V. I. Lenin


CAPITALISM

AND

WORKERS' IMMIGRATION


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

strike.

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.