[Marxism] "Explanations" Divorced from Political Projects

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Sat Jul 29 23:39:39 MDT 2006

On 7/29/06, Sayan Bhattacharyya <ok.president+marxmail at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 7/29/06, Yoshie Furuhashi <critical.montages at gmail.com> wrote:
> >  It may be easier
> > to get a socialist revolution going at a point in a nation's history
> > when masses of peasants are _just beginning to get proletarianized_,
> > so they still have personal experiences of both peasant and
> > proletarian lives.  In other words, it is not the constant state of
> > being a proletarian per se but the experience of _disposession and
> > displacement_ that gives the strongest subjective impetus to revolt
> > and revolution.
> That's an interesting thought.  I was reminded as I read your lines that the
> 1970s Italian workers' struggles were often carried out by "first-generation
> workers" who had migrated up north from the rural South.
> I'm wondering if this holds for non-worker revolts too. Could it be that the
> great black protests/riots in the northern US cities in the 1960s and 70s
> were, similarly, a result of the dispossession felt by recent migrants from
> the Deep South?

The Great Migration began earlier: "In 1910, three out of every four
black Americans lived on farms, and nine out of ten lived in the
South. World War I changed that profile. Hoping to escape tenant
farming, sharecropping, and peonage, 1.5 million southern blacks moved
to cities in the late teens and 1920s. During the 1910s and '20s,
Chicago's black population grew 148 percent, Cleveland's by 307
percent, Detroit's by 611 percent" (at

The immediate impact of the Great Migration was Race Riots, i.e.
whites rioting against Blacks, resenting competitive pressures on the
job, housing, and other markets.  But I'm sure the Great Migration
gave a big momentum to labor and other organizing during the Communist
upsurge in the 30s and 40s.

Black and other organizing during the long Sixties may have had more
to do with the generally inflationary economy, the international
experiences of anti-colonial struggles, and so on.

> If this theory is true, then one should probably look to immigrants (who
> often are from rural areas in Central America) as  promising activists in
> any new round of protest activity unfolding in the near future.

I believe so.  Besides, a sizable portion of immigrant workers must
have had the kind of left-wing political experience that is not
available in the USA -- a great asset.

> That said, there are two rebellious peoples in the world -- the French
> > and the Iranians -- who have managed to rebel on a large scale quite
> > regularly (the French) and pull off a revolution (the Iranians) driven
> > by predominantly urban uprisings.  Their experiences are worth study,
> > for those of us who live in predominantly urban and proletarian
> > countries.
> The recent experience of Nepal should be remembered too. They pulled off a
> revolution  a few months ago, with massive demonstrations in the capital,
> Kathmandu, and other urban centers.

Yes, but the massive demos in urban centers of Nepal came as the
culmination of a classic people's war in the countryside that began in
1996.  The French and the Iranians have never had that kind of
people's war, and we won't either.

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