by Joseph Green
(from Communist Voice #11, Dec. 15, 1996)
Organization of the article:
"Bimodal" agriculture and the agrarian crisis
Class differences among the peasantry
The class basis of socialism
The peasantry as such
Two visions of the socialist agriculture of the future
A measure of the progress towards socialism
Marxism on elimination of peasantry "as peasantry"
Peasant socialism gives a socialist coloring to democratization
Communist program for a period of democratization
Just be militant--a formula for subordinating the movement to the reformist wing of the bourgeoisie
From Cardenas to Echeverría
The search for the perfect ejido reform
Keeping the peasantry on the land
Factories in the countryside
The reality of small-scale production
Reorganizing the proletarian movement
Text of the article:
. Mexico faces democratic changes with the ongoing crisis that is leading to the collapse of the PRI's political monopoly. Whether this change comes through a deal between PRI and the other bourgeois parties or takes place in the midst of exciting mass actions, there is not going to be a socialist revolution in Mexico at this time, but a liberalization of the bourgeois regime. If the workers and peasants are not just to be cannon fodder for a struggle benefiting the reformist section of the Mexican bourgeoisie, if they are to achieve some improvement in their situation and if the class-conscious workers are to prepare for a future socialist revolution, then the coming changes must not be dressed up in quasi-socialist colors. All around the world in the last few years, whenever there has been liberalization, the bourgeoisie has called on the workers to sacrifice now that the regime is a bit more democratic. But the working class movement needs democracy in order to carry out a wider and clearer class struggle, not to sacrifice for the bourgeoisie. The clearer the workers are about the real nature of the coming changes and the limitations of the general democratization movement, the more likely they will be able to achieve some real rights for themselves and to rebuild a proletarian party for socialism.
. Sarah's article "The continuing crisis in Mexico" in the latest issue of the Chicago Workers' Voice Theoretical Journal [in CWVTJ #11, Oct. 7, 1996] sketches her view of what a socialist program for Mexico would be. Instead of starting from the real features of what is going on in Mexico, she and other CWVTJ writers such as Anita and Jack Hill idealize the peasant movement and paint it in quasi-socialist colors. The peasant uprising in Chiapas and other peasant actions are important because they raise mass demands in the current crisis, rather than letting things be settled by deals between the bourgeois parties. They are also important because in them some of the poorest and most marginalized toilers are rising up and demanding their rights. But the peasant movement is not fighting for socialism; and even when it does talk of socialism, "peasant socialism" envisions it as the small peasant economy with lots of government aid and protection. The limited outlook of the radical peasants doesn't make their struggle any less heroic, but it does show that the class-conscious workers shouldn't restrict themselves to support for the peasant movement. A socialist movement of Mexican workers would, while supporting the peasants when they fight against the bourgeoisie, have its own program not just for the city and for Mexico as a whole, but for the Mexican countryside too, placing special emphasis on support for the rural workers and semi-proletarian section of the peasants.
. The CWV speaks in the name of the working class, but its viewpoint on Mexico doesn't go much beyond idealizing the program of the radical peasant movement, such as the EZLN. It also supports the Mexican journal El Machete as the rallying center for the Mexican left although Sarah herself says that it tends to "equate communism with the communal forms which exist among the peasantry in Mexico ." (1) Anita, in the current issue of CWVTJ, denounces criticism of the EZLN or class analysis of the peasant movement as allegedly stabbing the real fighters in the back. The result is that CWV can't put forward a truly communist program for the present situation in Mexico. The main demand in their agrarian program is for the extension of the ejidos (agrarian co-ops with small-scale agriculture), and for state aid to them, and they dream of giving the ejidos a socialist character. They don't see why a communist agrarian program, while supporting additional land reform, must emphasize the decay of the ejido system and the growth of the class struggle within the peasantry. Nor do they see why the communist program must show the petty-bourgeois character of the peasant movement, rather than dreaming of the peasant movement giving up its inevitable vacillations.
. Sarah's recent article tries to provide a theoretical backing for CWV's stand, and she ends up elaborating a theory of peasant socialism. In trying to give the ejidos a socialist coloring, she calls for the maintenance of small-scale agricultural production as a necessary part of socialism. She even denies the specifically working class character of a socialist society and instead views the existence of a distinct peasant class as eternal. She holds that the key to a socialist program is repudiating such ideas as that socialism involves transforming the peasantry into rural workers with the same elevated status as any other socialist worker. Sarah can only see the elimination of the peasant status as it is today--the ruining of the poor peasants and the driving of them off the land into shantytowns and sprawling slums, and not their elevation to the status of workers running the entire economy. So she holds that socialism must preserve the peasantry "as peasants", and she suggests preserving a vast system of ejidos, which are agrarian coops with small-scale agriculture. She admits that the ejidos are "individual communes which . . . compete with each other" but she thinks that eventually they can become part of "a highly integrated system of large and small scale, capital-intensive and labor-intensive agriculture".
. Sarah's article begins by denouncing the present "bimodal" system of agriculture in Mexico, where large-scale, efficient producers dominate and exploit the mass of impoverished peasants in the ejidos. But what she proposes as "socialism" is "socialist" bimodalism, where the predominant agriculture will be efficient and large-scale but the peasants "as peasants" will be left in "highly labor intensive" ejidos. Her vision of the socialist countryside turns out to be an idealized version of the capitalist countryside, only her bimodalism is supposed to be "for the benefit of the masses".
. Sarah fails to see that the existence of a special peasant class is a social condition that exists
only during a certain period in history. She instead identifies the peasantry with those who work
the land. She zealously denounces various unnamed "socialists" and "activists" for allegedly
being prejudiced against the peasantry. But in denying the specifically proletarian character of
socialism, she is opposing the Marxist view of socialism.
"BIMODAL" AGRICULTURE AND
THE AGRARIAN CRISIS
. Sarah's analysis of the agrarian crisis in Mexico begins with the "bimodal or two-tiered structure" of agriculture, an analysis she takes from Tom Barry's book Zapata's Revenge. She uses the term "bimodalism" to describe the split of the countryside into large and small producers. It is a somewhat confusing term as used by Sarah and Barry because it mixes together several different types of splits in the countryside: between big capitalist farms and peasant production; between those who exploit labor and those who don't (many peasants exploit labor);between commercial and subsistence farming; etc. Thus, as used by Barry and Sarah, it seems to identify "commercial" farming only with large-scale capitalist farms, thus slurring over the crucial fact that most petty production is also commercial farming (albeit petty commercial farming), farming where at least some of the product has to be sold on the market. But it does give a dramatic expression to the idea that in the countryside there is a massive peasant lower tier on one hand and large-scale capitalist tier on the other.
