Lessons for Building a Democratic Workers’ State

El Tercer Mundo (Wilfredo Lam, 1965 )
El Ter­cer Mun­do (Wil­fre­do Lam, 1965 )

We asked sev­er­al con­trib­u­tors to write on the theme of the state and rev­o­lu­tion­ary strat­e­gy, for a round­table dis­cus­sion revolv­ing around the fol­low­ing prompt:

“In the late 19th and ear­ly 20th cen­turies the social­ist move­ment spilled a great deal of ink debat­ing the ques­tion of state pow­er. Lenin’s work was per­haps the most influ­en­tial, but it also pro­voked a wide range of crit­i­cal respons­es, which were arguably equal­ly sig­nif­i­cant. But whether or not Lenin’s con­cep­tion of the cor­rect rev­o­lu­tion­ary stance towards the state was ade­quate to his own par­tic­u­lar his­tor­i­cal con­junc­ture, it is clear that today the real­i­ty of state pow­er itself has changed. What is liv­ing and what is dead in this the­o­ret­i­cal and polit­i­cal lega­cy? What would a prop­er­ly rev­o­lu­tion­ary stance towards state pow­er look like today, and what would be the con­crete con­se­quences of this stance for a polit­i­cal strat­e­gy? Does the “seizure of state pow­er” still have any mean­ing? Does the par­ty still have a place in these broad­er ques­tions?”

This essay is one con­tri­bu­tion to the round­table. Please be sure to read the oth­ersGeoff EleyPana­gi­o­tis SotirisJoshua Clover and Jasper BernesJodi DeanNina Pow­er.


The Crisis of Social Democracy

The fail­ure of social­ism in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry is a prod­uct of the inter­nal con­tra­dic­tions of bour­geois democ­ra­cy, which per­mit­ted inde­pen­dent work­ing-class orga­ni­za­tions on con­di­tion that they did not pose a chal­lenge to the cap­i­tal­ist state.1 In this way, the most sig­nif­i­cant his­toric frac­ture on the Left, one which remains with us today, fol­lowed the eager embrace of lib­er­al democ­ra­cy by Sec­ond Inter­na­tion­al reformist social­ists. The rise of social democ­ra­cy in Ger­many dashed any prospect of a tran­si­tion to work­ing class pow­er in Europe by instead appeal­ing to the base sen­ti­ment of nation­al­ism. But even more impor­tant­ly, the rise of social democ­ra­cy under cap­i­tal­ism was a dec­la­ra­tion of war against the rev­o­lu­tion­ary Left that advo­cat­ed a social­ist break with cap­i­tal­ism. Social democ­ra­cy is still more a dec­la­ra­tion of war by the lead­ing work­ers’ orga­ni­za­tions of the impe­ri­al­ist coun­tries, as well as their fol­low­ers, on the oppressed nations of the Third World. From the late nine­teenth cen­tu­ry and increas­ing­ly until today, it is only the unre­quit­ed trans­fer of wealth from the lat­ter to the for­mer that has pro­vid­ed the ris­ing incomes nec­es­sary to sus­tain a mass work­ing class base for social democ­ra­cy.2

Lenin as intel­lec­tu­al and rev­o­lu­tion­ary always rec­og­nized the state as a coer­cive appa­ra­tus in Tsarist Rus­sia and the cap­i­tal­ist west. Fol­low­ing Marx, Lenin also rec­og­nized that social­ist rev­o­lu­tion would bring about a work­ers’ state that would main­tain pow­er through coer­cion. Deci­sive­ly, the social­ist state, under attack from nation­al and inter­na­tion­al cap­i­tal­ists, would oper­ate at the direc­tive of the work­ing class and peas­ants. Lenin sees the state as per­ma­nent­ly repres­sive. The for­ma­tion of the work­ers’ state fol­low­ing the Bol­she­vik Rev­o­lu­tion did not trans­form the fact that state pow­er remains root­ed in class pow­er. By rais­ing an ide­al­is­tic unob­tain­able bar for a work­ers’ state as an idyl­lic par­adise of democ­ra­cy and equal­i­ty far above the present bour­geois lib­er­al democ­ra­cy is sheer fan­ta­sy root­ed in pre­tense and chi­canery. Georg Lukács under­scores the rev­o­lu­tion­ary nature of the his­tor­i­cal­ly ground­ed state:

