Revisiting old problems

Adam Rose adam at
Mon Jun 3 10:18:50 MDT 1996

Louis, you seem to be getting angry.
I promise you, I'm not doing it deliberately.

Louis wrote:
> On Mon, 3 Jun 1996, Adam Rose wrote:
> >
> > ii) The bourgeoisie develops in the pores of capitalism in a way that is not
> > an option to propertyless proletarians under capitalism. Also, the bourgeoisie
> > is a small class, the proletariat a large one, if not an absolute majority.
> > Socialism is the self conscious movement of the immense majority in the
> > interests of the immense majority. A bourgeois revolution is by neccessity
> > different. It is at best the movement of the majority in the interests of
> > a tiny minority, and therefore CANNOT be entirely self conscious. Comparisons
> > between the two types of revolution often do not hold, because the two revolutionary
> > classes have a different relationship to the other classes in their societies.
> >
> Louis: This is Adam's answer to my question about the difficulty in
> pinpointing when the working-class emerged as a distinct class. I stated
> that this class was not created the way god created man on the seventh
> day. I referred to the long historic evolution of this class from its
> artisan roots to the modern factory system.

No you didn't. You may have meant to . . . You actually talked about the
development of capitalism inside feudal relations in Poland. Unusually,
you did not make yourself clear.

> I thought this was important
> because it helps us understand how superficial and undialectical it is to
> regard Cuba as capitalist because it does not conform to Adam's 21 point
> requirements for "socialism".

As I have previously stated in my crude, undialectal fashion, I have a
one point requirement for socialism. "Socialism == workers power ==
a commune state."

You're not being fair to your own argument by not being fair to mine.

> Cuba is a state in transition just as the
> working class was in transition from its very earliest roots.

So, this is your argument.

You have never said this before on this list while I have been on it.
What do you actually mean by it ?

> Louis: I love things that are curious. It is only people who are
> susceptible to pettifoggery who don't. One of the interesting things about
> proletarian revolutions in my hemisphere is that the biggest successes
> seem to be produced by parties that don't emblazon their "Marxist"
> credentials on paper. The type of Marxism I respect is the type that is
> capable of changing social reality. That is why I reject Trotskyism in all
> of its flavors.

Well, previously you argued that I was wrong to advocate a party built
with State Capitalism as a core theory. You argued instead that what was
required was a party open to anyone who called themselves a Marxist.

Now you seem to be saying that the type of party you want shouldn't
"emblazon their "Marxist" credentials on paper".

Please make up your mind whether a revolutionary party should be
explicitly Marxist, or not. If yes, please state why. I will then
ask you why these conditions did not apply in Cuba. If not, you
have abandoned Lenin, and in fact you are to the right of 2nd
international Marxism. Choose your horn.

> > Let me sum up. Your "socialist" revolution is not led by the working class.
> > Nor are the revolutionary forces led by an organisation which puts socialist
> > revolution as its reason for existence. This revolution does not result in
> > socialist democracy. It results in a society which "Castro has run . . . the way
> > his father ran his plantation."
> >
> > Which of the basic marxist beliefs about state + revolution does the
> > Cuban revolution conform to ?
> >
> Louis: I am for democracy. I also understand why Cuba does not have the
> type of democracy which characterized the USSR in 1921 (and then rapidly
> disappeared.) I also think that capitalism can exist in democratic forms
> such as the United States and in undemocratic forms such as Nazi Germany.
> What I am more interested in is property relations. The problem with your
> ideology is that it can not describe the change in property relations Cuba
> would require for it to become "socialist". If Castro was overthrown by
> the armed working-class in your scenario, what would happen? Would they
> start planning an already planned economy? Would they nationalize an
> already nationalized economy?

Louis, I didn't ask you "Are you a democrat". I asked you : "Which of the basic
marxist beliefs about state + revolution does the Cuban revolution conform to ?".

Now I shall answer yours, quickly.

Planning is not unique to socialism. Every company plans production. But what they
are planning is the exploitation of workers in the context of competition between
capitals. There is planning, but it occurs in an anarchic context.

Similarly, state ownership does not mean the same thing as workers control. If the
state controls the economy, the obvious question to ask is "who controls the
state ?". Engels ridiculed the idea that state ownership == socialism by pointing
out that in that case the Napeleonic cigar industry was socialist.

You are quite right, Marxists should start from property relations. But this
is not the same as saying that Marxists should start from legal definitions -
otherwise we would end up agreeing that all men in the US are born equal.
Capitalism consists of two divisions - the vertical division where the
proletariat is completely separated from the means of production, and can
only maintain themselves by working for a wage, and the horizontal one,
where different blocks of capital compete. This competition forces
individual representatives of capital to invest and reinvest the greatest
possible proportion of the surplus in order to accumulate the capital in their

These two conditions, the vertical and the horizontal divisions did apply in the USSR
and did and still do in Cuba. You may wish to object that there is no market inside
Cuba  - true, but you could hardly argue that it was cut off from the competitive
exploitation produced by the world market. [ The USSR mainly competed militarily, not
in the market place. ]

A workers revolution in Cuba would do what a workers revolution anywhere would do -
it would subordinate production to meeting people's needs. This means inevitably that
in a straight head to head competition with states, either militarily or economically,
it is bound to lose. The only solution would be to spread the revolution to at least
"one or two other" countries.


Adam Rose


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