties large urban cores to their surrounding regions.’” (23)

Traditional social problems, exacerbated by neocolonialism and globalization, the end of socialism, and new emerging landscapes,  contributed to the urban explosion and the slum. There is no sign of  slumification abating in the Third World.

Cardboard, Not Glass

The new urban landscape is not the one imagined by modernists and futurists. The modern city is not a well-ordered utopia of steel and glass:

“From Karl Marx to Max Weber, classical social theory believed that the great cities of the future would follow in the industrializing footsteps of Manchester, Berlin,  and Chicago — and indeed Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Pusan, and today, Ciudad Juarez, Bangalore, and Guangzhou have roughly approximated this canonical trajectory. Most cities of the South, however, more closely resemble Victorian Dublin, which, historian Emmet Larkin has stressed, was unique amongst ‘all the slumdoms produced in the western world in the nineteenth century… [because] its slums were not a product of the industrial revolution. Dublin, in fact, suffered more from the problems of de-industrialization than industrialization between 1800 and 1850.” (24)

The global slum is born of cardboard, recycled plastic, crude brick and straw, cement blocks and scrap wood. Such materials shelter the typical urban-dweller of this century. She is desperately poor. She lives in squalor and decay, in excrement and waste, without urban planning, sanitation and services. (25) (26) If she works, the slum-dweller often has to commute long hours every day to work. Hours are spent every day just looking for water and food. (27) Life in the slum is crowded and desperate, a fight to survive. Life is cheap in the slum. Her landscape is one of make-shift shelters, shanty towns and pavement dwellers. For example, one million people live on the sidewalks, on the pavement, of Mumbai alone. (28) Also:

“In Mumbai the typical chawl (75 percent of the city’s formal housing stock) is a dilapidated, one-room rental dwelling that crams a household of six people in 15 square meters; the latrine is usually shared with six other families.” (29)

Although squatting contributed to the modern slum, the golden age of squatting has ended. Cheap spaces for the urban poor no longer exist. Today’s slum  is a rent plantation. People pay to be packed into tight spaces. Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi in Mumbai, for example, has a maximum density more than twice that of nineteenth-century New York. In Kolkata, an average of 13.4 people are crowded into each occupied room. Slums of rent-free living have been replaced by latifunda and crony capitalism. (30) New Democratic and socialist revolution of the future will take ever new forms to meet the concerns and interests of the slum-dwelling poor.

Toxins and Garbage

The slum is dangerous to one’s health. Industrial toxins, natural disasters, disease and sickness, lack of services, all contribute to the problems of the slum. One famous case is the Bhopal incident. In Bhopal, India on December 3, 1984, a gas leak killed about 10,000 people in a few days. Later, 25,000 more are estimated to have died and the over half a million who survived the initial effects are thought to have suffered from  severe aftereffects. Lung cancer, kidney failure, liver disease and other illnesses related to the accident have killed many others in the two decades since the initial gas leak. According to the government of India, 500,000 people were affected by the gas. After the disaster, Union Carbide simply abandoned the factory, leaving India stuck with the mess. Almost a quarter century since the leak, slums have grown around the site of the accident. Slums now exist side-by-side with millions of tons of toxic waste that have yet to be cleaned up. The Union Carbide factory site has yet to be cleaned up. Authorities have yet to study the effects of the remaining toxic waste on the drinking water and environment of local communities. The assumption here is that the poor of India are not worth the cost involved in removing the waste. The crimes of Union Carbide are typical examples of how First World corporations, literally, get away with murder. This pattern is repeated again and again.

The air itself is often toxic and polluted in the slum. The slum-dweller chokes on polluted air from cars, industrial production, and human waste. According to some, breathing Mumbai’s air is the equivalent of smoking two-and-one-half packs of cigarettes a day.  (31) Mexico’s pollution is also legendary. In addition to the volcanic smoke, massive human and industrial pollution, “Mexico City residents, for example, inhale shit: fecal dust blowing off Lake Texcoco during the hot, dry season causes typhoid and hepatitis.” (32)

The slum-dwelling population wades in a sea of garbage, toxins and filth. The new slum intersects with the global sanitation and water crisis. “From a sanitary viewpoint, poor cities on every continent are little more than clogged, overflowing sewers.” Kabul’s city palling director:

“Kabul is turning into one big reservoir of solid waste. If all 40 of our trucks make three trips a day, they can still transport only 200 to 300 cubic meters out of the city.”

Davis writes:

“The content of the waste is sometimes grisly; in Accra, the Daily Graphic recently described ‘sprawling refuse dumps, full of black plastic bags containing aborted fetal bodies from the wombs of Kayayee [female porters] and teenage girls in Accra. According to Metropolitan Chief Executive, ‘75 percent of the waste of black polythene bags in the metropolis contains human aborted fetuses.’”  (33)

“[D]igestive-tract diseases arising from poor sanitation and the pollution of drinking water — including diarrhea, enteritis, colitis, typhoid, and paratyphoid fevers — are the leading cause of death in the world, affecting mainly infants and small children. Open sewers and contaminated water are likewise rife with intestinal parasites such as whipworm, roundworm, and hookworm, and so on that infect tens of millions of children in poor cities. Cholera, the scourge of the Victorian city, also continues to thrive off the fecal contamination of urban water supplies, especially in African cities like Antananarivo, Maputo, and Lusaka, where UNICEF estimates that up to 80 percent of deaths from preventable diseases (apart from HIV/AIDS) arise from poor sanitation. The diarrhea associated with AIDS is a grim addition to the problem.” (34)

A billion people have no access to clean or usable or piped water, many of them are slum-dwellers. Basic amenities such as water are expensive and out of reach for many. For example, the population of Kibera slum pays up to five times for a liter of water more than the average American. (35)sc43

This contributes to a massive health crisis. Illness related to water supply accounts for 75 percent of the illness that affects humanity. (36) Roughly a third of the slum-dwelling population is ill at any given time. In any other urban context, such a figure would amount to a pandemic.  (37)  However, the suffering of the slum is largely ignored by the bourgeois world.

Worlds Apart

The slum-dwelling population lacks access to health and other services. This is part of a growing polarization in the Third World. The most extreme health differences are no longer between towns and countrysides. Rather the most extreme differentials are between the urban middle classes and urban poor. For example, the mortality rate for children under five (151 per 1000) in Nairobi’s slums is two or three times higher than in the city as a whole, and half again as high as in poor rural areas. Also in Quito, infant mortality is 30 times higher in the slums than the wealthier neighborhoods. In Cape Town, tuberculosis is 50 times more common amongst poor blacks than amongst affluent whites. (38) This growing disparity between the slum and the middle and upper strata is part of what some have referred to as a return to medieval segregation. (39)

“In Luanda, where in 1993 a staggering 84 percent of the population was jobless or underemployed, inequality between the highest and lowest income deciles ‘increased from a factor of 10 to a factor of 37 between 1995 and 1998 alone.’ In Mexico the percentage of the population living in extreme poverty increased from 16 percent in 1992 to 28 percent in 1999, despite the much-hyped ‘success stories’ of the border maquiladoras and NAFTA.” (40)

This polarization is reflected in a growth of social and economic inequalities and growing geographic separation. As the slum grows, new, oft-walled enclaves appear. These “off worlds” are sub-cities for the middle and upper strata within the city. These “off worlds” are often self-contained, American-style walled communities:

“Brazil’s most famous walled Americanized edge city is Alphaville, in the northwest quadrant of greater Sao Paulo. Named (perversely) after the dark new world in Godard’s dystopian 1965 film, Alphaville is a complete private city with a large office complex, an upscale mall, and walled residential areas — all defended by more than 800 private guards.” (41)

These “off worlds” offer a stark contrast to the poverty of the slum. (42) While the middle and upper strata stay safe, the slum population is subject to the ravages of poverty, illness, natural and ecological disasters. Revolutionaries in Peru had an expression: they carried their lives on their finger tips. This meant that they might be called to make the ultimate sacrifice at any time. Those in the global slum also live on the edge, but not by choice. Theirs is a precarious existence, where death is always near. Such conditions make for a potentially explosive, revolutionary situation, which is why the reactionaries seek to control the slum through the “soft-imperialism” non-profits, NGOs, and criminalization and militarization.

Slum Economy, Excess humanity

A city’s population size bears little relationship to the size of its economy. (43) The growth in urban population does not correspond with economic growth. Production does not necessarily increase with population. Where there is capitalist production in the slum, it is carried out under barbaric conditions.  The growing slum has sometimes resulted in a reversal of the traditional Third World economy, rather than a labor-intensive countryside and capital-intensive city, now there are capital-intensive countrysides and labor-intensive de-industrialized cities. (44) Often the worst affected by production in the slum are not  the muscle-bound proletarian, stereotypical male  factory worker, as imagined by many so-called Marxists. The worst affected are often poor women and children:

“In exchange for tiny loans and cash payments, incredibly poor rural Dalits and Muslims sell their children — or entire families — to predatory textile contractors. According to UNICEF, thousands of children in the carpet industry are ‘kidnapped or lured away or pledged by their parents for paltry sums of money.’” (45)

“Most of them are kept in captivity, tortured and made to work for 20 hours a day without a break. Little children are made to crouch on their toes, from dawn to dusk every day, severely stunting their growth during formative years.”

