Dilemmas of third world communism

TAHIR WOOD TWOOD at SPAMadfin.uwc.ac.za
Mon Aug 16 02:01:53 MDT 1999

I'm not able to understand Julio's message fully,
unfortunately, but I gather that he admires Meisner's work,
which I somewhat flippantly, and perhaps quite unjustly,
dismissed. But I would  still say that for a scholar who is
obviously well versed in Chinese politics and revolution it
seems particularly unforgiveable to interpret Mao's concept
of people's democracy (New Democracy) as a bourgeois
democratic revolution, which is what I see in the quotation
provided by Louis. Mao always intended the proletariat to be
in the vanguard and for the previous ruling classes
(compradors, etc.) to be overthrown. One should do him
justice here - he was at great pains to point out the
difference between the two notions of democracy and how this
capitalism differed from the imperialist-comprador version.

Why not just call it socialism, once the proletariat,
through the party, has begun to assert its dominance? This
is the theoretical question that I have been posing and
trying to give some sort of answer to. It seems to me a
distortion to describe the situation as socialism as soon as
proletarian politics is in command-  in the third world
situation, that is. Because of the incomplete and exocentric
nature of capitalism in these countries, which I am sure we
all recognise as being different to US or West European
experiences of capitalisim, we really have a situation that
Marx and Engels could not have told us much about. It is not
at all what they would have recognised as socialism. Instead
we have societies that exhibit the features of feudalism,
capitalism and socialism, sometimes in pretty much equal
measure. We really have to understand this - it is not at
all clear as to the path of development that is best to
follow. One of the most problematic aspects that one has to
deal with is the vast differences in consciousness between
urban intellectuals, workers peasants, etc., differences in
consciousness that quite literally correspond to differing
historical epochs.

In fact China and other third world countries (take
Mozambique for example) have always run into their most
severe problems when trying to accelerate the pace of
socialist transformation. This is what I was getting at in
my last post when I referred, somewhat vaguely I'm afraid,
to questions of commodity production. But my point is that
overcoming 'underdevlopment' and 'dependency' really is not
a process that has any clear signposts. There isn't really
even an othodoxy to follow, is there? Perhaps because China
represents one of the best cases so far (and one of the most
advanced theoretical initiatives in this regard) is why we
have been dwelling on the history of that country. But I
wouldn't like to lose the general problem in endless debate
about Chinese history. That's why I have introduced a new
subject heading (and also due to the justified compalints
made by some list members, of course).


>>> Julio_Fernández_Baraibar <julfb at sinectis.com.ar> 08/14
2:39 AM >>>
Contrariamente a la opinion del companyero Tahir Wood, creo
que la larga
cita que Louis nos envio del libro de Meisner, establece una
vision de las idea de Mao.
En otro orden de cosas explica tambien algunos de los "tics"
caracteristicos de los seguidores del pensamiento de Mao
fuera de la China:
el reemplazo de la clase obrera por el campesinado y el
feroz moralismo
digno de un Calvino o un Huss, contra la corrupcion
citadina. Iluminar el
fenomeno, por ejemplo, de Sendero Luminoso con las
reflexiones de Meisner,
podria proporcionar ricas conclusiones.
Julio F.B.

> >>> Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> 08/13 12:03 AM >>>
> (Maurice Meisner, "The Deng Xiaoping Era: an Inquiry into
> the Fate of
> Chinese Socialism 1978-1994", Hill and Wang, 1996, pp

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