“Anyway, let me turn to the theory of the labour aristocracy, particularly as it has been used by a number of historians: Foster, Stedman Jones, Hinton and Gray, in the 1970s (3). As with much modern Marxism, the main source of the theory of the aristocracy of labour is, of course, Lenin (4). Drawing on some not very substantial phrases of Engels, and, so it seems, on the trade-unions history of the Webbs, Lenin in the early years of this century constructed, in his works on Imperialism, a distinctive explanation for the quiescence of the proletariat in the capitalist countries and particularly in Britain. But if Lenin is the source of this theory then, in Britain, Hobsbawm has been the well from which more recent authors have drawn their initial interest; initial, I say, since while Lenin and Hobsbawm are routinely quoted and genuflected to by more recent writers, their work is, in effect, quite heavily criticized by these authors, though the criticism is not always made explicit. Hobsbawm (5) does follow Lenin in linking a ‘favoured stratum’ of the working class – a labour aristocracy – to the benefits of Britain’s world economic supremacy in the nineteenth century and to the Leninist notion that the spontaneous thought of the working class leads only to a trade-union consciousness marked by a narrow economism which essentially accepts the basic framework of capitalism. The labour aristocracy arises: «when the economic circumstances of capitalism make it possible to grant significant concessions to its proletariat, within which certain strata of workers manage by means of their special scarcity, skill, strategic position, organizational strength, etc., to establish notably better conditions for themselves than the rest » (6). For Hobsbawm this period was essentially between 1840 and 1890 in Britain, though it extended on in some, ever more challenged form to 1914. However, Hobsbawm is more diffident than Lenin about linking Imperialism and imperial super-profits with the labour aristocracy, and instead rather stresses its relation to the inherent economistic trend of workers’ thought which, among other things, causes the workers to struggle by trade rather as a class. For him, the consolidation of Imperialism and the distribution of its super-profits, combined with a changing technology and occupational structure, led to the dislodgement of the labour aristocracy as a special privileged stratum. Rather the whole of the British working class became a bribed one, while the old aristocrats of labour were pushed into the working class as a distinct wedge of white collar workers forced itself between this group and the higher stratum. But these were later events” [H.F. Moorhouse, ‘The Marxist theory of the labour aristocracy’, Social History, Hull, n. 1 January 1978] [(3) Important recent Marxist analyses which use the labour aristocracy as a basic explanatory device which are not discussed here (for reasons of space) are Z. Bauman, ‘Between Class and Elite’ (Manchester, 1972); and K. Burgess, ‘The Origins of British Industrial Relations’ (London, 1975); (4) In a numer of works; see the citation in M. Nicolaus, ‘The theory of the labour aristocracy’, Monthley Review, XXI (1970), 91-101, and in E.J. Hobsbawm, ‘Lenin and the aristocracy of labour’, Marxism Today (July 1970); (5) Hobsbawm, ibid., and ‘Labouring Men’ (London 1968), esp, chs. 15 and 16; (6) Hobsbawm, ‘Lenin and the aristocracy of labour…’, 208] [Lenin-Bibliographical-Materials] [LBM*] 6