Dialectics and Maoist class struggle via national question

hariette spierings hariette at easynet.co.uk
Sat May 25 09:38:33 MDT 1996

On Sat, 25 May 1996, hariette spierings wrote:

> Moreover, I said "the average" national bourgeois which is not a comprador
> or a bureacratic bourgeois, but mainly people with hardly enough capital to
> buy you lunch in a New York posh restaurant and survive!  National

Louis: What is the difference between the "national bourgeoisie" you
describe and the petty-bourgeoisie? Is this simply a terminological
difference? I always thought of the national bourgeoisie as simply the
ruling class of an underdeveloped nation, a portion of which can be of a
comprador nature and a portion of which has capital based on local
manufacturing, extractive or agricultural wealth. The former layers tend
to have a colonialist mentality while the latter have taken part in
liberation struggles to one degree or another.

Hi Louis:  No problem.  It is always good to jolt each other from time to
time, and in fact it took me a while to realise that I had added to the
confussion with the term "contabilise".  However, I do think that the two
themes you have raised can contribute to clarify questions which are not
well understood by socialists in advanced countries.

I think Chairman Mao division of classes in Chinese society is of paramount
importance to gauge the economic process of nations such as Peru.  I have
written "The Valuable Admissions of Professor Miliband" precisely to deal
with this theme from a political angle.  I now think that it is important to
define the economic processes behind the politics, something which is also
touched upon in that essay, but mostly to define comprador and bureacratic

The comprador and bureacratic bourgeois constitute two branches of the big
bourgeoisie of the Third World countries. They are not national but
anti-national, since the way they relate to the country is either as an
intermediary for foreign capital (financial and banking services, large
importers/exporters, extraction of natural resources, large scale modern
farming and anciliary sectors (fishing, pisciculture, flower farming, etc.)
in the case of the comprador bourgeois, and the bureacratic bourgeois as
part of the economy linked to the use of the control of state power (of an
anti-national and pro-imperialist nature) for the generation of capitalist

The national bourgeosie is not the petty bourgeoisie.  A Peruvian middling
national bourgeois may have a slight problem in buying you lunch in a
Chinatown takeaway, but the petty bourgeoisie would not be able to afford to
buy you a hot-dog in a street stand in New York and feed their families at
the same time.  That of course is not what determines their status in
society but the relations of production they enter into.  You see, that
question is key!

National bourgeois are characterised by employing people, i.e. living from
the labour of others, mostly in small and middle sized industries producing
mainly for the national or regional markets, sometimes even for neighbouring

In a way they are similar to the middle peasants in the countryside who also
employ labour on a semi-permanent and even permanent basis. The national
bourgeosie is a national class, is part of the Peruvian people.  They are
not part of the ruling classes despite the bourgeois status (they exploit
and to various degrees also oppress the workers and labouring masses).
However, they are in turn smothered and oppressed by the ruling calsses and
their state.  The petty bourgeois are salaried people who are not industrial
workers, taxi drivers, teachers, petty army officers, state employees, small
merchants (very small), etc.

In an imperialist country the "national bourgeosie" is the imperialist big
and middle bourgeosie, their economy is therefore a "national capitalist"
economy.  This is something which to a great extent is currently being
modified in a number of ways (I have also noted this development in
"Valuable Admissions"), but even today the main features of
inter-imperialist competition remain in place, and that means to a large
extent inter-nation (inter-national imperialist competition in shifting the
weight of the economic crisis, for example, something that can be observed
today in the quarrels between the British and the germans over the beef
issue, which contrary to the expectations of Malecki has not turned into a
popular cause, but a bone of chauvinist politicking instead!)

This is not the same situation in countries whose economy is subjected to
foreign domination and imperialist exploitation.  Moreover, this foreign
domination, by proping up the rule of the reactionary (anti-national)
classes contributes and is the therefore the mainstay of the semi-feudal
relations (which do not exist as such in countries like the US or the
advanced European nations) which further impede the development of the
"national capitalist" economy of the national bourgeois.

