Originally compiled and edited by the Communist Working Circle (CWC), in
1972, this is a republished collection of excerpts from the corpus of
Marx and Engels. These show the evolution of Marx and Engels’s ideas on
the nascent labor aristocracy and the complicating factors of
colonialism and chauvinism, with a focus on the British Empire of their
This edition of “On Colonies” includes a substantial introduction by
Marxist economist Zak Cope and former CWC member Torkil Lauesen,
centering these concepts in theory and history. Cope and Lauesen show
how Marx and Engels’s initial belief that capitalism would extend
seamlessly around the globe in the same form was proven wrong by events,
as instead worldwide imperialism spread capitalism as a polarizing
process, not only between the bourgeoisie and the working class, but
also as a division between an imperialist center and an exploited
periphery. This fundamental contradiction gave capitalism completely new
conditions of growth and accounts for its tragic longevity.
Both foundational and indispensable, “On Colonies” provides a useful
introduction to “Third Worldist” analysis of global capitalism, tracing
its roots back to Marxism’s earliest works.
About the Author:
Born in Trier, Germany in 1818, Karl Marx was a philosopher, journalist,
economist, historian and co-founder of scientific socialism with his
lifelong friend and collaborator Friedrich Engels. He died in London,
England in 1883 leaving behind an enduring revolutionary legacy.
Born in Barmen, Prussia on 28 November, 1820, Friedrich Engels was a
philosopher, social scientist, journalist and businessman. After Marx,
Lenin considered him to have been “the finest scholar and teacher of the
modern proletariat in the whole civilised world.” Engels died in London
on 5 August, 1895.
Zak Cope is the author of Divided World Divided Class: Global Political
Economy and the Stratification of Labour Under Capitalism and co-editor
of the Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism with
Prof. Immanuel Ness.
Torkil Lauesen has since the late sixties been an anti-imperialist
activist and writer. He is a former member of the Communist Working
Circle in Denmark, and later the Manifest-Communist Workgroup (M-KA). In
1989 he was arrested and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison,
for his part in a series of robberies in which several million dollars
were expropriated and diverted to Third World anti-imperialist struggles.