The EU question (Response to Louis - I)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu May 3 08:22:08 MDT 2001

Julio Huato:
>Without knowing the nature of the problem, abolishing these circumstances
>becomes a Russian roulette.  Figuring out the problem is what the analysis
>of facts -- versus wishful thinking -- can help do.  If the problem is
>geography, then there's not much to be done short of making populations play
>musical chairs and rotate places (young Mexicans picking veggies in
>California and washing dishes in NYC pizzerias while retired Americans drink
>piña colada in Baja and shop for real estate in San Miguel de Allende or
>Costa Rica doesn't quite qualify.).  I'm afraid these chicken-and-egg
>questions have a strategic import.

I hope you can understand my sense of humor. When I speak of Mexican
industrialists setting up shop in Arizona and hiring gringos at minimum
wage, I was only joking. It was my way of saying that while capitalism
might exist everywhere, profits are not evenly distributed. While Marxists
advocate the abolition of the profit system, we also defend weaker nations
against more powerful ones. You claim that Lenin invented a concept called
"imperialism". Actually, Marx and Engels were fumbling around in the dark
with a similar concept in their writings on Ireland. They argued that as
long as Great Britain oppressed Ireland, the workers in both countries
would remain unfree. That did not stipulate that national independence be
qualified on a socialist basis. They simply called for a free Ireland. When
one country can dictate to another country what crops are grown and for
whom, and when the results are famine, Marxists can not stand on the
sidelines paring their nails in olympian fashion. They can not tell the
masses that history is moving forward in some inexorable process toward a
unified, college educated proletariat that washes its hands before every
meal. That is not Marxism. It is left-Hegelianism.

>Can underdevelopment be abolished through "socialist" revolutions?  I
>haven't seen that happening yet, not successfully (by success, I mean, able
>to sustain on economic terms the competition of rich capitalism).  But I
>won't discard this approach.  What I know is that "socialist" revolutions
>can be -- have been -- abolished by underdevelopment or, what is the same
>thing, turned into something else so that they may not even justify the
>label of "socialist."  Revolutionaries can arrive in power.  But, what will
>they do next?  Don't tell me --  I know what you would do.

I am not sure about underdevelopment being abolished. My goals are more
modest than yours apparently. I think that if socialism can provide a job,
a house, medical care, education and recreation on the basis of Cuba or the
USSR, then I am for it. You can call it "socialism" if you'd like. I am
still for it.

>Anglo-American imperialism can upset revolutions and reforms in Latin
>America.  Why that doesn't surprise me?  Bullies.  Should they help them
>instead?  If we call them names in this list, will they change their

I am not sure our disagreement is over the ability of email to change
history. It is rather about the role of the imperialist ("imperialist" if
you'd prefer) in the third world. ("Third world" if you'd prefer.)
Everything you write reminds me disconcertingly of Marx's 1850s articles on
India. That is not the kind of Marx we should embrace, despite the
criticisms of the worst excesses of the Viceroyalty. We are not just
opposed to excesses. We are opposed to Viceroyalties. Period.

>The existence of monopolies is not the issue.  They existed in Marx's times.
>  They existed in Adam Smith's times.  They exist now, PEMEX, CFE,
>Microsoft, Con Edison, what not.  (Obviously, in different historical
>settings their relative position was different.)  The issue is whether the
>phrases I pluck from Capital and Grundrisse to make your day, phrases that
>characterize the driving forces of capitalism in general (irregardless of
>the stage of development), need to be revised as a result.  Because if they
>do, then your strategy is the right one.

Actually, the real issue is whether the term imperialism is a useful one. I
find it truly fascinating that you deny its existence. I think the mailing
list can certainly benefit from a discussion with you on these issues,
since they get to the heart of what Marxism is about.

Louis Proyect
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