Work­ers’ Sovi­ets as a state appa­ra­tus: that is the state as a weapon in the class strug­gle of a pro­le­tari­at. Because the pro­le­tari­at fights against bour­geois class rule and strives to cre­ate a class­less soci­ety, the undi­alet­i­cal and there­fore unhis­tor­i­cal and unrev­o­lu­tion­ary analy­sis of oppor­tunism con­cludes that the pro­le­tari­at must fight against all class rule; in oth­er words, its own form of dom­i­na­tion should under no cir­cum­stances be an organ of class rule, of class oppres­sion. Tak­en abstract­ly this basic view­point is Utopi­an, for pro­le­tar­i­an rule cold nev­er become a real­i­ty in this way; tak­en con­crete­ly, how­ev­er, and applied to the present, it expos­es itself as an ide­o­log­i­cal capit­u­la­tion to the bour­geoisie.3

Of course, in 1918 the dis­tinc­tion was that the state would oper­ate in the inter­ests of the work­ing class. This did not denote that the state would cease to be a coer­cive and vio­lent force, even if it would be far less destruc­tive than the bour­geois-lib­er­al state that has oper­at­ed and con­tin­ues to oper­ate in the form of a vio­lent dic­ta­tor­ship. The lib­er­al-demo­c­ra­t­ic state is a vio­lent class dic­ta­tor­ship. The tar­gets of this vio­lence and the forms it takes change over time. The main­te­nance of social peace and inter-class nation­al sol­i­dar­i­ty in the devel­oped coun­tries has typ­i­cal­ly come about by dis­plac­ing vio­lent class antag­o­nisms onto oppressed nations and peo­ples. Thus, for exam­ple, whilst pla­cat­ing the mil­i­tant (and large­ly Jim Crow) white work­ing class at home, the Roo­sevelt pres­i­den­cy of the 1930s stepped up repres­sion of the Puer­to Rican inde­pen­dence strug­gle. As such, the vio­lent class dic­ta­tor­ship of bour­geois soci­ety can be seen most clear­ly in the colo­nial world. There, as Marx said, is dis­played the “pro­found hypocrisy and inher­ent bar­barism of bour­geois civ­i­liza­tion [that] lies unveiled before our eyes, turn­ing from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked.” In the same arti­cle, he wrote that cap­i­tal­ist progress resem­bled a “hideous, pagan idol, who would not drink the nec­tar but from the skulls of the slain.”4

Lenin cer­tain­ly rec­og­nized that the state was an instru­ment of class pow­er and would be wield­ed in the inter­ests of the class that seized pow­er. As Lenin states: “The main thing that social­ists fail to under­stand and that con­sti­tutes their short-sight­ed­ness in mat­ters of the­o­ry, their sub­servience to bour­geois prej­u­dices and their polit­i­cal betray­al of the pro­le­tari­at is that in cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety, when­ev­er there is any seri­ous aggra­va­tion of the class strug­gle intrin­sic to that soci­ety, there can be no alter­na­tive but the dic­ta­tor­ship of the bour­geoisie or the dic­ta­tor­ship of the pro­le­tari­at. Dreams of some third way are reac­tionary, pet­ty-bour­geois lamen­ta­tions.”5 Impe­ri­al­ist cap­i­tal­ism, of course, by dis­plac­ing class con­tra­dic­tions onto a world scale, allows these dreams to become a real­i­ty for a minor­i­ty of the world’s work­ers (and, ini­tial­ly, only a minor­i­ty of the met­ro­pol­i­tan work­ers, too). Fur­ther rev­o­lu­tion­ary work­ers’ states have not cyn­i­cal­ly assert­ed that they were an abstract force for free­dom, equal­i­ty, and a means of guar­an­tee­ing social rights, as was the case in every lib­er­al-demo­c­ra­t­ic regime.

Giv­en the fail­ure of Euro­pean social­ist rev­o­lu­tions in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, Lenin was most eager to devel­op the forces of pro­duc­tion for the Sovi­et work­ers state. To do so also required the dom­i­na­tion of the work­ing class. The notion of the state as a trans­mis­sion belt is a recog­ni­tion that the seizure of pow­er by work­ers and peas­ants would not trans­form the state straight­away into a social­ist par­adise.

The act of seiz­ing state pow­er does not alter the land­scape and appa­ra­tus of the repres­sive state, which, under work­ers’ con­trol, rep­re­sents and defends the class inter­ests of the pro­le­tari­at; the orga­nized trade unions which formed under lib­er­al democ­ra­cy must alter their stance to defend the project of social­ist trans­for­ma­tion in oppo­si­tion to cap­i­tal and sup­port of the pro­le­tar­i­an state, which at times inevitably will lead to con­flict with­in the labor orga­ni­za­tion. Lenin makes this patent­ly obvi­ous in in “Role and Func­tions of the Trade Unions,” upon launch­ing the New Eco­nom­ic Pol­i­cy in 1922.

