There is a trend among Maoists called “third worldism,” which makes the claim that there really is no proletariat in the first world and that all the workers here get more money than they actually earn, compared to those who live in the third world, because they all reap the rewards from the imperialist exploitation of third world people. They use words like “bourgeois proletariat” or “labor “aristocracy,” implying that these classes have too much to lose to defend the rights and aspirations of proletariats of the third world.
There are some serious problems with this idea and I almost have to wonder how many of these people have ever been to a ghetto or been around a soup kitchen with all of the bourgeoisie’s discarded human refuse—or have they ever even been in a first world country very long?
In the US the middle class workers make up the majority, although that class has been shrinking for the last 30 years. It has also been losing out on wealth to the point where they are only slightly better than the actual working class. As was pointed out during the Occupation movement 1% of the population has 40% of all US wealth. The bottom 80% has about 7% of the wealth. The bottom 40% has almost no wealth at all.
The following video explains how the US wealth is distributed today:
The working middle class could be classified as a labor aristocracy. They have jobs that allow them to buy smart phones, TVs, computers, cars or trucks and to buy a home, as long as they can keep their jobs. This does put them way ahead of workers in the third world who may not have electricity, running water, flush pluming, cars or any luxury items listed above. So yes, these workers really do have it much better. There is also an element of the middle class, some doctors and lawyers, for example, who are actually petite bourgeoisie, which the mainstream US press is referred to as “upper-middle class."
But there are two classes of workers who have been virtually excluded from the benefits of imperialism; the working poor and those poor who don’t work, including the US lumpen-proletariat.
The working poor earn minimum wage or slightly more. They do usually own cars, but they are always bought used, and always need repairs. Their cars are usually their main expense, next to rent. They have electricity and running water, but it is sometimes interrupted because the bills can’t be paid on time. They earn enough to go from paycheck to paycheck and earn no benefits, and absolutely no health care. They are often the victims of predatory lenders, such as Payday Loans, LoanMax and Speedy Cash. This places offer easy loans for a car title, but make it hard for the borrower to actually pay back the loan, yet they simply keep paying interest for the rest of their lives. There are other legal hucksters and the working poor often end up with a life time of debt they can’t repay. If they have any computers or luxury items, they have old—out of date—items they can barely use. They do earn more than many people in the third world and they do have more luxuries than people in the third world, but their cars and electricity become needs, not privileges. They work hard, have little to show for it and many get sick and die at an earlier age than people with more money and means.
The poorest in the US are often homeless or live in or squat in homes that may not have electricity or running water. They usually don’t own cars or any of the other luxury items the rest of the US has. They often live in ghettos set aside for such poor people. Some sell and use drugs. Some of the women are prostitutes. Some of these people are on the ever dwindling public assistant programs. These people are completely left out of the US economic system and they get NO benefits from the imperialist system at all. They are cast off as human refuse by the rest of this society.
When considering the last two classes of people, it sounds ridiculous to just brush off all workers and US citizens as living off the wealth of the third world. The bottoms 40% of wage earners and non-workers are suffering and need revolution just as much as the people in the third world. These people are ripped off by the system and they need revolution as much as anyone living anywhere. And who can seriously claim that first world people gain so much from exploiting third world workers, when 40% of the people get virtually nothing and the top !% are getting 40% of the wealth in the US.
As for the middle class who actually do benefit from the imperialist exploitation of the third world, Mao Zedong said in ANALYSIS OF THE CLASSES IN CHINESE SOCIETY:
“The middle bourgeoisie (This can be compared to the US middle class workers). This class represents the capitalist relations of production in China in town and country. The middle bourgeoisie, by which is meant chiefly the national bourgeoisie, is inconsistent in its attitude towards the Chinese revolution: they feel the need for revolution and favour the revolutionary movement against imperialism and the warlords when they are smarting under the blows of foreign capital and the oppression of the warlords, but they become suspicious of the revolution when they sense that, with the militant participation of the proletariat at home and the active support of the international proletariat abroad, the revolution is threatening the hope of their class to attain the status of a big bourgeoisie….
…. The intermediate classes are bound to disintegrate quickly, some sections turning left to join the revolution, others turning right to join the counter-revolution; there is no room for them to remain "independent". Therefore the idea cherished by China's middle bourgeoisie of an "independent" revolution in which it would play the primary role is a mere illusion.”
So Mao recognized that sectors of the middle classes, even with all the privileges and aspirations to be the big bourgeoisie can still become revolutionaries as some realize that middle class society is really just a bourgeoisie illusionary trick.
There also needs to be a realization among the third wordlists that there is no way the poorest countries can win a people’s war against the first world. In the article below they write:
“The illusion that Third World peoples can ‘catch up’ with imperialist countries through various reforms is objectively aided by the common yet false First Worldist belief that First World workers are exploited as a class.”
Of course in certain key countries, such as India, the Philippines and Nepal, revolution may be possible. But for the entire third world proletariat to overcome the first world is a ridiculous fantasy. The first world has high tech arms, most of the world’s resources and most of the modern technology. For poor countries lacking these things; people’s war directly against the first world could lead to suicide. Third Worlders should ask themselves why Nicaragua, Angola and Mozambique gave up on Marxism. These countries were poor and lacked development resources so they just realigned themselves with European Democratic Socialists. They had little choice. Cuba is one of the few holdouts and they have paid a heavy price for being outside the world economic system.
The idea of the third world taking over the first world is a foolish fantasy. It can’t be done. For world revolution to work, some of the developed countries have to have either a revolution, or a large enough people’s movement to attack the imperialist system.
As Mao said we need to look for all the potential revolutionaries. In the US, this would mean the working poor and poor is our obvious promoting grounds. These people are the losers of this society and they have nothing to lose from a revolution. The middle class is more difficult. As Mao said, some will see that change can’t be prevented and they will support revolution. Others will continue to stick to the bourgeoisie and their system, hoping they can hold out and win. They will be our natural enemies. If we can get most of the poor and at least 1/3 or the middle class, we have a chance of forcing change in this country.
Third worldism is just a dangerous fantasy.