. Sarah describes how the lower tier of agriculture, that of petty production, is not a refuge for the
peasants and does not protect them from large-scale agriculture. On the contrary, the lower tier is
exploited by the big capitalist farms and by the industrial capitalists as well. The poor peasants
provide a source of cheap labor for the large farms (and for the peasant bourgeoisie in the ejidos)
and for industry; they grow the crops that aren't so profitable; and so forth. Indeed, one might
add, much of the lower tier lives by selling its products to the upper tier, and selling at a
disadvantage. One might say that the basic law of bimodal agriculture is that the large producers
exploit the small.
. But having described this system, Sarah can see no further than preserving this system, albeit with some reforms to help the petty producers continue to eke out a miserable existence. As far as demands under capitalism, Sarah doesn't demand the end of the bimodal system. The only way she sees bimodal farming ending under capitalism is if "the agricultural population is relatively small". (2) And as far as socialism goes, she thinks it undesirable to end bimodalism.
. Two-tier agriculture could be eliminated in one of two ways--eliminating the upper tier, large-scale agriculture, or eliminating the lower tier, small-scale agriculture. Sarah holds that "Socialism is not possible if it is not superior to capitalism, and that includes being more efficient." Therefore she holds that large-scale agriculture has a place in socialism. But she also argues in favor of small-scale agriculture, making a point of preserving even "non-modern" and inefficient agriculture, although she often uses the euphemism "highly labor intensive" capitalism for the back-breaking drudgery typical of non-mechanized, small-scale agriculture.(3)She thinks that preserving petty production in agriculture is essential for the well-being of the mass of peasantry, and indeed her article was written with the purpose of denouncing those socialists who wish to end bimodalism as prejudiced against the peasants.
. Sarah's ideal countryside is "a highly integrated system of large and small scale, capital-intensive agriculture geared to the needs of the masses," something which she says is "highly unlikely under capitalism." (4) In fact, large and small scale agriculture is already integrated in today's Mexico. The very facts Sarah cites about the peasantry's role in the Mexican economy, about their being a source of labor power for large farms and factories and about their selling goods to the large farms, shows that such an integration exists. What would be different under Sarah's plan is that this would "geared to the needs of the masses".
. Nevertheless, no matter how much a government geared its policies to the benefit of the masses,
as long as two distinct systems of production existed, as long as there was a two-tiered system,
one tier would dominate the other. Once again, it will be large-scale production that will
dominate small-scale production. The peasants would end up stuck in a system that provides
them less income and less control over their lives. This is clear even in Sarah's description of her
idea of socialism, for in her plan the small scale sector in socialist agriculture would remain a
source of labor power for large-scale farming and industry. One of her proposals is that a socialist
government should "locate a substantial amount of diversified industries away from the current
large urban centers, not only providing employment to those who have been driven off the land,
but a higher standard of living (higher wages). . ." So the peasants have lower incomes than the
workers, and the two tiers are integrated by the peasants having to work in both. Sarah's bimodal
socialism turns out to resemble capitalism, only with the government having more benevolent
policies, such as "diversified industries" rather than what exists at present.
. Marxist socialism has a different vision of socialist agriculture. It intends to eliminate bimodalism altogether, thus radically eliminating the oppression and marginalization of the present-day peasants. It will do this by eliminating petty production in industry and agriculture, and thus having a one-tiered system in the entire economy. This cannot be implemented by a single decree on the day of the proletarian revolution, but will require a number of transitional steps, in which the artisans and peasants and petty-bourgeois who are used to individual and small-scale economy get used to collective methods of work. But socialism will be achieved only when bimodalism is gone. The large and rich will oppress the small and poor--that is just about the fundamental law of bimodalism. Socialism can only eliminate this oppression by eliminating bimodalism.
. Of course, socialism won't have just any type of large-scale production. It will have large-scale production which is owned and run by society as a whole. The social direction of the economy in the interests of all isn't compatible with just any system of ownership. It doesn't mean just better government policies while private ownership remains. It requires replacing the private ownership of the means of production with social ownership by society as a whole. This is incompatible with a two-tiered system, which inevitably involves two quite different systems of ownership or control: large-scale enterprise run by society as whole (or society minus the lower-tier) and small scale enterprise owned and run by the individual or the small group.
. Sarah presents the eliminating of bimodalism as the idea of giantism, of "bigger is automatically
better". (5) It is true that socialist farming will use collective workgroups, which are more
efficient than individual farm labor and which also allow for a more humane way of life for the
toiler. But she confuses the size of the workgroup with whether the toilers' livelihood depends
solely on their own workplace, which they own or control, or whether the toilers' livelihood
depends on the economy as whole, and they direct the entire economy. The exact size of a
workgroup or an individual socialist farm will differ depending on a host of factors, such as
changes in technology, the particular product or crop, etc. But the ownership of the farm or
workplace is by society as a whole.
Class differences among the peasantry
. The Marxist program also has a different attitude to bimodalism under capitalism than Sarah's. In discussing the peasantry, Sarah's attitude to the increasing class differentiation within the peasantry is simply horror. Her program in the countryside centers on retarding this differentiation as much as possible under capitalism, and then maintaining petty production under socialism. She does not put forward a program for rallying the semi-proletarian elements of the peasantry and for encouraging a section of peasantry to see that small production represents their past, not their future.
. Sarah does occasionally mention different sections of the peasantry, but her "bimodal" analysis puts emphasis on the contrast between the peasantry as a whole with the large capitalist and landlord farms. The entire ejido peasantry, both the rich peasant and his neighbors who he hires to work on his field, are small peasants with respect to the large capitalist enterprises. But the Marxist analysis of the peasant coop, the ejido, notes that within the ejido, and among the small peasantry, there is a breakup into the better-off peasants who are exploiting other peasants as hired labor and in other ways; peasants who are just getting by; and peasants who are being ruined and who have to hire themselves out.
. In this regard, the class analysis from El Machete which is reprinted in CWVTJ is of interest. At one point, El Machete describes the petty-bourgeoisie as divided up into rich, middle and poor sections, but it doesn't attach any political significance to this. The result of its analysis is simply that the petty-bourgeoisie is oppressed by the big capitalists too, as is the proletariat. It is this failure to note the significance of the class differences within the ranks of the oppressed people that helps prevent El Machete from being able to proclaim a program for the coming period that would encourage proletarian independence. After all, can it really be believed that the exploiters of labor and the hired hands will have the same views towards economic reform, to political questions, to revolutionary change, or to socialism?
