Re: [OPE] Venezuela again

From: Howard Engelskirchen <howarde@iastate.edu>
Date: Fri Jan 30 2009 - 10:25:03 EST

It's worth specifying the material ground of the
hypocritical nature of freedom and equality under capitalism.

In the first pages of the Chapter on Capital in
the Grundrisse (Notebook II), Marx makes clear
how our ideas of equality and freedom derive from relations of exchange.

But the exchange between labor and capital
doesn't fit the mold. As he writes in Capital
III on the Trinity Formula: "capital obtains
this surplus labor without equivalent, and in
essence it always remains forced labor -- no
matter how much it may seem to result from free contractual agreement."

It's amazing how thoroughly liberal institutions
and ideology have disappeared the reality of
coercive subordination that characterizes
capitalist social relations. Think of social
contract ideology -- if Marx is right, then from
Hobbes to Rawls it is hypocritical through and through.

On the one hand it is important to appreciate
that the impulses to equality and freedom are not
sham or illusion -- they have a real ground in capitalist reality.

On the other hand it is important to remember
that the reality of production overrides that of
exchange and the reality of our productive life is inequality and unfreedom.

I'd be interested in a fuller discussion of how
we are to understand Lenin's assertion that democracy comes to an end.

howard

At 08:57 AM 1/30/2009, you wrote:
>Hi Alejandro,
>thank you for your answer. You raise a very important topic, which I will
>comment knowing that our theoretical references are different. Thus, I
>don't expect to convince you, but just to argue with you.
>
>Social institutions are for Marxism not a-historical. Even if they survive
>formally, from one mode of production to the other, their essence must
>change. The same for *values and institutions in liberal democracies*. As
>I argued in my previous post, liberal democracy is for Marxism a class
>dictatorship, which imo cannot be denied. The repression of Marxist
>thought in the universities and everywhere in capitalist countries is an
>ideological aspect of this dictatorship. It is justified by the fact that
>it is impossible to sustain an exploitative social system without
>systematic repression of action as well as of thought and word against it,
>except if the latter are kept small and under control.
>
>Thus, if liberalism expresses the ideal of liberty and equality for all,
>its essence in capitalism does not represent it, although it might be
>taken as a stage in the historical development. Hence the capitalist
>liberal institutions cannot survive in socialism in its capitalist form.
>This is, I think, why Lenin argued, in "State and Revolution", that with
>communism democracy comes to an end, meaning that democracy is the
>political expression of the capitalist class dictatorship. It's not simply
>democracy, it is bourgeois democracy.
>
>A decisive point in Marxism, in theory and even more in practice, is the
>political nature of socialism, in the period immediately after the
>political revolution that removes the bourgeoisie from the State power.
>The revolution does not destroy the bourgeoisie physically as a class, and
>does not destroy the bourgeois ideology, and doesn't even destroy its
>capability to return to power. This is a period of actual war of classes,
>where the political expression of socialism cannot be other than a class
>dictatorship, this time against the capitalist class. Imo this has been
>demonstrated by the historical experience of socialist revolutions since
>the end of the 19th century. Being a class dictatorship, it will of
>necessity show, in an inverted way, aspects of the *liberal institutions*
>of capitalism.
>
>I don't think there is a contradiction between this and the fact that
>Marxists *fiercely denounce the repressive nature* of being banned from
>liberal universities (btw, it must be clear that *liberal* universities
>are nothing more than the expression of the capitalist class dictatorship
>in the sphere of research and higher education. If not, why are both the
>Marxist theory and the Marxists systematically banned from them?). They
>denounce it not in order not to be banned, but to shed light on the
>falsity of bourgeois liberalism and of bourgeois liberal institutions.
>
>As I said, I don't expect to convince you, but in discussing with you I
>expect to better clarify my own ideas, based on the understanding that it
>is more clarifying to discuss with persons of different thinking than of
>our own.
>
>Comradely,
>Claus.
>
>
>