I would also note here - and I am only placing these issues for all of us to
make efforts in understanding them properly and without speaking
"ex-cathedra" - that while in an imperialist country the petty bourgeoisie
may include small entrepeneurs and other small scale employers as an "upper
layer" the very enormous size of the really big bourgeois enterprises
employing hundreds of thousands make it inevitable - in an economy which is
fully capitalistic - that the destiny of those small entrepeneurs is to
sooner or later be flung down into the proletarian masses.  However in
countries like Peru, the national bourgeois see in the revolution also a
chance to develop as a class which at present they cannot.

That is to say, they are still a "progressive bourgeoisie" a bit like that
which existend in pre-imperialist Europe.  In a People's Republic they would
have a chance to grow economically into proper bourgeois, while at the same
time their political influence - which alone can make them into a ruling
class - would be restricted by the proletarian-peasant alliance's hegemony
in the new state. That is why this class is ambivalent towards the
revolution, and why under socialism class struggle would not dissapear.

It also goes a ways in explaining where the forces for capitalist
restoration in China came from to displace Mao's line!  Obviously, not all,
since there are other factors such as the burocratic capitalist apparatus
growing within the People's state as well should be taken as principal.
That also makes study and understanding of the question of Proletarian
Cultural Revolution all the more important, since those lessons and the
proper understanding of that process, both, in its positive and its negative
aspects, is the key to help prevent this type of development within a state
of New Democracy and serve to lead it with more chances of success into a
solid form of the proletarian dictatorship with greater ease in the future
and thus to pave the way for communist society a bit further ahead.

You also say:

"Leaving that whole question aside, it is vitally important to be
absolutely precise about the "capital" at the disposal of the average
industrial worker in the USA. Ruling class propaganda makes a big deal
about how the mutual funds on Wall St. are owned mostly by working people.
They use this as a pretext to fire them since a sacrifice of one portion
of the working-class redounds to the betterment of another portion in the
form of higher stock prices.

I don't think there is any basis for this notion. This is not real
capital. It is the same thing as a savings account. Without these mututal
funds, many workers would be condemned to poverty when they retire and
attempt to live on Social Security which is certainly going to be
eliminated at some point if the bourgeoisie has its way".

That is precisely the point I was trying to make vis a vis the allegations
of MIM.  But what is in the future, and what we as intellectuals perceive
ahead for the working class as inevitable, is not perceived as such
politically by the masses of the workers at PRESENT.  That is why the
"bribes" of the ruling imperialists can succeed for a while in deceiving the
workers, and why a large, and even overwhelming section will at times follow
the lead of the aristocracy of labour into supporting their own bourgeoisie
against their own long term interests.  Our job, as socialists, as
revolutionaries is to enlighten the workers about these concrete truths and
to link them with the overall struggle of the class at the international

Maybe today, since imperialism can indeed give "temporary capital" (or the
feeling of having a "stake" in the system - and here no matter how much you
or me may be aware that it is all an illussion (Remember what Lenin said?
"Besides power all is an illusion", makes sense to us, but maybe not so much
to a worker who has just moved into a new home and is got some credit to
furnish it NOW!) - the problem remains that in an imperialist country the
bourgeosie can always "promise" the workers more than any socialist party
can deliver if all is centered in economicistic programmes. Without an
anti-imperialist education, without an overall struggle to expose the
bourgeoisie in this domain, no real vanguard of the working class can

That is why it is so important to defend - and learn the lessons - of the
Peruvian revolution.  Not because that is going to fire up the working class
overnight, but because by showing that the writing is on the wall for the
"current arrangement" (which on the other hand the workers by their own
experience are starting to see through) and that the best and most advanced
better come together and start thinking on terms of overthrow of the present
conditions in defense not only of their long term interests as workers, but
also their medium term, and everyday passing their most pressing class

I know the problems are enourmous and we can only do so much in this regard.
But I do think the themes you have raised are good ones for a fruitful
exchange among serious people.


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