bounced from Jose Perez

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Aug 29 14:53:47 MDT 1999

(Jose, this bounced because it was > 100,000 bytes. For some inexplicable
reason, you included a bunch of stuff at the tail-end of this post. The
other problem is that it had strange formatting which I had to remove to
make legible. You should set your mailer, which is Microsoft Express from
what I can gather, to send out in PLAIN TEXT. I recommend this to everybody
as well. It leads to complications when you don't. For example, people who
read your mail, and who are not using Windows software, have difficulty
reading stuff that used special formatting. It is best to use plain text
when posting, even to the extent of avoiding "smart quotes", etc.)


Perhaps we don't disagree as much as you might think. If by a  capitalist
or democratic stage you mean a transitory (in historical  terms) phase in
the beginning of a revolutionary process, something on  the order of
anywhere from a few months to several years, then, of  course,  revolutions
in the developing world will almost of necessity  have such a "stage,"
because it is doubtful that the problems facing  working people will
confront them in such a way as that the first thing  the revolution would
do upon taking power is to expropriate the  bourgeoisie.20

I doubt such a thing, instant socialism, is likely even in the  advanced
capitalist countries when their turn comes. The first "stage"  of the
revolution in both cases is the conquest and consolidation of  political
power, i.e., establishing a revolutionary government and  carrying out some
initial measures that can serve as ways for that  government to mobilize
working people and begin organizing them for the  tasks ahead. These are
much more likely to be punctual campaigns around  health, education,
malnutrition and other very immediate manifestations  or symptoms of the
disease, as well as various elements of workers  control and possibly
workers management.

What does measures are will defend largely on the specific country  and the
specific nature of the crisis that gave rise to the revolution.  I'm
opposed to a "stages" theory only in the sense that I believe an  attempt
to create an unambiguous distinction between a national  democratic and a
proletarian stage are artificial. Attempting to limit  the process for a
prolonged period within certain bounds is I think a  mistake, because
working people suffer BOTH from lack of developed  capitalism AND from the
capitalism they do have. Having seized power,  working people will attack
the problems they have independently of  whether a particular task
corresponds to a "democratic" or a "socialist"  stage. And it would be
through the process of those struggles that most  people will become
convinced that it is necessary to expropriate the  bourgeoisie as a class,
and chop off the "invisible hand of the market"  as the dominant force in
the economy. And when I was a Trotskyist, I did  not mean anything more by
permanent revolution than this.

Today, I am a partisan of permanent revolution ALSO in the literal  sense
that I believe Marx first used the phrase, talking about the  extreme left
wing of the French revolution that did not want it to be  declared over,
but continuing indefinitely. So, for example, in Cuba  people don't speak
of the revolution as something that happened in 1959,  they speak of it as
something that triumphed in 1959 and continues  today. Class-conscious
Cuban workers view themselves as a contingent in  a movement  towards
socialism on a world scale. The Cuban revolution is  by no means over, part
of a broader revolution. But it is also not over  because its job within
Cuba is not done.20

My post, BTW, wasn't really an attempt to give a general description  of
the specific way the Cuban revolution unfolded. For example, I  abstracted
completely from the role of imperialism, although it was the  very
aggressive, arrogantly imperious attitude of the U.S. that put Cuba  on the
"fast track," so to speak, to a socialist transformation. I was  trying to
point out the class dynamics inherent in this kind of  situation. Of
course, it has as its terms of reference, so to speak, a  society with a
fairly developed internal class structure.

I don't believe the dynamics in China or Vietnam were different from  those
in Cuba at the most basic level.  I don't believe big capitalists
enterprises and the capitalist market survived past the first few years  of
those revolutions having come to power, if that. The economy as a  whole
was subordinated to a different logic. The "mixed" and capitalist
enterprises that exist today were established later, in the framework of
and (I would guess, I have not studied this) subordinate to the new
economy established by the revolution.


P.S. I think that you are right, that the disappearance of the USSR has
tremendous implications. But not, at any rate, at the level of the
internal class dynamics of countries where a revolution is taking place.

Louis Proyect

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