[Marxism] THE MYTH OF THE ‘NATIONAL BOURGEOISIE’

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 9 10:53:14 MDT 2013


SOCIALIST REGISTER 2005
REVIVING THE DEVELOPMENTAL STATE? THE MYTH OF THE ‘NATIONAL BOURGEOISIE’
VIVEK CHIBBER

Speaking at a meeting with domestic bankers in the fall of 2003, in the 
wake of the calamitous implosion of his country’s economy, Argentine 
President Nestor Kirchner announced his intention to rescue the 
Argentine economy from the ruins of neo-liberalism. But, he declared, 
‘it is impossible to build a national project if we do not consolidate a 
national bourgeoisie’.1 In fact, this speech was only one among many he 
made following his inauguration in May, stressing the need for a 
‘national capitalism’. Kirchner has not been alone in this. In Brazil, 
the rise to power of Luis Inacio Lula da Silva and the Worker’s Party 
has revived talk of a social pact between labour and capital, and the 
possibility of carving out a space for Brazilian development through an 
alliance with ‘national’ industrialists – represented, most point- edly, 
in the choice of textile magnate Jose Alencar as Lula’s Vice-President. 
And both Kirchner and Lula follow in the wake of Venezuelan President 
Hugo Chavez, who, in the face of open hostility from the United States, 
has railed against neo-liberal orthodoxy, exhorting developing countries 
to reclaim the legacy of national development models.

---

This article  takes a swipe at "Developmentalist" regimes, including 
Juan Peron's.

I know that my old friend Nestor Gorojovsky reads the Marxmail archives 
but will make sure to cc him just in case he misses this, although I 
have a feeling that the subject heading will make him sit up and take 
notice.

Chibber takes aim at the notion that politicians like Mustafa Kemal or 
Juan Peron were carrying out bourgeois revolutions in the absence of a 
bourgeoisie but in order to create one, a proposition I argued for a 
week or so ago. This is fiendishly difficult to understand unless one at 
least has a smattering of Marxist dialectics under one's belt.

What's interesting to me is that Nestor and I used to argue about the 
Brenner thesis on Marxmail years ago, with him viewing Brenner as the 
genuinely revolutionary alternative to Andre Gunder Frank, who theorized 
a "lumpen bourgeoisie". Leaving aside that old debate, it is of some 
interest that one of Brenner's chief disciples takes aim at the 
development model now being pursued in Argentina and Brazil, 
and--implicitly--Venezuela as well.

Of course, one would understand why Chibber would take this tack. The 
whole premise of the Brenner thesis, once you detach it from the dusty 
past, is that 3rd World nationalist movements such as the kind that Hugo 
Chavez embodied are an obstacle to the real thing, working class 
revolution. From Brenner's 1977 attack on Paul Sweezy as a 
"Neo-Smithian" in the 1977 NLR:

"Most directly, of course, the notion of the ‘development of 
underdevelopment’ opens the way to third-worldist ideology... It must, 
consequently, tend to overlook the pressures to external political 
compromise and internal political degeneration bound up with that 
involvement in—and dependence upon—the capitalist world market which is 
necessary for development. Such pressures are indeed present from the 
start, due to the requirement to extract surpluses for development, in 
the absence of advanced means of production, through the methods of 
increasing absolute surplus labour."

This, basically, is a sectarian formula for opposing anything like the 
Bolivaran revolution.





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