Comments on Colombia

Philip L Ferguson PLF13 at
Thu Dec 16 21:54:00 MST 1999

Lou's Marxist friend wrote:

>Spain, along with Germany and Italy, didnít need to have a bourgeois
>revolution because the French gave them theirs - via Napoleon.
>(The real history is considerably more complex, but this is good enough for
>a little note like this.)

I am rather dubious that Napoleon gave Germany, Spain and Italy their
bourgeois revolutions.  I don't know about Spain and so it may be the case
there.  But Italy's bourgeois revolution, although Napoleon's army
certainly contributed to help getting it going, was largely the work of
Italians like Mazzini and Garibaldi, surely.

Germany's bourgeois revolution was entirely internal.  Napoleon was long
dead and moulding in his grave by the time the bourgeois revolution was
accomplished in Germany, an achievement largely the work of Bismarck.

>The bourgeois societies that were left after Napoleon did not have the
>tradition of bourgeois revolution, and their nationalisms were tinged with
>feudal reaction. (The opposite of French nationalist ideology).

Well, Germany did.  It had a failed bourgeois revolution in 1848 and then
one imposed from the top down by Bismarck.

Even the French revolution of 1789, probably the most sharply bourgeois
revolution in history, never completed all the tasks we might associate
with a bourgeois revolution.  The struggle continued in France well into
the 1800s.

Moreover, the weakness in Spain was a product of the relative economic
backwardness of the country.  Capitalism itself was not strong enough for a
bourgeois revolution to be able to sweep away the feudal rubbish.

>Back to Colombia. Bolivar, inspired by the British, French, and American
>revolutions, maybe was trying to lead a bourgeois revolution - but he
>didnít call it that.

But no-one who led a bourgeois revolution called it that.  I think you are
being a bit unfair to Bolivar.  It is like bourgeois revolutions only
happen in western Europe and North America, and bourgeois revolutions
aren't really bourgeois revolutions in Latin America.  In fact, what
Bolivar was trying to do was very much a burgeois revolution, like the USA.
The USA had a bourgeois revolution, remember, while retaining slavery.
These things are always jumbled up.  There is rarely, if ever, a revolution
which is a 'pure' bourgeois revolution or fulfils all the tasks of that
revolution historically.

>He was leading a war of independence, a republican
>revolution ... If you read the stuff he wrote, it was pretty contradictory.
>But very insightful.

Well, you could say the same about the French and American revolutions.

Also Ireland.  In Ireland, as in Latin America, the bourgeois revolution
was defeated (1798), and underdevelopment remained the lot of Ireland and
Latin America.  But that is not to say that they didn't attempt bourgeois
revolutions, which is what you seem to be saying.

In Ireland over the past 20 years there has been a reprobate - rebarbative
even - school of historiography (Irish historical revisionism) which has
sought to portray Wolfe Tone and other great bourgeois revolutionaries as
having no 'big ideas' and just being messers and dabblers and confused and
frustrated individuals.  IN fact Tone was an outstanding bourgeois
revolutionary.  I assume Bolivar was quite similar.

Philip Ferguson

More information about the Marxism mailing list