Rules of the road

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January 14, 2007

Comments

ShineThePath

But this absurd...Prostitution in Cuba has been crack down upon with very draconian methods (which I actually disagree with). There have been police raids through the nights that have arrested thousands of people for their activities. Cuba is no where near as bad as fellow Carribbean nations or Southeast Asia. Cuban authorities have been putting their foot down. Thousands of prostitues and pimps were arrested, women were sent to facilities to be educated, and so on. The problem is something that Cuba has been dealing with, and it isn't as worse as the conditions in the early part of 1990s'.

Further about Hard Currency in Cuba, the Cubans have been dealing with this too. Cubans have switched the national currency from Pesos to Convertiable Pesos. The exchange rate of 25 Pesos to 1 American dollar is lower than "economically" dynamic Chile. Further the convertible Pesos, the new national currency is equal in value to the American Dollar. Also, the American dollar is no longer in circulation and is not accepted as a legal note in Cuba.

Also, Cubans enjoy better options in their country than most. To assert that because Cuba can't offer their people better conditions and options is itself ridiculous, it does and continues to do so. In both China and Russia, the living conditions would improve and sometimes drastically get worse (GLF for example), as well there was also black markets in both countries that existed that people joined into because it was a better option. That doesn't make those countries socialist. This is actually a dangerous line that is being pushed.

leftclick

In the first instance, he is chuckling at the [absurd but accurate] similarities he just noted between the US gov't and the character Hesh from the Sopranos. Not entirely restrained, but not exactly indicative that he thinks a US invasion of Venezuela is to be taken lightly either, as you implied.

I didn't hear it a second time where you indicated.

Pies de Barro

STP, you are citing showcase raids that are for the sake of covering the government's butt on the issue. The overall policy has been, and continues to be, to tacitly allow and facilitate prostitution.

The US dollar continues to widely circulate in Cuba. To deny that is sort of a fantastic statement to make. It is the main currency for a large part of the massive, informal economy.

That Cuba does not offer better options than prostitution to a large part of its population is just plain true. Otherwise, I somehow doubt there would be prostitution.

That Cuba does offer, overall, a better life with more options than most other Latin American countries is certainly true, and reflects real achievements that are not denigrated by denying them 'socialist' status (to use the term in a totally reified way that I can only excuse as a useful short-hand).

ShineThePath

Please cite where this is true. The US dollar is not an offical note allowed in Cuba any longer. This is policy of the Cuban government, yes it does probably circulate in a black market; however Cubans have been forcing Tourists to convert their money to the CUP. That is just a political reality. The fact that they have been smashing prostitution rings is a face that the Latin American Studies organization recognizes. And they actually note how sex tourists are trying to find ways to get prostitues in Cuba.

Just because prostitution exists, doesn't mean that the population doesn't have good options or that a state is "pimping" its people. Prostitution persisted in China and USSR through the socialist experience, it wasn't eliminated as well. Drug use, Alcholism, and so on existed in these nations. Didn't Mao himself noted that you can buy chinese officials with a pack of Marlboros?

Were these countries, like Cuba, actively fighting it and limiting it. Yes. To deny the fact that Cuba has fought prostitution through the last decade is ridiculous, because it is well known. Also look at the state of prostitution in Cuba before Special Period as well, is Cuba anything like the "brothel of the carribbean" like it use to be when it was controlled by US criminal syndicates?

Further, if the Cuban people are so disadvantegous in their position, how come they overwhelmingly support the PCC? Where is the political strife today when Castro in on the very of death. Cuba is more secure today than it was at any point of time. Is it because the lot of Cubans are better? It is funny how you just say they are mere "advances," but these advances have given the opportunity for Cubans to have educations, escape the racist heirarchy of White oppression, and have led to a dynamic nation.

I guess nothing more than "welfarism."

Pies de Barro

I'm a member of LASA, and LASA does not say that Cuba is not supporting prostitution.

I could respond, point by point, but given how much you have argued against things I never said, I sort of doubt you are actually reading what I am actually writing. Here, let me give you a string of verbiage for you to get upset about, since that seems to be what you were looking for:

...welfarism...
...petty bourgeois...
...Avakian said...
...reformist...
...China was perfect, Cuba sucks...

