Writing off the bourgeoisie

dmschanoes dmschanoes at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 25 20:40:49 MDT 2003


Man, I must really be missing something, because I thought the inadequacy of
the bourgeoisie to the tasks of their own revolution, to the demands of the
organization of society around their own system of production had been
established by the French Revolution of 1789.  And indeed, the history of
that revolution is the history of the layer upon layer of bourgeois class
and its adherents peeling away towards accommodation with the monarchy, with
the aristocracy, with the counterrevolution, until we get to Saint-Just,
Couthon, Robespierre, who themselves make the fatal mistake of suppressing
their own left wing, the Commune, (and the Cordeliers).  But in any case,
the "inconstancy" of the class was well established in that struggle.

Nevertheless the changes to property, to the alienability of property
established in that struggle is what defines it as revolutionary, and drags
the bourgeois class, kicking and screaming perhaps, backsliding and scheming
of course, into power as that form of property begins to regulate the
economic metabolism of French society.

And do we have illusions about "progressive" bourgeoisie during the Civil
War-- when its governing institutions, its army, its merchant and financial
arms were so intertwined, if not dominated, by the slaveholder mentality?  I
don't think so.  But there was also a radical petit bourgeoisie represented
by the likes of Benjamin F. Butler, the Radical Reconstructionists, etc. who
did fundamentally assault the slave property form and did propel the
revolutionary nature of the war and reconstruction forward.  That there
radical vision was defeated as the bourgeois order consolidated itself
around just that, "order!", does not make the war, the break-up of slave
property, the reconstruction any less revolutionary--- nor does the
consolidation, the reaction itself, change the revolutionary impetus that
the break up of the slave property gave to the expansion of Northern
capitalism.

And as I've said before, the US Civil War did release, unbind, yeoman
farming, the yeoman farmers of the North, the Midwest, the West.

I think we should keep in mind Marx's assessment of a "liberal,"
"progressive" bourgeoisie when we are examining the class forces at work in
mass movement and when examing the prospects for revolution, the real class
struggle, in the less developed countries.

dms




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