V. I. Lenin
Za Pravdu No. 22, October 29, 1913
Vol. 19, pp. 454-57
Capitalism has given rise to a special form of migration of nations. The rapidly
developing industrial countries, introducing machinery on a large scale and
ousting the backward countries from the world market, raise wages at home above
the average rate and thus attract workers from the backward countries.
Hundreds of thousands of workers thus wander hundreds and thousands of versts.
Advanced capitalism drags them forcibly into its orbit, tears them out of the
backwoods in which they live", makes them participants in the world-historical
movement and brings them face to face with the powerful, united, international
class of factory owners.
THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT THAT DIRE POVERTY ALONE COMPELS PEOPLE TO ABANDON THEIR
NATIVE LAND, AND THAT THE CAPITALISTS EXPLOIT THE IMMIGRANT WORKERS IN THE MOST
SHAMELESS MANNER. BUT ONLY REACTIONARIES CAN SHUT THEIR EYES TO THE PROGRESSIVE
SIGNIFICANCE OF THIS MODERN MIGRATION OF NATIONS. EMANCIPATION FROM THE YOKE OF
CAPITAL IS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT THE FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF CAPITALISM, AND WITHOUT
THE CLASS STRUGGLE THAT IS BASED ON IT. AND IT IS INTO THIS STRUGGLE THAT
CAPITALISM IS DRAWING THE MASSES OF THE WORKING PEOPLE OF THE WHOLE WORLD,
BREAKING DOWN THE MUSTY, FUSTY HABITS OF LOCAL LIFE, BREAKING DOWN NATIONAL
BARRIERS AND PREJUDICES, UNITING WORKERS FROM ALL COUNTRIES IN HUGE FACTORIES
AND MINES IN AMERICA, GERMANY, AND SO AMERICA HEADS THE LIST OF COUNTRIES WHICH
IMPORT WORKERS. The following are the immigration figures for America :
Ten years 1821-30 99,000
" " 1831-40 496,000
" " 1841-50 1,597,000
" " 1851-60 2,453,000
" " 1861-70 2,064,000
" " 1871-80 2,262,000
" " 1881-90 4,722,000
" " 1891-1900 3,703,000
Nine " 1901-09 7,210,000
The growth of immigration is enormous and continues to increase. During the five
years 1905-09 the average number of immigrants entering America (the United
States alone is referred to) was over a million a year.
It is interesting to note the change in the place of origin of those emigrating
to America. Up to 1880 the so-called old immigration prevailed, that is,
immigration from the old civilised countries, such as Great Britain, Germany and
partly from Sweden. Even up to 1890, Great Britain and Germany provided more
than half the total immigrants.
From 1880 onwards, there was an incredibly rapid increase in what is called the
new immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe, from Austria, Italy and
Russia. The number of people emigrating from these three countries to the United
States was as follows:
Ten years 1871-80 201,000
" " 1881-90 927,000
" " 1891-1900 1,847,000
" " 1901-09 5,127,000
Thus, the most backward countries in the old world, those that more than any
other retain survivals of feudalism in every branch of social life, are, as it
were, undergoing compulsory training in civilisation. American capitalism is
tearing millions of workers of backward Eastern Europe (including Russia, which
in 1891-1900 provided 594,000 immigrants and in 1900-09, 1,410,000) out of their
semi-feudal conditions and is putting them in the ranks of the advanced,
international army of the proletariat.
Hourwich, the author of an extremely illuminating book, Immigration and Labour,
which appeared in English last year, makes some interesting observations. The
number of people emigrating to America grew particularly after the 1905
revolution (1905-1,000,000; 1906-1,200,000; 1907- 1,400,000; 1908 and
1909-1,900,000 respectively). Workers who had participated in various strikes in
Russia introduced into America the bolder and more aggressive spirit of the mass
Russia is lagging farther and farther behind, losing some of her best workers to
foreign countries; America is advancing more and more rapidly, taking the most
vigorous and able-bodied sections of the working population of the whole world.
Other countries on the American Continent besides the United States are also
rapidly advancing. The number of immigrants entering the United States last year
was about 250,000, Brazil about 170,000 and Canada over 200,000; total 620,000
for the year.
Germany, which is more or less keeping pace with the United States, is changing
from a country which released workers into one that attracts them from foreign
countries. The number of immigrants from Germany to America in the ten years
1881-90 was 1,453,000; but in the nine years 1901-09 it dropped to 310,000. The
number of foreign workers in Germany, however, was 695,000 in 1910-11 and
729,000 in 1911-12. Dividing these immigrants according to occupation and
country of origin we get the following:
Foreign workers employed in Germany in 1911-12 (thousands)
Agriculture Industry Total
From Russia 274 34 308
Austria 101 162 263
other 22 135 157
total 397 331 728
The more backward the country the larger is the number of "unskilled"
agricultural labourers it supplies. _The advanced nations seize, as it were, the
best paid occupations for themselves and leave the semi-barbarian countries the
worst paid occupations. Europe in general ("other countries") provided Germany
with 157,000 workers, of whom more than eight-tenths (135,000 out of 157,000)
were industrial workers. Backward Austria provided only six-tenths (162,000 out
of 263,000) of the industrial workers. The most backward country of all, Russia,
provided'only one-tenth of the industrial workers (34,000 out of 308,000).
Thus, Russia is punished everywhere and in everything for her backwardness. But
compared with the rest of the population, it is the workers of Russia who are
more than any others bursting out of this state of backwardness and barbarism,
more than any others combating these "delightful" features of their native land,
and more closely than any others uniting with the workers of all countries into
a single international force for emancipation.
The bourgeoisie incites the workers of one nation against those of another in
the endeavour to keep them disunited.
CLASS-CONSCIOUS WORKERS, REALISING THAT
THE BREAKDOWN OF ALL THE NATIONAL BARRIERS BY CAPITALISM IS INEVITABLE AND
PROGRESSIVE, ARE TRYING TO HELP TO ENLIGHTEN AND ORGANISE THEIR FELLOW-WORKERS
FROM THE BACKWARD COUNTRIES.