More on DT (was Re: Forwarded from Jurriaan)

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky gorojovsky at
Mon Jun 4 07:16:22 MDT 2001

En relación a Re: Forwarded from Jurriaan,
el 3 Jun 01, a las 18:30, Xxxx Xxxxxx dijo:

> Hi Nestor, just a couple of points:
> Nestor dijo:
> > N O T E
> >
> > [1] it is a mistake to sprinkle the term "bourgeoisie, even
> > 'comprador' bourgeoisie" on any ruling class in Latin America
> >
> > Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
> > gorojovsky at
> If  I understand you correctly, you are right in saying that AGF does not
> make a distinction between _comprador_ and _national bourgeoisie_.

I am advancing a point I will dwell on in a further posting.

For the time being, however, I will enlarge it a little.

The basic way to determine the existence of a class, in general, and a
ruling class in particular, is to discover and describe the specific
way in which it appropiates its share of socially produced
excedent. This is what makes a Turkish landowner under the millet
system _qualitatively_ distinguishable from, say, the owners of an
American agribusiness corporation.

In this sense, and due to very strong political reasons, it is most
important to discover which are the features of the ruling classes in
semicolonial social formations such as Argentina or Latin America as a
whole. The basic point I will try to demonstrate in my series of
postings, but which for the time being I beg you to take as a point of
departure, is that their being capitalist ruling classes does not
automatically make them a "bourgeoisie".

I reserve the term for those capitalists whose objective interest is
the permanent enlargement of the scale of production that
distinguishes capitalism as a mode of production from any previous one
(and this has little, if anything, to do with their actual
consciousness of their needs).

Marx's "intelligent miser", who throws his riches to production in
order to reap them enlarged during the next cycle, is _qualitatively_
different from other capitalists. A formation ruled by _this_ kind of
capitalists is what I call a "bourgeois" formation, and of course the
definition overlaps with those of "core" countries, and other similar
ones. Different names for a single thing, which stress different
features of the thing.

In Latin America, politics has coined a particular set of terms for
the native ruling classes, classes which are clearly capitalist but
_not_ bourgeois in the sense of the above description. "Comprador
bourgeoisie" does not necessarily fit, because this is too narrow a
definition, centered on the commercial bourgeoisie that specializes in
the import trade from the core. Here in L.A., common people speak of
the ruling classes that imperialism backs as the "rosca" or as the
"oligarchy". Coherent with my line of thought, I try to call our
cougars cougars, not "lions". I admit that both lions and cougars
belong to the Felis or Panthera gender. But they are different

I do not see any reason why to reject this political usage,
particularly when the terms -the first one in particular- stress the
_multiclass_ character of these ruling groups: landowners, commercial
and financial bourgeoisies, management levels in imperialist
companies, import/export firms, even fractions of the administrative
and intellectual petty bourgeoisie constitute a compact and complex
system of colonialist classes and fractions of classes which acts as a
single unit _against their own people_ but may have important internal
differences. If we reduce them to the "comprador bourgeoisie" category
we impoversish our thought and thus our action.

Thus, the problem with AGF and his formulae does not lie in that he
lumps together "comprador bourgeoisies" with "national bourgeoisies".

What we have here are "roscas", "oligarchies", which sometimes are
minor partners of imperialism (such as was the case in Argentina up to
the 1960s and under the wise umbrella first devised by George
Canning), or become their pawns and/or their transmission belt (such
as may be the case with the Salvadorean or Nicaraguan, or Guatemalan,

On the opposite side of the ring, there is NO "national bourgeoisie"
opposing this oligarchy. What there exists is a vast, sometimes
inchoate, "national movement", another front of classes, which joins
every social group that is menaced by imperialist penetration.

So that as you see my criticism to AGF is quite stronger than your
(correct but limited)

> He should have a made distinction betweem the bourgeoisie totally
> dependent on foreign capital by actually allying with imperialist
> forces (such as pre-Peron bourgeoisie) and _national bourgeoisie_
> protective of domestic industry against foreign penetration (such as
> Peron bourgeoisie).

Because his analysis is right, in an abstract way, when he states that
(as you sum up)

> every form of bourgeoisie is doomed to be comprador in Latin America
> because of the consequences of Latin America's dependence upon the
> international system

But in this sense, although of course I

> realize the fact that AGF and Cockburn sees socialist revolution as
> a solution to Latin America's long term misdevelopment (p.12) AS
> OPPOSED TO those _mainstream_ dependency theorists like Cardoso and
> Furtado who became apologists of Menem type bourgeoisie later on.

my criticism goes far beyond this debate. [By the way, Furtado,
Prebisch and Ferrer are not exactly "dependency theorists" in my

I have never denied that

> In the current circumstances, "national bourgeoisie" (however it is
> defined) cannot carry the historic mission (anti-imperialism) that
> they carried in the 30s..

I would say more: that in Latin America the last opportunity for this
to happen took place in very few countries during the two last decades
of the 19th.  century. I have never imagined that _any_ national
bourgeoisie could do anything but caving in to imperialism. I would
defy anyone to show a _truly_ "national" bourgeoisie in Latin America
since the embryos of such a thing were killed by Britain during the
early decades of the 19th. century.

However, although I am very strong on this, what I criticize in AGF is
something more serious. As I will show on my series, dependency
theorists reacted against the stale "stagism" of Communist Parties
-particularly the Argentinean Communist Parties- on Latin America,
which by the 40s and 50s explained our reality as a struggle between
"feudalism" and "bourgeoisie" (a refurbished version of the
imperialists' "civilization and barbarism"), by establishing that we
had always been fully "capitalist", and that the struggle that had to
be waged was a DIRECT struggle for socialism.

In so doing, what was missed was the concrete mediations between the
actual course of political struggle of the masses and the ideas of the
"vanguard". An abstract formula, which did not take into account the
social, economic and political consequences of the semicolonial status
of Latin America (nay, didn't even consider our status semicolonial,
but blamed our disgrace on ourselves because we had generated a
"lumpenbourgeoisie"), would have been a simple form of political
theratology, were it not for the fact that it served the interests of
imperialism by

(a) providing a theoretical ground to sever the links between the
concrete national movements and the new leftist intelligentsia that
appeared in the Latin American universities during the 60s, and

(b) by replacing political thought and historic understanding with a
couple of mumble jumble utterings ("Development of underdevelopment",
could you please tell me what is the _class contents_ of this?)
instead of a careful work on the best categories from Marxism,
particularly those generated during the Russian Revolution by Lenin
and Trotsky, and during the Chinese Revolution by Mao.

As you see, Mine, this was not a minor mistake.  _Left wing_
dependency theory is my target, not _right wing_. And this debate is
far from academic for me. It was the _leftist_ version of dependency
theory which in Argentina helped to carry a whole generation (mine)
away from revolutionary Marxism towards petty bourgeois socializing
nationalism, that is towards Montonerism.

I understand this sounds quite arcane ("Why, weren't the Montoneros
revolutionaries?"), but such is the messy, silty and turbulent river
of history.

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

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