“The children work twelve or more hours a day, six and a half or seven days a week, under conditions of physical and verbal abuse. Starting as young as age five, they earn from nothing at all to around 400 rupees (US $8.33) a month.” (46)

The growth of the global slum looks very different than the future predicted by First Worldist so-called Marxists. Slums have become a dumping ground for excess humanity, rather than a place of prosperity. (47) The typical slum-dweller is not a factory worker. Many slum-dwellers are unproductive in Marx’s sense; they are not even an industrial reserve army of the unemployed in Marx’s sense. In other words, they are not necessarily  used to depress wages. Wages are so low in the slum that they, often, cannot really go any lower. Sometimes, as in the case with Gaza, slum-dwellers rely on relief from international agencies. The slum economy is often dominated by the informal sector, not the traditional productive sector of Marx’s original vision of the future.  (48)

“The traditional stereotype of the Indian pavement dweller is a destitute peasant, newly arrived from the countryside, who survives by parasitic begging, but research has revealed, almost all (97 percent) have at least one breadwinner, 70 percent have been in the city at least six years, and one third had been evicted from a slum or chawl. Indeed, many pavement-dwellers are simply workers — rickshaw men, construction laborers, and market porters — who are compelled by their jobs to live in the otherwise unaffordable heart of the metropolis.” (49)

Remarking on late twenty-century Mexico City, one urban planner observes:

“[A]s much as 60 percent of the city’s growth is the result of people, especially women, heroically building their own dwellings on unserviced peripheral land, while informal subsistence work has always accounted for a large proportion of total employment.” (50)

The slum-dweller is not Marx’s stereotypical, male, proletarian factory worker. According to the CIA in 2002, “By the late 1990s a staggering one billion workers representing one-third of the world’s labor force, most of them in the South, were either unemployed or underemployed.” (51) And there is no expectation that these people will be integrated into production in the near future. The slum-dweller is not typically  or principally engaged in productive labor, in the creation of value. Rather, the slum-proletarian tends to be from the marginalized, lumpen, sometimes de-classed elements, and, even, oppressed small business class. (52) In fact, in certain places in Latin America, the traditional industrial and unionized worker constitutes a relatively privileged section of the Third World population. This is one reason why it is important to separate our concepts of exploitation and proletarian from point of production, from the factory and field. While the Labor Theory of Value may provide important insight into the creation of value, a far more useful global indicator of exploitation and revolutionary potential is  the equality  measure and simple poverty.  (53) (54) With the vast majority of industrial workers now living outside of the First World, the typical First World person may not be engaged in productive labor as Marx described, but neither is an ever more important segment of the dispossessed, Third World population. (55) Revolution is the hope of the hopeless.

Global Class

Marx predicted that the trends that he witnessed during the industrial revolution in Western Europe would occur globally. He thought that society would become polarized into two great classes, the industrial capitalists and their workers. Thus, as capitalism advanced, the paradigmatic producer and impoverished person would come to be represented by the industrial worker. He saw the industrial working class as the proletariat, the revolutionary agent. Marx thought competition and development would even out from country to country. Thus revolution was a matter of “workers of the world, unite!” However, things did not work out exactly the way Marx foresaw. Even Engels began writing of the bourgeoisification of large segments of the population of wage earners. Engels said that whole nations could be bourgeoisified. In Lenin’s time, the Bolsheviks began referring to a “labor aristocracy.” There is Lenin’s famous statement that the “seal of parasitism” affected whole nations. Lin Biao offered an alternative vision of polarization: the global city versus the global countryside. Lin Biao said that the proletarian struggle in the First World was “delayed” while it was vigorous elsewhere. This polarization of the global city of the rich countries and the global countryside of the poor countries, the First World and Third World, continues. The household per-capita income differential between a rich, First World city like Seattle and a poor, Third World city like Ibadan is as great as 739 to 1. (56) “In 46 countries people are poorer today than in 1990. In 25 countries more people are hungry today than a decade ago.” (57)

Lin Biao’s conception of the polarization is still essentially correct, although it is important to take note of the growing global slum within the global countryside. The growing urban population in the Third World has tremendous implications for the global class structure. Most city dwellers in the Third World are desperately poor. (58) Roughly a quarter of all urbanites in 1988 live in “absolute poverty,” surviving on one dollar or less a day. (59) According to one expert:

“Slums, however deadly and insecure, have a brilliant future. The countryside will for a short period still contain the majority of the world’s poor, but that dubious distinction will pass to urban slums no later than 2035. A least half of the coming Third World urban population explosion will be credited to the account of informal communities. Two billion slum-dwellers by 2030 or 2040 is a monstrous, almost incomprehensible prospect, but urban poverty overlaps and exceeds slum populations per se.”  (60)

The true proletariat, the revolutionary agent, has nothing to lose but its chains. The proletariat has long since passed from the First World. The real proletariat lives almost exclusively in the Third World. Over the next century, more and more, the typical proletarian will come to be represented by the slum-dweller of the Third World. This isn’t to discount other segments of the revolutionary and exploited classes, such as the poor peasant and industrial worker in the Third World, this is only to point to the rising influence of the slum-dweller, a demographic group that is going to play more and more of a role on the world scene.

Global People’s War

Anthropologist Michael Taussig writes of the outskirts of Cali:

“It dawns on me that just as the guerrilla have their most important base in the endless forests of the Caqueta, at the end of nowhere on the edge of the Amazon basin, so the gang world of youth gone wild has its sacred grove, too, right here on the urban edge, where slums hit the cane fields at Carlos Alfredo Diaz.” (61)

Mao famously compared the guerrilla among the peasants to a fish in the sea.  If trends continue as they do, the slums will be a new sea in which  people’s warriors swim. The rise of the global slum has implications for global people’s war, just as it has implications on our conceptions of what exploitation is and who constitutes the proletariat. Mao articulated a model of people’s war that was protracted, his model of people’s war began in the countryside then advanced to surround the city. People’s war of the past was mainly a rural affair. Red zones were areas that the revolutionary forces controlled in the countryside. Within red zones, the revolutionary forces created a new state and new economy in miniature. The red zone was the Maoist adaptation of Lenin’s conception of dual power to the Third World countryside. People’s wars, along with the red zone and dual power, will have to be adapted to the global slum.  People’s wars of the future may not necessarily advance from the countryside to the city. Although the global people’s war will still move from the global countryside, which contains the global slum, to the global city.  Global people’s war will advance from the Third World to the First World. While Lenin’s warnings about overestimating spontaneity and Maoist warnings about overestimating   insurrectionary models still apply, protracted people’s war applied to the slum will be explored in the coming century by Leading Light Communists. RAND researchers commented on how slum-based resistance could have tipped the scales in El Salvador’s civil war in the 1980s, “had the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front rebels effectively operated within the cities earlier in the insurgency, it is questionable how much the United States could have done to help maintain even the stalemate between the government and the insurgents.” (62) The lessons of the Iraqi resistance, both Sunni and Shia as urban-based resistance  movements, should also be studied. Air power, the favorite weapon of the imperialists, the scourge of rural guerrilla movements, is also less effective in urban contexts.

Georg Lukacs  once wrote that even if all of Marx’s individual predictions proved false, one could still be an “orthodox Marxist” because real Marxism, at its core, is simply revolutionary science. Marx was the beginning. Lenin was the first one to make the ideological breakthrough that led to the first sustained proletarian revolution. Mao was the one who made the next breakthrough. They were real revolutionary scientists despite their errors and limitations. They did not just inherit the mainstream so-called  revolutionary theories of their day. They adapted and expanded revolutionary science. They understood that Marxism is not a set of dogmatic formulas, it is a science — the science of human liberation.  Today, leftovers from the last revolutionary breakthroughs remain: “Marxist-Leninists” and “Maoists.” The forces that fly these banners today were not the ones who made the breakthroughs themselves. What is called “Marxism-Leninism” and “Maoism” today are merely an echo of the past breakthroughs. “Marxist-Leninist” and “Maoist” forces today grab the pre-scientific and popular form of these breakthroughs and run with them. These forces never grasped the scientific core, even if they applied the popularized, dogmatized form of the ideology. In some cases, the dogma works well enough so that these forces have been able to create sizable armed organizations and seize large swaths of territory in the Third World. However, the dogma is not good enough to conquer state power, let alone to reach communism. Times have changed. Old dogma won’t cut it. It is over 60 years since Mao declared the People’s Republic of China. It is almost a half century since the initiation of the Cultural Revolution. Science learns. Material reality, including the global class structure, is much different. The composition of the global countryside, with the growth of the global slum, is very different. Our conceptions of people’s war and global people’s war must evolve. Imperialists have been perfecting and advancing their science of oppression. We must advance the science of liberation to beat them. Marxism must adapt or die. Leading Light Communism is the revolutionary science of today. It is the new breakthrough.

