New societies in womb of old

Louis N Proyect lnp3 at columbia.edu
Fri May 24 06:14:46 MDT 1996


On Fri, 24 May 1996, Jorn Andersen wrote:
>
> Louis is right to point at the quote from Vladimir (and could you
> give the reference to where/when Bucharin said this?). But what is
> the implication of this observation (that the bourgeoisie learned
> to rule before capitalism - the "new society in womb of the old?
> None other than the mere fact that workers' power is of a different
> nature than other previous class rule. Nothing about how "difficult"
> it is to "rule".
>

Louis: I don't know exactly where Bukharin said this, but it is cited in
Deutcher's bio of Trotsky. The implication is simply that there are
objective difficulties in building socialism in underdeveloped countries
because of the low level of culture and education of the working-class.

Let me as specific as possible. There were many machines in Nicaragua such
as printing-presses, power generators, etc. that were of American
manufacture. When the Sandinistas took power, the American companies
who sold this equipment picked up and left. Then they refused to ship
parts when a machine broke down. Nicaraguans, despite all of their most
heroic efforts, were sometimes unable to either maintain equipment or
retool new parts when they became necessary.

The reason for that is simple. Nicaragua lacked the kind of vocational
training or engineering schools that a country like the United States or
Sweden has in ample quantity. I worked with an organization that attempted
to make up for this lack of training. We sent volunteers from countries
like the US, England and Canada to train Nicaraguans in machining, welding
and basic engineering skills.

Lenin was driven to the point of distraction by the same sorts of
problems. If you read anything he wrote in the last year or two of his
life, he is constantly talking about the need for improvement in basic
technical and administrative skills. There is nothing easy about achieving
these skills in a country like Russia in 1921 or Nicaragua in 1980.

Perhaps it will be much easier in Sweden for workers to deal with these
problems. The contradiction, of course, is that a millwright at Volvo is
unlikely at this point to opt for a revolutionary solution to the problems
facing him or her right now.



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