VALUABLE ADMISSIONS OF PROFESSOR MILIBAND (3 of 7)
hariette at easynet.co.uk
Wed May 29 08:19:20 MDT 1996
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(VALUABLE ADMISSIONS OF PROFESSOR MILIBAND - 3 -)
A WORD ON VACANT POSSESSIONS ONCE BEYOND THE BORDERLANDS
Peru is a country of 23 million people and the cradle of a very old indigenous civilization.
The country was colonised by Spain since 1524 and became the administrative, intellectual
and economic hub of Spain's South American empire. Peru achieved its independence in
1824 after the capitulation of the Viceroy's Armies at Ayacucho before the coalition of
independence armies of Argentina and Colombia led by Simon Bolivar and with the
participation of detachments of Peruvian and other South American rebels.
British imperialism also played a part in the defeat of Spain with the aim of stepping up
their own imperialist penetration. This they managed to do. In Peru, for example, British
monopoly capital dominated the country until displaced by US imperialism in the first
decades of the XX Century. (Referring to the battle of Ayacucho, George Canning, the
British Prime Minister at the time, wrote: "The deed has been done, Spanish America is
now free and if we play our cards right it will be ours". Obviously, "a free Latin America"
meant simply "vacant possession" for British imperialism).
Therefore, this independence was more formal than real since, in the era of imperialism,
no true modern nation in the bourgeois sense did arise, despite the introduction of
bourgeois democratic institutions. Feudalism remained intact or basically unchanged in the
"relations of production". The weakness of the "indigenous capitalist class" coupled with
British, French and American imperialist political, military and economic action in support
of the old feudal structures.
Backing different factions of the land owning and mercantile classes (feudalists and
comprador bourgeois) in their struggles for supremacy following and even preceding
independence, the imperialists positioned themselves into even more domination of the
political and economic life of such countries. They accumulated mineral, oil and
commercial concessions, forced un-equal treaties, peddled shyster loans, milked the
weakling former colonial state with usurious bond and share issues, etc., tried and tested
methods of imperialism in the Third World and elsewhere. This imperialist process made
the survival of the semi-feudal and semi-colonial condition under which Peruvian history
continues to develop completely inevitable.
Miliband himself notes: "There has existed no strong indigenous class of large-scale
capitalists, since the major industrial, extractive, financial and commercial enterprises are
likely to be mainly controlled by foreign interests".
OFF WITH THEIR HEADS, SAID THE QUEEN OF HEARTS
In relation to the semi-feudal condition, Miliband also notes: "The mass of the working
population is of peasant character and the main "relations of production" in these countries
tend to be between landlord and peasant in a multitude of different patterns and
connections". That is, that although such countries may be bourgeois democracies in
theory, and in juridical and political form, in essence, in reality, they are semi-feudal in
In Miliband's own words: "The development of these countries has been exceedingly
distorted by colonialism and external capitalist domination, direct and indirect, and this has
naturally reflected in their economic, social and political, structures". That is, Peru, like all
similar countries, remains in a semi-colonial and semi-feudal condition. Formally
independent and democratic bourgeois, but in reality, fettered by "external capitalist
domination", i.e. imperialism. A country ruled by a joint dictatorship of landowners,
comprador and bureaucratic bourgeois relying on the economic, military and ideological
backing of imperialism to maintain their rule over the mass of the people.
In Marxist terms, therefore, and in order to become effectively independent and true
nations in the "bourgeois sense of the word", the necessary precondition for any
meaningful socialist advance, such countries need an anti-feudal and anti-colonial
revolution, i.e., a national democratic revolution. In today's world, that means a peasant
war led by the proletariat, a national and social war of liberation against semi-feudalism and
BOLDLY INTO THE IMPERIALIST MAZE
However, Professor Miliband does indeed go further. In his work "The State in Capitalist
Society" - page 15 - in describing the growing process of capitalist internationalisation, he
says: "But advanced capitalism is also international in another more traditional sense,
namely in that large-scale capitalist enterprise is deeply implanted in the under-
industrialised areas of the world. The achievement of formal political independence by
these vast zones of exploitation, together with the revolutionary stirrings in many of them,
have made the preservation and the extension of these capitalist interests more expensive
and more precarious than in the past. But for the present, this Western stake in Latin
America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, remains very large indeed, weighs very deeply
upon the foreign policies of capitalist states, and is in fact one of the dominant elements,
if not the dominant element, of present-day international relations". (The underlining of the word
extension is ours).
Here we have an indication that Miliband grasps well an important element in
understanding the Peruvian situation. That in these countries, we have a process of
capitalist development, of "capitalist extension". However, this is a process of
development and extension of a kind of capitalism that, far from being "indigenous", is in
fact indentured by a feudal and tributary relationship with international finance capitalism,
with imperialism, in Peru's specific case US imperialism. The Peruvian big bourgeoisie, as
do all Third World ruling classes, directly depends upon finance capital for its capitalist
development and expansion. It is a bourgeoisie with a symbiotic relationship and a
parasitic dependence on imperialist capital - in other words, a big bourgeoisie with
bureaucratic-comprador features exists in Peru.
Miliband gives us a farther element of fundamental importance to grasp the essence of the
social process in Peru. In his work "Marxism and Politics", he says: "The first and most
obvious feature of the state in both "Third World" and communist societies is a very
pronounced inflation of the state and executive power".
A STRICTLY SCIENTIFIC FORMULA
Here we must query Professor Miliband's characterisation as communist societies of countries that have undergone some degree or another of socialist transformation in the past. Professor Miliband, as a Marxist, would surely agree that in strict scientific terms there are not, and there cannot be within the era of class society, within the era of monopoly capital, "communist societie". That these are merely societies undergoing different stages in the building of socialism undertaken under specific and transitional forms of the "state" in which the proletarian dictatorship is exercised, or can be exercised.
That only when socialism is completely or sufficiently built-up for the necessity for states and class dictatorships of any kind to be dispensed with, when class society has actually disappeared from the earth, it would be possible to speak of a "communist society".
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