1. Davis, Mike. Planet of Slums Verso, USA: 2007, p. 175
2. Davis, p. 1
3. Davis, p. 15
4. Davis, p. 2
5. Davis, p. 25
6. Davis, pp. 26-27
7. Davis, p. 18
8. Davis, p. 23
9. Davis,  p. 19
10.  Davis, p. 48
11. Davis, p. 18
12. Davis, p. 32
13. Davis, p. 37
14. Davis, p. 47
15. Davis, pp. 50-54
16. Davis, pp. 147-148
17. Davis, p. 148
18. Davis, p. 149
19. Davis, p. 148
20. Davis, pp. 50-54
21. Davis, p. 60
22. Davis, p. 135
23. Davis, p. 9
24. Davis, p. 16
25. Davis, p. 19
26. Davis, p. 7
27. Davis, pp. 93-94
28. Davis, p. 36
29. Davis, p. 34
30. Davis, pp. 87-93
31. Davis, pp. 133-134
32. Davis, p. 144
33. Davis, p.134-139
34. Davis, p. 145
35. Davis, p. 145
36. Davis, p. 142-145
37. Davis, p. 147
38. Davis, p. 146
39. Davis, p. 119
40. Davis, pp. 164-165
41. Davis, p. 188
42. Davis, pp. 117-118
43. Davis, p.13
44. Davis, p. 16
45. Davis, p. 187
46. Davis, p. 187
47. Davis, p. 175
48. Davis, pp. 177-179
49. Davis, p. 36
50. Davis, p. 17
51. Davis, p. 198
52. Davis, p. 179
53. Prairie Fire. Equality and Global Alignments. Monkey Smashes Heaven.
54. Prairie Fire Real versus Fake Socialism on Socialist Distribution. Monkey Smashes Heaven.
55. Davis, p. 13
56. Davis, pp. 25-26
57. Davis, p. 163
58. Davis, p. 49
59. Davis, p. 25
60. Davis, p. 151
61. Davis, p. 49
62. Davis, p. 102

Book review part 2 of 2 of Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty

Book review part 2 of 2 of Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Povertybrac_microcredit_borrowers_and_children_gazipur_district_1_500x375


Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty was first published in 1981 as a response to the World Bank’s Brandt Report. Even today, decades after it was first published, Hayter’s book is more accurate than not in its depiction of the most glaring fact about our world today, the gap between the rich and poor countries. Hayter’s book is certainly more accurate than the accounts of First Worldists. Even though Hayter may not be fully correct, the overall politics of this work are. Hayter’s work serves as a good introduction to the work of dependency theorists who have come to correct conclusions even though they, often, work within academia. Her work should be placed alongside the work of authors like André Gunder Frank, Walter Rodney, and Samir Amin. The first part of this review traced the origin of the gross inequality between countries to the beginnings of capitalism and the European colonial period. Hayter holds that Western Europe rose to dominance because capitalism first arose there and was given a boost by the influx of value from the colonial world. Thus Western Europe, then the United States, then other First World countries were able to take full advantage of all the benefits of capitalism. Thus the First World was able to propel its own development forward while it locked the colonial world in perpetual underdevelopment. This next part of this review focuses on the development of underdevelopment in more detail.

Development of Underdevelopment

Hayter considers the argument advanced by some First Worldists that even though colonization was brutal, colonization helped bring backwards parts of the world into modernity. They argue that imperialism advances the political culture and the productive forces of the colonies. Karl Marx discussed the supposed progressive role of colonialism in the Communist Manifesto, a popular work that oversimplifies historical materialism, not his most scientific work:

“The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.

Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacturer no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.

Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.” (1)

First Worldists often quote Karl Marx selectively, while ignoring the Third Worldist implications of Marx’s more advanced scientific works,  in order to “justify” their “White man’s burden” arguments today. Hayter points out that others, including Mao Zedong, argued for a very different position. Mao argued that colonization and imperialism does not advance “backwards” countries. Rather, the imperialists stunt and retard the development of these countries. According to Mao, imperialists often enter into alliances with the most backward segments of the reactionary classes. Thus imperialists often prop up the most backwards aspects of Third World society. This alliance results in semi-feudal economies that hinder the development of national capital. The East India company’s role in India propped up the most reactionary feudal  and comprador elements, thus stunting development. Hayter points out that the Spanish, for example, introduced many semi-feudal forms to Latin America where such forms had not previously existed. Imperialists carved up China and propped up and allied with many of the most backward feudal and warlord elements. Mao’s theory of New Democracy was an answer to this. Mao recognized that the bourgeoisie of China was too weak to carry out its anti-feudal mission. Thus it was up to the proletariat and its party to lead semi-feudal countries in throwing off the chains of feudalism and imperialism. It was up to the Communist Party to direct society to carry out the historic tasks associated with the bourgeois class and capitalist revolution in Europe, then to go on to lead society to socialism and communism. (2)

In agreement with Mao, Hayter holds that there is nothing natural about underdevelopment. Hayter holds that underdevelopment is developed. She quotes Andre Gunder Frank on the topic:

“Contemporary underdevelopment is in large part the historical product of the past and continuing economic and other relations between the satellite underdeveloped and the now developed metropolitan countries.” (3)

Hayter also quotes Walter Rodney:

“The developed and underdeveloped parts of the present capitalist section of the world have been in continuous contact for four and a half centuries. The contention here is that over that period Africa helped to develop Western Europe in the same proportion as Western Europe helped underdeveloped Africa.” (4)

Underdevelopment did not happen by accident. It was the result of conscious policies by the imperialists. For example, in the seventeenth century, the British passed the Navigation Acts and similar laws that prohibited colonies by law from engaging in any industry that might compete with the imperialist country. Instead, colonies were expected to export the raw materials to the imperialist country where goods were manufactured and, then, sold back to the colonies. For example, British occupiers of India even lopped off the hands of Indian weavers in order to reduce domestic production of cloth and force India to buy more cloth from Britain. These policies retarded the industrial development of the colonies, turning them into export economies. In addition, it made the colonies dependent on the imperialist country for goods. Hayter describes how the British destroyed the industrial economy of India:

“One of the more notorious facts of British colonial history is that the British subsequently proceeded to destroy the industrial economy of India itself. Between 1815 and 1832 the value of Indian cotton goods exported fell from £1.3 million to below £100,000. Not only that, but the value of English cotton good imported to India rose from £156,000 in 1794 to £400,000 in 1832. By the middle of the nineteenth century India was importing a quarter of all British cotton exports. The British eliminated competition from Indian textiles through an elaborate network of restrictions and prohibitive duties. Even within India, taxes effectively discriminated against local cloth. The resulting hardship was great for the Indian weavers…” (5)

Similar policies were enacted across the colonial world. Thus “free trade” is largely a myth. However, this did not stop imperialists from invoking free trade rhetoric in order to subdue countries. China, for example, had banned the importation of opium. This outraged the imperialist drug lords. The sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, in 1842, intervened on the side of the imperialist narco-traffickers:

“The moral obligation of commercial intercourse between nations is founded entirely, exclusively, upon the Christian precept to love your neighbor as yourself… But China, not being a Christian nation… admits no obligation to hold commercial intercourse with others… It is time that this enormous outrage upon the rights of human nature [i.e. China’s refusal to buy opium]… should cease.” (6)

In 1840, the British fleet attacked China. At gunpoint, the British imposed a series of treaties on China. These granted foreigners special privileges in the so-called Treaty Ports. They forced China to cede Hong Kong, reduce duties on imports, and, eventually, the opium trade was legalized. The use of force to open up markets and subdue colonies was a common practice. (7) This pattern of imposing their will at gunpoint, opening markets with cannons, is repeated again and again in the history of the colonies.

Single-commodity export economies

Underdevelopment was developed, often, by creating economies that mainly exported one or two commodities. Colonies were reduced to producing only a few products, and, sometimes, only a single product. Whole countries were reduced to producing a single crop or reduced to mining. Whole colonies in the New World were transformed into giant sugar or tobacco plantations, for example. As part of this process, the imperialists took the best land. They transformed it from producing food crops to producing cash crops. This often required removing local populations. Indigenous peoples were often killed or forced off their land into reservations or into mountainous regions. The land that was left to the indigenous populations was too intensely cultivated or the soil too poor to sustain the populations. This also led to huge ecological damage. Hayter quotes Josue de Castro’s Geography of Hunger:

“In Africa it is not only because it cuts down local production of foodstuffs that the regime of production is ruinous to the natives, but also because it exhausts the soil by in intensifying the factors of erosion. This has happened… with monkey-nut growing in Senegal.” (8)

This continues today. When Hayter wrote, primary commodities and raw material exports accounted for 81 percent of the total exports of “low income countries.” Excluding the oil-exporting countries, more than half the Third World received more than half of their export earnings from the export of one or two commodities.  Zambia received 94 percent of its export earnings from copper, Mauritius 90 percent from sugar, Cuba 84 percent from sugar, Gambia 85 percent from groundnuts (peanuts) and groundnut (peanut) oil. (9)

In colonies, where the imperialists did not take the land themselves, they persuaded local populations to produce for the market, not for the people. This gave some strata of the local populations access to European imports. However, sometimes the populations did not care to produce to export crops or to work on estates of imperialists. When there was not a local population wiling to work, the imperialists simply imported the labor, often in the form of slaves. Even after slavery was officially abolished, these populations remained a captive workforce with little alternatives but to continue working for the imperialist plantations. One way to get local populations to produce cash crops was to simply impose a tax that had to be paid in the form of the cash crop or paid for by working for Europeans. This meant that the time and land that could be devoted to food production was reduced and that subsistence farming was deprived of able-bodied people. Another way imperialists motivated the local populations to work producing cash crops or in mines was by enacting policies that purposefully depressed living conditions. This was achieved through legal and policy means, and by buying up extra land simply to prevent it from falling into the hands of local populations. (10)  These policies had terrible consequences.

