Re: [OPE-L] response to John Holloway

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Sun May 15 2005 - 17:37:23 EDT

[Michael L asked John:]
> What are the following statements that I quoted from your book if they 
> are not dogmatic statements of the correct line? 


Political conclusions, I would think.  There is a difference between a
conclusion based on an analysis and a dogmatic assertion.

There is an interesting question here:  can't there be exceptions
to _all_  general political conclusions?   This is a question that John
should ponder.

This was my point in previously mentioning Hungary in March, 1919.
When Marx and Engels claimed that the ruling class will never  voluntarily
and peacefully hand-over power to the working class, they were not
being dogmatic.  Yet,  historians should know that there are sometimes
exceptional circumstances which run counter to the general historical

In the case of Hungary, 1919 the situation was _very_ exceptional.
A coalition government led by Michael Karolyi  -- composed of liberal
democrats, members of the Radical Party, and the Social Democratic
Party -- was presented with a situation (the Vix Note) which they
could not accept and thought that turning over power to the Hungarian
Communist Party and forming a Hungarian Soviet Republic was
preferable to accepting the harsh terms of surrender demanded by
the Vix Note.  

Don't you think that the situation in Venezuela is exceptional?  Surely,
you wouldn't suggest that the path to revolution in other countries in 
Latin America or elsewhere is through the election of a radical
democratic military leader?

There is no one path to revolution.  I'm sure you remember the "peaceful
road to revolution" in Chile which many revolutionaries hailed as a model for
other nations.  (Of course, the coup in 1973 caused many to no longer
hold the Allende experience forward as something that should be emulated
in other nations.  Indeed, for many the coup showed that the "Chilean 
road" was a dead end).  You also undoubtedly remember the attempt in
the early years after the revolution in Cuba by Che Guevara  and others to 
advocate continent-wide guerilla warfare strategy.  (Of course, after 
Guevara was executed in Bolivia many of those who advocated this strategy 
began to re-evaluate.)    The idea that a small band of guerilla fighters 
could bring about a revolutionary transformation was based in large part
on the experience in Cuba.  But,  the Cuban revolution _was_ in many
ways exceptional.   There is nothing wrong in recognizing exceptional
circumstances.  There _is_ something wrong about drawing general 
conclusions based on historically exceptional circumstances.  There is 
_also_ something wrong with a perspective that would not allow for the
possibility of exceptional circumstances.

In solidarity, Jerry 

    'the very notion that society can be changed through the winning of state power' is the source of all our sense of betrayal, and we need to understand that 'to struggle through the state is to become involved in the active process of defeating yourself' (12-3, 214)

     To retain the idea that you can change the world through the state (whether by winning elections or by revolution) is a grave error--- one which has failed to learn from history and theory that the state paradigm, rather than being 'the vehicle of hope', is the 'assassin of hope' (12). For one, the state does not have the power to challenge capital: 'what the state does and can do is limited by the need to maintain the system of capitalist organisation of which it is a part.' It is 'just one node in a web of social relations' (13). 

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