Expropriating the petty bourgeoisie

Hugh Rodwell m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se
Sat Jun 1 13:00:32 MDT 1996


>On Fri, 31 May 1996, Hugh Rodwell wrote:
>
>>
>> I think that's where we're headed actually, and what poetic justice it will
>> be! The troika of Adolfo, Louis and Rahul, all gung-ho to institutionalize
>> and theoretically justify the small exploiter (*only* ten wage slaves) and
>> his right to keep exploiting.

Louis goes ballistic:

>This is slanderous bullshit.

and then two lines later admits my criticism was right:

>I am absolutely dead-set opposed to
>expropriating the petty-bourgeosie.

He goes on to show he understands nothing of the debates on the NEP and its
dangers, especially the Kulak problem where petty bourgeois exploitation
was in fact *generating* the conditions for explosive competition from
blind commodity production that threatened to overwhelm the still fragile
state sector. He writes:

>I don't know where Hugh got this
>stupid notion from but no serious Marxist ever put forward a position like
>this.

It has been the strategic goal of all serious Marxists. No capitalist
relations, not even small ones, are compatible with a socialist mode of
production. If, for tactical reasons, some *small* (well below ten
wage-slaves, I'd guess) exploiters might be tolerated for a period, this is
precisely *temporary toleration*, not a programmatic principle for the new
society. It would be one of the initial contradictions of the dictatorship
of the proletariat.

Owner-producers, such as small peasants working their own plots of land and
exploiting themselves and their families and very few others, have an
exceptional position, because

a) they are more often exploited themselves, by usurers or tax-gatherers,
than they exploit others

and

b) they usually side with the proletariat when it shapes up for a
revolutionary overthrow of the big exploiters and usurers.

I've mentioned before that simply wiping out the debts of this group would
have them on your side. Then it's up to a healthy development of
cooperative production to draw them into more socialized relations on a
voluntary basis.


>It is the commanding heights of the economy that proletarian
>revolution aims at, not the shop on the corner. General Motors, not Gino's
>body-shop.

Quite, and on a *world scale*. And the reason is to remove *all*
expropriation and exploitation, not just that of the multinationals.

Also, Doug's question remains:

>But what if the workers at Gino's band together to expropriate Gino?

You might have your own little inverted Kronstadt here (inverted because
with a view to maintaining capitalist relations of production, rather than
promoting socialist relations of production). If you're so 'dead set
against expropriating the petty bourgeoisie' -- and I'm sure you are --
you'll be siding with the exploiters against the workers. And they'll
really appreciate your solidarity for what it is...

Just to be absolutely clear. If a medium-sized capitalist (say more than
ten workers) really sides with the revolution, it will almost certainly be
possible for him or her to cut a deal with the revolutionary forces
regarding the best way to integrate the enterprise into the new system so
the owner maintains some social privilege and the workers get real power
and much better conditions.

Freezing the incomes of privileged strata at pre-revolutionary levels (the
Cuban solution re doctors etc) is not a bad tactic if it's necessary to
keep expertise available.

All these arguments are intimately connected to the Theory of Permanent
Revolution.

Louis promised us he was looking into it a while back. I'm looking forward
to the debate.

Cheers,

Hugh




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