There. Now you can respond to my post unencumbered by any messy language between words that trigger pre-set responses.

a comment

STP wrote "Please cite where this is true. The US dollar is not an offical note allowed in Cuba any longer."

I had heard this too. But does the Cuban government have "hard currency stores" with other imperialist currencies? Like the Euro?

And it is true that the sex tourism of Cuba has not come close to the "havana as brothel" days before the revolution. Not yet anyway. Havana was then the first prototype for "sex tourism" -- later lifted to Las Vegas, and then Bangkok, and Costa Rica and so on....

Cuba has been shifting from sugar to tourist economy. From one classic neocolonial setup to another.

And there are real material things that get put in motion by this (both the sugar monoculture and the shift to tourism).

A factual question: is there a special setup that privileges foreign currencies and that defacto waves on prostitution?

As for your remark "how come they overwhelmingly support the PCC?" How do you know what they "overwhelmingly support"? That people SAY they support the government when asked?

You say Cuba is "more secure" and so on... But I think we will see. Clearly Cuba had a revolution, and Castro had real popularity (compared, for example, with most of the pro-soviet governments in eastern Europe -- which were pretty hated, though they too had their base of support.)

I think the "advances" of the Cuban experience really amount to a social welfare state in a third world country -- some leveling, some planning, some development of social services.

I don't think it wrenched Cuba out of the imperialist grip -- either in the structural dynamics of its economy, or in the way it related to imperialist powers (like the Soviet Union).

ShineThePath

Pies del Barrio, I apologize for assuming you support RCP. You have to understand that on this blog this is a usual argument with RCP supporters and this is sometimes a hub for them as well. I apologize sincerely for assuming you as a RCP supporter. However my positions on Cuba do remain unchanged in your assertion that Prostitution is the best option for the masses of Cuba.

"I had heard this too. But does the Cuban government have 'hard currency stores' with other imperialist currencies? Like the Euro?"

The only hard currency that was allowed to circulate was American currency.

"And it is true that the sex tourism of Cuba has not come close to the "havana as brothel" days before the revolution. Not yet anyway."

Not yet anyway? But it hasn't substantially increased since the late 90s'. The problem is being addressed by the Cuban government.

"Cuba has been shifting from sugar to tourist economy. From one classic neocolonial setup to another. "

Right, the neocolonial setup of sugar? Hmm..some neocolonial nation that traded its crops above the market value throughout the world, and used the profits to build the infrastructure and industry of Cuba. Also defining Cuba as having sugar monoculture is not true, Cuba developed a heavy industrialized agriculture system that sold many crops, and for most part was more food sufficient than most other socialist countries.

And how do we know that the Cuban people overwhelmingly support the PCC? Well if you are asserting that this can never be known because the PCC is lying to us (and even the bourgeois interests) yes we can never know, that is also true with every country if we assume that we are always being lied to by various academics and media sources (but I don't pressume on such). But Cubans do atleast offically support PCC and the revolutionary government in Cuba, and even then you will hear people have various opinions on their positions. Some people consider themselves Communists, others talk about themselves being Socialists or revolutionaries, but it is usually nonetheless in the confines of very positive relations toward the state.

Why is it with the death of USSR, a nation so close to an antagonistic super power with a leader on the verge of death can still nominally be "socialist" if they were so hated by its people. Can it be that they might actually have the support of the Masses? Which I do believe is the case, because they "told us so," us being the world after nearly a half decade of fighting Imperialism and revolutionary activity.

repeater

Leftclick,

I'll leave it up to others to decide for themselves whether what I observed, and my implications as to the meaning of it holds any water. I suppose it's possible that he was simply amused with the analogy of a dialogue in the Sopranos to the situation in Venezuela, but I think it's tenuous. And the second chuckle begins with the sentence starting exactly at 17 minutes and 42 seconds where he says, "and there's still the phenomenon, as I said, you know [chuckle], the US has not spoken it's last word on these governments."

