[Marxism] No such thing as a bourgeois revolution?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 29 13:12:04 MDT 2013

On 4/29/13 2:53 PM, Jeff Goodwin wrote:
> Soviet encyclopedias have a certain formulaic quality, no?
> As the most prominent Marxist analyst of Turkey, Caglar Keyder, has noted,
> the national bourgeoisie neither incited nor controlled the Kemalist
> Revolution. Keyder, Neil Davidson, and most other Marxists who've looked
> into this revolution see it as a case of bureaucratic reformism or of a
> bureaucratic "revolution from above." There's a relevant and interesting
> chapter in Keyder's book, "State and Class in Turkey," entitled "Looking
> for the Missing Bourgeoisie."

Actually this dovetails with an analysis that I will be defending when I 
get some time to do the necessary research. In my view the distinction 
between "bourgeois revolution from above" and "bourgeois revolution from 
below" is a false one.

For example, in Lenin's "The Agrarian Programme of Social-Democracy in 
the First Russian Revolution, 1905-1907", this distinction is made:

"Those two paths of objectively possible bourgeois development we would 
call the Prussian path and the American path, respectively. In the first 
case feudal landlord economy slowly evolves into bourgeois, Junker 
landlord economy, which condemns the peasants to decades of most 
harrowing expropriation and bondage, while at the same time a small 
minority of Grossbauern (“big peasants”) arises. In the second case 
there is no landlord economy, or else it is broken up by revolution, 
which confiscates and splits up the feudal estates. In that case the 
peasant predominates, becomes the sole agent of agriculture, and evolves 
into a capitalist farmer. In the first case the main content of the 
evolution is transformation of feudal bondage into servitude and 
capitalist exploitation on the land of the feudal landlords—Junkers. In 
the second case the main background is transformation of the patriarchal 
peasant into a bourgeois farmer."

Lenin did not get America right, nor do Post and Chibber for that 
matter. There is much more in common between Germany and the U.S. than 
is understood here. The end of Reconstruction meant a continuation of 
semifeudal estates based on debt peonage enforced by terror rather than 
outright slavery. All this is described in great detail in Douglas 
Blackmon's "Slavery by another Name". That was practically preordained 
given the class dynamics of an emerging American empire.

Basically, the bourgeois revolution for lack of a better word preserves 
the power of the gentry in a new form. The best expression of this can 
be found in Lampedusa's "The Leopard": "Unless we ourselves take a hand 
now, they'll foist a republic on us. If we want things to stay as they 
are, things will have to change."

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