The only cor­rect, sound and expe­di­ent method of remov­ing fric­tion and of set­tling dis­putes between indi­vid­ual con­tin­gents of the work­ing class and the organs of the work­ers’ state is for the trade unions to act as medi­a­tors, and through their com­pe­tent bod­ies either to enter into nego­ti­a­tions with the com­pe­tent busi­ness organ­i­sa­tions on the basis of pre­cise demands and pro­pos­als for­mu­lat­ed by both sides, or appeal to high­er state bod­ies.6

Marx­ist cur­rents over the past cen­tu­ry have selec­tive­ly empha­sized the Marx­ist-Lenin­ist vision that they share and dis­card those doc­tri­nal argu­ments that may be uncom­fort­able and do not con­ve­nient­ly fit in to their per­spec­tive, root­ed in a puerile utopi­anism. How­ev­er, a human­i­tar­i­an and moral Lenin­ist per­spec­tive can be drawn from the above pas­sage. To wit: Lenin under­stands the pro­found inter­nal divi­sions with­in the work­ing class, and the actu­al­i­ty that a par­a­sitic frac­tion ben­e­fits mate­ri­al­ly from its posi­tion in estab­lished trade unions under com­pet­i­tive cap­i­tal­ism. Trade unions forged under cap­i­tal­ism are often not engaged in class strug­gle for sys­temic change but pre­oc­cu­pied with economism that ben­e­fits indi­vid­ual priv­i­leged work­ers over the masses—first against unor­ga­nized ele­ments of the class, and then through impe­ri­al­ism and monop­oly cap­i­tal­ism.

State Power Today

To under­stand the rel­e­vance of the state pow­er in the con­tem­po­rary era we are duty-bound to begin by detect­ing the pro­found trans­for­ma­tions with­in cap­i­tal­ism over the past 100 years, under which the work­ing class­es in the impe­r­i­al world have gained mate­r­i­al advan­tages through the mar­gin­al­iza­tion and col­lec­tive exploita­tion of work­ers more gen­er­al­ly in the Glob­al South. As Ellen Meiksins Wood main­tains, state pow­er was and remains cru­cial to main­tain­ing class pow­er and priv­i­lege through­out the his­to­ry of cap­i­tal­ism,7 a posi­tion that is shared by French polit­i­cal econ­o­mists Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy, who doc­u­ment a class and impe­r­i­al project under his­tor­i­cal cap­i­tal­ism.8 Today more than ever the state exerts pow­er through direct exploita­tion of work­ers in the semi-colo­nial world.

The trans­for­ma­tion of the Chi­nese work­ers’ state to mar­ket social­ism is cru­cial to inves­ti­gate in this con­text, as it rep­re­sents a vari­a­tion of Lenin’s under­stand­ing of devel­op­ing the forces of pro­duc­tion car­ried to the extreme. The PRC and the Com­mu­nist Par­ty of Chi­na main­tain firm con­trol of the organs of all orga­ni­za­tion­al and state pow­er. Work­ers are sub­or­di­nat­ed to the All-Chi­na Fed­er­a­tion of Trade Unions, a remote trade union orga­ni­za­tion that claims to rep­re­sent the inter­est of orga­nized labor. But we do have a dif­fer­ence: the indus­tri­al work­ing class in Chi­na is emerg­ing as the major­i­ty and is hard­ly a free­load­ing class prof­i­teer­ing off the exploita­tion of low­er-wage work­ers in a depen­dent state. Con­comi­tant­ly, Chi­nese indus­tri­al work­ers main­tain state pow­er in the abstract sense and would ben­e­fit from orga­niz­ing a broad­er class alliance with­in a muta­ble and ide­o­log­i­cal­ly warped state that is coher­ing in sup­port of the upper class and for­eign cap­i­tal. Work­ers are engaged in direct strug­gle against pri­vate, most­ly for­eign cap­i­tal devoid of orga­ni­za­tion­al pow­er for their class.

