Gramsci, Laclau, Mouffe (and Bhaskar)

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Tue Mar 7 09:15:36 MST 1995


On Tue, 7 Mar 1995, Andy Daitsman wrote:

> When I was in El Salvador in 1992 I visited a "cooperative" farm, which in
> its heyday had been owned by a member of the oligarchy and had been one of
> the most efficient  mechanized cotton plantations in the country.  The labor
> force was resident but they were wage workers (I should add that wages were
> extremely low, and attempts to unionize were met with murder).  At the
> height of the war, the owner abandoned the property and a cooperative was
> formed.  Now it's a big subsistence farm, and its organizational structure
> is much more like an Indian village than anything else.
>

Louis Proyect:
This is a most interesting anecdote. It is not inconsistent, however,
with the overall dynamic of the class struggle throughout Central
America. A reading of "I, Rigoberto Menchu" or Zapatista literature reveals
much of the same pattern: indigenous peoples fighting to reclaim a
village-based, communal, traditional, subsistence farming-based mode of
existence in the face of multinational agribusiness hostility.

Of course, this is not a problem for Marxist analysis. Societies exhibit
combined and uneven development. Stages that seem to belong to different
periods in history get collapsed into one another. Zapatistas invoke
traditional Indian values while simultaneously posting their messages on
the Internet. Trotsky, who was responsible for the most egregious errors
when it came to organizing the Fourth International, remains an astute
historical materialist. Although I have a feeling most people on the list
have read Trotsky's "Combined and Uneven Development", I recommend it
strongly to those who haven't--and perhaps a re-reading for all the rest,
including myself. It will a go a long way to clarifying this whole
"stages" conundrum.


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