At this point I feel rather petty about this whole discussion with you. I mean you've got me hunting out the exact moments where Avakian inapropriately, in my opinion, makes light of possible attacks on Venezuela. I think that it's been pushed to this absurdity because of a problem with taking criticism. If my impression of these moments in Avakian's soliloquoy are accurate they constitute a form of sectarianism, which you then, in the name of support for Avakian and the Party, exacerbate by attacking me as essentially being "worse than an anarchist".

It's of no consequence to me personally. I just thought it was a reasonable criticism to be made. And I thought you guys were about, not just listening to criticism, but actively facilitating it and seeking it out. I guess that only holds for people that are not worse than anarchists.

At any rate my more important critical points have been completely ignored. Whether he chuckled and at what moment is not as important as whether the Party is doing investigation purely to enhance it's already decided verdict on Venezuela.

Nor is it as important as the recognition that Avakian lumps Chavez into the same list of characters as Lula, as if they're one and the same.

This actually reminds me of how Avakian makes no distinction between "objective truth" and "objective reality", using the terms interchangeably. You can hear this in Question #1, among other places.

But I digress...

My other points regarding the real material situations that these smaller countries have to face in terms of developing socialism, and how, it seems to me, in criticisms of them Avakian and the RCP apply a one size (or two) fits all approach to socialism.

And my final point about the distance between what Avakian is actually saying and the way it is presented by RCP supporters.

Those are all more important to struggle over and clarify than exactly where Avakian is laughing, or hiccuping, or whatever. At the same time, there is some connection between this criticism and these others. Because, afterall, it isn't about when and where he laughed, but rather it is about what in the world he could be laughing about if not US intervention against an opposing ideological current. And if that's the standpoint, well it is a serious matter. You've suggested he's laughing about the Sopranos, I hope so. And perhaps his second, milder, chuckle was in rememberance of his earlier witicism.

Hmmm... I ended where I started.

leftclick

repeater: yeah, let's get over the chuckle. Please. I didn't hear the larger implications that you did. What next, Avakian blinks his eyes at the wrong time and it means he's calling for the bombing of Iran? Also, I did not say that YOU were worse than anarchists, but that your remarks went beyond those of anarchists. Why take it so personally? Criticism is always welcome here but usually there are at least three things that should be observed. First, confirm the phenomena - which you did. Second, consider other, plausible explanations, - which you did not. Third, using overblown rhetoric to make your point ["damned", "condemned"] does nothing for your argument's credibility.

While it's true that Lula, Chavez, Morales, et. al. are not the same, it would be wrong not to see their elections as part of a trend among Latin Americans to oppose US imperialism. so they are not the same but they are responding to the same phenomena. It's important to properly separate out not only similarities and differences but to be able to tell which ones are primary and which ones are secondary. You suggest that we should only focus on differences, since RCP tends to homogenize. Then you imply that the differences are primary.

In terms of line, how fundamental are their differences? Petras, in his article lumps Morlaes and Chavez together as "pragmatic' leftists. Here are some reasons he gave: "Venezuela, Bolivia and the entire spectrum of above-mentioned social movements, trade union confederations, parties and fractions of parties do not call for the abolition of capitalism, the repudiation of the debt, the complete expropriation of US or EEC banks or multinational corporation, or any rupture in relations with the US."

It's not the case that nothing new can ever happen. That's why we are all watching Venezuela, Nepal, the EZLN. At the same time, we can't be so desperate for hope as to ignore warning signs from past failed strategies when we see them.

"Brother, it's the empire!"

"Well I just announced the recovery of the state property of the Venezuelan telephone company," Chavez said. "Who controls it? North American capital. And they've used the Venezuelan telephone company to record the president of the Republic. Brother, it's the empire!"

Christopher Day

I respect Petras alot, but I don't think we should confuse his attempt to sort Latin America into several broad categories with a serious analysis of whats happening in Venezuela.

To my mind the important thing Petras is pointing to is that there are important forces in Latin America to the left of Chavez. None of them hold state power, but they aren't just mega-ultras either.

