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by Louis Proyect
14 March 2002 13:49 UTC
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Steven Sherman wrote:
>>The quote below seems entirely relevant to this list, although I think
Wallerstein has dealt effectively with this question in many places.
Basically, while Cuba is certainly a political unit, it is not in any
meaningful sense an 'economy', if by that one means a space in which the
production of livelihood and the appropriation of surplus is conducted.  In
that sense, Cuba is part of a world economy.  The Cuba government professes
a socialist ideology--in practice, this means some good things, including
relative suppression of inequality, good education, good health care,
efforts to weaken racial and gender inequality...  The technique of the
state taking over the major economic enterprises, however, was not born
with Cuba or the Soviet Union.  It at least dates back within the European
state system to the 'mercantilist' experiments of the seventeenth century.<<

Mr. Sherman, why don't you get a proper email program. Whatever you are
using does not put ">" in front of each line. When replying to your post, I
have to waste time putting them in myself.

This is utterly ahistorical. Mercantilism was a phase in the development of
capitalism. The Cuban revolution abolished capitalism within its borders.
Selling sugar on the world market does not constitute capitalism. It
constitutes reality. You are dissolving real class relations in a fog of

>>To borrow a term from Lenin, neither the Cuban, Soviet, Chinese, etc
revolutionaries ever seized 'the commanding heights' of the world economy.
Going back to the Ciompi revolt in Florence in the 14th century,
capitalists have used the weapon of moving capital out of spaces controlled
by working class political organs to marginalize these forces.
Wallerstein, somewhat apocalyptically, believes that capitalism has reached
its limit, and in the next fifty years, the system will change into
something else (maybe better, maybe worse).<<

While they did not seize the commanding heights, they saw their liberated
territory as beachheads to organize such assaults. That is why the
Comintern gave material and political support to the German revolution of
1923. That is why Cuba organized OLAS. The art of politics is knowing what
to do next. Making observations that capitalism needs to be abolished
worldwide is not political, it is philosophical.

>>In that sense, he is quite optimistic about the potential for agency.
Arrighi fits somewhere in between the Wallersteinian position and the one
you've attributed to Gunder Frank--he believes capitalism is in some senses
coming to an end, but he also thinks the rise of East Asia will shape the
emerging world as much (more than?) actions of social movements.<<

Capitalism will only come to an end when the armed working class takes
control of the world economy. This will happen in phases. It will be a
long, frustrating process. I recommend that those with short patience look
into something like folk dancing instead.

>>I have my doubts about defeating capitalism by 'picking up a gun'.  I
don't think historical social systems have been transformed by violence to
nearly the degree traditionally argued by Marxists.  In power,
revolutionaries have shown a poor appreciation for the value of some
existing social relations, and have created bureaucratic spaces that are
the breeding ground for 'black market', 'informal economy', 'mafia', etc,
which like termites, eat away the existing state structure, leaving little
but a pile of sawdust.  I don't believe nothing can be done, but we need to
soberly assess both the strengths and weaknesses of the revolutionary

You have doubts about defeating capitalism with a gun? Okay, let's use hand
grenades instead.

Louis Proyect
Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org

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