Book review part 2 of 2 of Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty

Book review part 2 of 2 of Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty

Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty was first published in 1981 as a response to the World Bank’s Brandt Report. Even today, decades after it was first published, Hayter’s book is more accurate than not in its depiction of the most glaring fact about our world today, the gap between the rich and poor countries. Hayter’s book is certainly more accurate than the accounts of First Worldists. Even though Hayter may not be fully correct, the overall politics of this work are. Hayter’s work serves as a good introduction to the work of dependency theorists who have come to correct conclusions even though they, often, work within academia. Her work should be placed alongside the work of authors like André Gunder Frank, Walter Rodney, and Samir Amin. The first part of this review traced the origin of the gross inequality between countries to the beginnings of capitalism and the European colonial period. Hayter holds that Western Europe rose to dominance because capitalism first arose there and was given a boost by the influx of value from the colonial world. Thus Western Europe, then the United States, then other First World countries were able to take full advantage of all the benefits of capitalism. Thus the First World was able to propel its own development forward while it locked the colonial world in perpetual underdevelopment. This next part of this review focuses on the development of underdevelopment in more detail.

Development of Underdevelopment

Hayter considers the argument advanced by some First Worldists that even though colonization was brutal, colonization helped bring backwards parts of the world into modernity. They argue that imperialism advances the political culture and the productive forces of the colonies. Karl Marx discussed the supposed progressive role of colonialism in the Communist Manifesto, a popular work that oversimplifies historical materialism, not his most scientific work:

“The discovery of America, the rounding of the Cape, opened up fresh ground for the rising bourgeoisie. The East-Indian and Chinese markets, the colonisation of America, trade with the colonies, the increase in the means of exchange and in commodities generally, gave to commerce, to navigation, to industry, an impulse never before known, and thereby, to the revolutionary element in the tottering feudal society, a rapid development.

The feudal system of industry, in which industrial production was monopolised by closed guilds, now no longer sufficed for the growing wants of the new markets. The manufacturing system took its place. The guild-masters were pushed on one side by the manufacturing middle class; division of labour between the different corporate guilds vanished in the face of division of labour in each single workshop.

Meantime the markets kept ever growing, the demand ever rising. Even manufacturer no longer sufficed. Thereupon, steam and machinery revolutionised industrial production. The place of manufacture was taken by the giant, Modern Industry; the place of the industrial middle class by industrial millionaires, the leaders of the whole industrial armies, the modern bourgeois.

Modern industry has established the world market, for which the discovery of America paved the way. This market has given an immense development to commerce, to navigation, to communication by land. This development has, in its turn, reacted on the extension of industry; and in proportion as industry, commerce, navigation, railways extended, in the same proportion the bourgeoisie developed, increased its capital, and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages.” (1)

First Worldists often quote Karl Marx selectively, while ignoring the Third Worldist implications of Marx’s more advanced scientific works,  in order to “justify” their “White man’s burden” arguments today. Hayter points out that others, including Mao Zedong, argued for a very different position. Mao argued that colonization and imperialism does not advance “backwards” countries. Rather, the imperialists stunt and retard the development of these countries. According to Mao, imperialists often enter into alliances with the most backward segments of the reactionary classes. Thus imperialists often prop up the most backwards aspects of Third World society. This alliance results in semi-feudal economies that hinder the development of national capital. The East India company’s role in India propped up the most reactionary feudal  and comprador elements, thus stunting development. Hayter points out that the Spanish, for example, introduced many semi-feudal forms to Latin America where such forms had not previously existed. Imperialists carved up China and propped up and allied with many of the most backward feudal and warlord elements. Mao’s theory of New Democracy was an answer to this. Mao recognized that the bourgeoisie of China was too weak to carry out its anti-feudal mission. Thus it was up to the proletariat and its party to lead semi-feudal countries in throwing off the chains of feudalism and imperialism. It was up to the Communist Party to direct society to carry out the historic tasks associated with the bourgeois class and capitalist revolution in Europe, then to go on to lead society to socialism and communism. (2)

In agreement with Mao, Hayter holds that there is nothing natural about underdevelopment. Hayter holds that underdevelopment is developed. She quotes Andre Gunder Frank on the topic:

“Contemporary underdevelopment is in large part the historical product of the past and continuing economic and other relations between the satellite underdeveloped and the now developed metropolitan countries.” (3)

