[OPE] discussion of Marta's work

From: <glevy@pratt.edu>
Date: Mon Dec 07 2009 - 16:10:08 EST

-------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------

Subject: OPE-L discussion of Marta's work
From: "michael
a. lebowitz" <mlebowit@sfu.ca>
Date: Sun, December 6,
2009 3:11 pm
To: "Gerald Levy" <glevy@pratt.edu>

Hi Jerry,
I try to follow the OPE-L discussions even
though I don't have the
time to participate. I'm always a bit behind
because I rely on the
archives. I see that a discussion has opened
up about Marta Harnecker's
Ideas for Struggle, and I thought I could
add a points for information
of list-members. So, I hope you can
pass this on.
Almost everything contained in those ideas [which were
sent out in Spanish as 'Bullets'] is a distillation of a
analysis of the experience of Latin American Left parties
from the
70s-90s. Much comes from her observation and involvement
[eg., in
Allende's Chile] and her extended interviews with party
people over the
years--- plus her studies of the new, emerging
experiences such as
participatory budgeting in Brazil, the wide
front in Uruguay, , the MST
in Brazil, the Causa R in the 90s in
Venezula, etc. Ie., it was a very
strong critique of Leninist
parties, communist parties, etc and a search
for new approaches that
could link up and learn from social movements
rather than treat them
as transmission belts or be parasitic on them.
The experiences are
written up in detail in her 'Left on the Threshold
of the 21st
Century' and then 'The Left after Seattle'. All her books
[80 or
so-- including books on Lenin] can be found on-line at her
page at www.rebelion.org. (These include recent works on
councils, local planning, the emerging communes in Venezuela.)
Almost all, unfortunately, are only in Spanish and there are very few of

her books which are available in English. This includes her classic,

'Elementary Concepts of Historical Materialism', which has sold over
million copies since its publication 40 years ago (which was the
for an international celebration of all her work this last
week in
Caracas). However, many of the points in the 'Ideas' are
explored in
'Rebuilding the Left' (Zed Books), which I think came
out in 2007 and
you can find the extensive references that academics
want there.
One additional point that shouldn't surprise anyone in
the light of
the above: in Venezuela, her continuing focus has been
upon the
importance of popular power and she has been very critical
of tendencies
of political parties [ie., the PSUV] to substitute for
popular movements
and structures; in turn, her enemies [and, indeed,
that of all of us at
Centro Internacional Miranda] comes from those
most wed to the very
practices criticised in her "Ideas for
I hope this is useful background.
in solidarity,

ps. yes, she was a student of Althusser [and was in
the circle with
Balibar, et al], and Althusser did a preface for
Concepts...'. However, for many years, her work has
stressed not the
structure but revolutionary subjects.

Michael A. Lebowitz 
Professor Emeritus 
Simon Fraser University 
8888 University Drive 
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6 
Director, Programme in
'Transformative Practice and Human Development' 
Centro Internacional
Miranda, P.H. 
Residencias Anauco Suites, Parque Central, final Av.
Caracas, Venezuela 
fax: 0212 5768274/0212 5777231 

ope mailing list

Received on Mon Dec 7 16:12:34 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Thu Dec 31 2009 - 00:00:02 EST