To Xxxx was Re: replying to Ivonaldo was Re: Hobsbawm and theAnalitic History

Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx xxxxxxxx at
Mon Aug 7 12:30:18 MDT 2000

Hi Gary,

1) Sure, we need to promote a non-capitalist modernity. I am also struck by vulgar
economistic readings of Marx that reduce Manifesto to a text theorizing the
"progressive nature of capitalism". Capitalism brought progress within certain
limis. It emancipated us from feudalism only, but it did not liberate us from
exploitation in general. Doesn't not Marx say in Capital when he characterizes wage
laborer as " free but rightless proletarian"?  Does not Engels argue in the Family
that bourgeois woman is nothing but a domestic servant of her husband?  (despite
his idealization of working class women as *liberated* )?

2) Regarding Lenin, I understand what you mean, though I want to be fair to him. My
reading of him is that he still wanted to promote a non-capialist modernity. I
would not argue that soviet socialism, at least in Lenin's time, aimed to
facilitate a progress of capitalist modernization. On the contrary, Lenin
questioned the most vulgar/eurocentric versions of Marxism, when he aimed to show
that a "backward country" like Russia could do a revolution. Lenin was the first
who questioned the mechanistic theory of historical stages common among vulgar
materialists. This version of marxism saw socialism as the end result of capitalist
modernization, which aimed at passively waiting for the revolutuion to take place
untill the material circumstances mature.  Whereas European marxists were  still
expecting revolution in advanced capitalist countries, Russia proved the contrary.
a) imperialism b) working class/peasent alliance were the decisive factors in the
struggle against capitalism.. To a certain extend, Russia broke away with
orthodoxy, and Lenin's model of socialism confirmed this development.

3) Also remember the fact that socialism does not come at night.  It does not
emerge out of context a) it emerges out of the conditions of capitalist society (or
more or less) b) in the colonies, it emerges out of the conditions of imperialism.
Since were are talking about third world countries here, that seems to me that your
right denunciation of primitive accumulation "as a way of dealing with peasants" in
the British context did not have the same connotation in the Russian context. What
Lenin wanted to do was to introduce socialist modernity to the country side,
meaning "overcoming of the distinction between  town and country side" ( in
agreement with Marx and Manifesto). This was the distinction (unequal distribution
of wealth and power) that capitalism created, despite its attempts to obscure it. I
would not be too quick to describe what Bolsheviks did as a plundering of the
country side. This plundering already started before socialism: Poor peasantry
exploited by rich landlords and estate owners. Bolsheviks wanted to bring an end to
this situation.  Whatever the Bolsheviks did was in agreement with the principles
of socialist modernity in relation to agriculture question.  a) abolition of
property in land and redistribution of rent for public uses  b) abolition of rights
of inheritance in land c) centralization of the means of production in the hands of
the state d) "combination of  agriculture with manufacturing industries, by a more
equitable distribution of the population over the country" (Marx, Manifesto). This
does not look like a capitalist modernity? does it?

4) Socialists were modernizers within socialism. Third world nationalists were too
modernizers, but within capitalism. Both had limitations, because the world system
they were operating in was *still* capitalist. We are living in a capitalist world
system, not in a socialist world system. So we should be realistic when judging
them. They did their best given the resources available to them. For example, if
Russia developed destructive weapons, and if this makes them on the side of
capitalist modernity, it was because they were forced to protect their existence
against imperialistic aggression and the US enlargement. They had no other choice
but to use the logic of the system against the expropriators. Remeber what Marx
says in the Manifesto (or somewhere?) 'expropriators should be expropriated"

Since  the issue of third world nationalism is at stake here, I disagree with
european marxists who constantly argue that decolonization movements of Peron,
Nasser, Kemal ( or elsewhere) were capitalist because they did not aim at
socialism, but capitalist modernity. This is certainly true because all three
allowed some limited bourgeoisie to exist. All three copied the formal rights model
of democracy that existed in Europe.  But if the issue here is anti-imperialism and
national self determination, especially if there is a mass movement behind them, we
marxists can not deprive nations of their right to exist and ally with the petty
bourgeois leftist intellectuals who have allied themselves with the strategic
interests of the  US. We should support progressive national movements in their
struggle against imperialism, in the first place. If they become oppressive against
their own population (turkish-kurdish example), then we become critical too, and
still continue to criticize the US and our puppet regimes.

Hug to all...