“The inexorable conversion of the dominated areas into markets for European manufactured goods and suppliers of primary commodities and raw materials for European consumption undermined not only their previous self-sufficiency in manufacturers, but also, increasingly, their ability to feed themselves.” (11)

“Although famines are not only a modern phenomenon, there are some indications that they have increased in intensity and depth. In India there appears to have been a drastic increase in deaths from famine from 1800 onwards..” (12)

“In general it is clear that a very important factor contributing to hunger is the unequal distribution of food and the money to buy it… this inequality is increasing. The colonial powers have reinforced the power of landlords or, as in the case of Latin America and Africa, to create new landlords. In India peasants have become deeply indebted to money-lenders and traders who are able to force them to sell their crops cheaply in order to obtain further credit. Such traders hoard food and sell it in times of scarcity at prices that peasants cannot afford… There is much evidence that this increasing inequality means not only that the rich are getting richer, but also that the poor are getting poorer.” (13)

Although she mentions Cuba, Hayter fails to point out that this pattern of reducing whole colonies to a single crop or product also was practiced under Soviet social-imperialism. The social-imperialists advocated what they called the international division of socialist [sic] labor. This meant that instead of developing well-rounded economies, Soviet colonies might be dedicated to one or two products to be exported and coordinated through Moscow. King Sugar, for example, ruled Cuba under both Western and social-imperialism. “Ten years after their revolution even Cubans, whose revolutionary leaders had spoken of the servitude of sugar, found themselves resorting to the chimera of the ten-million-ton sugar harvest.” (14)  Some suggest that Che Guevara  and Fidel Castro split over this issue. Che, in contrast to Fidel, called for a militant stance against imperialism; he called for “many Vietnams” across the Third World. Che objected to the application of the revisionist model, with the dependency that it entailed, to Cuba. Across the globe in Albania, Evner Hoxha, for example, was offended when Nikita Khrushchev proposed turning Albania into a giant fruit plantation to service the Eastern Bloc. Maoist China objected to both imperialists and social-imperialists reducing colonies to dependency. Instead, Maoists put self-determination at the heart of socialist economic development. Part of the Maoist breakthrough, why Maoism was the third stage of Marxism, is its quantum leap in the understanding of socialist development and the transition to communism. This set China, in its revolutionary phase, against both superpowers. Lin Biao’s Report to the Ninth Congress in April of 1969 adopted the line that revolution was the main trend in the world and that the contemporary era was the era of Mao Zedong, an era when imperialism is headed for total collapse and socialism is advancing toward worldwide victory. Maoism was the ideological leader of the global people’s war by revolutionary forces of the Third World against the First World, both imperialists and social-imperialists, and their lackeys. Maoists thought imperialism was on its last leg. Lin Biao called on people of the global countryside to rise up in a global people’s war to kill imperialism once and for all.

Another feature of underdevelopment is that underdeveloped countries have little market power. They compete in limited commodity markets like tea, coffee, sugar, or rubber. (15) Prices for their primary commodities and raw materials fluctuate greatly, especially because of commodity speculation by First World peoples.

“In the mid-1970s, the price paid for a pound of sugar dropped from 64 cents a pound to 6 cents a pound in 18 months.  Tanzania’s first five-year plan was based on a minimum world sisal price of £90; soon afterward, the price dropped to £60. In the late fifties, cocoa prices went in the US$ from $1,000 per ton one year to $400 then back to $1,000 the next, then down to less than $600… copper prices [in Zambia] took the price $3,034 in April 1974; it then fell to $1,290 before the end of the year.” (16)

Cash crops of underdeveloped countries are “false riches.” Not only do they destroy the indigenous economy and create dependency, they tend to decline in value over time. In 1960, 25 tons of natural rubber exports from Sri Lanka could be exchanged for 6 tractors. By 1970, they could be exchanged for 2. Similarly, banana prices declined 30 percent between 1950 and 1970. (17) The pattern that Hayter describes continues to exist. So-called free trade destroyed much of Haiti’s agricultural sector in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1986, Haiti imported just 7,000 tons of rice, the main staple of the country. The bulk of rice used in Haiti was grown in Haiti. After Haiti became compliant with the free-trade policies of international lending agencies, cheaper rice immediately flooded the country from the United States, where rice production is subsidized. In the United States, the state increased rice subsidies with the 1985 Farm Bill. In the United States, 40 percent of the profits of the rice industry were from state subsidies in 1987. Haiti’s peasants simply could not compete. In 1996, Haiti was importing 196,000 tons of rice at a cost of 100 million dollars a year. Haitian rice production became negligible. Once Haiti was dependent on foreign rice, prices began to rise. Haiti’s population, especially the urban poor, was devastated.  (18) Underdeveloped countries are caught in a vicious cycle. They have to produce more cash crops to continue to maintain their profits. Thus they are caught up in overproduction and declining prices. And when they can’t keep up, they have to keep imposing austerity on their peoples in order to borrow more and more. (19) The First World gets rich. The Third World gets debt, poverty and dependency.

The myths of  investment and aid

The imperialist countries exert pressure on underdeveloped countries to open up their markets to goods manufactured in the imperialist countries. Imperialists flood local markets and destroy local industries, clearing the way for imperialist monopolies. Hayter refutes the imperialist claim, common to both imperialists and some First Worldists, that the imperialists do the poor countries a favor by providing investment of capital. Hayter argues that investments in the Third World are actually a way of draining the Third World of wealth. Gunder Frank describes this process in India:

“Two of the principal instruments the British used to drain India of its capital were the railroads and debt. The railroads were not only the physical instruments used to restructure the economy in order to be able to suck raw materials out and pump manufactured commodities in along the right of way. The Indians were also obliged to pay themselves for the installation of this exploitative mechanism on their soil. And the ‘Indian debt’, to which all imaginable and unimaginable items of British colonial administration were charged, became in the particular circumstances of India one of the principal fiscal instruments for extracting the economic surplus from the colony to the metropolis.” (20)

Foreign investment is really a way of taking over or destroying local business. Gunder Frank writes:

“The railway network and electric grid, far from being net-or grid-like, was ray-like and connected the hinterland or each country and sometimes of several countries with the port of entry and exit, which was in turn with the metropolis.” (21)

Outflows from underdeveloped countries to imperialist ones increasingly exceed inflows from imperialist countries to underdeveloped ones. Hayter quotes Richard J. Barnet and Ronald E. Muller on “welfare in reverse,” “incredible as it may seem, the poor countries have been an indispensable source of finance capital for the worldwide expansion of global corporations.” Hayter points out that the capital that is “invested” in an underdeveloped country is usually raised there in the first place. On average, 80 percent of the capital invested in underdeveloped countries is raised from the underdeveloped countries themselves. (22) So much for the myth that the First World is risking its own wealth on Third World development.

Another way the imperialists bully the Third World is by attaching conditions to aid. They make “free-market” reforms a condition of loans from agencies like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Yet at the same time, the imperialists put up barriers against “cheap imports” from the Third World. Often, trade unions in the United States lead the charge in trying to legislate “Buy American.” Hayter shows that aid is a tool used to perpetuate underdevelopment. At the time Hayter wrote, roughly 1/3rd of the flows of capital to underdeveloped countries was aid. Most of this aid is in the form of loans that come with many strings attached. Aid has played a big role, especially since World War 2. Aid is in the common interests of the imperialist and Third World comprador elite. Aid is a bribe used to make it worth their while to continue to cooperate in draining their countries of wealth. Aid is a way for imperialists to try to keep the Third World in line. President John F. Kennedy said in 1961 that “Foreign aid is a method by which the United States maintains a position of good influence and control around the world and sustains a good many countries which would definitely collapse or fall to the Communist Bloc.” In 1968, Nixon said that “the main purpose of American aid is not to help other nations but to help ourselves.” Aid is used to prop up despots who will do the bidding of imperialists. Aid is used as a carrot to dangle in front of a starving country: comply and it’s yours. For example, Hayter describes how the United States sought to influence the “somewhat leftist Bangladeshi government of Shaikh Mujib, which was very ‘dependent’ on food imports but was not a the time very co-operative, to co-operate. In 1974 between 27,000 and 100,000 Bangladeshi died in.. a manmade famine.” Hayter quotes a source, “[the] primal source of the crisis lay in the breakdown of the import programme… The United States appears to have opted for a dramatic demonstration of the awesome power of food politics.” Aware that Bangladeshi society was on the brink, the United States purposefully delayed its normal commitments of food aid. Thus the United States strong-armed Bangladesh’s government to revise its investment policy in favor of the private sector. To add insult to injury, the United States continued to hold back food because Bangladesh continued to have economic relations with Cuba. In the end, Shaikh Mujib was murdered, probably with the help of the CIA, and replaced by one of his more  compliant colleagues. (23)

A whole ideology of development has been created to give philanthropic cover to the imperialists and patriotic cover to the compradors in the underdeveloped countries. People in the United States often say how they are the most giving people in the world. People in the United States are often dumbstruck: Why do the Third World peoples hate us so? Why are they such ingrates? Why do they bite the hand that feeds them? Third World comprador elites tell their people that they are partners with the imperialists in bringing development. “We can live like people in the United States too,” they say. They condemn rebel organizations as anti-patriotic and primitivist for blowing up railroads and power-lines. The reactionary ideology of development over the class struggle, of aspiring to the First World,  the Theory of Productive forces, was key in reversing socialism in China in the 1970s. Hayter thoroughly exposes the myth of aid and the false promises of the First Worldists.

Workers and value transfer

The development of underdevelopment locked Third World workers into the kind of precarious existence that Karl Marx described in the Communist Manifesto. Unlike their First World counterparts, Third World workers are forced to exist at subsistence or sub-subsistence levels. One method of keeping down incomes for workers in the Third World was to make sure that, although wages might provide for bare subsistence of the workers themselves, the cost of providing for them in old age or in sickness and of providing for children was not borne by the employers or state, but by others.  This continues to be used today. Multinational corporations, especially those that, in special low-wage zones, manufacture consumer goods bound for rich countries pay wages that are a fraction of those paid to workers in the rich countries themselves. Such companies pick and choose among workers. They use women, children and apprentices. Often, these workers are landless and severely impoverished. They have no alternative but to seek employment in the “formal sector” of the economy until they are no longer useful. They take them at their fittest and fire them when they are worn out. They leave them in the “informal sector” in the slums of cities to take care of the needs that they or their families may have. Thus the employers and state are freed from the burden of providing for them. Parallel to this is the brain drain in the Third World. Third World countries, often Third World states, educate and train highly skilled personnel like doctors or engineers. Yet these personnel leave to practice their trade in the First World. Thus the Third World ends up paying for their training and provides for them when they are not working. All the benefit goes to the First World. All of this drains the Third World and creates a situation where cheap labor is available. Massive unemployment, under-employment, migration from impoverished rural areas, refugees fleeing conflict, all contribute to this situation that is exploitable by the corporations. In addition, attempts to collectively resist or rebel against these conditions have been met with brutal repression: lynching, massacres, death squads. Thus exploitation through low wages today has its roots in colonial policy of the past. (24)

