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A Comment on the Post–Cope Debate on Labour Aristocracy and Colonialism

Research in Political Economy

ISBN: 978-1-78441-007-0, eISBN: 978-1-78441-006-3

Publication date: 29 October 2014


The issue of the existence and persistence of a labour aristocracy in advanced capitalist countries is connected with the emergence and persistence of an extremely unequal international economic order. The emergence of that order is the direct result of capitalist colonialism. That colonialism helped garner and control resources for the pioneering capitalist countries, which also emerged as the top imperialist countries of the world. The colonial resources were used to support and augment the profits of the capitalist class, but after the immiserizing phase of industrialization had passed, they also helped increase the incomes of workers in the advanced capitalist countries. Workers’ struggles and the threat of such struggles in some phases of development of capitalism led to increases in their incomes. However, there are instances in which the ruling class in the USA and UK deliberately used the lure of private property or acquisition of colonies to try and get their support. Thus, the debate between Post and Cope can only be resolved by invoking the complexities of the patterns of exploitation and governance under actually existing capitalism.



Bagchi, A.K. (2014), "A Comment on the Post–Cope Debate on Labour Aristocracy and Colonialism", Research in Political Economy (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 29), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 261-273.



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