[Marxism] No such thing as a bourgeois revolution?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 29 14:36:29 MDT 2013

On 4/29/13 3:12 PM, Louis Proyect wrote:
> 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."

Neil Davidson, "How Revolutionary were the Bourgeois Revolutions?":

Although Trotsky referred several times to Prussian landlord leadership 
in the case of Germany, after "the belated German bourgeoisie proved 
incapable of achieving national unification through its own strength," 
he also wrote: “Bismarck only half-fulfilled this task, leaving almost 
intact the entire feudal particularist rubbish." The accuracy of this 
assessment is not in doubt; what is questionable is whether the survival 
of aspects of feudalism is incompatible with the completion of the 
bourgeois revolution. Gramsci was perhaps even more scathing about the 
leadership of the Italian Risorgimento: "Did they at least attain the 
end they set for themselves? 'They said that they were aiming at the 
creation of a modern state in Italy, and they in fact produced a 
bastard. They aimed at stimulating the formation of an extensive and 
energetic ruling class; and they did not succeed; at integrating the 
people into the framework of the new state and they did not succeed."

As we shall see, Gramsci nevertheless believed that the Italian 
bourgeois revolution was completed by the Risorgimento. Trotsky's 
ambivalence toward the parallel process of German Unification was once 
again inherited by at least some of his followers. The great French 
historian Pierre Broue, for example, argued that although Germany was 
"an advanced capitalist country," it was still the site of "an 
incomplete bourgeois revolution": "Indeed, we may regard the first 
result of the November [1918] Revolution as the fulfillment of the 
bourgeois revolution which as aborted midway through the nineteenth 
century." In relation to the revolution of 1918 however, Trotsky himself 
maintained that the bourgeois revolution had already been completed: "As 
to the German Revolution of 1918, it was no democratic completion of the 
bourgeois revolution, it was proletarian revolution decapitated by the 
Social Democrats; more correctly, it was a bourgeois counter-revolution, 
which was compelled to preserve pseudo-democratic forms after its 
victory over the proletariat' What led Trotsky to contradict himself in 
this way?

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