Leading Light Communists often note that workers in the Third World fit Karl Marx’s description of the proletariat to a T. Third World workers truly have nothing to lose but their chains. They have been separated from traditional means of subsistence such that they only have their labor-power to sell. They only make enough in wages to keep themselves alive from day to day. They work day-in-day-out, doing grueling or mind-numbingly repetitive labor, often for 10-14 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week. By contrast, First World workers live lives of luxury. They often have or have access to houses, large durable luxuries like cars, computers, televisions, stereos, ovens, refrigerators. They also enjoy huge wardrobes, toys for their children, running water, sanitation, etc. Many have investments. They have relatively pleasant work environments, weekends off, vacations, etc. They have more in common, both politically and culturally, with their own bourgeoisie than they do with the  Third World proletariat. In addition, workers in the First World receive exploiter-level incomes; they receive more than their share of the global social product. First World workers have much more to lose than their chains. They align with their own ruling class and imperialism against the Third World. Hayter also notes the great disparity in wages between the First World and Third World. She notes that some imperialists are very aware of the connection between the domestic peace in the First World and underdevelopment in the Third. The arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes wrote in 1896:

“I was in the East End… and attended a meeting of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for ‘bread’, ‘bread’, ‘bread’, and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism… My cherished idea is a solution for the social-problem, i.e. in order to save 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we, colonial statesmen, must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced by them…The empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question.” (25)

Also, the communist Palme Dutt wrote in the 1950s:

“The imperialist economy of Britain is a parasitic economy. It is increasingly dependent on world tribute for its maintenance. By the eve of the first world war close on two-fifths of British imports were no longer paid for by exports of goods; and this proportion had risen still higher by the eve of the second world war… By 1951 [the import surplus] had soared to a total of £779 million.” (26)

Value flows to the First World raise living standards there, creating social peace bought at the expense of the Third World. There must be mechanisms, besides plunder, that transfer value from the Third World to the First World. Hayter points to Arghiri Emmanuel’s classic book Unequal Exchange and Samir Amin’s Accumulation on a World Scale for possible explanations:

“[T]he theory suggests that, since exports of underdeveloped countries are produced at very low wages and their imports of mainly manufactured goods from Europe and North America are produced at higher wages, the exchange is an unequal one. Samir Amin, in Accumulation on a World Scale, has made quantitative estimates of the amounts transferred in this way. He says that: underdeveloped countries got $35,000 million for their exports in 1966; allowing for differences in productivity which were much less than differences in wage rates, they would have got an extra $22,000 million if their workers had been paid at the rates prevalent in the developed countries; and this amount is about equal to the underdeveloped countries’ total investment.” (27)

Hayter suggests that another way to look at this is to say that this involves goods produced at a low level of technology exchanged with good produced at a high level of technology. Those with higher levels of technology have an advantage in the market, just as skilled workers have an advantage over unskilled workers. Those with higher levels of technology can command greater prices for their products, just as skilled workers can. First Worldists often use this argument to justify why First World workers deserve more than their Third World counterparts. They say that First World workers are akin to skilled workers, and therefore deserve more. Of course Marx argued against the First Worldists that productivity of producers (bracketing for a moment the fact that very few in the First World produce!) should not be tied to entitlement. Do not capitalists always argue, like the First Worldists, that they are not idle, but contribute highly skilled mental labor to production? Do not superstar CEOs argue that they are the big-idea people without which the whole enterprise would fail? In any case, this is moot because it is a myth that First World workers are more productive than Third World workers. The United States Tariff Commission reported in 1973 that levels of productivity are the same in similar types of industry. (28) In fact, as Hayter points out, the productivity of labor in underdeveloped countries, or the amount produced at a particular time, is increasingly recognized as similar to that in developed countries. Since machinery is often inferior or secondhand in the Third World, and Third World workers have worse working environments, are paid substantially less, work longer, etc., it can be argued that Third World workers are more productive than First World workers. (29)

Against Arghiri Emmanuel, Hayter argues via Charles Bettelheim that within the current system of capitalism-imperialism merely lowering wages in the First World is unlikely to help Third World workers because that would result only in more profit to the capitalists, not a higher standard of living for Third World workers. While this may or may not be true, it must be pointed out that raising wages in the First World is likely to result in less of a share of the social product for the Third World. Any increase in the share of either exploiter class in the First World is likely to have negative consequences for the Third World. Although there are contradictions between First World  exploiters, for example, between First World capitalists and First World workers, these contradictions are not antagonistic. Both First World capitalists and First World workers, even though they contend against each other for an increased share of the social product, are exploiter classes. Thus both classes align with each other, and capitalism-imperialism, against the Third World. This is why Leading Light Communists don’t involve themselves in wage struggles in the First World. The struggle over wages in the First World is, almost always, a struggle between two exploiters. No matter who wins the wage struggle, the Third World loses. However, Hayter fails to point out that under socialism, the wealth of the First World can be redistributed to the Third World to the benefit of the vast majority of humanity and to the loss of the exploiter classes in the First World, including First World workers. In fact, to fail to redistribute the global wealth to the detriment of First World populations as a whole is to de facto support continued imperialism. This is why so many revisionist are really social-imperialists despite their internationalist rhetoric. In addition, it must be pointed out that socialism would necessarily entail a reduction in First World consumption simply because current consumption levels are not sustainable ecologically. To continue to allow the First World to consume as it does is not only to continue the super-exploitation of the Third World workers, but also puts the future of humanity at risk.

Our world today

Many of the trends that Hayter describes exist to this day, three decades after the original publication of her book. However, in the past decades, underdevelopment has taken new forms. Although Hayter’s book does a good job describing the creation of poverty in the Third World, there is a big gap in her book: it only describes one side of the process. She describes how the theft of its value affects the Third World, but fails to describe how this process has radically alters First World society. She fails to describe, in detail, the wealth and domestic social peace that the First World receives from its domination of the Third World. She fails to describe the rise of the mall economy that has really taken off in the past few decades. Leading Lights have described this phenomenon:

“Global society has not polarized exactly in the way that Marx foresaw. Instead, there exist different configurations of class society across countries. In some countries, there are very few direct producers at all. These are First World mall economies. Factories no longer dominate the lives of First World peoples. In fact, only a small percentage of people in the First World work in factories anymore. A far greater number are employed in management, services, etc. This can be described in Marx’s terms as a decline in the percentage of the population engaged in productive labor, labor that adds to the total social product. Many First World economies can be described as a mall writ large.  Nothing, or very little, is produced at the mall. Yet people are employed managing, transporting, securing, etc. goods that are produced elsewhere but are sold at the mall.  It is the influx of goods from outside the mall that keeps the mall afloat. Production is going on outside the mall, in the Third World. It was the evaporation of direct production, and along with it the evaporation of revolutionary consciousness, that caused Friedrich Engels to write of the bourgeoisification of the English working class on the back of India and the world.” (30)

Although she extols a vague concept of “socialism,” by failing to fully explore the relationship of the domestic situation of the First World to underdevelopment in the Third World, Hayter fails to understand that socialism must entail a very radical transformation of First World society. The First World standard of living is not sustainable materially or ecologically. A socialist redistribution of wealth worldwide will entail the drastic lowering of the incomes and standard of living of First World peoples. First World workers will not be allowed to live high off  surplus created by Third World peoples. The First World consumer culture and current level of energy consumption, which is neither just, desirable, nor ecologically sustainable, will not exist under socialism. She fails to understand the New Power as the dictatorship of the proletariat of exploited countries over exploiter countries. If Hayter wrote this book today, she would be a fence sitter. Often, fence sitters embrace Leading Light Communism on an intellectual level, but fail to have the political courage to go all the way. They fail to make the leap to real, Leading Light Communism. We must remember the Jacobin lessons of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Communists must be willing to go to extremes, to go all the way.


1. Marx, Karl. The Manifesto of the Communist Party. * It is interesting how often First Worldists invoke Marx’s more popular works, his oversimplifications, against Leading Light Communism. Yet, when confronted by Marx’s more advanced, scientific works, like Capital, with its Third Worldist implications, First Worldists have no response. See: Prairie Fire’s “Revisiting Value and Exploitation.”

2. Hayter, Teresa. The Creation of World Poverty. Third World First. Great Britain: 1990. . pp. 37-39
3. Hayter, p. 38
4. Hayter, p. 38
5. Hayter, p. 48
6. Hayter, p. 20
7. Hayter, p. 52
8. Hayter, p. 54
9. Hayter, p. 69
10. Hayter, pp. 59-63
11. Hayter, p. 53
12. Hayter, p. 57
13. Hayter, p. 57
14. Hayter, p. 67
15. Hayter, p. 67
16. Hayter, p. 68
17. Hayter, p. 67
18. Review of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Eyes of the Heart. Monkey Smashes Heaven. June, 10 1910.
19. Hayter, p. 67
20. Hayter, pp. 75-76
21. Hayter, pp. 75-76
22. Hayter, p. 77
23. Hayter, pp. 86-87
24. Hayter, pp. 59-63
25. Hayter, p. 71
26. Hayter, pp. 71-72
27. Hayter, p. 64
28. Hayter, p. 97
29. Hayter, p. 107
30. Prairie Fire, Revisiting Value and Exploitation. Monkey Smashes Heaven. June 11, 2010.