It is fun­da­men­tal to estab­lish what we mean by the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of state pow­er. I would argue that the nature and loca­tion of state pow­er has not appre­cia­bly changed over the last 100 years if under­stood through the prism of a hier­ar­chi­cal sys­tem of states dom­i­nat­ed by an impe­r­i­al core. The for­mer colo­nial pow­ers con­tin­ue to dom­i­nate the world through inter­na­tion­al rela­tions estab­lished upon supe­ri­or force and eco­nom­ic depen­den­cy. How­ev­er, state pow­er does vary over time and place, prin­ci­pal­ly accord­ing to the dynam­ic between the polit­i­cal exi­gen­cies of class strug­gle and the eco­nom­ic pri­or­i­ties of its pro­tag­o­nists. Thus, for exam­ple, what Bagchi refers to as the devel­op­men­tal state is one in which gov­ern­ment pol­i­cy is designed to pro­mote nation­al eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment.9 The devel­op­men­tal state can, of course, be one in which the nation­al bour­geoisie rules pri­mar­i­ly in its own inter­ests, whether by means of par­lia­men­tary democ­ra­cy or right-wing dic­ta­tor­ship (as, for exam­ple, in post-war Japan and Rhee’s south­ern Korea, respec­tive­ly); one in which the work­ing mass­es, the peas­antry and pro­le­tari­at, rule (as in the USSR under Lenin and Stal­in and Chi­na under Mao); or an admix­ture of the two types (as in the USSR after Stal­in and Chi­na today). Such states are rel­a­tive­ly dis­tinct both from impe­ri­al­ist sates and colo­nial depen­den­cies. In the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry the Unit­ed States and a hand­ful of declin­ing Euro­pean pow­ers dom­i­nat­ed the world through the exer­tion of eco­nom­ic and mil­i­tary force. Today the dom­i­na­tion of the US rul­ing cap­i­tal­ist class is more far-reach­ing than a cen­tu­ry ago, through its increased capac­i­ty to demar­cate the bound­aries of inde­pen­dent state activ­i­ty and to sub­or­di­nate the inter­ests of small­er states to its class and geopo­lit­i­cal inter­ests. As impe­ri­al­ism has inte­grat­ed the world econ­o­my even fur­ther, any state that threat­ens to depart from the dom­i­nant inter­na­tion­al neolib­er­al par­a­digm is scorned, pun­ished, and exclud­ed from the inter­na­tion­al sys­tem.

The state remains an oppres­sive instru­ment today and is con­trolled by the cap­i­tal­ist class.

Rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies must chal­lenge capital’s con­trol over the state through expos­ing its sham demo­c­ra­t­ic pre­tens­es that main­tain and expand the pow­er of the upper class and under which polit­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion offers no hope and only mis­ery for the work­ing class. The vio­lent sup­pres­sion and erad­i­ca­tion of polit­i­cal oppo­nents of white suprema­cy and cap­i­tal­ism in the Unit­ed States are a tes­ta­ment to the fraud­u­lent nature of alleged “rep­re­sen­ta­tive” lib­er­al democ­ra­cy there. We must pur­sue a rev­o­lu­tion­ary strat­e­gy not just to chal­lenge a rapa­cious state, but also to fore­stall the growth of nation­al chau­vin­ism which is emerg­ing due to pop­u­lar recog­ni­tion of the fail­ure of elec­toral sys­tems and the alarm­ing growth of para­mil­i­tary police and incar­cer­a­tion sys­tems. The façade of democ­ra­cy is now exposed to the pop­u­lar mass­es at a time when fas­cist par­ties are emerg­ing as the only orga­nized polit­i­cal alter­na­tive. More like­ly is a rise of the fas­cist right, which can manip­u­late work­er inter­ests in Europe and else­where far bet­ter than lib­er­als and social democ­rats. Fascism’s appeal to the met­ro­pol­i­tan work­ing class in the cur­rent cri­sis stems from its unmit­i­gat­ed promise to main­tain and extend exist­ing pat­terns of labor strat­i­fi­ca­tion based on estab­lished nation­al and gen­der hier­ar­chies. Social demo­c­ra­t­ic trade unions and their lead­ers in set­tler-colo­nial states have a his­to­ry of embrac­ing out­right white nation­al­ism and chau­vin­ism when the vic­tims of colo­nial-cap­i­tal­ist exploita­tion appear as any form of labor com­pe­ti­tion amongst them. I would not say that work­ers whose liv­ing stan­dards have always come at the expense of the super­ex­ploit­ed and oppressed are being “manip­u­lat­ed” when they are encour­aged to join in a renewed dri­ve to plun­der them fur­ther. Pro­le­tar­i­an fem­i­nist rev­o­lu­tion­ary nation­al­ism, by con­trast, aims at the expul­sion of impe­ri­al­ism from oppressed nation ter­ri­to­ries by means of cre­at­ing a work­er-led unit­ed front of all sec­tions of the oppressed with all patri­ot­ic class­es. Sup­port for the anti-impe­ri­al­ist strug­gles of the oppressed nations is a sol­id foun­da­tion for social­ist ide­ol­o­gy in the cur­rent age just as much as it was a cen­tu­ry ago. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it faces the same and even greater obsta­cles now as then. Poulantzas was cor­rect about the neces­si­ty of democ­ra­cy under social­ism, but he also did not have a solu­tion to the greater dan­ger of cap­i­tal and its abil­i­ty to cre­ate the appear­ance of real pow­er strug­gles among com­pet­i­tive par­ties, hyp­no­tize peo­ple through the media and dis­il­lu­sion most peo­ple who seek to cre­ate an equi­table democ­ra­cy.10

