Two Cents

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Nov 2 15:00:58 MST 2000

Robert Brenner:
>Thus so long as incorporation into the world market/world division of
>labour is seen automatically to breed underdevelopment, the logical
>antidote to capitalist underdevelopment is not socialism, but
>autarky.  So long as capitalism develops merely through squeezing dry
>the 'third world', the primary opponents must be core versus
>periphery, the cities versus the countryside -- not the international
>proletariat, in alliance with the oppressed people of all countries,
>versus the bourgeoisie.  In fact, the danger here is double-edged: on
>the one hand, _a new opening to the 'national bourgeoisie'_ [Yoshie:
>Think Dengism here, for instance]; on the other hand, _a false
>strategy for anti-capitalist revolution_....   (emphasis mine, "The
>Origins of Capitalist Development: a Critique of Neo-Smithian
>Marxism," _New Left Review_ 104, July-August 1977, p. 91)   *****

Do we need to study 15th century British agriculture to come to this kind
of conclusion? Put into plain language, Brenner's advice is hardly
different from the formula that I have heard a million times from
Trotskyist sectarians. Break with the bourgeoisie--permanent
revolution--fight for socialism. Bleh-bleh-bleh. The only problem is that
the art of politics is knowing what to do next. With grandiose abstractions
like the above, Marxists in Venezuela would hardly have a clue about how to
relate to Chavez, nor would they have known how to relate to Peron.

So we should fight intransigently against the bourgeoisie and for socialist
revolution. I have no idea how this differs from the Socialist Labor Party
of Daniel DeLeon. I told Yoshie, which she studiously ignored, that the
formulations expressed above that have Brenner so worked up are identical
to those found in the early Comintern and that found expression countless
times in alliances  between communists and national liberation movements
that included sections of the bourgeoisie. The Nicaraguan revolution
involved elements of the NATIONAL BOURGEOISIE. What the hell use is
Brenner's abstractions? Can you imagine a Sandinista trying to figure out
how to deal with an anti-Somoza rancher who provided a sanctuary for
guerrillas during the civil war? Let me see. What would Brenner advise? Oh,
I see. Because the British gentry charged rent for land in the 1470s and
because Brenner warned against the 'national bourgeoisie' in the New Left
Review, everything falls into place now.

Louis Proyect
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