Re: (OPE-L) Re: Paresh Chattopadhyay 'Capital, The Progenitor of Socialism'

From: Paul Bullock (paulbullock@EBMS-LTD.CO.UK)
Date: Tue Dec 23 2003 - 11:15:19 EST

You correctly understood my comment in your reflection below. BUT in asking  Mike the question at the end you seem to be forgetting 1 point. France in 1871 was an Imperial Power , and the workers were fighting against that power during an inter-imperialist war.

Venezuela is subject to the predations of imperialism and class conscious  workers have to formulate a different political programme. By preventing wholesale privatisation of the oil industry for a start,  we see a fundamental difference  brought about by the poor by 'ballot and bullet' .  The wretched article, as Mike correctly says,  from the NYT sent by Rakesh aims to cover up this distinction, one which workers in Argentina would not miss after the privatisations there of the 90's. 

Paul Bullock
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: gerald_a_levy 
  Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2003 1:25 AM
  Subject: (OPE-L) Re: Paresh Chattopadhyay 'Capital, The Progenitor of Socialism'

  Mike L asked:

  >         Do you think it is? 

  I think that while Paresh's position "sounds a bit like Gerry Cohen's position",
  it  is different.  I think that the position that Paresh advanced at the Marx conference
  in Havana (in the abstract that you posted on 12/14)  is consistent with the
  position that he advanced  on the USSR in _The Marxian Concept of Capital
  and the Soviet Experience:  Essays in the Critique of Political Economy_
  (NY, Praeger, 1994).   His position -- which I do not share -- is in the
  tradition of many other 'state capitalist' interpretations.  While theories of 
  state capitalism have never made a lot of sense to me -- on both theoretical
  and historical grounds -- I accept that they have an appeal to many Marxists
  who I would consider to be revolutionaries.

  I agree that Paresh's paper sounds deterministic (NB: I only read the abstract that
  you sent and not the whole paper),   and it may indeed represent a political 
  movement on his part.   Only time will tell.  

  The interesting question for discussion, perhaps, is thinking about revolution as
  a dynamic process rather than a set of pre-determined criteria that must be met.
  Cuba is a good example of that dynamic process as the Cuban revolution, in the
  course of its historical development, unfolded in ways that weren't even fully
  anticipated by the revolutionaries themselves.  

  Earlier today I was thinking about the Paris Commune.  In a letter to Kugelmann
  (April 17, 1871),  Marx wrote that "World history would indeed be very easy if
  the struggle were taken up on condition of infallibly favorable chances."  I
  think we have to recognize, as I think Marx understood, that  revolutionaries
  must (so to speak) 'think on their feet' and adjust and learn from the revolutionary

  Revolutionaries in other countries have the responsibility -- where necessary --
  to be critical,  but our first and primary role must be one of solidarity.  Even while
  being critical of  some of the tactical decisions of the Communards, he wrote:

  "What elasticity, what historical initiative, what a capacity for sacrifice in these
  Parisians!  After six months of hunger and ruin, caused by internal treachery more 
  than by the external enemy, they rise, beneath Prussian bayonets, as if there had
  never been a war between France and Germany and the enemy were not at the
  gates of Paris!  History has no example of similar greatness! [....] the present
  rising in Paris -- even if it is crushed by the wolves, swine, and vile dogs of the
  old society -- is the most glorious deed of our Party since the June insurrection in 
  Paris" (letter to Kugelmann, April 12, 1871).

  Marx was critical of some of the tactical decisions made by the Commune
  leadership (see 4/12/71 letter to Kugelmann), but when the Commune fell he did not 
  "have the last laugh".  Far from it!  The slaughter of the Communards was not 
  cause for laughter.  Nor do I think that Marx would be laughing at the suffering that 
  the people in the former USSR have had to endure since the downfall of the USSR 
  (here I agree with what I took to be Paul B's position at the end of his 12/18 post).

  Now a question:  in reading again the 4/12/71 letter to Kugelmann, I noticed 
  the following:

  "If you look at the last chapter of my _Eighteenth Braumaire_, you will find that
  I say that the next attempt of the French revolution will be no longer, as before,
  to transfer the bureaucratic-military machinery from one hand to another, but to
  REVOLUTION ON THE CONTINENT." (capitalization added for emphasis, JL).

  -- Do you think that this is also a prerequisite for the people's revolution in 

  In solidarity, Jerry

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