Whither capitalism? (was Re: The EU question (Response to Louis - I))

Les Schaffer schaffer at optonline.net
Wed May 2 23:15:15 MDT 2001


[ from Nestor ]

En relación a Re: The EU question (Response to Louis - I), el 2 May
01, a las 20:13, Louis Proyect dijo citando a Julio Huato:

> Back to the history of ideas.  What strikes me as curious is that
> Lenin's theory of imperialism based on "monopoly capitalism" has
> allowed some interpreters to impute Lenin a sort of neo-populist
> stance.  I'm not sure if this interpretation is valid, but it is
> common as shown in this list.  What I know is that the idea that
> capitalism is impossible in the "Third World" (because capitalism
> became "imperialism") has restored wholesale the populist views that
> Lenin abhorred.

1.  To begin with, we should do well in throwing bourgeois categories
such as "populism" or "neo-populism" to the dustbin.  These categories
are mere descriptions of entities. Their class character is completely
avoided by them (ah, another classic: "charismatic leader", as if
"charisma" and "leadership" were not precisely what we HAVE TO EXPLAIN
IN CONCRETE CLASS TERMS AND IN A CONCRETE HISTORIC SITUATION...). So
that I would like Julio Huato to explain what is the class meaning of
"populism", and then we may proceed.

2.  Nobody on this list has stated that capitalism is impossible
anywhere. As for me, probably one of people alluded to by Julio, I am
absolutely convinced that capitalism is strongly entrenched in, at
least, my country, a country which at the same time belongs to the
Third World (no inverted commas, please, unless you have a good reason
to criticize this category).

What Julio probably confuses for "populist views" (if by "populists"
we are speaking of Lenin's "populists", then we are missing the target
entirely, because I don't see that kind of ideas among us on the list)
is the idea that, since the capitalist world system has become a
strongly hyerarchical structure, then the only kind of capitalism that
can thrive outside the few core countries is a capitalism that cannot
close its own full circle of enlarged reproduction.

Lenin's polemics with the "populists" showed that in pre-capitalist
Russia there WAS already a possibility to develop a capitalism which
did not depend on the foreign market for existence, that is a
self-centered capitalism. It was an important point in a struggle for
establishing the possibility of an independent Marxist politics based
on the working class, not on the peasantry.  If I am a "populist", I
am sorry to tell Julio that I am one of the strongest defenders of
Lenin's thesis. IT IS PRECISELY BECAUSE LENIN WAS RIGHT that
imperialism will do anything to prevent any possibility that dependent
countries decide on a path that puts them in a situation to reproduce
the relation between Sections I and II of economy that makes them
producers of the bulk of their own capital from cycle to cycle, that
is which sets them free from the tyranny of foreign market.

What we are debating here is not whether capitalism is possible in,
say, Argentina. Argentina IS capitalist. Period. What we are debating
is an entirely different thing, which is the problem of accumulation
in the periphery. Without a clear understanding of this, we fall in
the trap of equating Burundi with Belgium. Just give Burundi enough
time, they will reach the levels of Belgium...

Well, this is the basic developmentist mistake. The fact that these
ideas, which have been repeatedly demonstrated false, appear once and
again in our minds is one of the most adamant demonstrations of the
strength of social relations on the forms of consciousness...

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar





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