. El Machete's analysis goes as follows: After distinguishing the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, it refers to the "small petty-bourgeoisie", which itself embraces rich, middle and poor sections. They write of "the small rural and urban petty bourgeoisie with its rich, medium and poor sectors, which being subordinated to capital through the market, transfer value to capital for its own reproduction, for which they are plundered by businesses, creditors, functionaries, landlords, bankers and industrialists." (6) Thus El Machete's recognizes different sections of the "small" petty-bourgeoisie, but they regard all of them as part of the downtrodden middle. They note that all these sectors are exploited by a variety capitalists and functionaries, and this is a more or less correct observation as far as the ejido peasantry is concerned. But this also indicates that talking about the small peasantry or contrasting the peasant tier to the large commercial tier doesn't necessarily indicate that one has a class analysis of the peasantry.
. Similarly, Sarah does refer to the "differentiation" among the peasants, but she doesn't discuss
the political and economic consequences of it. She doesn't discuss whether this affects their
attitude to socialism and to the current changes in Mexico. The result is that she doesn't see that
the answer to the misery of capitalist bimodalism must include attention to organizing the rural
workers and poor peasants into a class struggle to obtain better conditions from the capitalists,
but instead focuses her agrarian program solely on land reform and, in practice, on plans to prop
up the ejido a bit longer.
. Sarah not only ignores the significance of the division of the peasantry, but her most moving descriptions of the ills of present-day Mexico give a petty-bourgeois nationalist analysis of them. She begins by associating the "bimodal" structure of agriculture with particular government policies. She writes about how NAFTA is responsible for the marginalization of the small agricultural producers and the decline of Mexican production of basic grains. She neglects to mention that these ills began to develop long before NAFTA and the PRI's turn to "neo-liberalism". She mainly attributes the "bimodal" miseries of capitalist development in Mexico to a distorted or "skewed" or "truncated" form of capitalist development. It is this which she puts forward as responsible for the mass poverty and other features of the Mexican economy.
. In fact, the growing split of the peasantry into rich and poor and the driving of peasants off the land is not a distortion of normal capitalist development, but is the general pattern of capitalist development. Mexico has had a good deal of capitalist development, especially since the administration of Lazaro Cardenas (president of Mexico from 1934-40), and this development has brought "bimodalism" with it. This development wasn't just because of conservative government policies: the very land reforms brought in by Cardenas accelerated capitalist development.
. Thus the crisis of peasant small production is a consequence not of Mexico's lack of development, but of its development, although the inevitable poverty and distress is deepened and broadened by Mexico's subordinate position in the world capitalist system and by U.S. imperialist pressure. Similarly, the fall in Mexico's grain production began well prior to the neo-liberalism of the 80s and 90s. Mexico began the turn from a grain exporter to a grain importer in the 60s, and this transformation continued right through the presidency of Luis Echeverría (1970-76), although Sarah claims he strengthened and improved the ejidos. (7) If one wants to understand what is happening in the Mexican countryside, one has to get beyond lamenting distorted development, and look more closely at capitalist development itself.
. But, if pushing peasants off the land were really a "distorted" sort of capitalist development, then what would be the normal or undistorted form of capitalist development? The difference between Mexican capitalism and that of the most industrialized countries is that more of the Mexican population is on the land. Even in France, one of the classic countries of the small peasant, less than a tenth of the workforce is now in agriculture, and the figure is lower in such large wheat producers as the United States and Canada. Mexican agrarian development may be more painful than that of the major imperialist countries, but it is only "distorted" with respect to a petty-bourgeois ideal of a balanced and happy capitalism which has never existed.
. Sarah does say in the latter part of her article that Marx "described what is now called the bimodal structure of agriculture as a feature of capitalist development". (8) But she never applies this to the analysis of why the ejidos are in decay, or how the classes have developed among the Mexican peasantry. It mainly seems to mean to her that proposals to reform small production should be cast in a socialist light, as things that go outside the bounds of capitalism rather than as something only applicable to capitalism. This is turning Marx on his head.
. The question of whether the decline of the ejido and breakup of the Mexican peasantry is due to
distorted conditions has some important consequences. If abnormal conditions are at work, then
there might perhaps be a basis for preserving petty production through demanding proper forms
of development. But if the breakup of the peasantry is due to capitalist development itself, then
this suggests that the communist agrarian program should orient itself to the class struggle and
should not restrict itself to land reform.
THE CLASS BASIS OF SOCIALISM
. Sarah backs up her view on preserving petty production in socialism by raising what she regards as an important theoretical difference between CWV and some unnamed other socialists. She holds that the peasants "as peasants", that is, the peasantry as a class, are part of socialism whereas unnamed other socialists are supposed to believe in driving all the peasants off the land into slums, shantytowns, and capitalist enterprises as a preparation for socialism. According to Sarah,
"there still exists among many leftists a prejudice of sorts against the peasantry" which "leads to thinking that perhaps the peasants as peasants don't fit into a plan for socialism and/or that the countryside is too backward to organize and rebuild on a socialist basis." She says that these prejudiced leftists probably believe that "Food production would be taken over by large-scale farms run as state-owned enterprises or very large communes perhaps. Such plans would, of course, include the modernization of the countryside. . ." She claims that this would amount to demanding "that peasants be driven into the cities" and suggests it would result in something similar to capitalism with "the harm to society, especially to the farmers, . . . caused by the typical capitalist development of agriculture: slums and shantytowns from overcrowding in the cities, workers' wages lowered by increased competition and desperation, food shortages and/or price hikes, starvation in the countryside." (9)
. In fact, it is Marxist socialism which holds that socialism is based on the proletariat and large-scale production. According to Marxism, not just any conception of society can be grafted onto any economic base. Large-scale production that provides the economic base for the revolutionary proletariat to eliminate the private ownership of the means of production, create a social control of all production, and ultimately build a classless society. Under socialist large-scale production, agricultural workers would have the same conditions as other workers, and they would not form a separate peasantry as such. Moreover, it is only the hegemony of the proletariat, and not simply of all working and oppressed strata, that can prepare conditions for the abolition of all classes and the advent of a classless society.
. Marx showed that economic development under capitalism inevitably doomed small peasant
land ownership, and that socialism too required the supplanting of petty production. This doesn't
mean that the Marxists themselves drive the peasants off the land anymore than the Marxist
analysis of how capitalism impoverishes the working class means that Marxists help the
capitalists squeeze the workers and extract surplus value. Marx and Engels held that the
proletariat could not promise to the peasant the indefinite continuation of small peasant land
ownership and small production. However they showed that the proletariat could seek to
influence the peasantry and win sections of it as a mass ally. (10) And workers' rule could offer
the small peasantry an easier path, including such transitional measures as collective farms, to the
development of large-scale production than the desperate ruin facing them under capitalism.
