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The internationalism of the modern-day working class

(LLCT) - In essence, the internationalism of the working class refers to unity of the thinking, will, solidarity, cooperation and action of the class across the world by means of activities of international organizations and political parties and organizations of the class against capitalism and for the building of socialism and communism in the world. It is also called proletarian or socialist internationalism. Given the current complex political situation in the world, the internationalism of the working class has undergone a range of changes. The article discusses practical bases for the internationalism of the working class and its new manifestations.

 

1. Practical bases for the inter-nationalism of the working class   

 

Trends towards privatization of modern production

Globalization is a superficial sign of privatization of production. It reflects the vigorous development of modern productive forces as well as the ambition of capitalism to extend its influence. Globalization itself has two characte-ristics. On the one hand, it shows the progressiveness of modern productive forces by promoting international labor distribution and cooperation, developing social production and increasing inter-dependence between economies. On the other hand, it reveals the nature of transnational monopolist capitalism which has been constantly seeking to increase capital in order to maximize its exploitation and spread capitalist pro-duction methods.

From another perspective, the fact that capitalism “created a world according to its own vision” (K. Marx) has contributed to unifying the working class. K. Marx once said, “While the capitalist class of each nation still sticks to its specific national interests, economies of scale created a class with the same interests in all nations, i.e. one which is not nation specific”(1). At present, the interest conflict between the working and capitalist classes have taken on a global scale. Modern added value exploitation presumes that the working class across the world has the same opposing class in terms of fundamental interests, the capitalist class, modern capitalism characterized by transnatio-nal capitalist groups, global capitalist institutions and capitalist class in each country to be more specific. Given this fact, the fundamental interests of the entire working class have been unified, “The situations of the working class in all countries are similar because they have the same interests and enemies. That’s why they need to join hands in a common struggle and use the brotherly alliance of workers in all nations to oppose the alliance of capitalists in all countries”(2).

The trend towards privatization, modern scientific and technological revolution, knowledge-based economy and information society are positive factors behind the internationalism of the working class.

The working class has had more physical conditions for its own unity and liberation. Modern production is undergoing an important change in that constant capital (c) is decreasing con-siderably while the proportion of variable capital (v) in an item of goods is increasing. In other words, there is a fall in the costs of material and energy and a rise in the content of knowledge in a product unit. Capital used to create added value to modern industries mainly takes the form of variable or human capital.

Changes in the structure of capital in modern production has confirmed the trend where intellectual and technological property rights are shifting from capitalists to the working class. Workers’ new role in production is gradually undermining ownership mechanisms of the capitalist class who have the right to exploit added values due to their monopoly of productive means. With their knowledge, mastery of high technology and creativity, the modern working class now has phy-sical conditions to liberate themselves(3).

Human factor in a knowledge-based economy has also contributed to changing the status of the working class. In the knowledge-based economy, which is considered to be a commodity one, owners of capital, productive material and technology such as capitalists and transnational groups are still present. However, highly skilled labor including well trained workers, intellectuals, managers and administrators play an important role. They possess a special type of productive material, educational level, skill and creativity, that are inputs to a knowledge-based economy. Workers in such economy are directly engaged in research and development and play an increasingly important role in production and services. They also participate in innovating technologies, recommending technical solutions or coming up with ideas to create added values for pro-ducts. “Without well trained workers, machinery, however modern and so-phisticated they are, cannot function. As a social group, they play an essential role in modern productive forces. From this perspective, they become owners of productive material”(4). Well educated and skilled workers constitute the major resources of modern development and contribute to shaping a future society. Information society has also created preconditions for the internationalism of the working class.

The current extensive and fast spread of information has intensified the connection, in terms of organization and action, between organizations of the working class and between individual workers. In addition, as the prices of technological and information services are becoming more affordable, information has been more easily accessible.

Thus, in economic and technical terms, compared to the 19th century, the internationalism of the modern-day working class has more physical con-ditions for a new level of development.

The socio-political bases for the internationalism of the modern-day working class.                      

There seems to be changes in the ranking of issues of common concern in this modern world. After the Cold War, in the 1990s, the world once again was caught in a new war for a “new order”. Together with the decline of the socialist system, economic globalization has awoken negative factors hibernating for a long time, especially narrow-minded nationalism. Every country wishes to have a better new position in the common development trends. Superpowers aim for an even higher position in the new world order while developing countries take advantage of the current trend towards peace and development. As a result, national interests tend to be given top priority whereas issues of global importance becomes second in priority. 

However, there are still common values and major interests attracting the attention of progressive social forces in this modern world. Traditional issues such as peace, stability, cooperation, development and social progress and newly arising issues in modern politics such as conflicts of statuses, interests or sovereignty, sustainable development, the right to development and the environment, remain common concerns for many countries and socio-political organizations. At the same time, major and typical values of socialism including peace, democracy and equality are still present, appreciated and protected on a global scale. Given the current complex political context, such values are translated into action plans of many countries or political organizations.