I think Petras's category of the "pragmatic left" is overly broad and submerges some pretty important differences. I don know if Chavez has or hasn't called "for the abolition of capitalism" but he has called for the establishment of socialism and explicitly invoked Marx, Lenin, Mao, and, yes, Trotsky in a manner that goes beyond simple populism. He is pushing people to delve into the whole range revolutionary socialist and communist politics and that is something qualitatively different that what Lula or AMLO has done.

The question of whether Chavez has called for "the repudiation of the debt, the complete expropriation of US or EEC banks or multinational corporation, or any rupture in relations with the US" is a separate question. Clearly Venezuela has not embarked on a project of economic autarky and given their situation this seems like a no-brainer. They still depend on access to foreign capital and have proceeded cautiously in fucking with it. In the meantime they hav ealso been politically educating and physically arming the people.

The question of whether a society is or is not on the socialist road is a complex one. The criteria for determining it don't stand still because there is a continuous process of reflecting on and building on historical experience. Venezuela is less well positioned to immediately pursue a more autarkic course that countries like Russia or China. And its decisions to maintain important aspects of bourgeois democracy make the forced-marches of self-sacrifice that occurred in those countries less viable. I think this is a good thing, but it complicates comparing their respective accomplishments in attempting to overcome the operations of the law of value.

To my mind, political intentions matter a lot here. Objective conditions and subjective assessments of those conditions may lead a government to go slow on certain questions, but the question we should always ask is "what is the overall trend at work here?" Chavez is aggressively promoting socialism at a moment when few other forces are doing so. He hasn't declared Venezuela a socialist country and if he does that won't make it so. But he seems to be serious about taking it down that road. Reducing what he is doing to social-democracy or welfarism is simplistic and I think wrong. Similarly there is a long history of populist nationalists in Latin America and Chavez's politics are something different.

Socialist revolution in Latin America faces a whole set of distinct structural and historical conditions that are very different from what existed in China, not least being its division into so many different countries. I think Chavez is trying to chart a course towards socialism appropriate to those particularities. I also think the same of Cuba. Cuba has gone further down the road, but arguably is stalled out on the side of the road. Whether thats because they were driving a late-model Trabant now rendered irreparable or because they are simply out of gas (in which case Venezuela can be of some assistance) requires getting under the hood. I won't push this metaphor any further, but you get the point.

Chuck Morse

But, really, what are the possibilities for creating socialism in Venezuela or even moving in that direction? Venezuela’s dependence on the global market suggest (to me, at least) that there are only two options: a) autarky (in the model of Cuba or North Korea) or; b) integration into the market economy, with an expanded welfare state.

I can’t imagine that anyone would be particularly excited about either of those things, but what other possibilities exist?

LS

Chuck, your seeming denial that any other possibilities exist in Venezuela besides your disparaging choices of "autarky" or "integration into the market economy with an expanded welfare state" is profoundly pessimistic about the prospect for building a new socialist society anywhere.

This denial is particularly confusing to me in the face of Venezuela actually taking real steps toward building socialism right now in front of our eyes. It is happening. Don't you agree that the actions being taken in Venezuela lead toward socialism and away from capitalism?

Your logic seems to only lead to the conclusion that socialism is impossible. Or do you hold the Trostkyist view that the "advanced" capitalist countries are the only ones that have adequate conditions to build "real" socialism? I don't mean to be snarky, but am I missing something?

Christopher Day

Socialism is traditionally thought of as a transitional phase between capitalism and communism that follows the achievment of political power by the working class or its party or parties. There are all sorts of tasks associated withthat process of transition. Some can be accomplished within a territory like Venezuela. Others can't. On economic matters it seems the pursuit of autarkic goals like self-sufficiency in food and energy and "welfare state" goals like universal access to health care and education should be combined with building a genuinely socialized sector of the economy (nationalized industries, cooperatives and collectives). But the most important thing, which is reinforced by this sort of economic reorganization, is the political process of involving the masses in decision-making and winning them to socialist and communist politics. "The masses" here are first and foremost the urban and rural poor and working classes of Venezuela, but also everybody else in Latin America and the world who is drawn to this experiment and hopefully inspired to fight for socialism in their own countries which, if successful, further transforms the possibiliities for going beyond the choices of autarky and the welfare state.

