nicaragua

James Miller jamiller at igc.apc.org
Mon Apr 22 22:26:34 MDT 1996


NICARAGUA AND BOURGEOIS REVOLUTIONS

   Louis had this to say:

>Louis: There can be no bourgeois revolutions today. It is entirely likely
>that the bourgeoise became hostile to a revolution in its own name by the
>1850s. Marx observed that the German capitalist class preferred to ally
>itself with the aristocracy rather than uprooting the old system in
>alliance with the workers. They feared the workers more than they hated
>the aristocrats. Some Marxist historians even argue that the French
>Revolution itself was not really led by the bourgeoisie but by the
>petty-bourgeoisie anxious to win political power *within* the monarchy.

   When Marxists talk about "bourgeois revolutions" today, they don't
mean revolutions that are supported by the bourgeoisie; rather they
refer to revolutions which accomplish the historic tasks associated
with the needs of capitalist development. These include national
unification and sovereignty, political democracy under a modern
constitution, the abolition of various elements of feudalism and
slavery which persist.
   Since there is much to be accomplished along these lines in
third world countries, bourgeois revolutions are still possible.
The Iranian revolution of 1979 was bourgeois. The South African
revolution of 1990-94 is a bourgeois one.
   Having said this, however, we have to recognize that the capitalist
classes of all countries oppose any change which places the masses
of working people in a better position to challenge capitalist rule.
Bourgeois revolutions, such as that in South Africa, do just that.
This is why the South African bourgeoisie so stubbornly resisted
the establishment of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist government
in that country.
   Louis pointed to the prominent role of the petty-bourgeoisie in the
French revolution. The big bourgeoisie held back its support from
the revolution and sympathized with the monarchy. Yet the revolution
placed the bourgeoisie in a better position to grow and prosper with
the development of the capitalist system.

   Then Louis says:

>The whole question of the character of the Nicaraguan revolution in its
>early stages is exceedingly complex. To force it into one or another
>category such as "bourgeois" or "socialist" seems reductionist. All we
>can talk about in the early stages is tendency and dynamic. In 1979 it
>appeared that the Sandinista's goal was socialism. This no doubt is what
>invested Washington's policy with such brutality. The real question, of
>course, is what to do next in light of capitalism's hegemony. Facile
>calls for "socialism" won't do. Lenin was a master at assessing the
>relationship of class forces and was deeply opposed to taking steps that
>the revolutionary movement could not follow through on. We should take
>the same attitude.

   Louis is right to say that it is reductionist to force this revolution
into the one category or the other. A revolutionary process takes on
whatever tasks are posed for the development of the country, and for
the satisfaction of the needs of the masses of people. The revolution
faced both bourgeois and socialist tasks.
   Louis is also right to say that facile calls for "socialism" won't do.
I don't think anything can be done to salvage the FSLN (perhaps we
should say the "former FSLN"). But one of the most important sources
for the revitalization of the revolutionary process in Latin America is
the Cuban revolution. Cuba still stands as a beacon for socialism.

Jim Miller
Seattle


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