> > Claus, I‚€™m not referring neither to you nor to anyone in particular. I
> > don‚€™t know who you are at all indeed. I‚€™m just highlighting the fact
> > that there are values and institutions in liberal democracies of which
> > some Stalinists take advantage, and that these institutions must survive
> > in Socialism.
> > ¬
> > If these scholars were banned from liberal universities, I‚€™m sure they
> > are going to fiercely denounce the repressive nature of this practice, but
> > they are not willing to recognize the repressive nature of this and other
> > discriminatory practices in Cuba and increasingly in Venezuela.
> > ¬
> > I‚€™m going to answer you with another question. Having in mind the long
> > list of items required to judge the ‚€œpoliarchical‚€ nature of a regime,
> > which I shred with the list on the occasion of another discussion about
> > Venezuela, can you really say that current socialist regimes are less
> > repressive than liberal regimes in developed countries?
> > ¬
> > Regards,
> > A. Agafonow
> > ¬
> > P.S. I‚€™m not loosing my temper. I‚€™m discussing. That‚€™s what we do in
> > a discussion list.
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ________________________________
> > De: "cmgermer@ufpr.br" <cmgermer@ufpr.br>
> > Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <ope@lists.csuchico.edu>
> > Enviado: jueves, 29 de enero, 2009 13:25:18
> > Asunto: Re: [OPE] Venezuela again
> >
> > Hi Alejandro,
> > you should not lose your temper so easily, only because I think
> > differently from you.
> > In the first place, my personal source of earning is not of your concern,
> > this is not what is being discussed. And second, you are wrong if you
> > think we live in a liberal paradise where Marxists can express their ideas
> > "without fearing retaliation", especially in Latin America. You should
> > read the history of the class struggles in Latin America (and of all over
> > the world as well) at least since World War II.
> > Now about what matters: isn't the liberal democracy what is called
> > bourgeois democracy in Marxist terms, which is conceived of as being a
> > class dictatorship based on the exploitation of labour power by the
> > capitalist class? Can you go beyond liberal democracy without
> > extinguishing its material basis? Do you think it is possible to maintain
> > a system based on the exploitation of one by the other without maintaining
> > a system of repression?
> > comradely,
> > Claus.
> >
> >
> >
> >> There are Marxists and non-Marxists socialists in this list that are not
> >> Stalinists. Besides, I am open to revise liberal institutions. I myself
> >> think that we can go beyond liberal democracy and the welfare state.
> >> √‚¬
> >> But not at the expense of liquidating the values an institutions that
> >> let
> >> anti-system scholars like you express your ideas without fearing
> >> retaliations, and even having very wealthy positions in liberal
> >> universities of capitalist countries.
> >> √‚¬ A. Agafonow
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> ________________________________
> >> De: "cmgermer@ufpr.br" <cmgermer@ufpr.br>
> >> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list <ope@lists.csuchico.edu>
> >> Enviado: mi√ƒ¬©rcoles, 28 de enero, 2009 19:45:56
> >> Asunto: Re: [OPE] Venezuela again
> >>
> >> Hi Alejandro,
> >>
> >> you take a curious position in this debate, not accepting the validity
> >> of
> >> the opinions of people that do not agree with your own ideas. It is
> >> clear
> >> that the debate here is not only about different opinions, but about
> >> opinions based on different theoretical concepts about society. In this
> >> case it's difficult to come to relevant agreements, you should know
> >> that,
> >> counting as you do on the impressing "theoretical resources that during
> >> centuries liberal theorists have built". The problem is that those
> >> resources do not have to impress people whose ideas are based on
> >> different
> >> theoretical resources.
> >>
> >> You do not accept Marx's theory, that's ok, but you will not be able to
> >> discredit it simply by calling every Marxist that disagrees with you a
> >> Stalinist or referring to their theories as "shapeless ideas". This
> >> seems
> >> to me to be a are very poor way of debating.
> >> comradely,
> >> Claus.
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>> Dear Jerry:
> >>> √ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>> This is the dichotomic logic that leads you to support the dictatorship
> >>> in
> >>> Cuba, and that will lead you to support any other Stalinist regime that