Hayter also quotes Walter Rodney:

“The developed and underdeveloped parts of the present capitalist section of the world have been in continuous contact for four and a half centuries. The contention here is that over that period Africa helped to develop Western Europe in the same proportion as Western Europe helped underdeveloped Africa.” (4)

Underdevelopment did not happen by accident. It was the result of conscious policies by the imperialists. For example, in the seventeenth century, the British passed the Navigation Acts and similar laws that prohibited colonies by law from engaging in any industry that might compete with the imperialist country. Instead, colonies were expected to export the raw materials to the imperialist country where goods were manufactured and, then, sold back to the colonies. For example, British occupiers of India even lopped off the hands of Indian weavers in order to reduce domestic production of cloth and force India to buy more cloth from Britain. These policies retarded the industrial development of the colonies, turning them into export economies. In addition, it made the colonies dependent on the imperialist country for goods. Hayter describes how the British destroyed the industrial economy of India:

“One of the more notorious facts of British colonial history is that the British subsequently proceeded to destroy the industrial economy of India itself. Between 1815 and 1832 the value of Indian cotton goods exported fell from £1.3 million to below £100,000. Not only that, but the value of English cotton good imported to India rose from £156,000 in 1794 to £400,000 in 1832. By the middle of the nineteenth century India was importing a quarter of all British cotton exports. The British eliminated competition from Indian textiles through an elaborate network of restrictions and prohibitive duties. Even within India, taxes effectively discriminated against local cloth. The resulting hardship was great for the Indian weavers…” (5)

Similar policies were enacted across the colonial world. Thus “free trade” is largely a myth. However, this did not stop imperialists from invoking free trade rhetoric in order to subdue countries. China, for example, had banned the importation of opium. This outraged the imperialist drug lords. The sixth president of the United States, John Quincy Adams, in 1842, intervened on the side of the imperialist narco-traffickers:

“The moral obligation of commercial intercourse between nations is founded entirely, exclusively, upon the Christian precept to love your neighbor as yourself… But China, not being a Christian nation… admits no obligation to hold commercial intercourse with others… It is time that this enormous outrage upon the rights of human nature [i.e. China’s refusal to buy opium]… should cease.” (6)

In 1840, the British fleet attacked China. At gunpoint, the British imposed a series of treaties on China. These granted foreigners special privileges in the so-called Treaty Ports. They forced China to cede Hong Kong, reduce duties on imports, and, eventually, the opium trade was legalized. The use of force to open up markets and subdue colonies was a common practice. (7) This pattern of imposing their will at gunpoint, opening markets with cannons, is repeated again and again in the history of the colonies.

Single-commodity export economies

Underdevelopment was developed, often, by creating economies that mainly exported one or two commodities. Colonies were reduced to producing only a few products, and, sometimes, only a single product. Whole countries were reduced to producing a single crop or reduced to mining. Whole colonies in the New World were transformed into giant sugar or tobacco plantations, for example. As part of this process, the imperialists took the best land. They transformed it from producing food crops to producing cash crops. This often required removing local populations. Indigenous peoples were often killed or forced off their land into reservations or into mountainous regions. The land that was left to the indigenous populations was too intensely cultivated or the soil too poor to sustain the populations. This also led to huge ecological damage. Hayter quotes Josue de Castro’s Geography of Hunger:

“In Africa it is not only because it cuts down local production of foodstuffs that the regime of production is ruinous to the natives, but also because it exhausts the soil by in intensifying the factors of erosion. This has happened… with monkey-nut growing in Senegal.” (8)

This continues today. When Hayter wrote, primary commodities and raw material exports accounted for 81 percent of the total exports of “low income countries.” Excluding the oil-exporting countries, more than half the Third World received more than half of their export earnings from the export of one or two commodities.  Zambia received 94 percent of its export earnings from copper, Mauritius 90 percent from sugar, Cuba 84 percent from sugar, Gambia 85 percent from groundnuts (peanuts) and groundnut (peanut) oil. (9)

In colonies, where the imperialists did not take the land themselves, they persuaded local populations to produce for the market, not for the people. This gave some strata of the local populations access to European imports. However, sometimes the populations did not care to produce to export crops or to work on estates of imperialists. When there was not a local population wiling to work, the imperialists simply imported the labor, often in the form of slaves. Even after slavery was officially abolished, these populations remained a captive workforce with little alternatives but to continue working for the imperialist plantations. One way to get local populations to produce cash crops was to simply impose a tax that had to be paid in the form of the cash crop or paid for by working for Europeans. This meant that the time and land that could be devoted to food production was reduced and that subsistence farming was deprived of able-bodied people. Another way imperialists motivated the local populations to work producing cash crops or in mines was by enacting policies that purposefully depressed living conditions. This was achieved through legal and policy means, and by buying up extra land simply to prevent it from falling into the hands of local populations. (10)  These policies had terrible consequences.

