[Marxism] To Vivek Chibber

Jeff Goodwin jgoodwin.nyu at gmail.com
Mon Apr 29 15:11:19 MDT 2013

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> On Mon, Apr 29, 2013 at 9:34 AM, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
> You should understand that his book rests on the premise of the "so-called
> bourgeois revolutions." (From an interview with Chibber on the Jacobin
> website.) Is that something that an ortho-Trotskyist like you finds
> convincing? That "bourgeois revolutions" are a fiction?

Chibber writes a bit about the English and French revolutions in his new
book for a very specific purpose: to debunk a stupid, romanticized view of
those revolutions held by many subalternists/postcolonialists, a view that
leads them to draw idiotic conclusions. The latter think capitalists in
India (and in the "East" and "South" more generally) failed to follow the
"Western" path, meaning they failed to lead the nation in a struggle
against feudalism that culminated in a liberal, democratic society under
bourgeois "hegemony." Instead, the "Eastern" bourgeoisie failed to "speak
for the nation," supported dictatorship and oligarchy, etc., producing
"domination without hegeomy" (i.e., rule by force). These idiots conclude,
furthermore, that societies in the East/South cannot be understood as
capitalist and that one cannot apply Marxist theory or concepts to them
(which would be "Eurocentric" arrogance).

Chibber points out that the "Western" path to capitalism that the
subalternists describe is a fiction. Capitalists in England and France did
not lead the nation in a struggle against feudalism--England was already
capitalist, and capitalists were marginal actors in the French
Revolution--nor did the revolutions in those countries create liberal,
democratic societies. Capitalists, furthermore, fought relentlessly against
democratic rights for the working class. The "Eastern" bourgeoisie,
accordingly, was very much following in the footsteps of the "Western"
bourgeoisie in its antidemocratic politics. Struggles by working people won
democratic rights, north, south, east, and west. Chibber also argues that
the East/South ARE capitalist and that Marxist theory CAN be used to
understand those parts of the planet.

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