[Marxism] re: land title and cooperatives in Vzla

Hans G. Ehrbar ehrbar at lists.econ.utah.edu
Sat Aug 6 10:49:14 MDT 2005

This message is from Michael Lebovitz; it was lost in
our recent mailman glitch.   I will try to recover the other messages too.

Fred Feldman wrote:

>(2) Michael makes the point that many or most peasants want title to the
>land rather than cooperatives....  I think it is important to
>stress that the desire for peasants to title to portions of landlords'
>land must not be DISCOURAGED or in any way treated as REACTIONARY
>arguments for cooperatives right now is not their superiority to peasant
>ownership, but as a way to guarantee peasant ownership against landlord
>attacks, and the restoration of landlordism through banking and the
>market, and to better organize the peasants to defend the conquests.
>But the government must also seek to guarantee the peasants against
>reactionary concentration of land ownership, whether or not the
>individual prefers private ownership to the cooperatives.  The
>cooperatives must not become a schema of a "higher form" than private
>ownership that is imposed, forcibly or  by "persuasion", on peasants
>whose gut desire and estimate of their needs is private ownership.

         If, looking at Venezuela at this point, Fred's 'peasant 
deviation' amounts to the argument that small peasant private 
holdings in Venezuela should not be discouraged on the grounds that 
they are a 'lower form' than cooperatives (and these lower than 
collective farms which are in turn lower than state farms), we are in 
agreement. Similarly, cooperatives in non-agricultural activity 
should not be discouraged because they are a 'lower form' than 
worker-managed state enterprises. However, I think the matter is 
rather different if we are talking about these productive units 
receiving subsidies in one form or another from society as a whole 
(via the state)--- eg., in the form of land or means of production 
(as in the case of Invepal). What is the responsibility of such 
recipients to society as a whole? As I noted, the argument made by 
the worker representative of Invepal was that workers should be 
encouraged to transform their firms into cooperatives because they 
wouldn't have to pay taxes; it immediately reproduced the worst 
tendencies of Yugoslav self-management enterprises calling the 
imposition of taxes 'Stalinism'.
         in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
Residencias Anauco Suites
Departamento 601
Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1
Caracas, Venezuela
(58-212) 573-4111
fax: (58-212) 573-7724

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