“The inexorable conversion of the dominated areas into markets for European manufactured goods and suppliers of primary commodities and raw materials for European consumption undermined not only their previous self-sufficiency in manufacturers, but also, increasingly, their ability to feed themselves.” (11)

“Although famines are not only a modern phenomenon, there are some indications that they have increased in intensity and depth. In India there appears to have been a drastic increase in deaths from famine from 1800 onwards..” (12)

“In general it is clear that a very important factor contributing to hunger is the unequal distribution of food and the money to buy it… this inequality is increasing. The colonial powers have reinforced the power of landlords or, as in the case of Latin America and Africa, to create new landlords. In India peasants have become deeply indebted to money-lenders and traders who are able to force them to sell their crops cheaply in order to obtain further credit. Such traders hoard food and sell it in times of scarcity at prices that peasants cannot afford… There is much evidence that this increasing inequality means not only that the rich are getting richer, but also that the poor are getting poorer.” (13)

Although she mentions Cuba, Hayter fails to point out that this pattern of reducing whole colonies to a single crop or product also was practiced under Soviet social-imperialism. The social-imperialists advocated what they called the international division of socialist [sic] labor. This meant that instead of developing well-rounded economies, Soviet colonies might be dedicated to one or two products to be exported and coordinated through Moscow. King Sugar, for example, ruled Cuba under both Western and social-imperialism. “Ten years after their revolution even Cubans, whose revolutionary leaders had spoken of the servitude of sugar, found themselves resorting to the chimera of the ten-million-ton sugar harvest.” (14)  Some suggest that Che Guevara  and Fidel Castro split over this issue. Che, in contrast to Fidel, called for a militant stance against imperialism; he called for “many Vietnams” across the Third World. Che objected to the application of the revisionist model, with the dependency that it entailed, to Cuba. Across the globe in Albania, Evner Hoxha, for example, was offended when Nikita Khrushchev proposed turning Albania into a giant fruit plantation to service the Eastern Bloc. Maoist China objected to both imperialists and social-imperialists reducing colonies to dependency. Instead, Maoists put self-determination at the heart of socialist economic development. Part of the Maoist breakthrough, why Maoism was the third stage of Marxism, is its quantum leap in the understanding of socialist development and the transition to communism. This set China, in its revolutionary phase, against both superpowers. Lin Biao’s Report to the Ninth Congress in April of 1969 adopted the line that revolution was the main trend in the world and that the contemporary era was the era of Mao Zedong, an era when imperialism is headed for total collapse and socialism is advancing toward worldwide victory. Maoism was the ideological leader of the global people’s war by revolutionary forces of the Third World against the First World, both imperialists and social-imperialists, and their lackeys. Maoists thought imperialism was on its last leg. Lin Biao called on people of the global countryside to rise up in a global people’s war to kill imperialism once and for all.

Another feature of underdevelopment is that underdeveloped countries have little market power. They compete in limited commodity markets like tea, coffee, sugar, or rubber. (15) Prices for their primary commodities and raw materials fluctuate greatly, especially because of commodity speculation by First World peoples.