Nevertheless, Marxism held that the revolutionary transition to socialism didn't run through the
joint rule of the proletariat and peasantry, but through the dictatorship of the proletariat. The
peasantry as a whole does not by itself gravitate to socialism, and only insofar as the proletariat
exercises predominant influence upon it would sections of the peasantry rally behind socialism.
And so Marxism pays special attention to the class divisions inside the peasantry itself, including
the development of farm laborers and semi-proletarians on one hand, and the development of
peasant exploiters (kulaks) on the other.
The peasantry as such
. Sarah identifies the elimination of the peasantry as a separate class with the removal of just about everyone from the countryside. But not everyone working the land is a peasant, anymore than anyone working in a trade is necessarily a worker. The modern worker is a creation of capitalism. Previously, there was also small-scale artisan work, and there was slavery. As far as agriculture, the peasant is marked as a petty producer with some type of personal ownership or rights (however tenuous) to the land. The owners and managers of large scale commercial enterprises and the landlords are not peasants, nor are capitalist farmers who run the farm as just another place to apply capital. Nor will communist workers of the soil be peasants: they will have all the advantages of science; they will be able to move back and forth between industrial and agricultural occupations; and they will take part in the collective ownership the means of production as a whole, and all this marks them not as peasants but as workers.
. Peasant socialism, on the other hand, sees prosperity if only the large commercial interests are
removed and proper government support given to the small peasants. Since it doesn't believe that
a capitalist government would implement these policies, it envisions them as socialism. It doesn't
see the need for the profound, revolutionary transformation of agriculture.
Two visions of the socialist agriculture of the future
. So peasant socialism and Marxism have different visions of the agriculture of the future, with Marxism insisting on unprecedented changes rather than mere improvements or simply better government planning and aid. This difference appears in Sarah's critique of American agriculture as well as of Mexican. Sarah laments the small number of people left on the land as a result of modern large-scale agriculture. She doesn't see any alternative except to suggest that countries such as Mexico should seek an alternative development by preserving as much labor-intensive and even "non-modern" methods of farming as possible.
. No doubt there are problems in modern capitalist agriculture that belie the image of continuous success that the media plays up. For example, American capitalism undoubtedly ruins large amounts of farm land, both through the anarchic spread of urbanization and through agricultural practices that rape the land in order to obtain the largest immediate yields with the least amount of money. Some practices have been reformed, but new environmental tragedies are in the making, in the U.S. and around the world. The destruction of the old-growth forest has awakened widespread protest. The overfishing of the oceans has resulted in even the capitalist government of Canada having to temporarily restrict or even ban fishing in some of the formerly most productive Atlantic and Pacific fisheries. And so forth.
. How will these problems be solved? Will the solution be to bring back old practices and recruit a new peasantry? I think not. The solution lies through the further development of large-scale production, when it is employed under communism for the overall good, rather than for individual profit.
. Yes, the land in the U.S. needs more attention. But what is needed is more attention to environmental issues, and not the restoration of the agricultural drudgery of the past. What is needed is also more attention to seeing how the land as a whole has to be managed: for example, consider the maintenance of wetlands. Draining wetlands may provide some farms that are quite productive taken in themselves, but attention has to be paid to maintaining sufficient wetlands on a regional and continental scale. This requires an overall view far beyond what small producers--bound by the need to make a go of it on their individual plot--can deal with; it requires a workforce that, unlike the peasantry "as peasantry", sees its ownership of the land as the ownership of the entire earth and not as ownership of this or that particular plot or locality.
. What type of workforce can provide this type of attention to the land? One condition is that it have the leisure and the culture necessary to appreciate the scientific aspect of the matter. But only large-scale production can liberate the majority of agricultural workforce from the long hours that used to be part and parcel of agriculture. The bourgeoisie boasts about the long workdays with which the individual peasant works himself to the bone to keep the private plot or local co-op above water; the bourgeois economist actually regards this as an advantage and selling-point (so to speak) of peasant agriculture. The peasant, faced with ruin, may work harder and longer than the local wage-workers, and accept worse conditions. But eliminating long hours is necessary to provide a workforce that can manage the land scientifically (as well as have humane and enjoyable conditions of life). The workers must have the time to consider not just the immediate necessities of agricultural production, but also to cultivate the wide interests that will allow them to run society as a whole and be zealous supporters of the environment.
. Moreover, since agriculture and industry are inseparably linked, the proper development of both requires a workforce which is not separated into industrial and agricultural sections, into workers as workers and peasants "as peasants". The more that workers have an overall picture of the economy and technology as a whole, the more that workers can move freely from one great sphere of production to another, the more possible will it be for a society run by workers to take proper care of the land. Moreover, the elimination of the distinction between worker and peasant will go in line with the inclination of people who have been liberated from capitalist oppression. The complete separation of one section of the people from the land (except for houseplants and small gardens) and the condemnation of others to always remain in agriculture divides up humanity in an unnatural way; it distorts and oppresses humanity. The ability to pass back and forth between different spheres of production, whether it is from agriculture to industry, or from production to research, or from producing material things to child care and teaching, according to one's inclination, which for most people changes at different times of life, will be one of the major joys of communist society. The bourgeoisie paints life under communism as a monotone grey, but in fact communism will create real possibilities for an infinite variety of life paths and will encourage a development of the human personality inconceivable in a class-divided society.
. Even today, one can see that it is precisely the breakdown of barriers between city and countryside which is favorable to concern for the land. Most of the environmental movement is mired in the ideology of small-scale production. Yet it is notable that the American movement is full of students and cityfolk and people who look to the countryside for an alternative lifestyle, and is not mainly driven by small farmers. Unwittingly, despite the dominant ideology of the environmental movement, its development shows the importance of integrating the city with the country. And the solutions envisioned by most of the environmental movement shows that, unwittingly, the activists have taken up a view of social regulation that springs naturally from experience with large-scale production. The particular solutions the activists propose may or may not be realistic. There is, for example, the widespread idea of somehow bringing back small-production as the dominant system. But the movement's view of the possibility of social regulation shows the ideological influence, so to speak, of large-scale industry.