Gary MacLennan wrote:

> Hi Mine,
> I have put in a post replying to Russell.  That should clear up my
> reference to LM.  But let me make it clear just in case.  I do not support
> what I regard as LM's unquestioning love for modernity.  I think this is
> something they share with Hobsbawm by the way.
> I am convinced this is a vulgar reading of the Manifesto especially the
> truly brilliant pages on the revolutionary nature of Capitalism.
> I think we Marxists should strive for a non-capitalist modernity. That to
> me means a commitment to technological progress which is mediated by an
> equal commitment to the freedom of each and all. Again for me that requires
> an ethical commitment something which Marx himself was unwilling to develop
> despite being continually outraged by what he saw happening to the working
> class.
> Now in my post to Russell I indicated that Trotsky had some doubts about
> the progress of modernity. I was very struck here by Mark's comments on
> Lenin's wish to commit suicide. The common theme I construct from these two
> moments is the despair of the old revolutionary Bolsheviks that they had
> failed to create a non-capitalistic modernity and had instead only
> facilitated the progress of capitalist modernity.
> Let me remind people that I was replying to Brian Cahill's use of the
> phrase 'doomed class' when referring to the peasants.
> regards
> Gary
> At 02:17  6/08/00 -0400, you wrote:
> >Of course, I should correct to avoid misunderstanding here. When Gary
> >mentioned
> >Living Marxism's pitfall, I don't think he was referring to Lenin or Trot.
> >was he?
> >I guess he was critical of mechanistic/non-revolutionary versions of Marxist
> >theory, such as Kautsky's..
> >
> >Xxxx
> >
> >
> >Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx wrote:
> >
> > > But, it think, when Gary refers to LM, he has in mind vulgar
> > materialists like
> > > Kautsky, not Lenin or Trot. Between two Russian revolutions, whose side
> > are we
> > > on? Kaustky or others?
> > >
> > > adios,
> > >
> > > Xxxx
> > >
> > > Russell Grinker wrote:
> > >
> > > > Gary MacLennan:
> > > > >The key point for us Marxists is indeed where do we stand on modernity.
> > > > This is the 'Living  Marxism' tradition's pitfall as well.  They (and
> > even
> > > > some Maoists when writing about Ireland)
> > > > take what they see as the side of modernity.  They forget the very
> > essence
> > > > of Marxism.  We are not neo-Nietzscheans.  We do not represent the 'wille
> > > > zur macht'.  We are always on the side of Spartacus. We seek a
> > > > non-capitalist modernity.  We do not advocate primitive accumulation as a
> > > > way of dealing with peasants.
> > > >
> > > > This is just plain wrong.  For what it's worth, the old RCP/LM
> > position was
> > > > for unconditional support for the Irish struggle for national
> > > > self-determination against Britain. The "petit-bourgeois" nature of the
> > > > politics of the RM leadership was not used as an excuse for non-support -
> > > > particularly at times of so-called terrorist outrages on the mainland
> > - as
> > > > was the case with almost all the British left. The position we took
> > was well
> > > > put in a famous Trotsky quote (sue me if I get it slightly wrong, it's a
> > > > long time ago): "The British Marxist who fails by all means to
> > support the
> > > > Irish struggle against Britain, deserves to be branded with infamy,
> > if not
> > > > with a bullet". Of course now that the Provos have made their peace with
> > > > imperialism, there's certainly no obligation to give them any sort of
> > > > support.
> > >
> > > --
> > >
> > > Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
> > > PhD Student
> > > Department of Political Science
> > > SUNY at Albany
> > > Nelson A. Rockefeller College
> > > 135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
> > > Albany, NY 12222
> > >
> > > ____________NetZero Free Internet Access and Email_________
> > > Download Now
> > > Request a CDROM  1-800-333-3633
> > > ___________________________________________________________
> >
> >--
> >
> >Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
> >PhD Student
> >Department of Political Science
> >SUNY at Albany
> >Nelson A. Rockefeller College
> >135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
> >Albany, NY 12222
> >
> >
> >
> >____________NetZero Free Internet Access and Email_________
> >Download Now
> >Request a CDROM  1-800-333-3633
> >___________________________________________________________


Xxxx Xxxxx Xxxxxx
PhD Student
Department of Political Science
SUNY at Albany
Nelson A. Rockefeller College
135 Western Ave.; Milne 102
Albany, NY 12222

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