“In the mid-1970s, the price paid for a pound of sugar dropped from 64 cents a pound to 6 cents a pound in 18 months.  Tanzania’s first five-year plan was based on a minimum world sisal price of £90; soon afterward, the price dropped to £60. In the late fifties, cocoa prices went in the US$ from $1,000 per ton one year to $400 then back to $1,000 the next, then down to less than $600… copper prices [in Zambia] took the price $3,034 in April 1974; it then fell to $1,290 before the end of the year.” (16)

Cash crops of underdeveloped countries are “false riches.” Not only do they destroy the indigenous economy and create dependency, they tend to decline in value over time. In 1960, 25 tons of natural rubber exports from Sri Lanka could be exchanged for 6 tractors. By 1970, they could be exchanged for 2. Similarly, banana prices declined 30 percent between 1950 and 1970. (17) The pattern that Hayter describes continues to exist. So-called free trade destroyed much of Haiti’s agricultural sector in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1986, Haiti imported just 7,000 tons of rice, the main staple of the country. The bulk of rice used in Haiti was grown in Haiti. After Haiti became compliant with the free-trade policies of international lending agencies, cheaper rice immediately flooded the country from the United States, where rice production is subsidized. In the United States, the state increased rice subsidies with the 1985 Farm Bill. In the United States, 40 percent of the profits of the rice industry were from state subsidies in 1987. Haiti’s peasants simply could not compete. In 1996, Haiti was importing 196,000 tons of rice at a cost of 100 million dollars a year. Haitian rice production became negligible. Once Haiti was dependent on foreign rice, prices began to rise. Haiti’s population, especially the urban poor, was devastated.  (18) Underdeveloped countries are caught in a vicious cycle. They have to produce more cash crops to continue to maintain their profits. Thus they are caught up in overproduction and declining prices. And when they can’t keep up, they have to keep imposing austerity on their peoples in order to borrow more and more. (19) The First World gets rich. The Third World gets debt, poverty and dependency.

The myths of  investment and aid

The imperialist countries exert pressure on underdeveloped countries to open up their markets to goods manufactured in the imperialist countries. Imperialists flood local markets and destroy local industries, clearing the way for imperialist monopolies. Hayter refutes the imperialist claim, common to both imperialists and some First Worldists, that the imperialists do the poor countries a favor by providing investment of capital. Hayter argues that investments in the Third World are actually a way of draining the Third World of wealth. Gunder Frank describes this process in India:

“Two of the principal instruments the British used to drain India of its capital were the railroads and debt. The railroads were not only the physical instruments used to restructure the economy in order to be able to suck raw materials out and pump manufactured commodities in along the right of way. The Indians were also obliged to pay themselves for the installation of this exploitative mechanism on their soil. And the ‘Indian debt’, to which all imaginable and unimaginable items of British colonial administration were charged, became in the particular circumstances of India one of the principal fiscal instruments for extracting the economic surplus from the colony to the metropolis.” (20)

Foreign investment is really a way of taking over or destroying local business. Gunder Frank writes:

“The railway network and electric grid, far from being net-or grid-like, was ray-like and connected the hinterland or each country and sometimes of several countries with the port of entry and exit, which was in turn with the metropolis.” (21)

Outflows from underdeveloped countries to imperialist ones increasingly exceed inflows from imperialist countries to underdeveloped ones. Hayter quotes Richard J. Barnet and Ronald E. Muller on “welfare in reverse,” “incredible as it may seem, the poor countries have been an indispensable source of finance capital for the worldwide expansion of global corporations.” Hayter points out that the capital that is “invested” in an underdeveloped country is usually raised there in the first place. On average, 80 percent of the capital invested in underdeveloped countries is raised from the underdeveloped countries themselves. (22) So much for the myth that the First World is risking its own wealth on Third World development.

Another way the imperialists bully the Third World is by attaching conditions to aid. They make “free-market” reforms a condition of loans from agencies like the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Yet at the same time, the imperialists put up barriers against “cheap imports” from the Third World. Often, trade unions in the United States lead the charge in trying to legislate “Buy American.” Hayter shows that aid is a tool used to perpetuate underdevelopment. At the time Hayter wrote, roughly 1/3rd of the flows of capital to underdeveloped countries was aid. Most of this aid is in the form of loans that come with many strings attached. Aid has played a big role, especially since World War 2. Aid is in the common interests of the imperialist and Third World comprador elite. Aid is a bribe used to make it worth their while to continue to cooperate in draining their countries of wealth. Aid is a way for imperialists to try to keep the Third World in line. President John F. Kennedy said in 1961 that “Foreign aid is a method by which the United States maintains a position of good influence and control around the world and sustains a good many countries which would definitely collapse or fall to the Communist Bloc.” In 1968, Nixon said that “the main purpose of American aid is not to help other nations but to help ourselves.” Aid is used to prop up despots who will do the bidding of imperialists. Aid is used as a carrot to dangle in front of a starving country: comply and it’s yours. For example, Hayter describes how the United States sought to influence the “somewhat leftist Bangladeshi government of Shaikh Mujib, which was very ‘dependent’ on food imports but was not a the time very co-operative, to co-operate. In 1974 between 27,000 and 100,000 Bangladeshi died in.. a manmade famine.” Hayter quotes a source, “[the] primal source of the crisis lay in the breakdown of the import programme… The United States appears to have opted for a dramatic demonstration of the awesome power of food politics.” Aware that Bangladeshi society was on the brink, the United States purposefully delayed its normal commitments of food aid. Thus the United States strong-armed Bangladesh’s government to revise its investment policy in favor of the private sector. To add insult to injury, the United States continued to hold back food because Bangladesh continued to have economic relations with Cuba. In the end, Shaikh Mujib was murdered, probably with the help of the CIA, and replaced by one of his more  compliant colleagues. (23)