In light of this fact, over the last decades, a great number of international and regional relations or bilateral and multilateral cooperation have been established with larger common objectives. Modern politics has given rise to needs for connection, rallying and coordination in a new manner. At the same time, it draws a clear distinction between forces representing social progress including the working class and progressive forces and modern capitalism, imperialism, and international reactionary forces. The internationalism of the working class is an inevitable participant in such standoff. Engels once said, “Economies of scale have flattened social development in all civilized countries. As a result, the capitalist and working class have become decisive to such development and the confrontation between them has become a major war in our times”(5).

2. New manifestations of the internationalism of the modern-day working class                          

Firstly, many entities are engaged in the internationalism of the modern-day working class. They can be divided into three groups:

The most common entities are ruling communist parties in socialist countries. As representatives of national interests and those of the working class, given their responsibility for the historical duties of the world’s working class, the foreign policies of ruling communist parties in these countries, in terms of opinions and practicalities, all embody the attitude of the working class towards inter-nationalism. It is their statuses and multifaceted relations between classes and nations, and between national interests and international duties, that have burdened this group with the heaviest and most complex responsibilities for inter-nationalism in the current period. 

The second group of entities is the working class and communists, workers and leftist parties struggling to gain political power. Their attitude towards, and their action on, internationalism are closely connected to their political platforms, of which the effectiveness is reflected in how they manage to rally forces and win public support. A salient feature of the international association of these parties is that it occurs right within modern capitalism. They must make use of current capitalist laws in order to solve problems caused by capitalism without breaking the law. Such complicated situation has caused communist and leftist parties in the West to seek more flexible methods in order to unite with each other. Therefore, it is understandable that there have been a great deal of unity of organization and action between communist and leftist parties and social progress movements in the West for the sake of common ob-jectives. Their achievements over the past two decades in democracy and social progress have confirmed their role and status in international politics and have contributed to neutralize the extremeness of modern capitalism. In general, the prospect for development of the internationalism of the working class in the upcoming decades depends largely on efforts by this group of entities.

The third group consists of other entities represented by social organizations that cooperate, at different extents, with communist and workers’ parties, and share their objectives. It is their common objectives and concerns as well as issues posed by modern development that have made these entities’ opinions closer to each other and have promoted their coordinated action. Social equality, one of the great values of socialism, helps to unite these entities together. They even have joint action programs, for example those aimed at pushing Western states to take further action in job creation and  improvement of workers’ lives.  

Secondly, “New forms of rallying forces have appeared”(6).

After the Eastern Europe and Soviet Union incidents, it took working class internationalism almost a decade to look for ways to stay connected and coordinate its action. Communist parties loyal with Marxism-Leninism and socialist ideals stuck to their reform objectives. Internationalism found expression in the relationship and cooperation between parties, ideologies, and international relations. Its relation with other workers’ parties also underwent positive changes. Changes in ruling communist parties’ foreign policies towards diversification and multilateralization, and their willingness to be friends, responsible and reliable partners of the international community were conducive to a new stage of development of internationalism. Fundamental principles of international relations were re-established so they harmonized with Marxist ideas, modern politics, and international practices. As a result, cooperation between parties was promoted and internationalism was able to develop new forms of rallying forces. In addition, there was an increasing trend towards democratization of the relations between communist and workers’ parties with diversification of forms of cooperation and forums. Their relations with organizations with different cha-racteristics yet similar objectives were encouraged. Differences in forms of orga-nization and conceptions were accepted.

The partnerships of internationalism of the working class now tend to expand. As peace and cooperation for development are the major trends, such expansion is a necessity not only for the working class in the world but also states, international and regional organizations, developing countries and progressive democratic forces, which play an increasingly important role in the struggle for a new world order, equality, democracy, cooperation and sustainable development. Forums, dialogues and bilateral or multilateral exchanges are relatively common among these organizations.

Accordingly, the expansion of relations between political parties in different world countries based on the principles of independence, self-reliance, equality, mutual respect, non-interference into each other’s internal affairs and promotion of friendly and cooperative ties, peace, national independence, democracy and social development and equity can be considered to be signs of internationalism in the current period.

Thirdly, the interdependence between the interests of the working class with those of nations and humankind is a new sign of internationalism.

The level of development of the modern world has reached a level where any specific issue can be of global significance and any global issue can influence specific solutions. Working class internationalism is no exception. All communist and workers’ parties consider the protection of the legitimate interests of their countries to be an essential part of their programs of action. Humankind is now faced with a series of global issues that no single country can solve without cooperation from other countries. Such issues include environmental pollution, exhaustion of natural resources, population explosion, epidemics and transnational crimes. Although recent common efforts by the international community have brought about certain results, the seriousness and complexity of such global issues require countries to cooperate with each other more closely and effectively, and in a greater variety of ways and extents.

The interdependence of class, national and global interests is opposite to narrow-minded nationalism and sur-passes general abstract humanitarianism and isolationism, which is most clearly manifested in the joint efforts to liberate the working class across the globe and build a peaceful, equitable and fraternal world.

 

ASSOC. PROF., DR. NGUYEN AN NINH

Institute of Scientific Socialism

Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics

 

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