. All the conditions favorable to environmental concern will be further accelerated by the integration of the countryside and the city. Once the barriers between agriculture and industry as occupations are brought down, it is quite likely that the many people will not want to face the alternative of either an entirely urban or rural life. This is particularly because modern technology (large-scale production and its products once again!) allows one to bring the benefits of city-life to the countryside. The technical basis for this has already been laid by modern transportation, by TV and telephone and computers (despite the dreck that now dominates the mass media), etc. At the same time, since the world population is too large to spread over the countryside the old way, for a vast multiplication of rambling villages and country housing would eliminate the fields entirely, a different way of living will develop. The result of integrating city and countryside, industry and agriculture, will not simply be supplementing the city with some factories in the countryside to soak up surplus labor, but the development of a new fusion of city and country life.
. But these conditions--the direction of agriculture and industry by the working population as a
whole, the full development of agriculture as large-scale production, the equalization of
conditions of agricultural and industrial work, the ability to plan the use of the land on regional
and even the continental and global scale, the providing of human conditions of life for
everyone--all speak in favor of the Marxist view of the elimination of the peasantry "as
peasantry". Sarah may fear this elimination and the triumph of socialist large-scale production,
but I look forward to the vast possibilities for human freedom and personal fulfillment which it
will bring to the future denizens of communist society and the wonderful new look which it will
give the earth. To me, this vista is one of the motivating factors in the struggle for communism.
A measure of the progress made in moving towards socialism
. Perhaps it will be said that this is all fine and good for the communist future--which seem so far away in this day of triumphant neo-conservative ideology, with its brazen money-grubbing by the rich and its hypocritical songs to the glories of small-scale enterprise for the masses--but what about the transition to socialism? After all, it will take a whole period of transition between capitalism and socialism, a period ushered in by a socialist revolution, before there is a Marxist socialist society. What will happen to the countryside during the transition?
. But Sarah's peasant socialism not only gives a wrong picture of socialist society, but it gives a wrong orientation to revolutionary work during the transition period. In those countries which still have a large peasantry, there must be a major base for socialism among the peasantry. But one of the key measures of how far society has progressed towards the goal of socialism will be:how far is there still a division between the peasantry "as peasantry" and the workers? One of the key questions will be: how far has the communist-minded proletariat managed to win over sections of the peasantry not just to hatred of the big exploiters that have been overthrown, but for moving agriculture onto the path of large-scale production? And how far has the revolutionary society provided the peasantry with the material means necessary for this transformation?
. A similar process will exist in the city. In simple contrasts, such as city versus country or industry versus agriculture, the city becomes identified with its dominant economic sector, large industry. But in fact urban areas have large numbers of petty-bourgeois in commerce, small businesses, and handicraft-style production, forming a huge pool of reserve labor for large-scale production just as the peasantry does. Indeed, in some countries these are to a considerable extent the same people, as landless peasants flock to sprawling urban slums. A major step in the transformation to socialism will be bringing these people into large-scale production with social ownership. Some will take this step eagerly, if only there is a job to offer them. But many of them are attached to petty commerce or petty production, and there will have to be a process of winning them over to the advantages of socialist production. Certain of the methods used in the countryside will have their parallel in the cities, such as forming collectives and associations of petty producers as a step towards socialism.
. The only lasting solution to the development of a surplus population is not trying to preserve a
lower tier of make-work production, but social production in which hours of labor are shortened
rather than a large part of the population being marginalized. The transformation of the petty
producers could be--and will be, under socialism--a process of liberation for the former peasants,
providing them with many social, political, economic, and cultural advantages which they
wouldn't even have dared to dream about in the past. It will be part and parcel of the
improvement of the condition of rural labor, of the liberation of women from patriarchal
conditions, the protection of the soil, the restoration of the countryside to the people as a whole,
and the establishment of a great unity of all working people.
Marxism on the elimination of the peasantry "as peasantry"
. There are some of the possibilities that are opened for humanity by the elimination in communist society of the class difference between the peasantry and the working class. Sarah says however that some unnamed socialists want to ruin the peasantry by ending their peasant status, and she claims to be defending Marxism against them. But it was Marx and Engels and Lenin who set forward the ending of the separate peasant status as a task of socialism, a task which they believed would liberate the peasantry..
. Engels described the elimination of a distinct peasantry as one of the conditions of the communist society. In 1847 he wrote that one of the "principles of communism" was that
". . . the antithesis between town and country will likewise disappear. The carrying on of agriculture and industrial production by the same people, instead of by two different classes [the industrial workers and the peasants--JG], is, even for purely material reasons, an essential condition of communistic association." (11) Almost half a century later, in his famous work Anti-Duhring, he repeated this view. (12)
. Marx and Engels stressed that the proletariat was the basic class force that stood for socialism, and described the revolutionary transition period between capitalism and socialism as the "dictatorship of the proletariat", not the dictatorship of the workers and peasants, nor of all the oppressed. The working class has to lead the oppressed masses and help transform them. In countries with a large peasantry, they pointed to the necessity of the urban proletariat rallying to its side the rural workers and as much of the poor peasantry as possible. But the object of socialist transformation was to equalize the conditions of the working class and peasantry and eliminate the class distinction between them. In 1848 in the Communist Manifesto, they said that the peasantry could be revolutionary against the bourgeois order only when defending
"not their present, but their future interests", when they "desert their own standpoint to place themselves at that of the proletariat." (13)
. And half a century later, Engels still maintained this view in his article of 1894 "The Peasant Question in France and Germany". He wrote of the importance of winning peasant allies for the proletariat and stated, for example, that at that time "No lasting revolutionary transformation is possible in France against the will of the small peasant." (14) But he opposed any attempt to water down the proletariat's program in the direction of peasant ideas concerning small production, and his article criticized deviations on this question in the European socialist programs of his day. Moreover, sketching possible ways in which the proletariat could, after taking power, gradually lead the peasantry towards socialism, he writes of the need to keep raising peasant cooperatives to "higher" forms so as to "equalize the rights and duties of the co-operative as a whole as well as of its individual members with those of the other departments of the entire community." (15) This is a process of equalizing the situation of the peasantry and the proletariat, that is, of gradually eliminating the peasantry as a separate class. This is an essential part of socialist transformation. (Engels also considered the issue of the rural proletariat separately--the peasantry are not the only toilers in the countryside. Indeed, given the importance in Germany at that time of East-Elbe Prussia, he felt that it was "of vastly greatly importance to win the rural proletariat east of the Elbe than the small peasants of Western Germany or yet the middle peasants of Southern Germany." (16))
. Not just Marx and Engels, but also Lenin talked about the abolition of the peasantry as a separate class as an essential part of socialism. For example, he said in May 1919, in the midst of dealing with the difficult position facing the Soviet regime at that time:
. "Engels was a thousand times right when he said that concept of equality is a most absurd and stupid prejudice if it does not imply the abolition of classes. . . .
