File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/97-03-16.132, message 20

Date: Fri, 14 Mar 1997 20:12:07 +0000
Subject: Re: M-I: Letter to Cockroach!

Thanks for forwarding this letter, Bob. I don't know if Marcelo is a
subscriber to M-I. If not, please send him this reply, since I don't
have his e-mail.


> But in reality the main thing I wanted to discuss is the letter of Joao
> that I didnt read, just your answer. I agree with almost all your answer
> but there are some things that are incredible in this Joao (is he
> portuguese?).

Hi Marcelo,
Yes, I'm portuguese. However, since this is an international forum, I
must reply to you in english. It's the latin of the internet era. All of
us cultivated monks must bow to the imperial lords of the day.

> When he writes about the national question and the democratic rights, he
> has a completely euro-centric vision of the world. I suggest him to come
> to Latin America or to go to Africa (maybe the former Portuguese
> colonies) and know the reality.

In fact, I was born in Mozambique and I know Africa quite well. I
haven't discussed the national question or democratic rights in this
exchange with Malecki. You haven't followed it and that shows.

> He wrote

> >15. "Backward countries and the program of transitory demands"
> >
> >There are no "colonial or semi-colonial countries" left. Permanent
> >revolution is out of business, if it ever made any sense. No
> >significative "feudal heritage" can be found anywhere. No national
> >independence problems. All countries of some relevance in the world
> >today are predominantly capitalist and industrialized, although most of
> >them are peripheric and dependent, which is totally another problem.
> >There are more hunter-gatherers than "feudals" now-a-days but I suppose
> >we're not considering permanent-revolutionizing the inuit, the
> >amazonians or Iryan Jaya.
> >Permanent revolution was an interesting concept in the sense of world
> >revolution. But if we have learned something with the XXth century
> >revolutions it is precisely that we can't voluntaristicaly whip out
> some
> >isolated backward country into socialism just like that.

> This is incredible out of reality, even in some countries like Brasil
> that in some sense is more developed
> than most Europeans country or at least has a bigger economy, we still
> have some features of underdevelopment.

You sure have. Lots of it in fact. However, you must not confuse
"underdevelopment" with the predominance of pre-capitalist features in a
given social formation. Your poverty and underdevelopment are the
product of overwhelmingly predominant capitalist relations of

> And we still some things that remember us the feudal relations. For
> example, in all Latin America we can find slavery or semi-slavery in the
> countryside, mining, etc. The national question is still a very
> important thing in all the underdeveloped countries. Many countries in
> Africa, Asia or Latin America have problems with the most basic right:
> the right to vote. The national independence problem exist everywhere,
> from Papua Nova Guine to East Timor to Tibet in Asia, Occidental Sahara
> in Africa, Suriname in Latin America (and a lot of small islands in
> Caribean Sea). There was a war 14 years ago between Argentina and
> Britain for a national question, the invasion of Malvinas in 1833 by
> England. Although we cant forget the interests of the Argentinian
> militaries in this war.

As you must know, there are lots of unsolved national questions in
Europe too. But then again, nationalism, human rights, democracy, etc.,
were out of this discussion. To be sure, these are in fact salient
characteristics of a developed bourgeois society. But capitalism is not
solely composed of these rich societies. The other side of the coin is
capitalism too: the slums, cholera, malnutrition, infant mortality,
brutal dictatorships, etc.. You cannot just call it all mere feudalist
remainders, can you? If so, I would drop marxism at once and apply for a
job at the World Bank. Forward to capitalism, at full speed I would say.
The fact is that capital reigns supreme all over the world. All over the
world, the capitalist relations of production are predominant and the
bourgeoisie has state power. That's the problem, not the solution. My
all argument is that dependent or peripheric capitalist societies are
not the same as feudalist or otherwise pre-capitalist ones. You cannot
look at Belgium and say that that's how Bolivia will look like in 100
years. That's stageism =E0 la Rostow, the ultimate capitalist utopia. But
in 100 years Belgium will probably be richer and Bolivia more or less
the same or worst off, if possible. And none of them is any less
capitalist than the other.
To conclude, I don't see any sizeable country in the world today
pregnant with a bourgeois revolution to be overrun by the proletariat's.
That's why I say permanent revolution is out of business.

> But the national question cannot be forgotten anyway. To think that
> there are no national problems or feudal heritage in the world is to
> forget also what happens in the most backward muslim countries like
> Saudi Arabia or Kuweit, Oman and others. Nos rights for the women,
> foreigners, feudal methods of punishment, etc. If Joao thinks these are
> not national problems, this is his great mistake and is caused by his
> eurocentric vision.

There are and will be lots of feudal vestiges in the world. Here you
mention a couple of them. I certainly hope that the monarchies of the
Gulf will be toppled soon by some sort of nationalist republican
movement. But I'm not betting too much on it. These regimes are fully
dominated by their own comprador (rentier) bourgeoisie. The traditional
costumes and forms of government are not an obstacle to their plans. On
the contrary. Of course, we can have some fractional fights but I don't
see any global challenge arising to it in terms of class. The
proletariat being almost non-existent, plans for permanent revolution
here would be meaningless folly.

> And if he says that there are no national independence problem, he
> forgets the question of  economic independence. Or national independence
> is just to have a president and a parliament? The policies of almost all
> the countries in the world are decided in the corridors of Washington or
> the EU. For example, the beggining of the so called reforms in Latin
> America was decided in a meeting in Washington and was called Washington
> Consensus. What does Joao has to say about it? Is it our national
> independence?

This is an important point. The relations between the dependent
bourgeoisies and their imperialist overlords will continue to be
contentious. We have lots of problems to solve between them: debt, trade
rules, patents, foreign investments, etc.. At some points, we will
surely see some nationalist/populist anti-imperialist movements in the
former "third world" countries. But the bourgeoisie is already in power
there and not after it. The ruling classes in the periphery will
probably, at times, try to bring the "people" behind them in the quest
for better terms of relationship. But ultimately, it's power is based on
its strategic alliance with the imperialist bourgeoisie. Therefore, it
can not risk to rock the boat too much. Real revolutions in these
countries can only be led by the proletariat and urban poor masses. To
succeed, they must find allies in the proletariat of the core capitalist
countries. We have come to a time when there's no real revolution but
world revolution.

> Even the industrialized countries like Brasil are dominated by a handful
> of multinationals companies like Ford, GM, Volkswagen, etc. Although
> Brasil are trying to be a minor imperialist also.
> I invite Joao to come to Brasil and travel through the North-East (one
> of the regions most underdeveloped of the world), to go to a favela
> (shanty town) and see if  the Transitional Program is wrong.
> At last we cant forget South Africa. What does he have to say about it?

I would love to go to Brazil (or South Africa). But I have lots of slums
right here in Portugal and that hasn't yet transmited me any blind faith
in the Transitional Program. You're again trying to convince me that
there is lots of poverty in this world. I know that, Marcelo. I believe
we can put an end to it. For that we will need the will and the
knowledge. We must look around wide awake and not paralised in some
"theoretical" frames forged a century ago and that probably never made
any sense.

With my most cordial salutes,


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