[Marxism] Brazil's MST: 'Our challenge is to fight for structural reforms'
mdriscollrj at charter.net
Mon Nov 10 13:14:56 MST 2014
Richard Levins wrote
The contradiction that faces the 'moderate left' in Latin America is a
conflict between law and justice because the laws were written to
protect landed property. The new governments are obliged to enforce the
law (or replace it with a with new constitutions). It took a thousand
years since the Magna Carta to construct bourgeois law so that it works
fairly well to keep power in the hands of the owning classes. Now
traditional indigenous decision making, Zapatista consensus building,
the Cuban constitution, the new constitutions in the ALBA countries are
all part of the process of creating the new rule of law for the new
system of justice. So do not criticize the ways in which the new
governments deviate from bourgeois law but rather their difficulties in
creating a new legal system based on justice.
On 11/9/14, 6:45 PM, "Stuart Munckton via Marxism"
<marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:
I read this as I happened also to be reading Meszaros's The Power of
Ideology (1989, revised with a new introduction in 2005), where the
following appears on pp. 430-431 - approaching these problems, including
the juridical problem, from a related perspective:
Moreover, since the 'invisible hand' at work in the capitalist
market is also the 'invisible totalizer' of the fragmentarily
constituted overall productive and distributive complex, a new and
equally powerful totalizer must be found to take over the vital
coordinating and integrative functions of its abolished
predecessor.. Also, 'socialist accumulation' remains for a long time
as pressing an imperative in post-capitalist societies as capital
accumulation used to be in the inherited system, if not more so.
Consequently, on both counts - i.e. both as regards the necessity to
find an alternative to the 'invisible totalizer' and the need for an
authority capable of imposing on the producers a forced rate of
'socialist accumulation' on the ground of the existing 'state of
emergency' - the post-capitalist state, under the prevailing
historical circumstances - has to assume the role of a centralized
political controlling authority. As a result, new resistances are
created through the structural mismatch between the post-capitalist
state's objective constitution and the task of economically managing
the everyday functions of production and distribution. To add insult
to injury, for the new material and human resistances (and for the
failures caused primarily by the state's inadequacies to deal
successfully, as promised, with the task of improving socioeconomic
reproduction) the blame is put on a mythical 'internal enemy.' At
the same time, the vicious circle of instituting more centralized
political control in order to compensate for the economic failures
of centralized control is further strengthened. setting into motion
a process of state-bureaucratic development which has its
self-sustaining logic and inertia.
Clearly, then, bureaucratization is quite prominent in
post-capitalist societies. But just as clearly, it is not simply the
consequence of 'political degeneration'. Nor could it be rectified
by the adoption of even the most radical set of political measures.
For its causes arise in the first place from the inherited material
structures, and from the corresponding social division of labor to
which the unavoidable juridical intervention against capitalist
private property adds its further complications.There is no way of
avoiding the severe practical dilemma which, one the one hand, calls
for a most powerful centralized intervention (both for abolishing
the the exploitative socioeconomic relations wedded to the old
property system and for protecting the new juridical form against
internal and external subversion) while, on the other hand, also
anticipates the much more difficult task of genuinely decentralizing
and profoundly restructuring the instrumental and institutional
complexes of societal reproduction in their entirety.
It is fairly obvious that capitalist private property cannot be
abolished without the power of a centralized political authority.
For even its partial (and completely reversible) curtailment, in the
form of the well-known post-war 'nationalizations', needed the
intervention of the centralized capitalist state. What is less
obvious though, because of the impersonal character of the
spontaneously imposed capitalistic decision making processes and
structures, is that the system of generalized commodity production
is authoritarian to the core; and that it could not function at all
without remaining authoritarian at the level of 'civil society',
i.e. where the hierarchically ordered material reproductive
structures of society are complemented by an equally hierarchical
authority of decision making from which the producers are
This is the material reproductive framework which the
post-capitalistic society of necessity inherits. Changing the
juridical form of entitlement to control does not ipso facto change
the materially embedded hierarchical structure of metabolic control
itself to which the system, as it stands, is successfully amenable.
For in the form in which it is taken over from the capitalist order,
it is in tune only with authoritarian modes of decision making.
Thus, also under this latter aspect, the post-capitalist state
cannot help being authoritarian (and correspondingly bureaucratic)
for as long as the inherited reproductive framework itself is not
effectively restructured and profoundly democratized, in a way
totally unimaginable under the conditions of capitalist market
society. No amount of political goodwill can be a substitute for
And what follows in that text and in Meszaros's subsequent writings
seems equally apposite (in addition to the declared project for
democratising the media), and addresses the seemingly inevitable
authoritarian imperatives in the "restructuring of political power in
Brazil and its rules of functioning" in ways that go well beyond the
posing of the problem here.
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