Book review part 1 of 2 of Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty

Book review part 1 of 2 of Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty african-slum1


The most glaring fact about our world today is the tremendous gap between the wealthy countries and the poor countries. This division of global society is sometimes referred to as the First World versus the Third World, the global city versus the global countryside, the West versus the East, the North versus the South. In one form or another, the conflict between these populations has been the principal contradiction in the world since at least the end of World War 2. First published in 1981 as a response to the World Bank’s Brandt Report, Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty details the origins of the great global divide. Hayter’s book is part of a large body of political economy that took off in the post-World War 2 era. Often, this political economy was influenced by Maoist and Third Worldist world views. Although there are a few moments when she loses her nerve, and ends up sitting on the fence, the politics of the work as a whole are thoroughly Third Worldist. Hayter’s book can be placed alongside the work of other economists who have reached Third Worldist or quasi-Third Worldist conclusions, such as André Gunder Frank and Samir Amin.

Inequality between First and Third World

Even though her book was originally published in 1981 and, then, republished in 1990, much of its description of the world remains more correct than not today:

“The North including Eastern Europe has a quarter of the world’s population and four fifths of its income; the South including China has four billion people — three quarters of the world’s population but living on one fifth of the world’s income.” (1)

“Wage rates in underdeveloped countries are often one twentieth to one thirtieth of those in the richer countries for the same type of work.” (2)

“According to the estimates in the World Development Report, the average adult literacy rate in 1975 in the 18 most industrialised countries was 99 per cent; in the 38 ‘low income’ countries it was estimated to be 38 per cent. Average life expectancy in 1978 was 74 years in the former group and 50 years in the latter. The proportion of children of school age in secondary schools in 1977 was, respectively 87 per cent and 24 per cent. The average daily calorie supply per head in 1977 was, respectively, 3,377 (or 131 per cent requirements) and 2,052 (or 91 per cent of requirements). The population per doctor in 1977 was 630 in the former group and 9,900 in the latter… Energy consumption per head in the former group in 1978 was 7,060 (kilograms of coal equivalent); in the later it was 161.” (3)

Little has changed since 1981. The vast inequality between the First World and Third World continues in 2010. For example, the median income worldwide is about $2.50 a day. By contrast, a rough figure for median personal income per workday for people (working and non-working) in the United States over 15 years of age is $119. In addition, there are more people earning less than $0.80 a day in India than there are people in the United States. In addition, this disparity of income is greater than these daily figures indicate because Indians often work more hours per day. (4) And, conditions are not getting better. For example, since last year, 100 million more people have slipped into hunger. The number of hungry people has recently risen drastically in the Third World. Hunger  has risen 11 percent in the past year. The number of hungry people is estimated to have reached 1.02 billion according to a recent United Nations report. (5) Hayter notes that those living in the most dire circumstances were increasing when her book was written. She comments that, excluding the  Soviet and socialist blocs, there were 700 million destitute people at the time her book was written. Almost 40 per cent of the population of developing countries was destitute. (6)

“In some countries one child in four dies before the age of five. Millions of people live in houses or huts made of corrugated iron, cardboard boxes and other ‘impermanent’ materials. They have no running water and no toilets. Electricity is a luxury. Health services are rarely within walking distance, and have to be paid for. Primary education may be available and free but often children are needed for work. There is generally no social security or unemployment pay, and many people, some 300 million according to the ILO, are without any kind of employment. Trade union rights and organisation are often minimal or non-existent and severe repression by government authorities is the rule rather than the exception.” (7)

The destitute, the wretched of the Earth, are currently a very dynamic population. Since her book was published, there has been a major demographic shift. For the first time in history, more people live in cities than not. However, the city life that exists is not that predicted by utopian futurists. This urbanization has resulted from the growth of Third World megacities with huge slum dwelling populations. The destitute have grown to enormous proportions in these slums. In many cases, the new destitute are not completely integrated or integrated at all into economic production. There are huge pools of what Karl Marx called the industrial reserve army. They are expendable people surviving on the very edges. However, their very existence ensures that there is always a pool of workers for capitalists to exploit. And, their existence as a large potential labor pool ensures that wages will be depressed to near survival or sub-survival levels in much of the Third World.  The growth of this class has accompanied the industrialization and shift in production to the Third World. Along with this comes the deindustrialization of the First World. This class, despite its idleness, plays an important role in the global economy. So large and dynamic is this new slum dwelling group, that these populations are a potential security concern for imperialists and their Third World proxies. These dispossessed classes may very well be the front line soldiers of future people’s wars in the Third World.

Hayter’s picture of the world, even though two decades old is, more accurate than the narrow conception of contemporary First Worldists Most First Worldists focus on their own population to the exclusion of the global population. They fail to realize the true size of the gap between the rich countries and poor countries. They fail to connect the status of one to the status of the other. They fail to connect the domestic situation in the imperialist countries to the global class structure. Such tunnel vision by First Worldists is chauvinist and imperialist.

Historic Origins of Inequality

Hayter shows that the traditional bourgeois explanations for the origins of inequality are false. Such explanations are grounded in racist and imperialist assumptions: inequality is a result of the natural superiority of Europeans; is a result of weather, according to such a view, hot weather makes one lazy; is a result of the superior Protestant work ethic of Northern Europe; etc. Similar chauvinist explanations are offered by First Worldists. In order to justify the continued standard of living of the First World working class, First Worldists refuse to look at the origins of the great wealth enjoyed by the populations of the imperialist countries. Hayter makes the point that reality matters, that history matters. To ignore the real history of the formation of global inequality is to accept the racist, imperialist narrative.

Hayter points out that Europe arrived late on the world scene. One theme of Marco Polo’s work was how advanced China was compared to Europe at the time. As late as 1793, the Emperor of China informed King George II that China had everything it needed and had no use for English products. In 1498, in India, Raja of Malabar sent a message to the King of Portugal saying much the same thing. Europe was a backwater. The accumulation of wealth in Europe and North America, including their technological and industrial advance, are relatively recent. In the nineteenth century, with the industrial revolution, the great advance in British, then other European, North American and later Japanese wealth and productive capacity occurred. Hayter points out that the rise of what Fredrich Engels called the bourgeoisified working class and Vladimir Lenin called the labor aristocracy is a recent phenomenon:

“[S]tandards of living for working people in Europe were precarious at the beginning of the twentieth century.. But throughout the last two centuries there have been slow gains in the strength and organisation of the European and North American working class, against the vigorous resistance of the state and employers, and it cannot be denied that their situation now is in comparably better than it was in the nineteenth century, and than it is still for workers and peasants elsewhere.” (8)

Hayter links the change in the global position of the West to many factors. Five centuries ago, European expansion began overseas. Trade, plunder, slavery, and piracy in the “New World” filled the coffers of Europe. Much of what passes for “free trade” is really plunder. This influx of wealth provided some of the primitive accumulation of capital that would help speed up capitalist development in Britain, then elsewhere. In other words, the infusion of wealth from the New World propelled capitalism forward where capitalism existed in Europe. Those countries where capitalism developed first could take full advantage of the infusion of capital. Spain, although having a larger influx of plundered wealth from the Aztec and Inca civilizations, could not take full advantage of the infusion of wealth since Spain lagged behind other countries in terms of capitalist development. Hayter points out that capitalism reaches its fully developed form in Britain in the nineteenth century. However,  the beginnings of the factory system were seen as early as the sixteenth century. As early as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, agriculture in Britain became increasingly capitalist. Capitalism resulted in a massive expansion of productive capacity and technological innovation. Production became more social and scientific. The idle were drafted, often against their will, into production. Goods could now be produced on a mass scale, and for much cheaper.  Capitalism resulted in a higher output per producer. (9) Hayter’s explanation correctly combines elements of those who point to the role of the infusion of capital from the New World and those, such as Robert Brenner and Ellen Meiksins Wood, who point to capitalism’s roots in agrarian Britain.

Hayter’s book is an excellent introduction for those researching the origins of inequality between countries in the modern period. Even though Hayter wavers in her Third Worldism from time to time, her book is undeniably Third Worldist in its overall conclusions. The gross inequality that characterizes our world is not natural. It has a long history that is well described by Hayter. The ascendancy of First World and the poverty of the Third World is not a mystery. The development of the European and other First World countries is directly linked to the underdevelopment of the Third World. Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty helps us understand this connection in its complexity. Hayter’s book also serves as an introduction to much of the literature of dependency theory, unequal exchange, etc.  To better understand the world is to better be able to change it. If the proletariat of the Third World is to succeed in its historic mission, its leadership must bring the most advanced science to bear in making revolution. Science is key to revitalizing the Global People’s War of the Leading Light.