" . . . we say our goal is equality, and by that we mean the abolition of classes. Then the class distinction between workers and peasants should be abolished. That is exactly our object. A society in which the class distinction between workers and peasants still exists is neither a communist nor a socialist society. True, if the word socialism is interpreted in a certain sense, it might be called a socialist society, but that would be mere sophistry, an argument about words.. . . The peasantry constitute a class of the patriarchal era, a class which has been reared by decades and centuries of slavery; and throughout all these decades the peasants existed as small proprietors, first, under the heal of other classes, and later, formally free and equal, but as property owners and the owners of food products. . ..
. "Their social conditions, production, living and economic conditions make the peasant half worker and half huckster.
. "This is a fact. And you cannot get away from this fact until you have abolished money, until you have abolished exchange. And for this years and years of stable rule by the proletariat is needed; for only the proletariat is capable of vanquishing the bourgeoisie." (17)
. Lenin here refers to the dual position of the peasantry, facing both towards the workers and towards capitalist trade. He doesn't think that this dual position can be eliminated so long as the peasantry exists as a separate class. This dual position is why he held that only part of the peasantry would go forward with the proletariat as an ally in the socialist revolution. This was in line with the analysis he had given almost a decade and a half earlier in 1905, when he pointed out that the peasantry as a whole could only be a firm supporter of the democratic revolution, not the socialist revolution:
"The proletariat must carry to completion the democratic revolution, by allying to itself the mass of peasantry in order to crush by force the resistance of the autocracy and to paralyze the instability of the bourgeoisie. The proletariat must accomplish the socialist revolution, by allying to itself the mass of the semiproletarian elements of the population in order to crush by force the resistance of the bourgeoisie and to paralyze the instability of the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie."(18)
PEASANT SOCIALISM GIVES A SOCIALIST
COLORING TO DEMOCRATIZATION
. "Peasant socialism" is thus a departure from Marxist socialism. But is this only a question of how best to picture the brilliant socialist future, and not something which affects politics today?
. Not at all. It affects the program one adopts on the burning questions of today. It concerns whether one will help the proletariat organize as an independent revolutionary force, or whether one will merge in with the general bourgeois-democratic movement. Peasant socialism paints the general movement in socialist colors. It slurs over the different class interests arising among the masses in general and the peasantry in particular, interests which result in different stands among the masses toward the political tasks of the day.
. The question of proletarian independence is coming up quite sharply in Mexican politics because Mexico is going through a period of democratization, and it is going through this at a time when the Mexican working class and socialist movements are disorganized. In the latter 1930s, president Lazaro Cardenas of Mexico carried out a series of reforms, such as the dramatic extension of the ejido system of agrarian co-ops, and simultaneously established the party which is today called PRI, the Party of the Institutionalized Revolution. For over half a century since then, the PRI has sought to suppress any independent action of the working class and the masses, combining repression with co-optation. This period has seen a major growth of industrialization in Mexico, the extensive development of commercial agriculture (both large-scale and within the ejidos), the vast expansion of the Mexican bourgeoisie, and continued depressed conditions for the masses. This is preparing the objective conditions for socialism, but the proletariat and the revolutionary movement is disorganized in Mexico, as elsewhere, and there is still a long way to go before a proletarian revolution will be imminent. Yet today the PRI's system of one-party monopoly is tottering. So what Mexico is facing in the immediate coming period is not social revolution, but a change in the form of bourgeois rule. The question then arises, what program should class-conscious workers and socialist activists in Mexico put forward in the situation where "democratization" is taking place, but socialist revolution is not an immediate possibility?
. Sarah and the Chicago Workers' Voice don't know how to handle this situation. They aren't sure that one should support "democratization" since it will not bring socialism. The CWV has even carried some material which has denounced democratization in the most sectarian terms.(19)
. But the period of crisis and the ongoing breakup of PRI's rule has brought exciting political
events in its wake. In the Zapatista revolt, some of the most oppressed peasants in Mexico tried
to put their own stamp on the current crisis. Various other civic and activist and trade union
organizations in Mexico are also stirring. There will be demonstrations, revolts, mass marches,
breakaways from PRI, and major changes in the mass movement. Sarah and the CWV, no matter
what their analysis of bourgeois-democratic changes, aren't going to boycott all this action. Nor
should they. But they have been unable to evaluate and support the mass action from a Marxist
standpoint. Instead of enthusiastically supporting the Chiapas peasants from the socialist
standpoint, they have insisted that support for the struggling peasants must include prettification
of the peasant program. They have become something of a left fringe of the EZLN leadership,
and they have backed the petty-bourgeois nationalist journal El Machete which carries out a
similar policy. Since the CWV doesn't however understand how to handle a period of
bourgeois-democratic changes, it must paint the movement as the prelude to an imminent
socialist revolution. It can't admit that the EZLN's demands are for reforms fully within the
bounds of capitalism, nor that the EZLN program glorifies democratization, for then the CWV
would have to admit that skepticism towards "democratization schemes" must include criticism
of the peasant program. So instead the CWV must paint the peasant movement in quasi-socialist
colors. This is a betrayal of the real tasks needed to build up a socialist movement in Mexico.
The communist program for a period of democratization
. Thus CWV's peasant socialism vacillates between denouncing democratization and painting democratization up as socialism. It looks forward to action and mass struggle but slurs over the inevitable class differences and different class demands in the movement. The result is not to help transform the current mass movement by developing a truly socialist section, but to paint up whatever happens as already sort of socialist. But what is the opposing program, the communist program, for the present period of the tottering of the PRI's political tyranny?
. First of all, I should mention that I use the term "democratization" simply because it is widely used, indicates that the general movement doesn't aim at socialism, and indicates an analogy to events in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. I do not advocate that the class-conscious activists will necessarily emblazon "democratization" on their chief banner, only that they have to have a realistic assessment of the coming changes in Mexico and of the bourgeois-democratic nature of the general movement against PRI's political tyranny. Another term might be used for the struggle for political freedom, or since one of the key tasks of communist work will be to mobilize as many workers and poor peasants into struggle for their own social demands, and not only general democratic demands, their banner might well take the increasing economic devastation as a key characterization of the present period.
