[Marxism] Re: The Teixeira thesis

Julio Huato juliohuato at hotmail.com
Sun Mar 7 11:30:18 MST 2004


Louis Proyect wrote in reply to Marvin Gandall:

>You only see the downside of the Russian Revolution. I am not surprised. 
>Without the Russian Revolution, the Cuban revolution would not have been 
>possible. In our lifetime, we have a living example of an alternative to 
>capitalism. This counts for more than a million blueprints about some 
>glorious future.

This is not a serious argument.  Without the Russian Revolution as it 
happened, we would not have had Ronald Reagan and the defeat of the 
revolution in Nicaragua, etc.  There is no way to know what could have 
happened if Russia had followed a different path in 1917 or in the 1930s.  
We don't know whether by now we'd be closer or farther from communism, 
because the counter-factual is impossible to fix.  The fact is that the 
Russian Revolution happened as it happened.  And we should use hindsight to 
constantly re-examine both the upside and the downside of this experience.

>An extended period of capitalist development? Aren't you aware that Lenin 
>had moved beyond this outlook with the April Theses? This is not Lenin's 
>authority you are appealing to, but Kautsky's. This kind of stagism was 
>enshrined in the Second International. Furthermore, it was impossible to 
>carry out a "more cautious perspective" because the Russian bourgeoisie and 
>its imperialist allies would not allow this, any more than their 
>counterparts in Chile in 1973 or in Venezuela today will allow it.

Aren't you aware that, in 1921, four years after the Soviets took power, 
Lenin had in mind precisely "an extended period of capitalist development" 
(or, as he called it, of "state capitalism" with plenty room for private 
business, nepmen, and foreign capitalists) as a pre-condition not only for 
socialism but even to restore the working class and a meaningful Soviet 
democracy?

Lenin said repeatedly that many "transitional stages" were necessary to 
prepare the "transition for communism."  Yes, stages!  The April Theses, 
written in the turmoil between the February and October revolutions, were an 
eminently political document with an eye to preventing a czarist 
restoration.  By far, the April Theses were *not* an analysis of Russia's 
economic possibilities under Communist rule.

If the bourgeoisie and imperialism don't allow a period of capitalist 
development under Communist rule, then China and Vietnam haven't noticed it 
yet.

>Permanent Revolution is not based on dispensing with caution, but on the 
>iron logic of class society. Workers exercising political hegemony in a 
>society based on the economic hegemony of the bourgeoisie is inherently an 
>unstable contradiction. It is one thing to say that the Russian revolution 
>was a leap into the unknown. It is another to say that the Kautskyist 
>perspective has any possibilities as a viable form of socialist 
>development.

Ah, the permanent revolution...  Well, any society is an "unstable 
contradiction."  Social stability is only temporary and it just prepares 
periods of instability.  People change people, people change circumstances, 
and circumstances change people.  That doesn't mean that periods of unstable 
contradiction are not temporarily viable.  And timing is the name of the 
game in politics.

What do you mean "the Kautskyan perspective"?  The view that the Bolsheviks 
should have not taken power in Russia in 1917 and the critique of the 
Soviets in the immediate aftermath of the revolution?  Or the kind of 
Kautskyan "stagism" that Lenin himself was putting forth in 1921?

Any way you read Lenin's reply to Kautsky's The Dictatorship of the 
Proletariat, the disagreement -- virulent as it was -- was not about the 
economic possibilities of socialist construction in Russia.  It was about 
the nature of the *political* process leading to socialism in a country that 
both sides of the debate acknowledged as economically "backward."  Why don't 
you clarify these distinctions instead of conflating them with labels and 
caricatures?  Do eighty six years of hindsight lend any perspective to these 
disagreements?  What relevant lessons can we extract from this experience?

*  *  *

I've already stated my views on the DP.  I think Marvin's views need to be 
taken into due consideration.  The style and volatile temperament of Louis 
Proyect makes it unnecessarily complicated to have a clear, substantive 
debate on these issues, as people get distracted with polemical trickery.  
Yet Louis is also the owner of this list that so far lets diverse people 
present their views.  Talk about an unstable equilibrium!

Julio

PS: I'd like to engage Tony in the discussion on Mexico, but I can't right 
now.  I appreciate his bringing these issues up on the list though.

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