1. Hayter, Teresa. The Creation of World Poverty. Third World First. Great Britain: 1990. p. 16
2. Hayter, p. 18
3. Hayter, pp. 17-18
4. Amerikkkans rich, Indians poor, so-called “ICM” deaf and dumb. Monkey Smashes Heaven. August 19, 2007.
5. One billion go hungry.. socialism is better than capitalism. Monkey Smashes Heaven. June 28, 2009.
6. Hayter, p. 18
7. Hayter, p. 18
8. Hayter, pp. 27-29
9. Hayter, pp. 33-35
10. Hayter, pp. 37-39
11. Hayter, p. 38
12. Hayter, p. 38
13. Hayter, p. 48
14. Hayter, p. 20
15. Hayter, p. 52
16. Hayter, p. 53
17. Hayter, p. 57
18. Hayter, p. 57
19. Hayter, p. 54
20. Hayter, p. 69
21. Hayter, p. 67
22. Hayter, pp. 59-63
23. Hayter, p. 64
24. Hayter, p. 97
25. Hayter, p. 107
26. Hayter, p. 66
27. Hayter, p. 67
28. Hayter, p. 68

Equality and Global Alignments

Equality and Global Alignmentspowerequality
Prairie Fire

“To tell the workers in the handful of rich countries where life is easier, thanks to imperialist pillage, that they must be afraid of ‘too great’ impoverishment, is counter-revolutionary. It is the reverse that they should be told. The labour aristocracy that is afraid of sacrifices, afraid of ‘too great’ impoverishment during the revolutionary struggle, cannot belong to the Party. Otherwise, the dictatorship is impossible, especially in West-European countries.”  — V. I. Lenin, Speech on the Terms of Admission into the Communist International July 30 (1)

“Taking the entire globe, if North America and Western Europe can be called ‘the cities of the world’, then Asia, Africa and Latin America constitute ‘the rural areas of the world’. Since World War II, the proletarian revolutionary movement has for various reasons been temporarily held back in the North American and West European capitalist countries, while the people’s revolutionary movement in Asia, Africa and Latin America has been growing vigorously. In a sense, the contemporary world revolution also presents a picture of the encirclement of cities by the rural areas. In the final analysis, the whole cause of world revolution hinges on the revolutionary struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples who make up the overwhelming majority of the world’s population.” — Lin Biao, Long Live the Victory of People’s War! (2)

The first eight words of Mao’s Selected Works are “Who are our enemies? Who are our friends?” Marxism is revolutionary science. Marxism applies science to the task of reaching communism. And communism is nothing less than total human liberation, the end of all oppression. Mao called the question of friends and enemies the question of first importance. If an organization can’t answer this question correctly, then everything else is moot. If one’s class analysis is off, then one won’t be able to make communist revolution anyways. Visions of social revolution mean nothing, they are merely utopian dreams, if they are not based in material analysis. Only by understanding the material basis for revolution, only with a correct class analysis, will one be able to align the necessary social forces to bring the proletariat to power in order to begin socialist construction, to begin the long march toward communism. In order to understand who can and cannot be aligned against imperialism and aligned in favor of socialism, it is necessary to ask: who will benefit and who won’t under socialism? Those social forces that do benefit from socialism will fall on the side of revolution. Those that do not will not. This is basic materialism.

In some sense, everyone will benefit from communism. Ultimately, life under communism will be more fulfilling and healthier for everyone, even those who were once members of reactionary classes. Also, capitalism’s destruction of the environment is so great that, in a sense, it is in everyone’s long-term interest to support an alternative. In that distant future, classes will have ceased or nearly ceased to exist. Nearly everyone will benefit then. Even though everyone will benefit from communism in the long run, in the short run, many will lose out. Socialism is about redistribution of wealth and power. And, in the real world, these are finite and limited. For the vast majority to have more, the minority must have less. This is the material reality that prevents the wealthy from aligning with the poor worldwide. The real world is a world of class conflict. In other words, we must orient toward classes as they currently exist.  Just because a member of the bourgeoisie may cease being so decades from now does not mean that we appeal to him today as though he were a proletarian. To do so is to toss class analysis in favor of bourgeois humanism and vague moral appeals. We must orient toward the present, not toward some distant, possible future.

The single most glaring fact about the world is the gap between the First World and the Third World. The capitalist-imperialist system is one where power and wealth are concentrated in some places and not others. Power and wealth are channeled to some populations at the expense of others; a minority of countries benefit and a majority do not. Looking at income globally, across populations, we get a good sense of who is wealthy and who is not. After all, income will roughly tend to correlate with other indicators of wealth, such as assets. Looking at income will give us a good picture of how wealth is distributed globally. It is no secret that wealth and power are correlated. Those social groups that have more wealth tend to have more power; those that tend to be poorer have less. Looking at income distribution globally will give us a rough picture of where First World workers stand in relation to the world system.

Let’s use a thought experiment to show what a world would look like if income was evened out. This is not a real image of socialism, obviously. Socialism is a much more profound transformation; it is not just about income. However, the thought experiment will give us a sense of which populations are benefiting from the imperialist distribution and which ones are not. The median income per household member in the United States for a year is roughly 19,400 dollars. (3) Income is not just wages and salaries, but also  includes such items as unemployment payment, welfare, disability, child support payments, regular rental receipts, as well as any personal business, investment, or other kinds of income received routinely. The average Joe American, who is 25 or older, has a total income of 32,000 dollars per year. (4) Hardly anyone in the United States is merely paid the minimum wage of 7.25 dollars per hour. Most entry-level jobs, for example, employ workers at 10 dollars or more per hour. Very few make merely this wage either. The rare individual who only makes minimum wage who works full time in the United States makes about 15,000 dollars a year, plus he may have other sources of income too. (5) By contrast, the median income globally is about 850 dollars a year. Most do not even make 3 dollars a day in the exploited countries of the Third World. Most of humanity in the Third World just subsists, just survives. What would things look like if equality governed the global economy? What would incomes look like under a system where income was distributed equally, where everyone receives an equal share of the global social product? If the world’s income were divided up equally among the world’s population of 6.7 billion, each person would be entitled to the equivalent of roughly 8,000 dollars (PPP) (5,500 dollars using Atlas method). (6) (7) (8) In other words, each worker in the United States is, at most, entitled to a share of the pie equal to roughly 8,000 dollars of total income under this distribution. Even the rare person who makes minimum wage in the United States would stand to lose out substantially under an equal distribution. Such a person would lose about half of their total income. Also, a person receives all kinds of secondary benefits simply by living in the First World including: greater class mobility, public and social services, access to infrastructure, greater public education, greater security, etc. Even the very poorest of First World workers is unlikely to benefit under a more equal system. In addition, such an equal distribution scheme does not even take into consideration the need to rectify the historically entrenched, uneven development globally. The exploiter countries of the First World have benefited due to centuries of plunder, exploitation and underdevelopment of the Third World. To truly even out the situation, extra value would need to be directed to the exploited and poor countries. In other words, the population in the United States and First World generally would be entitled to even less, Third World peoples even more. There are those utopians who object to this.  They baldly assert that First World wealth can be maintained under an equal distribution if production were, as if by magic, increased by leaps and bounds. Firstly, it is not possible to even-out the consumption level between the top 20 percent, where nearly all First World peoples fall, and the rest of humanity even if the social product dedicated to consumption were doubled with all of the extra product going to the bottom 80 percent. It would take, roughly, a tripling of the pie. (9) Secondly, First World consumption and the First World lifestyle generally are not even ecologically sustainable. First Worldism is killing the planet and our future.

What our thought experiment shows is that First World peoples receive more than their share of the global social product. They do not have a material interest in an equal distribution of private income, let alone socialism. Socialism aims for an egalitarian or near egalitarian distribution. However, this obviously doesn’t mean socialism is merely about evening-out incomes. Real socialism will end up reducing private wealth even more than our hypothetical distribution does. This is because socialism aims to collectivize property, not to just even out private property. Socialism is about radically altering society in order to reach communism, to end all oppression. However, using equality as a regulative idea shows us what most people with common sense already know. There are winners and losers in any unequal distribution. First World peoples lose out under a global distribution that evens out income. Under a truly socialist system, not only would equality govern the global distribution of value, socialism has the goal of  eliminating of private property and bourgeois right altogether. In other words, under real socialism, First Worlders would lose more than their wealth, their lives would be turned upside down.

Socialism has always been closely linked to the idea of equality. Just as class society is a system based on inequality of power and wealth, so too is the current world order based on inequality. The criticism of imperialism is a criticism of inequality. Rather than a global system where some countries have wealth and power at the expense of other countries, real Marxists advocate a system where countries have equality. To advocate, as Lenin did, for the self-determination of nations is to advocated for a transnational system that is organized around equality. After the Soviet Union fell to revisionism and became imperialist itself, Lenin’s flag was raised to new heights by Maoism. Maoism too criticized imperialism, social imperialism, chauvinism, hegemony and global inequality. Maoism was an explicit plan of action to destroy the old global order and replace it with the new. It was Chen Boda and Lin Biao who articulated Maoism as Maoism, as a new stage of Marxism. Chen Boda’s conception was of Maoism as the universal Marxism of the colonial and neocolonial countries. Lin Biao too linked Maoism to the collapse of imperialism worldwide. Lin Biao’s conception included Maoism at the forefront of a global people’s war that advances from the poor countries to the rich ones. Maoism advanced our understanding significantly, but it took Leading Light Communism to make the total breakthrough. It was Leading Light communism that finally dispensed with all First Worldism, that purified the global people’s war and socialism. A socialist distribution globally is one that rectifies the inequalities of wealth and power that exist under the current order. Socialism may not always deliver. Errors are made. Poor planning exists. However, the gross inequalities that exist under imperialism are a far cry from what will exist under socialism even at its worst. If inequalities are tolerated, they will be inequalities that benefit the poorest countries. Equality, in a general sense, is what socialism aspires to. True communists reject all First Worldism.

The First World is simply incompatible with socialism worldwide.  Even those at the bottom of First World societies will, for the most part, be entitled to less under socialism. This is why First World workers have always aligned with their own bourgeoisie against the popular classes of the Third World. First World workers align with imperialism against the vast majority of humanity, including the vast majority of workers. This is one reason why First World workers should be regarded as part of the imperial bourgeoisie. The First World workers are not a social base for proletarian revolution because they are not a proletariat. They are not an exploited class nor are they a revolutionary class. First World workers sometimes have more access to capital than Third World capitalists. Marx linked poverty to revolution. For Marx, the proletariat has nothing to lose but its chains. It is an immiserated, exploited class, a class  reduced to subsistence or near subsistence. It is the class that is made up of those who have only their labor to sell. The proletariat is the main source of value under capitalism. Marx’s description of the proletariat hardly describes the First World worker. However, it does describe many in the Third World. Marx’s description should be uncontroversial. Those who rebel are those the system has failed. The social peace in the First World is a product of the high standard of living there. It is no great mystery why the past century witnessed many revolutions in the Third World and, yet, there has never been one in the First World. Thus Mao’s question of first importance is answered.