. Does this mean that the class-conscious members of the proletariat and socialist activists should ignore "democratization" and denounce it as a diversion? Not at all. It is in the interest of the proletariat and all the working masses to achieve the maximum of democratic rights, and to destroy as far as possible the system of bureaucratic tutelage that the PRI has exercised over the masses for decades. The bourgeoisie would like to see the present crisis resolved with a miserable liberalization where the main change is simply that PRI alternates in power with some other respectable bourgeois parties, like the right-wing PAN or the reformist PRD. The proletariat must instead take every opportunity to break down the system of police repression and state tutelage that today dogs the mass organizations and struggles of workers, of peasants, and of all sections of the people.
. But socialist proletarians cannot restrict their outlook to the general movement against PRI's monopoly. If a socialist movement is really to develop in this period, the communist activists must look to developing independent proletarian organization that will spearhead the class struggle today and the socialist revolution tomorrow. In doing so, they will also strengthen the struggle to topple the PRI regime and other general movements. Real militancy isn't created by a thousand sugary appeals for unity (or even fiery appeals for unity) but by showing the real interests of the different classes in the movement, and by exposing the class reasons why the movement is being restricted at every turn by the reformists.
. With respect to the countryside, socialist proletarians shouldn't restrict themselves to support for the general democratic movement and for land reform and aid to the ejidos. They must lay stress on the class differences that have taken place even inside the ejidos, with richer ejido members exploiting poorer ones as laborers, with the ejido as a whole hiring wage labor, with the buying and selling of land having taken place whether it was legal or not, etc. They must pay special attention to encouraging any tendency among the mass of peasant laborers and poor peasants who can't make it on their own plot to organize in their own interest, separate from the forces that look to petty production for salvation.
. With respect to the urban movement, the class-conscious workers and activists must bring to the fore the class differences between middle-class "civic society" and the proletariat. They must lay stress on building up independent trade unions and mass organizations, independent not only of the PRI but of the petty-bourgeois nationalists and bourgeois liberals.
. The class-conscious activists must oppose petty-bourgeois nationalism, the dreams of all-class consensus, the view that mass poverty is a distortion of normal bourgeois development, and all other theories that slur over the reality of the class antagonisms that are growing sharper in Mexico. They must expose the petty-bourgeois "socialism" that sees something socialist in the Cardenista reforms, or that confuses democratic reforms and socialism, or that poses socialism in petty-bourgeois nationalist terms. The proletariat needs democracy because it provides a wider and clearer field for the development of the class struggle, while the petty-bourgeois democrats believe that democracy means a reconciliation of all the patriotic or nationalistic classes. It is necessary to expose which programs and demands are socialist, not in order to denigrate every non-socialist demand or movement, but in order to encourage the growth of an independent socialist movement.
. To accomplish these tasks consistently will take the founding and growth of a communist party
of the Mexican proletariat. Political organization is not a luxury, but an essential need for the
working class. So the struggle for proletarian independence must include attention to
reestablishing a proletarian party with a truly communist program. Today there is no such party
in Mexico. All the Mexican parties and large political groups that speak in the name of the
Mexican workers or of socialism are opportunist parties, ranging from reformists to Trotskyists
and Maoists. Naturally, a genuine party cannot simply be proclaimed, but must arise from a
combination of struggle for the communist theory with participation in the economic and
political struggles of the working masses.
Just be militant--a formula for subordinating the movement
to the reformist wing of the bourgeoisie
. From all this, it is clear that seeing the exposure of the class basis for the demands and actions of groups as "something academic and sterile", as the CWV's Anita does, amounts to subordinating the class-conscious workers and socialist activists to the general democratic movement. It does so no matter how many times Anita and other CWV members swear their loyalty to socialism, as a number of supporters of Cardenista programs have always done.
. These demands of Anita are expressed in her article in Mexico, which appears in the CWV Theoretical Journal immediately following Sarah's article. Anita entitles her article "An introduction to the ideological struggle in Mexico", but it denounces the ideological struggle to clarify the class nature of the peasant movement. She admits that it is true that the EZLN "is a petti-bourgeois peasant force with vacillations between reformism and revolution", but denounces those who take the class nature of the EZLN seriously as
"tend(ing) to treat revolutionary theory as something academic and sterile" and "miss(ing) the main point of the role of the EZLN and its trend, as well as that of active left organizations." The main point according to Anita is that all the active left organizations are fighting, and should unite. "The issue", she says, "is whether the peasant and indigenous movement can be won over to break completely with reformism, not just whether we can theoretically characterize that movement according to its class composition and inherent weaknesses." (20)
. So here's a would-be socialist who doesn't see the need for class analysis, and regards it as something dry and scholastic. But moreover, it makes a mockery of the recognition of the petty-bourgeois character of the peasant movement to say that this movement can stop vacillating and break completely with reformism. This is the standpoint of peasant socialism, which sees no difference between the general peasant movement and the socialist movement. As we have seen above, Lenin believed that the movement of the peasantry as a whole might fight for democratic change, but only a section of the peasantry was a firm ally of the struggle for socialism.
. And what does Anita mean by breaking completely with reformism? Does she mean an all-round break with reformism in matters of ideology, policy and program? Actually, behind her revolutionary verbiage, Anita's is only talking about the peasant movement splitting with the bourgeois reformist party, the PRD (the Party of the Democratic Revolution). The CWV's Sarah last year characterized a similar stand by El Machete as that the main tasks are just "splitting with the PRD and expanding the EZLN struggle." (21) And although Anita would prefer the EZLN split with the PRD, she hasn't shown much concern with the EZLN's failure to do so. Her standpoint orients the activists simply to take part in the general peasant and democratic movements and make them more militant.
. Yet the issue isn't only militancy, but the program and aims of the EZLN and of the peasant movement generally. Consider the evolution of the EZLN. In its first statement from the Lacandona Jungle, it talked of marching on Mexico City to overthrow the PRI. This proved impossible, and so the EZLN turned to reliance on the reformists, first to the possibility of electing a PRD government and then to building a broad "national liberation movement" led by Cuauhtemoc Cardenas (a PRD leader and son of Lazaro Cardenas). This might seem to represent a vacillation between revolutionary methods and reformism. But even in its first statement, the EZLN wanted to establish a consensus regime, which would--whether the EZLN realized it or not--have been one of the liberal bourgeoisie. To reduce matters to whether the EZLN and other organizations can be won over to consistent militancy, is to close one's eyes to their political stance.
