Feudal-capitalism

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Wed Mar 8 12:12:13 MST 1995


On Wed, 8 Mar 1995, Alex Trotter wrote:

> 	Apropos of what someone on the list, bringing up Trotsky, said
> about "combined and uneven development," why shouldn't it be possible for
> capitalism to resurrect (and coexist with) some form of despotism that
> does not deal in free (i.e., wage) labor?

Louis Proyect:

That someone was me. What I have trouble understanding is this: for all the
bandying about of the term "dialectic", for all the discussion of Bhaksar
and Hegel, ad infinitum, that goes on in this list, how anybody can have
trouble understanding "contradictory" phenomena such as feudalism or
chattel slavery existing within a capitalist society. One stage of
development is not ended with a fanfare and someone announcing at the
parapets, "let capitalism (or socialism) begin".

The "stages" theory of history can only be found in bastardized versions
of Marxism or in Toffler's futurology or in Francis Fukuyama's "End of
History". Marx was a much more complex thinker than Toffler or Fukuyama.
Re-read "The 18th Brumaire" and you'll see Marx's phenomenal ability to
unravel "contradictory" social and political phenomena: bourgeoisie
divided against itself; peasants supporting Bonaparte in defense of
revolutionary democracy while simultaneously consolidating a state
inimical to revolutionary democracy, etc.

Marxism is not stymied by contradictory phenomena at all. When I'm
confronted by something like the Zapatista revolt which combines themes
of Mayan resistance, Liberation Theology, pronouncements over the
Internet, interventions by Chase Manhattan economists, etc., I thank my
lucky stars that I have Marxism to help me figure it all out.


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