A rev­o­lu­tion­ary stance must first and fore­most appear as a polit­i­cal move­ment that repu­di­ates the exist­ing bour­geois polit­i­cal sys­tem and cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly dis­tin­guish­es the far more exploit­ed work­ers in the South from those strug­gling in the North. Occu­py gained trac­tion in 2011 amid work­ing class frus­tra­tion with cap­i­tal­ist dom­i­na­tion over state, pol­i­tics, and soci­ety, not just in the West but through­out the world. But the dif­fuse move­ments lacked a dialec­ti­cal his­tor­i­cal analy­sis of class inter­est in glob­al cap­i­tal­ism and were an expres­sion of dis­ap­proval rather than a rev­o­lu­tion­ary chal­lenge to cap­i­tal­ist hege­mo­ny.

Imperialism and the Global South

One hun­dred and ten years ago, the Indus­tri­al Work­ers of the World formed in strict oppo­si­tion to the cap­i­tal­ist state. They did not believe in com­pro­mis­ing the prin­ci­ples of social­ism and believed strong­ly in a dis­ci­plined oppo­si­tion to cap­i­tal. The pro­vi­sion­al inter­ests of the work­ing class were upheld through tac­tics. The IWW was a gen­uine­ly pro­le­tar­i­an par­ty for a time, but the economism of the IWW was respon­si­ble for its fatal inabil­i­ty to con­nect US labor strug­gles to those of the oppressed inter­nal colonies.

A work­ing class and anti-impe­ri­al­ist par­ty form ded­i­cat­ed to the over­throw of cap­i­tal­ism and in oppo­si­tion to US and west­ern hege­mon­ic pow­er is indis­pens­able. Occu­py was right to direct indig­na­tion at finance cap­i­tal, but failed to express its oppo­si­tion to the cap­i­tal­ist and impe­r­i­al state as such. A social­ist strat­e­gy must have at its core tak­ing state pow­er: but to suc­ceed we must chal­lenge the pow­er of impe­r­i­al states to dic­tate extrac­tive and unequal poli­cies around the world. We must seek a pow­er bloc that is not the con­ven­tion­al set of left par­ties, but a bloc of working-class/anti-imperialist forces in the Glob­al South, rec­og­niz­ing class inequal­i­ty with­in a divid­ed world sys­tem. We also must rec­og­nize the sus­tained impor­tance of impe­ri­al­ism. In the 1970s to 1980s, smug West­ern Marx­ists and Euro­com­mu­nists all but jet­ti­soned the con­cept as an applic­a­ble means for under­stand­ing the real­i­ty of class strug­gles on a glob­al basis. Oppo­si­tion to cap­i­tal­ism with­out a grasp of the class divi­sions that cor­re­spond with nation­al bound­aries is essen­tial.

Ever since the French Social­ists came to pow­er in 1981 it is obvi­ous to us all that the Sec­ond Inter­na­tion­al social­ism idea of the Left tak­ing pow­er is delu­sion­al, even if it pro­vid­ed a momen­tary peri­od of hope when cap­i­tal in the mod­ern state was ascen­dant and the post-war Sovi­et Union was fail­ing to meet its ideals root­ed in build­ing a work­ers’ state. Social­ist praise for the devel­op­ment of civ­il lib­er­ties and human rights in the West is high­ly insen­si­tive to cul­tur­al dif­fer­ence and rel­e­vant only to the priv­i­leged and a thin lay­er of the oppressed. We have no exam­ples of suc­cess­es on the Left in the West that could be sus­tained for more than a short peri­od of time with­out a coun­ter­at­tack from cap­i­tal. The growth of finan­cial­iza­tion has made it even more dif­fi­cult to rein in the pow­er of cap­i­tal in most states. The idea of a pow­er bloc, as in Greece and oth­er regions, is a stim­u­lat­ing under­tak­ing for the Left, but it is also large­ly bereft of any con­crete evi­dence that it will achieve any gain.