A whole ideology of development has been created to give philanthropic cover to the imperialists and patriotic cover to the compradors in the underdeveloped countries. People in the United States often say how they are the most giving people in the world. People in the United States are often dumbstruck: Why do the Third World peoples hate us so? Why are they such ingrates? Why do they bite the hand that feeds them? Third World comprador elites tell their people that they are partners with the imperialists in bringing development. “We can live like people in the United States too,” they say. They condemn rebel organizations as anti-patriotic and primitivist for blowing up railroads and power-lines. The reactionary ideology of development over the class struggle, of aspiring to the First World,  the Theory of Productive forces, was key in reversing socialism in China in the 1970s. Hayter thoroughly exposes the myth of aid and the false promises of the First Worldists.

Workers and value transfer

The development of underdevelopment locked Third World workers into the kind of precarious existence that Karl Marx described in the Communist Manifesto. Unlike their First World counterparts, Third World workers are forced to exist at subsistence or sub-subsistence levels. One method of keeping down incomes for workers in the Third World was to make sure that, although wages might provide for bare subsistence of the workers themselves, the cost of providing for them in old age or in sickness and of providing for children was not borne by the employers or state, but by others.  This continues to be used today. Multinational corporations, especially those that, in special low-wage zones, manufacture consumer goods bound for rich countries pay wages that are a fraction of those paid to workers in the rich countries themselves. Such companies pick and choose among workers. They use women, children and apprentices. Often, these workers are landless and severely impoverished. They have no alternative but to seek employment in the “formal sector” of the economy until they are no longer useful. They take them at their fittest and fire them when they are worn out. They leave them in the “informal sector” in the slums of cities to take care of the needs that they or their families may have. Thus the employers and state are freed from the burden of providing for them. Parallel to this is the brain drain in the Third World. Third World countries, often Third World states, educate and train highly skilled personnel like doctors or engineers. Yet these personnel leave to practice their trade in the First World. Thus the Third World ends up paying for their training and provides for them when they are not working. All the benefit goes to the First World. All of this drains the Third World and creates a situation where cheap labor is available. Massive unemployment, under-employment, migration from impoverished rural areas, refugees fleeing conflict, all contribute to this situation that is exploitable by the corporations. In addition, attempts to collectively resist or rebel against these conditions have been met with brutal repression: lynching, massacres, death squads. Thus exploitation through low wages today has its roots in colonial policy of the past. (24)

Leading Light Communists often note that workers in the Third World fit Karl Marx’s description of the proletariat to a T. Third World workers truly have nothing to lose but their chains. They have been separated from traditional means of subsistence such that they only have their labor-power to sell. They only make enough in wages to keep themselves alive from day to day. They work day-in-day-out, doing grueling or mind-numbingly repetitive labor, often for 10-14 hours a day, 6 or 7 days a week. By contrast, First World workers live lives of luxury. They often have or have access to houses, large durable luxuries like cars, computers, televisions, stereos, ovens, refrigerators. They also enjoy huge wardrobes, toys for their children, running water, sanitation, etc. Many have investments. They have relatively pleasant work environments, weekends off, vacations, etc. They have more in common, both politically and culturally, with their own bourgeoisie than they do with the  Third World proletariat. In addition, workers in the First World receive exploiter-level incomes; they receive more than their share of the global social product. First World workers have much more to lose than their chains. They align with their own ruling class and imperialism against the Third World. Hayter also notes the great disparity in wages between the First World and Third World. She notes that some imperialists are very aware of the connection between the domestic peace in the First World and underdevelopment in the Third. The arch-imperialist Cecil Rhodes wrote in 1896:

“I was in the East End… and attended a meeting of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for ‘bread’, ‘bread’, ‘bread’, and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism… My cherished idea is a solution for the social-problem, i.e. in order to save 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we, colonial statesmen, must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced by them…The empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question.” (25)

Also, the communist Palme Dutt wrote in the 1950s:

“The imperialist economy of Britain is a parasitic economy. It is increasingly dependent on world tribute for its maintenance. By the eve of the first world war close on two-fifths of British imports were no longer paid for by exports of goods; and this proportion had risen still higher by the eve of the second world war… By 1951 [the import surplus] had soared to a total of £779 million.” (26)

Value flows to the First World raise living standards there, creating social peace bought at the expense of the Third World. There must be mechanisms, besides plunder, that transfer value from the Third World to the First World. Hayter points to Arghiri Emmanuel’s classic book Unequal Exchange and Samir Amin’s Accumulation on a World Scale for possible explanations:

“[T]he theory suggests that, since exports of underdeveloped countries are produced at very low wages and their imports of mainly manufactured goods from Europe and North America are produced at higher wages, the exchange is an unequal one. Samir Amin, in Accumulation on a World Scale, has made quantitative estimates of the amounts transferred in this way. He says that: underdeveloped countries got $35,000 million for their exports in 1966; allowing for differences in productivity which were much less than differences in wage rates, they would have got an extra $22,000 million if their workers had been paid at the rates prevalent in the developed countries; and this amount is about equal to the underdeveloped countries’ total investment.” (27)

Hayter suggests that another way to look at this is to say that this involves goods produced at a low level of technology exchanged with good produced at a high level of technology. Those with higher levels of technology have an advantage in the market, just as skilled workers have an advantage over unskilled workers. Those with higher levels of technology can command greater prices for their products, just as skilled workers can. First Worldists often use this argument to justify why First World workers deserve more than their Third World counterparts. They say that First World workers are akin to skilled workers, and therefore deserve more. Of course Marx argued against the First Worldists that productivity of producers (bracketing for a moment the fact that very few in the First World produce!) should not be tied to entitlement. Do not capitalists always argue, like the First Worldists, that they are not idle, but contribute highly skilled mental labor to production? Do not superstar CEOs argue that they are the big-idea people without which the whole enterprise would fail? In any case, this is moot because it is a myth that First World workers are more productive than Third World workers. The United States Tariff Commission reported in 1973 that levels of productivity are the same in similar types of industry. (28) In fact, as Hayter points out, the productivity of labor in underdeveloped countries, or the amount produced at a particular time, is increasingly recognized as similar to that in developed countries. Since machinery is often inferior or secondhand in the Third World, and Third World workers have worse working environments, are paid substantially less, work longer, etc., it can be argued that Third World workers are more productive than First World workers. (29)

Against Arghiri Emmanuel, Hayter argues via Charles Bettelheim that within the current system of capitalism-imperialism merely lowering wages in the First World is unlikely to help Third World workers because that would result only in more profit to the capitalists, not a higher standard of living for Third World workers. While this may or may not be true, it must be pointed out that raising wages in the First World is likely to result in less of a share of the social product for the Third World. Any increase in the share of either exploiter class in the First World is likely to have negative consequences for the Third World. Although there are contradictions between First World  exploiters, for example, between First World capitalists and First World workers, these contradictions are not antagonistic. Both First World capitalists and First World workers, even though they contend against each other for an increased share of the social product, are exploiter classes. Thus both classes align with each other, and capitalism-imperialism, against the Third World. This is why Leading Light Communists don’t involve themselves in wage struggles in the First World. The struggle over wages in the First World is, almost always, a struggle between two exploiters. No matter who wins the wage struggle, the Third World loses. However, Hayter fails to point out that under socialism, the wealth of the First World can be redistributed to the Third World to the benefit of the vast majority of humanity and to the loss of the exploiter classes in the First World, including First World workers. In fact, to fail to redistribute the global wealth to the detriment of First World populations as a whole is to de facto support continued imperialism. This is why so many revisionist are really social-imperialists despite their internationalist rhetoric. In addition, it must be pointed out that socialism would necessarily entail a reduction in First World consumption simply because current consumption levels are not sustainable ecologically. To continue to allow the First World to consume as it does is not only to continue the super-exploitation of the Third World workers, but also puts the future of humanity at risk.

