[Marxism] Permanent revolution

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Oct 21 07:41:37 MDT 2016

There are important and unresolved theoretical issues in the exchange 
between Andrew Pollack and Joseph Green. Specifically, there are 
differences within Marxism, and in particular within its Trotskyist or 
semi-Trotskyist wing, over how to theorize the "bourgeois revolution". 
For the Brennerites, there is no such thing. For Neil Davidson, and 
those that agree with him like me, there is. But if there is, what are 
its dynamics in the epoch of imperialism? Did Mustafa Kemal carry out a 
bourgeois revolution? Was the Arab Spring a kind of bourgeois 
revolution? I should add that Davidson rejects the term 
bourgeois-democratic revolution that was used consistently by Lenin.

Even more problematic is the term democratic revolution. When the Arab 
Spring was likened to the 1848 uprisings in Europe, was there a failure 
to come to terms with exactly what had happened during Marx and Engels's 
time? It was clear that the democratic struggles were aimed at removing 
the remnants of feudal forms but did that relate to the revolutionary 
uprisings against someone like Mubarak who was the chief executive of 
Egypt's military-industrial complex?

Furthermore, if we conceptualize the bourgeois revolution as a struggle 
against feudal remnants, how do we reconcile that with a struggle whose 
front-line fighters support to some degree or another a religious state? 
Is the demand for Sharia law simply a reactionary longing for the 
distant past?

The Middle East and North Africa has a way of defying formulas that 
developed in European Marxism. For example, Omar Mukhtar led a heroic 
struggle in Libya against Italian imperialism as a leader of the Senussi 
movement. Its goal was to preserve Sufi values and its social base was 
Bedouins. Not exactly the same thing as Garibaldi.

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