Revisionism is very powerful. Neither the Soviet Union nor China were conquered militarily. Capitalism was restored to both. It was the enemy within that reversed socialism and restored capitalism. Sugar coated bullets proved the most dangerous, as Mao warned. Revisionism has been criticized by every great leader since Marx. Lenin criticized the revisionists of the Second International for their narrow, chauvinist outlook. The revisionists of the Second International voted for imperialist war when it worked to the benefit of the working class of their individual countries. French social democrats voted for French imperialism. German social democrats voted for German imperialism. Lenin, by contrast, took the outlook of the global proletariat. Lenin advocated for the defeat of his own country and for an end to imperialist war. The First Worldist so-called socialists deserve to be labeled as social imperialists and social fascists just as Lenin labeled the revisionists of his day. Just as the revisionists advocated imperialism in the name of socialism, so to do First Worldists today. First Worldism seeks to increase the wealth of those who already receive more than their fair share at the expense of the proletariat in the Third World. By contrast, the Leading Light communist movement advocates on behalf of the vast majority, the exploited and truly oppressed. Leading Light Communism explains our world as it really is. Our banner is at the head of the global people’s war. The Leading Light shines the way forward.


1. V. I. Lenin, , “Speech on the Terms of Admission into the Communist International July 30,” Collected Works, Vol. 31, (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1960), pp. 248-9.
2. Lin Piao, Long Live the Victory of People’s War!, (Foreign Language Press,1965)
3. Household Income for States: 2008-2009, (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010),  p. 1 (50,221 dollars was median household for 2008-2009. Divide this by 2.59, the average number in a U.S. household to get roughly 19,400 dollars.)
4. The Average Joe Amerikkkan, (Leading Light Communist Organization, 2010),
5. (multiply hours per year by 7.25 dollars.. either way, the figure is roughly 15,000)
6. Income of the Average Person on Earth,
7. Per Capita Income around the world,
8. Average Earnings Worldwide, Boston Globe, October 7, 2007. also  (These sources use another method that would reduce First World entitlement even more)
9. Prairie Fire, Real versus fake Marxism on socialist distribution, (Leading Light Communist Organization, 2010)

New world, new challenges, new science

New world, new challenges, new sciencered_path_by_karil-d32ugsm
by Prairie Fire

In 1965, as wars of liberation waged around the world, Lin Biao wrote of the great divide between the global city versus the global countryside, the rich countries versus the poor countries, the First World versus the Third World. This continues to be the principal contradiction today. Lin Biao saw the world revolution through the lenses of people’s war. Just as Mao’s people’s war in China advanced from the countryside to surround, then conquer, China’s cities, so too would global people’s war advance from the global countryside to surround, then conquer, the global city. This basic outlook continues to be correct today, as it was in 1965. However, the world has changed greatly in the last half century. Our political economy, our concepts of underdevelopment, class,  revolutionary agency, and practice must all be updated to meet these challenges. Here are some basic points that need to be understood by revolutionaries:

1. Underdevelopment has taken new forms. Imperialism has created a lopsided world. Development has been, and continues to be, uneven from country to country. In the past, those countries that were considered to be developed were industrialized and also had diversified economies. Some of these developed countries were imperialist ones, others were socialist. The socialist ones built themselves up and sustained themselves through their own labor and resources. By contrast, the imperialist countries became developed on the backs of their colonies and neo-colonies. The imperialist countries built up their economies at the expense of others. For example, the industrial-revolution economies of Western Europe and North America were made possible and given a boost by the value created by slavery and value transfers from colonies. Cheap labor and raw materials, plunder of land through genocide, and the opening of new colonial markets aided in the modernization of the West. This process continues in various forms today. However, underdevelopment today differs in some respects than past underdevelopment. In the past, underdevelopment was often linked to both lack of industrialization and lack of diversification of production. In the past, an underdeveloped economy was usually a poor economy that was mainly geared toward production of one or two cash crops or mineral or other resource extraction. These products would then be processed, or refined, or enter into a larger production process in the imperialist developed countries. In other words, in the past, industrialization and diversification was almost always associated with development. And, lack of industrialization and lack of diversification was almost always associated with underdevelopment. Even though this old pattern continues in some places, in other places new patterns are emerging. Today, the wealthy, imperialist countries are no longer industrialized as they once were. Today, in many parts of the First World, fewer and fewer people are employed in factories. Rather, more and more people are employed in distribution, commerce, management, and the public sector. In many parts of the First World, populations consume more and more, but produces less and less. This is the rise of the mall economy of the First World. At the same time, factories are moved to the Third World. Many Third World economies have become industrialized and diversified, yet the primary beneficiaries of this are not Third World populations, but the imperial populations of the First World. In other words, even though the Third World countries are producing, the value is mainly directed outward to the First World. The surplus is not directed into the Third World economies in a way that benefits the population, aids self-determination, or produces truly national capital. Instead, the beneficiaries are the imperialists and the imperial populations. Thus healthy development is not simply a matter of industrialization and diversification. And underdevelopment is not simply a lack of these qualities. Today both the First World and Third World are increasingly mal-developed. The First World, producing less and consuming more, is increasingly parasitic on the Third World.

2. New Democracy will take new forms. In the past, imperialism divided the world, for the most part, into traditionally developed and traditionally underdeveloped countries. Traditionally underdeveloped countries were described in various ways: “semi-feudalism,” “comprador capitalism,” “bureaucrat capitalism,” etc. These descriptions emphasized various aspects of mal-development in the Third World. One implication of this was that revolution in the Third World could be described as a two stage process. The first stage is the New Democratic stage. The New Democratic revolution unites much of the peasantry, workers, petty bourgeoisie, and even some of the patriotic capitalists of the Third World against imperialism, for land reform, national development and basic democratic reforms. New Democratic revolution lays the basis for the second stage. The second stage is socialism, where the proletariat further reorganizes society in its interest. This lays the basis for communism, the end of all oppression. The changing nature of underdevelopment in the Third World today will affect the revolutionary process. The New Democracy of the future may not necessarily be an agricultural affair based on “land to the tiller.” It may not be based on land struggles at all. It may not be centered on the countryside. The slum dwelling classes and their concerns for shelter, to have their own small trade and businesses, and survival generally, may become a greater and greater part of the early revolutionary process, and of New Democracy. Or, this may lay the basis for a whole new kind of socialist revolution in the Third World: New Socialism.

3. The revolutionary agent will take ever new forms. The world economy has created vast reservoirs of impoverished people in the Third World who do not add to the total social product, but, rather, survive on the edges. Many of these people barely survive in the megaslums of the Third World. Many of them live in refugee camps or survive on aid. At the same time, in some parts of the Third World, the unionized industrial working class has become a relatively privileged strata among the population with less immediate interest in radical social transformation. This working class is sometimes more privileged than the numerous street vendors and small traders who reside in Third World slums. The concept of the proletariat need not be tied exclusively to a role within production per se, but can be tied to overall social position and impoverishment. In some places in the world, those who match Marx’s famous description of  having “nothing to lose but their chains” are not always those who sell their labor to capitalists. Thus there is a rise of new proletarians.

4. Just as the class structure of the Third World has changed, so has the class structure of the First World. In the First World, the revolutionary class has passed from the scene. In the 1960s, there was some basis for thinking that a revolutionary social base existed within the ghettos and captive nations of the First World. Such a base is nonexistent today. There is no significant First World revolutionary class, no significant First World proletariat. There is no significant stand-in First World revolutionary class. This means that we must look beyond the First World for a revolutionary social base. This means global people’s war is the primary means of bringing the New Power of the proletariat to the First World.

5. With the growth of the global slum and new proletarians, the shape of future people’s wars will change. In some parts of the Third World, people’s war will follow the traditional Maoist pattern. It will be mostly peasant movement led by the communist line that establishes ever greater base areas and red zones, the new society in miniature, in those places where the state is weakest. It will be tied to New Democratic demands, especially the demand for land. It will be a protracted advance from the countryside to city. However, the changing world will make this pattern not viable everywhere. Some geographies make the traditional Maoist model problematic. Also, the growth in imperialist air power will affect the ability to set up traditional base areas and red zones. Most importantly, the growth of the urban population will make the urban slum more and more important in the people’s war.

6. There is a growing ecological crisis. The capitalist system is based on infinite expansion beyond our means. Yet our Earthly resources are finite. Thus capitalism is incompatible with the continued survival of the planetary ecosystem. First World consumption is out of proportion; it is leading us toward ecological catastrophe. Environments are rapidly changing due to human intervention. Revolutionaries of the future are going to have to adopt strategies that take this into account. Revolutionaries need to examine not just the forces of production and social relations, but also the conditions of production themselves. Revolutionaries need to take the natural world into account. Socialist development cannot treat nature as a never ending resource to be consumed. The New Power of the future will need to be ecologically sustainable. The survival of all life on Earth is on the line.

7. New technology and greater mobility open up new paths for revolution. Greater communication and mobility mean that revolutions may be increasingly dynamic in important ways. Subjective and objective conditions can change in explosive ways, very rapidly. Tempos can accelerate seemingly out of nowhere. Events in one location can quickly influence events and conditions around the world. Revolution will become more globalized in important ways. New technologies will have a profound  impact on how revolutions are made. New technologies will open up new possibilities during socialist construction.

Leading Light Communism has advanced revolutionary science in almost every way. This is a big part of why Leading Light Communism is a whole new stage of revolutionary science. It is the pinnacle of revolutionary science today. Political economy is key to making revolution.  However, it is not enough to limit these advances to the realm of theory. To match our advances in theory, we must also advance our organizational forms to meet today’s challenges. We must strike out in ever new, bold ways. We must not be afraid to lead not only in the ideological realm, but also on the ground. We have the plan, the organization, the leadership. Follow the Leading Light. Be the Leading Light.