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Thread: Thoughts on Third Worldism?

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    Default Thoughts on Third Worldism?

    I recently delved a bit into Maoism-Third Worldism and Third Worldism and I would like to know what other people think of it, because to me, it just seems as idealist, obscurantist fringes of the communist movement that use some communist concepts (like primitive communism, exploitation, etc) but generally abandon the Marxian approach and don't have any meaningful theoretical framework whatsoever. To be honest, Third Worldism to me seems as a quest to form the most "edgy" theory that ever existed, incorporating nationalist, socialist, and even fascist elements. I plan on writing an article about TW because it is an interesting phenomenon despite being utterly unsympathetic, but first I would like to know what people of different tendencies think about it.

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    It's a capitulation in the face of the capitalist powers in the developed regions of global capitalism and a fetishism of guerrillaism. Third Worldists don't believe that there is a proletariat in the 'west' instead believing that there are only labour aristocrats, which is basically an abuse of the term, and so they don't believe that a revolution is possible in the centres of capitalist power. They laud guerilla formations wherever they crop up in the less developed regions of global capitalism, especially if they wave the red flag in defiance of imperialism. But this all amounts to basically ignoring the centres of imperialism and the power workers could have in the developed regions to end imperialism by toppling the imperialist powers. It's ultimately an abandonment of marxism.
    Strengthened and hardened in the revolutionary melting-pots of the great industrial centres, toughened by repeated economic struggles, victim of crisis and unemployment, witness of the blatant injustice which allows the same cities to contain the palaces of the parasites and the slums of the workers, the proletariat is certainly the revolutionary class, and consequently the only class whose violence can put an end to the social war. - Victor Serge


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    I think it's revisionism. They support Lin Biao, a rightist who attempted to assassinate Mao and launch a Bonapartist coup. It's net exploitation(that all First World workers are receiving rent in the form of superwages and have no revolutionary potential, or are even class enemies) is nonsense. This should be dispelled by actually reading Capital. Yeah, there's a significant minority of labor aristocracy in the core nations(which Engels and Lenin said was a minority of the workers). But there's definately an exploited and even super-exploited proletariat(those who sell their labor power to survive). There's nothing that says you get paid $10 or $20/hr and automatically become jingoistic anti-communists because your labor might be unproductive from capital's standpoint. You're still selling your labor power, qualitatively it's still the contradiction between the proletariat and bourgeoisie.

    Even if the proletariat was a minority in the core nations, who says it has to be a majority for a revolution? The industrial proletariat was not a majority in Russia or China, and it wasn't a majority in France or Germany in Marx and Engels day. It's entirely possible for the proletariat to lead a revolution with a petite-bourgeois majority. The "deep core" of the proletariat can unite the advance, win over the intermediate and isolate the backward.

    I guarantee you that the best thing communists in the First World could do to support the revolutions in the Third World is raise hell and start making revolutions at home. I'm certain that Third World revolutionaries would fucking love that far more than North Americans whining on the internet about how pointless doing anything is, so they're going to sit tight until the entire Third World is red.

    I think Third-Worldism is a "left"-deviation in response to a right-deviation, that the workers in the core nations are more productive(so no superexploitation of Third World workers), there's no labor aristocracy, the site of the struggle is in the labor bureaucracy and that even Third-World workers has less revolutionary potential(dressed up in a variety of ways). One form of opportunism tends to begot the other.

    However, I don't think some of the things put out of this tradition are without value. J. Sakai's Settlers, Zak Cope's Divided World, Divided Class are pretty good, if flawed. In fact, I'd say some of the ideas in these works help explain the rise of right-wing populism in the First World.