> >>> comes in the future.
> >>> √ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>> You, some Marxists, have not even properly developed the normative
> >>> foundations of this institutional order. I suspect that the reason is
> >>> that
> >>> you suspect that essentially these dictatorships are deeply
> >>> anti-socialists.
> >>> √ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>> Here I am, ready to willingly display the theoretical resources that
> >>> during centuries liberal theorists have built, debating with someone
> >>> who
> >>> doesn√ƒ¬Ę√Ę‚€š¬¨√Ę‚€ž¬Ęt want to even try to deepen into the normative
> >>> contradictions of
> >>> the shapeless ideas of the founder fathers of Marxism.
> >>> √ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>> I hope you understand why I can not continue with this partisan
> >>> discussion. If I want to involve in this kind of discussions
> >>> I√ƒ¬Ę√Ę‚€š¬¨√Ę‚€ž¬Ęll
> >>> go to
> >>> the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, not to OPE.
> >>> √ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>> Sincerely yours,A. Agafonow
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> ________________________________
> >>> De: GERALD LEVY <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>
> >>> Para: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
> >>> <ope@lists.csuchico.edu>
> >>> Enviado: mi√ƒ∆’√‚¬©rcoles, 28 de enero, 2009 16:11:29
> >>> Asunto: RE: [OPE] Venezuela again
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>> A serious analysis has to start explaining the socioeconomic
> >>>> foundations
> >>>> of the evolution of the two-party
> >>>> system in a regime that doesn√ƒ¬Ę√Ę‚€š¬¨√Ę‚€ž¬Ęt have formal entry
> >>>> barriers in
> >>>> the
> >>>> electoral competition.
> >>> √ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>>
> >>> Alejandro A:
> >>> √ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>> No, a serious analysis has to begin with a historical analysis,
> >>> including
> >>> class analysis.√ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>> One has to scituate the current struggle in Venezuela, not in abstract
> >>> statements about
> >>> democracy and whether term limits are desirable, but in the actual
> >>> struggles
> >>> and material conditions of workers and the poor. One, additionally, has
> >>> to
> >>> grasp
> >>> the nature of the opposition and whether they are as pro-democratic as
> >>> they claim,
> >>> not by their propaganda but by their actions.√ƒ‚€š√‚¬ Frankly, the
> >>> whole
> >>> discussion by Chavez's
> >>> opponents - nationally and internationally - about whether there should
> >>> be
> >>> term limits
> >>> is a ruse: they couldn't care less about an abstract principle, they
> >>> just
> >>> want to see Chavez
> >>> gone by any means. What is 'hilarious'√ƒ‚€š√‚¬ sometimes are the
> >>> inconsistencies
> >>> and hypocrisy of
> >>> these opponents:√ƒ‚€š√‚¬ e.g. an editorial of _The New York
> >>> Times_√ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>> supported
> >>> term limits in
> >>> Venezuela and said that Chavez was an undemocratic tyrant for opposing
> >>> them. One
> >>> would think then√ƒ‚€š√‚¬ from that editorial that _The New York Times_
> >>> was
> >>> committed to the
> >>> principle of term limits, but that is not all the case. In New York,
> >>> the
> >>> people of the
> >>> City voted twice for term limits. Yet, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg
> >>> asked
> >>> that
> >>> term limits be done away with (not through popular vote, but through a
> >>> vote of the
> >>> City Council), the _NYT_ supported Bloomberg's demand√ƒ‚€š√‚¬ to get
> >>> rid of
> >>> term
> >>> limits
> >>> on the Mayor even though polls showed that the overwhelming majority of
> >>> New
> >>> Yorkers were opposed to this.√ƒ‚€š√‚¬ Of course there are many other
> >>> examples as
> >>> well,
> >>> most notably the fact that many of the same forces which conspired
> >>> against
> >>> democracy by supporting the 2002 coup d'etat talk about how
> >>> "undemocratic"
> >>> Chavez allegedly is.√ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>> √ƒ‚€š√‚¬
> >>> In solidarity, Jerry
> >>>
> >>>
> >>>√‚¬ √‚¬ √‚¬ _______________________________________________
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> >>> ope@lists.csuchico.edu
> >>> https://lists.csuchico.edu/mailman/listinfo/ope
> >>>
> >>
> >>
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> >>
> >>
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Received on Fri Jan 30 10:30:37 2009

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