The point is that socialism is a PROCESS and not a stable and achieved condition.

Chuck Morse

LS, I think you are missing something: the fact that I asked a question. Other than the two options that I noted, what other possibilities for building socialism exist in Venezuela? My query is sincere. Evidently you have lots of optimism (congratulations), but do you have an answer to my question?

leftclick

DAY SAYS: "Reducing what he is doing to social-democracy or welfarism is simplistic and I think wrong." Why is it reductionism if it's accurate?

Besides rhetoric and name-dropping, I'm still not clear what he means by socialism. Am I asking for a general abstract definition? Yes. While socialism will take on different forms in each country, they must each hold some fundamental characteristics in common to be able to all use the term "socialist" to describe themselves.

One understanding of socialism is that it's primarily an economic development strategy. This was promoted in the "third world" by people like Nyerere and Ho Chi Minh. I'm not saying that their populations so no benefits from this, but is that what we're talking about? Why is Chavez different?

Chuck Morse

Chris, yes, socialism is a process (like all historical conditions, hypothetical or otherwise), but that observation does not address the conflict that I pointed to. In my view, as long as Venezuela is integrated into the global economy, forces beyond its borders (like the IMF, World Bank, etc) will have the capacity to veto stronger moves toward socialism. Do you disagree? I am not only referring to the possibility of military interventions, but also the possibility of trade embargos, sanctions, currency devaluations, resource seizures, etc?

Haisanlu

Hugo Chavez advisor Heinz Dieterich on what is Socialism ?

Q. In your opinion, has there been any socialist country in the modern era?

A. It depends on the criteria that are used for such judgment. As a scientific economist and sociologist, I prefer the parameters that Marx and Engels used: economy of value and participatory democracy. And under those criteria, there has been no socialist society since the French Revolution, although, yes, there have been many heroic and tragic attempts to achieve it.

I have more from Dieterich on Seek-the Truth-Serve-the-People.blogspot,com

the burningman

Establishing a sovereign welfare state in a third world country is no small accomplishment. While some may not be "excited" about the lack of shanytowns and cholera in Cuba, I am. That children do not beg on the street, that basic security of person exists – these are fantastic accomplishments, gains which could not have happened without the struggle, conscious activity and perseverance of the Cuban people in the face of unrelenting terror (and sugar-coated bullets) from the imperialist powers.

Cuba is not an "autarky." It never was, and never had anything like the "Juche" model of development. They rejected food sovereignty pretty early on, opting for a cash-crop model under state direction. Cuba went so far as to ban small merchants, shops, venders, or the cultivation and private sale of foodstuffs, insuring that all labor went into their massive sugar harvests to sweeten the Eastern Bloc.

These are measures, particularly the squeezing of the small merchant, and nationalization of land rather than a land-to-the-tiller program of reform, that I don't think helped Cuba and was a dogmatic, authoritarian subordiantion of all activity to the state – while that state was seeking to maximize profit on the "international market" of the Cominform.

Once their Soviet patrons bottomed out, Cuba did indeed suffer widespread malnutrition. In desperation, they legalized the dollar (which was already in wide circulation, as it continues to be no matter the law) and, alongside the development of the tourist industry, there were a few years of widespread prostitution, tacitly allowed by the state.

The party response was to demonize sex workers, while letting Canadian, Italian and other sex tourists come by the thousand. It was the women, girls and boys who needed to buy cooking oil, which was only available for some time in dollar shops, who were treated as if they were weak for using the only means they had to secure hard currency.

While prostitution has been cracked down on, again, it is the women who have suffered the brunt of this – not the tourists! Two years in a Cuban prison for a first conviction. No small potatos. On the bright side, pimps get ten years on a first conviction, so pimping is not common and severely punished. At least "sex management" gets the hard punishment, but what of criminalizing the workers?