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    My primary concern is how we should approach TWists. If they disavow basic notions of Marxism and trade it for shady obscurantism (like LLCO), juvenile mental gymnastics (like the infamous MIM) and in some cases, adopt spiritualist and even near-fascistic beliefs (like this blog: http://sarvanash.blogspot.hu/) I think they are no longer part of even a broadly interpreted communist movement. I understand why some aspects of Maoist-Third Worldist critiques could have some relevance to the struggle, but, especially from my left-of-Leninist point of view, they are so distant from the basic minimum of the revolutionary left that they are not to be considered part of our movement(s). Still looking to delve deeper, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ale Brider View Post
    I recently delved a bit into Maoism-Third Worldism and Third Worldism and I would like to know what other people think of it, because to me, it just seems as idealist, obscurantist fringes of the communist movement that use some communist concepts (like primitive communism, exploitation, etc) but generally abandon the Marxian approach and don't have any meaningful theoretical framework whatsoever. To be honest, Third Worldism to me seems as a quest to form the most "edgy" theory that ever existed, incorporating nationalist, socialist, and even fascist elements. I plan on writing an article about TW because it is an interesting phenomenon despite being utterly unsympathetic, but first I would like to know what people of different tendencies think about it.
    I dont think its anymore anti marxist or revisionist than Leninism is. How can an autonomous socialist state exist without developing from the 3rd world and against the first, if can we say that 1st world countries exploit the labor of 3rd world countries then you can say that it is possible to separate the worlds social classes by geography. Meaning we can have an entire country populated by one class and the usage of super inflated wages to create a false secondary class. It doesn't mean that's what has happened or that's the current state of world affairs but that it is merely possible, and if I were in China, Vietnam, or Cambodia and were interested in creating a marxist socialist republic, or whatever than I would not be concerned with whether or not first world Marxist vanguard parties were developed enough to take us into some ethereal 1st world revolution. I would proclaim this state of affairs (third worldism) to be in the here & now whether we are in the 1950's or the 2020's because it is politically advantageous to do so.

    I think its worth pointing out that China will be the richest country on earth in literally a matter of a few short years

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    Quote Originally Posted by willowtooth View Post
    I dont think its anymore anti marxist or revisionist than Leninism is.
    It deviates from communism not in the usage of basic concepts. It applies (well some kind of) class analysis. My concerns are more about the line of TWism that abandons materialism in favor of obscurantist mumbo-jumbo, hard idealism, and all that jazz. I mean I kind ofhave problems with the basic notion that First World workers are not exploited but exploiters but this is not the primary reason why I think that many Third Worldist are so far from the Marxian basics that they could not be considered part of the Marxian "tradition" of the revolutionary left. When it comes to third world nationalism, spiritualism, and bad history (there is a thought of Third Worldism which proclaims that capitalism replaced "organic" forms of society in the third world and that the original societies in the "global south" were some kind of egalitarian utopia close to primitive communism), Third Worldism is especially bad and especially non-Marxist. I don't have problems with ideologies existing outside of the Marxist, post-Marxist (whatever) tradition of the communist movement but they should be approached different than actual communists who use the Marxist methods and theory.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ale Brider View Post
    there is a thought of Third Worldism which proclaims that capitalism replaced "organic" forms of society in the third world and that the original societies in the "global south" were some kind of egalitarian utopia close to primitive communism

    I don't know about utopia, but before the modern advent of capitalism many societies (like the Ruc of Vietnam ) existed for thousands of years in roughly the same lifestyle, no real scientific advancement, and 100+ year lifespans were not uncommon.

    Caribbean native islanders struggled against the capitalists who would take their native fishing spots where they may have fished for their entire lives who declared them private houses and tourist hotels, so the natives could no longer fish there

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Nada View Post

    [TW:] that the workers in the core nations are more productive(so no superexploitation of Third World workers)

    But isn't this part true, empirically -- ? (Just saying.)

    My understanding is that, in capitalist economics, the relatively-more-'productive' (by pricing) *service sector* emerges in the most economically advanced countries, while *manufacturing* becomes passe / has-been, with plenty of Third World industrial proletarian workers vying for work positions, driving that kind of wages sharply downward (see China and Southeast Asia).

    On the other hand, one could say that the overall local economy parallels wages, so if typical local wages are relatively lower, the cost of living is lower as well, and so it all evens-out regardless of geography.

    But here's the point: The overall local economy of goods and services is *less developed* than in the advanced Western economies, so if a Third-World-worker wanted some higher-end, cutting-edge technological good or First-World-type specialty service -- to 'keep up' with the First-World 'Joneses' -- they would be *unable* to find it locally and would have to pay a large premium for it, probably for its importation from a First-World economy.

    In this way their labor *is* being super-exploited because their local currency / economy / buying-power *sucks* in relation to the greater world economy, and in comparison to the goods and services available to the average *First-World* worker with *their* access to available, advanced goods and services, with their average wages.

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