National democratic revolution (was Re: The French/Haitian Revolutions & the American Civil War (was Re: Debating slavery: Marx

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky Gorojovsky at
Sun Oct 22 12:10:53 MDT 2000

En relación a The French/Haitian Revolutions & the American Civ,
el 22 Oct 00, a las 11:12, Yoshie Furuhashi dijo:

> Empirically speaking, the French Revolution may be perhaps best
> thought of as a democratic revolution led by "notables" (=
> petit-bourgeois intellectuals), given its leadership; primary social
> forces (the sans-culottes who were mainly Parisian artisans,
> shop-keepers, etc., with only a minority who may be properly called
> wage workers; peasants in the countryside; etc.); immediate results
> (creation & entrenchment of the mass of peasant-proprietors;
> retardation of economic growth during the revolution & in the
> immediate post-revolutionary years; etc.); and so forth.


> The "revolutionary bourgeoisie"
> is a myth _only_ in the sense that the revolution was not led by the
> great bourgeois men.  For Marx and most Marxist historians, however,
> the term "bourgeois revolution" never really meant that bourgeois
> individuals led the revolution (or the Enlightenment, for that
> matter).

A basic take. In fact, bourgeois revolution could be better described
as a social and political process by which the domestic bourgeoisie
is somehow _forced into the path of self-sustained capitalist
growth_, and this is not a necessity for the bourgeois but for the
subaltern and exploited classes. It would be more supportive of an
"anti-stages" position to simply show that even the most perfect
bourgeois revolutions had to be enforced on the bourgeoisie by the
mass of the people than to explain the empirycal banality that there
was no M. Le Bourgeois heading the sans-culottes. Empirical
reasoning, however, is always so attractive...

> Robespierre was a lawyer, not a bourgeois man; and Lenin was a
> lawyer, not a wage worker.  And yet the former led a bourgeois
> revolution in the sense of _modernizing_ France which eventually had
> an effect of helping capitalism develop faster than otherwise (compare
> France with Italy), _even though_ the French Revolution had an
> immediate effect of retarding economic growth than otherwise.

Not only that. Comparison with Italy is very adequate, indeed, but
the French Revolution not only helped capitalism develop faster in
France. It generated the path that it was to follow ever after until
our days. It is not a matter of chance that the Royalists were, in
the last resort, loyal to _foreign_ rulers (for the sake of the
Ancien Regime, of course, but _foreign_ and, in fact, the same who a
century before had colligated against absolutist France all the
time!). Capitalists, bourgeois as such and in isolation, do not care
much on how they can make a profit, they care on how high a profit
they can make. Thus, it is unimportant for the individual capitalist
whether this profit furthers accumulation within or without --France.
Different are the views for the revolution. That is the other side of
its historic importance.


> Furthermore, consider the effect that the French Revolution and the
> Anti-Jacobin War had upon Haiti; militant slaves in Haiti overthrew
> slavery in the Haitian Revolution.  Remember C. L. R. James.  Looking
> at the French Revolution in separation from the Haitian Revolution, in
> my opinion, is a "tunnel history" that Jim Blaut has decried.

Yes indeed. And the effects did not stop there. Even the American
bourgeoisie was benefitted by the Revolution (or the Louisiana
purchase was not an outcome of the struggle of Napoleon against Great
Britain?). The Latin American revolutions of the early 1800s were
another outcome. Unfortunately, they came too early for Latin America
(there was not a bourgeoisie to carry on the day to day practice of
national revolution, the whole thing tended to depend on the swords
of the revolutionary leaders) and too late for the international
scenario (the consequences of the defeat of the French Revolution in
the person of Napoleon were fatal to our revolutionaries; San Martín,
not the most intrepidly revolutionary of them all, realized that
"Napoleon has been defeated and he left us in the horns of the

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

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