[Marxism] Capitalist but not bourgeois

Anthony Boynton northbogota at yahoo.com
Wed Oct 26 07:59:56 MDT 2005

Hello again. Just a short note on the “capitalist but
not bourgeois” discussion. 

>From my point of view sensual social reality is a lot
more complex than anything anyone ever wrote about it,
and that includes the things Marx et. al – down to the
present day contributors to this list – have written

The gist of Nestor’s comments, for me, are that the
social class, and social classes, that we call
capitalist are not homogenous, and in fact have many
different social relations of production, not simply
the abstract hallmark signature of engaging in
expanded reproduction of capital.

Those different social relations of production that
really exist are the key to the way the class struggle
actually develops in different places and times. 

In Latin America the ruling oligarchies more and more
are engaged in the process of expanded reproduction of
capital – but they come from a rentier tradition that
was rooted in the social relations that the Spanish
and Portuguese empires brought to America. 

Those two empires were based in countries which had
defeated the bourgeois revolutions, reinforcing some
aspects of precapitalist social relations and
political institutions – unlike the British and Dutch
empires in which the bourgeois revolutions had
succeeded in destroying or weakening precapitalist
social relations and political institutions before –
or at the very beginning – of their imperial expansion
into America and the rest of the world.

One small example.

The conservative – put the brakes on social change –
social relations of production that characterize the
past of the Latin American capitalist classes was
reinforced by the key precapitalist institution of
Spain and Portugal: the Catholic Church. That
institution enforced illiteracy, tradition,
superstition, deference to social hierarchy, sexual
repression, etc. And it was a state church in Latin

The export of the British revolution to North America
however, precluded a state church. The non-conformism
of British Protestantism failed to dominate the mother
country, but it took root in the eldest daughter
(though not the younger siblings). The United States
has never had a state church, though some states
(Massachusetts, Maryland, Utah, etc.) have come close.

What does this have to do with the really important
point of the economic aspect of the social relations
of production? Everything. Those social relations of
production are real, and sensual: they are not
abstract. The abstractions should help us understand
reality, not eclipse it.

All the best, Anthony

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