Tak­ing state pow­er is only rel­e­vant if seized by social­ists in the Third World coun­tries on a region­al geo­graph­ic lev­el. Yes, some­thing like a Sovi­et Union. In the ear­ly 21st cen­tu­ry most states can be turned into “failed states” if opposed by cap­i­tal. Thus. we need to re-imag­ine tak­ing state pow­er on a much wider lev­el. The axiom of the Cold War era that impe­r­i­al wars were to be fought over the spoils in the Third World is more pre­scient today than ever, as class strug­gles expand in the Glob­al South and the West is extend­ing its exploita­tion from extrac­tive indus­tries to the pro­duc­tion of com­modi­ties. The Unit­ed States is reviv­ing its Cold War stance not in oppo­si­tion to Rus­sia or oth­er region­al states, but out of fear that a work­ing class bloc could form at a time when the West is ever more depen­dent on both nat­ur­al resources and com­modi­ties pro­duced by work­ers in the Glob­al South.

This mod­el is anal­o­gous to extant social­ist states that have assert­ed the impor­tance of devel­op­ing the means of pro­duc­tion before advanc­ing the class inter­ests. The state becomes essen­tial­ly the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the work­ers. The ques­tion is whether in fact the “com­mu­nist” State does rep­re­sent the inter­ests of work­ers and peas­ants. This is cer­tain­ly not the case in Chi­na and Viet­nam, and oth­er states that are advanc­ing with the pati­na of “com­mu­nism.” The Chi­nese state could crush the “democ­ra­cy” protests of the edu­cat­ed mid­dle class at Tianan­men Square, and per­haps Hong Kong, but giv­en the nature of state pow­er, this new move­ment could gain con­trol over the state: a fate much more threat­en­ing to The City of Lon­don and Wall Street than to Bei­jing. Thus we could con­sid­er the poten­tial of work­ers’ states to evolve into rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the work­ing class, as direct strug­gles grow at an ever more rapid pace.

  1. I wish to thank Zak Cope for com­ments. 

  2. See H.W. Edwards, Labor Aris­toc­ra­cy: Mass Base of Social Democ­ra­cy (Stock­holm: Auro­ra, 1978). 

  3. Georg Lukács, Lenin: A Study on the Uni­ty of his Thought (Cam­bridge, MA: MIT Press, 1971), 64. 

  4. Karl Marx, “The Future Results of British Rule in India,” in Robert C. Tuck­er, ed. The Marx-Engels Read­er, 2nd ed. (New York: W.W. Nor­ton 1978), 663-664. 

  5. V.I. Lenin, “The­sis and Report on Bour­geois Democ­ra­cy and the Dic­ta­tor­ship of the Pro­le­tari­at,” March 4, 1919. 

  6. V.I. Lenin, “Role and Func­tions of the Trade Unions,” Lenin’s Col­lect­ed Works, Vol­ume 33, 2nd Eng­lish Edi­tion (Moscow: Progress Pub­lish­ers, 1965), 188-196. 

  7. Ellen Meiksins Wood, Empire of Cap­i­tal (Lon­don: Ver­so, 2003). 

  8. Gérard Duménil and Dominique Lévy, The Cri­sis of Neolib­er­al­ism (Cam­bridge, MA: Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2011). 

  9. See, for exam­ple, Amiya Kumar Bagchi, “The Devel­op­men­tal State Under Impe­ri­al­ism,” in Glob­al­iza­tion Under Hege­mo­ny: The Chang­ing World Econ­o­my, ed. K.S. Jomo (Lon­don: Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2006). 

  10. Nicos Poulantzas, State, Pow­er, Social­ism (Lon­don: Ver­so, 2014). 

Author of the article

is professor of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. His research focuses on working class mobilization, Global South workers, migration, resistance and social movements. Ness is author of The New Industrial Proletariat (Pluto Press, 2015); Guest Workers and Resistance to US Corporate Despotism (University of Illinois 2011); and Immigrants, Unions, and the U.S. Labor Market (Temple University Press 2005). He is General Editor with Peter Bellwood of Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration (Wiley Blackwell 2013). He is editor of the peer-review quarterly journal, Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society.