Our world today

Many of the trends that Hayter describes exist to this day, three decades after the original publication of her book. However, in the past decades, underdevelopment has taken new forms. Although Hayter’s book does a good job describing the creation of poverty in the Third World, there is a big gap in her book: it only describes one side of the process. She describes how the theft of its value affects the Third World, but fails to describe how this process has radically alters First World society. She fails to describe, in detail, the wealth and domestic social peace that the First World receives from its domination of the Third World. She fails to describe the rise of the mall economy that has really taken off in the past few decades. Leading Lights have described this phenomenon:

“Global society has not polarized exactly in the way that Marx foresaw. Instead, there exist different configurations of class society across countries. In some countries, there are very few direct producers at all. These are First World mall economies. Factories no longer dominate the lives of First World peoples. In fact, only a small percentage of people in the First World work in factories anymore. A far greater number are employed in management, services, etc. This can be described in Marx’s terms as a decline in the percentage of the population engaged in productive labor, labor that adds to the total social product. Many First World economies can be described as a mall writ large.  Nothing, or very little, is produced at the mall. Yet people are employed managing, transporting, securing, etc. goods that are produced elsewhere but are sold at the mall.  It is the influx of goods from outside the mall that keeps the mall afloat. Production is going on outside the mall, in the Third World. It was the evaporation of direct production, and along with it the evaporation of revolutionary consciousness, that caused Friedrich Engels to write of the bourgeoisification of the English working class on the back of India and the world.” (30)

Although she extols a vague concept of “socialism,” by failing to fully explore the relationship of the domestic situation of the First World to underdevelopment in the Third World, Hayter fails to understand that socialism must entail a very radical transformation of First World society. The First World standard of living is not sustainable materially or ecologically. A socialist redistribution of wealth worldwide will entail the drastic lowering of the incomes and standard of living of First World peoples. First World workers will not be allowed to live high off  surplus created by Third World peoples. The First World consumer culture and current level of energy consumption, which is neither just, desirable, nor ecologically sustainable, will not exist under socialism. She fails to understand the New Power as the dictatorship of the proletariat of exploited countries over exploiter countries. If Hayter wrote this book today, she would be a fence sitter. Often, fence sitters embrace Leading Light Communism on an intellectual level, but fail to have the political courage to go all the way. They fail to make the leap to real, Leading Light Communism/Liberterian communism. We must remember the Jacobin lessons of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Communists must be willing to go to extremes, to go all the way.


  1. Marx, Karl. The Manifesto of the Communist Party. * It is interesting how often First Worldists invoke Marx’s more popular works, his oversimplifications, against Leading Light Communism. Yet, when confronted by Marx’s more advanced, scientific works, like Capital, with its Third Worldist implications, First Worldists have no response. See:“Revisiting Value and Exploitation.”
  2. Hayter, Teresa. The Creation of World Poverty. Third World First. Great Britain: 1990. . pp. 37-39
    3. Hayter, p. 38
    4. Hayter, p. 38
    5. Hayter, p. 48
    6. Hayter, p. 20
    7. Hayter, p. 52
    8. Hayter, p. 54
    9. Hayter, p. 69
    10. Hayter, pp. 59-63
    11. Hayter, p. 53
    12. Hayter, p. 57
    13. Hayter, p. 57
    14. Hayter, p. 67
    15. Hayter, p. 67
    16. Hayter, p. 68
    17. Hayter, p. 67
    18. Review of Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Eyes of the Heart. Monkey Smashes Heaven. June, 10 1910.
    19. Hayter, p. 67
    20. Hayter, pp. 75-76
    21. Hayter, pp. 75-76
    22. Hayter, p. 77
    23. Hayter, pp. 86-87
    24. Hayter, pp. 59-63
    25. Hayter, p. 71
    26. Hayter, pp. 71-72
    27. Hayter, p. 64
    28. Hayter, p. 97
    29. Hayter, p. 107
    30. Revisiting Value and Exploitation. Monkey Smashes Heaven. June 11, 2010.

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