Drugs are also severely punished, including marijuana, while widely available. I'm talking years of time in a tiny box for a couple of joints while cheap rum pours on tap.

This hypocrisy, to me, points to the ways in which the state opens the "bolsa negra" (literally black bag, or black market) like a valve, while using prison to regulate the masses of people.

What are their options?

Again, a real discussion. That Venezuelan oil has made a massive difference in the options they have, the quality of life, the growth of other sectors of the economy. No man is an island.

-------

What choices would these countries make if the fear of imperialism was checked? We can see that with the armies tied up in the Persian Gulf and Korean penninsula, they've gained a measure of international liberty for domestic development.

----------

Regarding Chuck's questions, they are some of the same ones I have. But, as I don't view political power itself as the enemy, I am not blinded to what is possible, or confused that means and ends are fundamentally the same(!).

New Democracy, in the Maoist sense, is not simply "democracy" stripped of class content – it is a developed unity among the national bourgeoisie, workers, farmers and the intelligensia under the dictatorship of the proletariat, specifically the leadership of a communist party. It is, in the most really real sense: a (New Democratic) revolution to make (socialist) revolution possible.

It is the party that becomes the articulation (and battleground) of the working classes and their allies against monopoly capital, while not turning intermediate elements into the enemy.

Take heart, Chuck. This theory of socio-political development is why "anarchists", or more accurately mutual aid, DIY, and "participatory" projects have such a vital role in socialism. See Fanshen...

Venezuela can be a base area for the expansion of a Latin American socialist polity. That does not mean that every development elsewhere (as per Petras) needs to follow the lead of Chavez, or be constrained by their advice or path.

I sure hope not, because that's not possible. But going back to the simple welfare state model, that's not the worst thing in the world – and anyone who hasn't seen the real effect this has not just on people's teeth, but their consciousness – Cuba is just 90 miles away...

One key difference between socialism and social-democracy is the road it is traveling. Is it making tangible efforts towards communism and world revolution, or is it jockeying for position within the world imperialist order?

Right now, there is reason for hope that Venezuela is leaning towards the former – at least rhetorically. The nationalizations so far have really been re-nationalizations and the excesses of the upper classes have not been dealt with.

Now we'll see.

The Venezuela's masses of people have embraced this socialist rhetoric. Cults of personality abound with Commandante Che's picture everywhere! Those zombies! LOL. Popular universities are being established, model cities are being planned. A people's militia is being armed, fully aware of "fourth generation warfare".

All and all – something to engage, criticize, support, popularize and defend.

Chuck Morse

Burningman, in your view, what are the concrete differences between Maoist "New Democracy" and regular old bourgeois democracy? I know you think that one leads to communism, but how are they unique in a structural, practical sense?

You write: “it is a developed unity among the national bourgeoisie, workers, farmers and the intelligensia under the dictatorship of the proletariat, specifically the leadership of a communist party.” What is a “developed" unity?

These are sincere questions.

r. john

and good questions!

r. john

and while we are at it:

Why isn't "democcracy" a structural question? What is wrong with seeing "democracy" as a series of forms?

Why can ANY structural form serve capitalist dictatorship?

And what then makes a state function as a revolutionary and proletarian dictatorship (including in the way it both enables AND EXPANDS the CONSCIOUS activism of the masses)?

three things i've been studying:

First:

"In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about 'democracy'— without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves—is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no “democracy for all”: one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality."

second:

Avakian's Three Alternative Worlds
http://rwor.org/a/021/avakian-three-alternative-worlds.htm

Third:
Series of essays and talks from Avakian on issues and contradictions involved in the socialist transition to communism.

http://rwor.org/avakian/issues-contradictions-communism.html


The RIM Declaration of 1984 contains a capsule discussion of this:

"The colonial (or neo-colonial) countries subjugated by imperialism have constituted the main arena of the worldwide struggle of the proletariat in the period since World War II and up until the present day. In this period a great deal of experience has been achieved in waging revolutionary struggle, including revolutionary warfare. Imperialism has been handed extremely serious defeats and the proletariat has won imposing victories including the establishment of socialist countries. At the same time the communist movement has obtained bitter experience where the revolutionary masses in these countries have waged heroic struggles, including wars of national liberation, which have not led to the establishment of political power by the proletariat and its allies but where the fruits of the victories of the people have been picked by new exploiters usually in league with one or another imperialist power(s). All of this shows that the international communist movement has a very important task to critically sum up the several decades of experience in waging revolution in these kinds of countries.

