Colombia and Ireland

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Oct 27 11:24:24 MDT 1999

George: But what are the interests of the peasants? There is no real future
for the peasants. To suggest that the class interests of the peasants is
being advanced by FARC is to say that FARC support the extinction of the
peasantry since the Colombian peasantry have no future and are ultimately
--like all peasantry-- doomed to extinction. Neither under capitalism nor
communism is there any future for the peasantry. Communal based farming
means an end to the peasantry. Consequently if the FARC are revolutionary
then  rather than protecting the interests of the peasantry they are,
willy-nilly, seeking their extinction.


Louis: George, let me remind you once again not to use "styled text". It
causes text to disappear when your post is being replied to. If you need
help in figuring out how to do this, contact me privately.

On the question of peasants under communism, you are quite right. There
will be no distinct peasant class under communism. Nor will there be
classes in general. All humanity will enjoy freedom for the first time. We
all fervently desire communism, where alienation, commodity production and
wage labor will disappear. James P. Cannon's wonderful speech "If America
Goes Communist" has a lovely bit about how he would take up cabinet-making
just for the fun of it. Myself, I'd take up herb gardening. Have you ever
tasted pesto sauce with fresh basil. It is not to be believed. Mmmm. Good.

However, the goal of the communist movement is to settle accounts with the
bourgeoisie and create transitional states that are in between capitalism
and communism. This is often called socialism in the Marxist lexicon. In
such states commodity production and class differentiation still exist.
There are 2 reasons for this. In countries where socialist revolutions take
place in this historical epoch, there is something that many economists
call "underdevelopment". This is characterized by a low level of technology
and industrialization and widespread small proprietorship in the
countryside, ranging from impoverished peasants who must supplement their
income as wage earners to fairly prosperous middle and level peasants.
While communist doctrine might suggest that these layers require
liquidation, in fact this turns out to be counterproductive. Herding them
into communes most often backfires. I refer you to literature on the
Russian Revolution by Isaac Deutscher that might be found in your local

So in order to progress to communism, socialist tasks must first be
addressed. In most countries this involves creating incentives for peasants
to join state farms, but it should never involve forced marches. Cuba has
had a relatively successful record on this score. Nicaragua's record was
spottier, but this was largely attributable to imperialist destabilization .

In general, your inability to grasp problems of transition suggests to me
that you need to do some reading in the general area Marxists call
dialectics. I studied dialectical materialism with a genial Trotskyist
leader named George Novack, now deceased, who worked closely with John
Dewey in the 1930s in a Commission of Inquiry on Stalin's Moscow Trials. In
a memorable lecture, Novack tried to explain what dialectical thinking is
about. He said that with dialectics it is possible to understand that there
is, for example, a gradual shift between the sand and the ocean. To pose
the question whether the seashore was sand or water is a sign of failure to
think dialectically. In the same manner your binary opposition between
capitalism and communism reflects a similar failure.

Let me suggest a reading list for you which might sharpen your thinking in
these areas:

1. George Novack, "Introduction to the Logic of Marxism"
2. G. Plekhanov, "Materialist Conception of History"
3. K. Marx, "18th Brumaire"

Non-Marxist examples of dialectical thought

1. D. Diderot, "Rameau's Nephew"
2. G. Hegel, "Phenomenology of Mind"
3. Leibniz, various writings on problems of perception

Louis Proyect

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