Re: [OPE-L] another comment on John's answers

From: John Holloway (johnholloway@PRODIGY.NET.MX)
Date: Thu May 26 2005 - 12:59:32 EDT

>> Michael,
>>     You asked me to comment on the following paragraph:
>> But, there is no alternative (in Venezuela and, I suggest, in general): (a)
>> to seizing the state from capital--- so capital can not use the power of its
>> state to defeat us and (b) to transforming that 'ready-made state machinery'
>> into the 'self-government of the producers' (to use Marx's words) in order to
>> create that space for the development of new people. So, no guarantees---
>> except the guarantee of struggle. But, for me, as I indicate in my critique
>> for Historical Materialism, the idea of changing the world without taking
>> power is a pipe-dream--- the opiate of the defeated and demoralised.

                    I donıt think the state can be seized from capital any
more than value can be seized from capital. The state is the power of
capital (one form thereof), whoever ³uses² it. The ³self-government of the
producers² necessarily means a different form of organisation, not the
state, but some form of council organisation. To think of the struggles in
Latin America and elsewhere to change the world without trying to state
power as ³the opiate of the defeated and demoralised² suggests a truly
extraordinary degree of disconnection from the world around you.

                You ask: what are you going to do about capitalist power--
police, army, courts, etc if you renounce the idea of taking power (which
means taking power away from them)? I donıt think there is any easy answer
to the violence of capital. Seizing state power has generally led to the use
of the police and the army against the working class. Is this happening in
Venezuela? I donıt know. I imagine, from what you say, that the principal
function of the police in Venezuela as elsewhere is still to protect
capitalist property, but I await your answer on this. But then what do we do
about state violence? I donıt think the answer can be thought of in terms of
armed struggle (we would lose and it would get us into reproducing the
social relations we are struggling against), although in some cases armed
resistance may contribute to dissuading the state from repressing struggles
(as in the case of the zapatistas). On the whole, I think that defence
against state repression has to be thought of in terms of the integration of
struggles into the surrounding society, which pre-supposes a non-state or
anti-state form of organisation. You may consider this a Hegelian sleight of
hand, but it is what is being said very clearly by activists in Argentina,
Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico and elsewhere, and, if I had the patience, I could
supply lots of of quotations to this effect.

    I look forward to learning more about Venezuela if you have time.


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