The point of reference for elaborating revolutionary strategy and tactics in the colonial, semi (or neo) colonial countries remains the theory developed by Mao Tsetung in the long years of revolutionary warfare in China.

The target of the revolution in countries of this kind is foreign imperialism and the comprador-bureaucrat bourgeoisie and feudals, which are classes closely linked to and dependent on imperialism. In these countries the revolution will pass through two stages: a first, new democratic revolution which leads directly to the second, socialist revolution. The character, target and tasks of the first stage of the revolution enables and requires the proletariat to form a broad united front of all classes and strata that can be won to support the new democratic programme. It must do so, however, on the basis of developing and strengthening the independent forces of the proletariat, including in the appropriate conditions its own armed forces and establishing the hegemony of the proletariat among the other sections of the revolutionary masses, especially the poor peasants. The cornerstone of this alliance is the worker-peasant alliance and the carrying out of the agrarian revolution (i.e. the struggle against semi-feudal exploitation in the countryside and/or the fulfillment of the slogan "land to the tiller") occupies a central part of the new democratic programme."

I think it is significant that this is seen in terms of the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist revolution (not mainly or basically in structural terms).

In other words, new democracy is not (mainly or basically) about some new structural innovations in the way some otherwise classless entity "democracy" is carried out... (i.e. "real democracy" as opposed to "fake democracy")

It is rooted in the understanding that different classes use and develop different "democracy" when they rule... to draw in the masses in very different ways and for starkly different purposes.

New Democracy is when the proletariat and its vanguard party leads in carrying out major tasks historically associated with the bourgeois democratic anti-feudal revolution -- but does so as part of the far more radical and sweeping transition to communism.

This involves forms and structures too, of course -- including unprecedented ones. It may be worth a discussion of what those forms and structures were in china -- during the land reform, during the earthshaking overthrow of feudalism and the landlords, and beyond...

But, for clarity, again, what is "new" about New Democracy does not mainly reside there, but in the way the anti-feudal struggle is connected with the socialist transition to communism.

Chuck Morse

Thanks for that. So, in that case, a period of "New Democracy" would not be relevant to Venezuela (because Venezuela is not a feudal country or a colony). Is that right?.

r. john

ah.....

ok, lemme put it like this:

china was (at the time of its 1949 revolution) scientifically described as "semi-feudal, semi-colonial"

this is not "countryside is feudal, cities are colonial" -- but a description of the overall relations of production and worldposition of china as a "national formation."

One of the things Avakian has been struggling for is a nuanced and updated analysis of the third world today -- where (clearly) most countries are NOT simply analogoous to where China was half a century ago!

There is still a major divide in the world (between imperialist and oppressed countries), and there is still major swathes of semifeudal society in the world (despite the denial of some, the oppressed peasantry is probably still the largest single class in the world. It is not simply or everywhere reducable to capitalist farm labor, or "family farmers operating in the context of capitalist commodity market").

I am not familiar with Venezuela and the actual details of its class structure and modes of production (are there semifeudal latifundisti dominating the countryside?).

Clearly there is a semi-colonial (or neo-colonial) questions, which runs to the heart of our discussions here.

And I think there are ways that the analysis of New Democracy apply widely to countries like this -- even if the degree of semifeudalism has changed with important implications.

r. john

My point was: Venezuela is a third world country dominated by imperialism. It is wracked by the problems of disarticulation, and is in the grip of the dynamics and inequalities of an imperialist global system (including but not limited to the ways this plays out in the oil commodity market and prices).

So there is a "national question" here, a question of national liberation -- which forms a huge component of what New Democracy is about (i.e. it is about agrarian revolution and national liberation as a transition to socialism and communism).

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