[Marxism] A clarification on Peronism, Zionism and Socialism

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sat Apr 9 23:20:53 MDT 2005

>>National and revolution being oxymoronic, in my opinion, in this era.
National being associated with a quite specific form of property, class,
organization which is more than obsolete.<<

"rr" does us the favor of giving us a textbook example of sectarian
imperialist economism on the national question.

It consists of liquidating the national struggle into the class struggle,
and thereby liquidating the political struggle into the economic struggle.

What is the overriding characteristic of imperialism? Why did Lenin call it
imperialism, rather that "monopolism" or "trustism" or "financialism"? I
submit that it is the division of the world into a handful of robber,
exploiter nations, and a big majority of robbed, exploited nations.

Now the use of the term "exploiter" and "exploited" will immediately, of
course, evoke the class question. And as we delve more deeply into it, we
see that in both the robber and the robbed nations there are exploited and
exploiters. And thus "rr" wants to say, forget about the national question,
only the class question is important.

But look at it from the side of the most oppressed and exploited, the
toiling masses of the third world. They cannot forget about the "national"
question because from their point of view, there lies their salvation. They
need their own state with which to confront the imperialists, their most
ruthless and cunning exploiters. But just now, "their" state is either
directly or indirectly under imperialist control.

RR claims that "Today, those struggles don't even appear as national,
Venezuela being a case in point, but rather directly as class struggles." I
don't see how an honest appraisal of the revolutionary process in Venezuela
thus far can be made to fit this theses of a *negation* of the national
struggle. Quite the contrary, I think the movement presented very clearly as
a movement for national salvation from the degradation the country had sunk
into under imperialist tutelage. That in due course the class interests
behind this national movement have come to the fore, and that what at first
appeared as an almost all-encompassing multi-class alliance has fractured
along class lines, should be no surprise, least of all to us Marxists who
understand the national struggle as one that arises from the class struggle.

But the national/patriotic form of the movement is not merely an accidental
shell to be cast off at the earliest opportunity. It corresponds exactly to
the central task facing the toilers of Venezuela in struggling against the
exploiters: the conquest of political power, breaking the hold of the
imperialists over the Venezuelan state.

The petroleum sector is one where this has played out with great clarity.
Some time ago, Venezuela nationalized the petroleum industry. But the
imperialists continued to dominate it through their domination of the
Venezuelan state. One of the first actions of the Chavistas following Chavez
becoming president in 1999 was to put a stop to Venezuela's notorious
scabbing against OPEC quotas. Later came a struggle over the increasing
surplus being generated by this sector, in the big bosses/supervisors strike
of a couple of years ago. The decisive question in each case was to put the
industry under Venezuelan control, to "re-nationalize" it, so to speak. 

For "rr" to make his case stick, he would have to show, not just that the
interests of the exploited classes in Venezuela, the toilers, have
increasingly come to the fore as the revolutionary process has unfolded, but
that at the same time there has been a turning away from patriotism on the
part of the leading contingent in the process. I don't think this can really
be demonstrated. On the contrary, I believe what one will find is an
increasingly sharp counterposition of the interests of Venezuela as a nation
--with those interests being defined as those of the big majority, the
toilers-- against the interests of the imperialists, and especially the U.S.
imperialists. In the first couple of years of the process, you had to read
between the lines and draw out the implications to see that. This is no
longer the case. 

On the contrary, I suggest that, if anything, the Venezuelan leadership is
today much more outspokenly "nationalist," i.e., anti-imperialist, than it
was five years ago, that precisely as the *class* character of the process
has come to the fore, so has its patriotic character been strengthened.

And this has to do with the couple of sentences I quoted from RR at the top
of this reply, to the effect that nationalism is always bourgeois.

I know this is what Stalin teaches in his famous 1913 pamphlet, and even
those of us from the Trotskyist tradition defend it, noting that "Stalin"
then wasn't yet the latter "Stalin" and that the pamphlet was written at
Lenin's instigation and under his supervision. 

Nevertheless, it is important to understand that Stalin (i.e., the
Bolsheviks) were WRONG on the national question in 1913. What Stalin
presents is, at best, a summation of the experiences in Central and Eastern
Europe from the epoch before imperialism had become consolidated as a

"Nationalism" is not primarily a feature or phenomenon of rising capitalism.
Imperialism, with its *intensification* and *generalization* of national
oppression and super-exploitation has given rise to a much richer experience
with national movements in the 20th Century, and it is this experience that
our understanding must be rooted in, not just those of 19th-Century central
Europe, even if Stalin had managed to capture those perfectly, which I
suspect he didn't.

Thus to say "national" is ipso facto associated with certain classes and
property forms is absurd. "National" is simply one of the forms which the
class struggle finds expression in, and mainly because exploitation comes
packaged that way also. 

The rape and looting of third world countries by the imperialists inevitably
gives rise to social crisis which are perceived --and are-- crisis of "the
nation" even though those most directly affected are the toilers. The
struggle of the toilers against the exploiters expresses itself through
"national" forms because their oppression and exploitation comes packaged
that way also. It really isn't any more complicated than that.


-----Original Message-----
From: marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu
[mailto:marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu] On Behalf Of rrubinelli
Sent: Friday, April 08, 2005 9:58 AM
To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
Subject: Re: [Marxism] A clarification on Peronism, Zionism and Socialism

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