Debating slavery: Marx's discussion

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Oct 23 09:26:44 MDT 2000

CB: In general, specific revolutions in specific countries,  in the sense
of "an era of revolutions" , are not the entire transformation of the mode
of production, because the mode of production is an international form. The
transfromation of THE mode of production takes place in the form of many
individual revolutions, sharp events in terms of time,  in individual
countries, each of which by themselves does not meet the entire
"definition" of transformation from one mode to another.

LP: An interesting post, Charles. As you know, I find the concept of a
bourgeois-democratic revolution poorly theorized within Marxism. Although I
don't have the time nor the scholarly training to do the subject justice, I
would argue that the modern capitalist state in places like Western Europe
preserves the putatively rival classes of the bourgeois democratic
revolution in the main two bourgeois parties. The landed gentry found the
Conservative Party amenable to their class interests, while the industrial
bourgeoisie spoke through the Liberal Party. Ever since 1789 these two
parties have traded places in the executive branch, always making sure that
their separate class interests were tended to. Sometimes rivalries between
the two fractions of the ruling class become quite heated, especially when
the subordinate classes throw in their lot with one or the other party
(generally the Liberals). This can lead to extremely violent conflicts such
as "La Violencia" in Colombia, which finally led to a truce between the two
bourgeois parties based on a power-sharing agreement. All in all, the
two-party system in most of Latin America represents a rapprochement
between "precapitalist" elites and their urban rivals. The theoretical
problem for Marxism has been how to move these societies past
"semifeudalism" into the modern era. For the CP's this has involved
alignment with the liberalizing bourgeoisie which has proven ineffective
for obvious reasons. Although the Trotskyists reject this kind of class
alliance, they lack the ability to transform their theoretical insights
into practical action. The explanation for this is simple. Their "vanguard"
stance puts them outside the mass movement, which they lecture from the

Louis Proyect
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