. Another example can be seen in an earlier article by Anita, "News from Mexico", in the
CWVTJ#10. Here Anita inspires the reader with a survey of militant developments in Mexico,
but says little about the problems of orientation. She devotes just one sentence to the fact that the
EZLN leadership has placed bourgeois reformists in the leadership of much of the Zapatista
Front of National Liberation (22), which is the national organization which the EZLN leadership
wants the mass movement throughout Mexico to center around. All she says about the reformists
is that they aren't very active, and she says nothing about why the EZLN supports them. She
simply writes that it is not clear how well the Zapatista Front is going, and "One problem seems
to be that Frente organizing outside of Chiapas has been placed in the hands of the more
reformist CND (23) and PRD leadership who may not be acting with great enthusiasm". But to
gloss over the question of reformism threatens to reduce the role of the workers and peasants to
that of shock troops for the liberal wing of the bourgeoisie.
. Now let's return to Sarah's picture of socialism in the countryside as the preservation of small peasant agriculture. This turns out to mean the preservation of the ejido through government aid. Jack Hill had written in the past in the CWV vehemently denying any particular attachment to the ejidos. Nevertheless, it turns out that Sarah describes the ejido as a part of socialism.
. The modern ejido is a form of agrarian co-op in Mexico. In most ejidos the peasants engage in small-scale agriculture on their plot. (24) While the land belongs to the government, the peasants get to use their individual plot it as if they owned it. As well, the ejidos have many ties to the Mexican state through various types of government regulation, credit agencies, planning bodies, official peasant organizations linked to the ruling PRI party, etc.
. Creating more ejidos has been for some time the main form of land reform in Mexico. The Zapatista rebellion demanded further land reform and government aid to the peasants, and this and other demands would help the marginalized indigenous peasants of Chiapas to raise their heads. I and other comrades writing in the Communist Voice have vigorously supported the Zapatista rebellion and their demands for various reforms, but we have also pointed out the limitations of their demands. In particular, the ejidos do not provide an alternative to capitalist development in agriculture, but accelerate this development, which sooner or later leads to the disintegration of the ejidos. Better-off ejido peasants have been exploiting their neighbors as wage-workers or through usury for a long time now, and they also have been renting land from poorer neighbors. Moreover, the ejido itself employs poor peasants who don't belong to the ejido. One of the important parts of the communist agrarian program is to explain what history has revealed about the limitations of the ejido, and to support the semi-proletarian peasants who are being exploited by their neighbors.
. Sarah won't talk directly of the decay of the ejido due to its own internal development. But some recognition of this peeks out in the many inconsistencies that appear in her proposals. Her article reflects the doomed attitude of the small peasant who is being crushed by capitalism, and yet doesn't see any alternative but to carry on as in the past. She proposes reforms to strengthen the ejido, and at the same time says they can't work. Her conclusion is to suggest that socialists should advocate them anyway. She proposes some reforms on the grounds that they will preserve small peasant agriculture, and fails to note that they will actually accelerate its decline (factories in the countryside or opening up jobs to women). She spends a lot of time implying that the cause for the devastation of the small peasant is NAFTA and government policies and the distorted development, but later on admits that the peasant is being devastated by the general forces of capitalism described in Marx's Capital.
. Nevertheless Sarah won't say directly that the ejido is dying due to the natural evolution of petty
production, nor that poverty and stagnation have been the main factors preserving the ejido. Nor
does Sarah see any of the progressive aspects of the development of an agricultural proletariat
and of the disintegration of the old patriarchal relations in the ejido. In the days of the Industrial
Revolution in England, a number of romantic poets lamented the fall of the independent
peasantry (yeomanry) and the rise of the factory in Britain, the first modern industrial country the
world had seen. It was up to Engels, in his Conditions of the Working Class in England, to
point out not only the misery and poverty of the working class, but its significance as the
progressive class destined to overthrow the old society.
. Sarah for some time painted aid for the ejidos as a "socialist measure" among the peasant demands. Last year, she promoted that, with government aid and a proper planning of agriculture, the ejidos could stop the impoverishment of the peasantry and bring them into large-scale agriculture. In her latest article, she writes in a confusing fashion. At one point, discussing the socialist future, she says that "Ejidos will eventually be transformed into social property and not as individual communes which continue to compete with each other." (25) This seems to indicate that she thinks that the ejidos will be replaced by a countryside which is social property. But if this were so, then the toilers in that countryside would not be peasants any longer, and her view is that peasants must continue to exist "as peasants". So perhaps she is just saying that the ejidos will exist for some time under socialism, and later be replaced.
. In any case, she goes on to draw a parallel to the ejidos from Soviet history. She says that the "socialist proletariat is not afraid if the peasantry breaks up large farms--as for instance happened in the Soviet Russia to some extent." This refers to the land reform (the Land Socialization Act) adopted immediately after the Bolshevik revolution when the Soviet government adopted radical petty-bourgeois reforms in the countryside, rather than either socialist agriculture or collective farms as a transition to socialist agriculture. The land was mainly divided up into individual plots with each peasants getting an equal small plot. This was not yet the development of socialist agriculture, and Lenin pointed out,
". . . when enforcing the Land Socialization Act--the 'spirit' of which is equal land tenure--the Bolsheviks most explicitly and definitely declared: this is not our idea, we do not agree with this slogan, but we think it our duty to enforce it because this is the demand of the overwhelming majority of the peasants. And the idea and demands of the majority of the toilers are things that the toilers must discard of their own accord: such demands cannot be either 'abolished' or 'skipped over.' We Bolsheviks will help the peasantry to discard petty-bourgeois slogans, to pass from them as quickly and as easily as possible to socialist slogans." (26)
. By comparing aid to the ejidos with the Land Socialization Act, Sarah implicitly admits that the ejidos are not collective farms, but something even further from socialism. They are somewhat similar to the Russian village "mir" or land association. The land is periodically divided among the members by the land association, and the peasants cannot legally buy or sell the land. However, the peasants cultivate their plots individually. Collective farms did not arise in Soviet Russia by gradually transforming the village community, but were a distinct form of agriculture. And yet, even collective farms under working class rule are not yet socialist agriculture, but only a transitional step (albeit a very important one) towards socialist agriculture. According to Lenin, the Bolsheviks should draw a contrast between the petty-bourgeois slogan of equal land tenure (i.e. of individual cultivation within the village land association) and socialist agriculture, rather than presenting that one sort of slides into the other. They should present collective cultivation of the soil, not the land association, as a transition "from small, parcellized farming to large-scale collective farming".
. But Sarah has some doubts about large-scale collective farming. In her article, she argues for preservation of as much petty production under socialism as possible. She gives voice to the petty-bourgeois fear that becoming a worker under socialism means being ruined, means "being driven" to the city. She also hints that modern economic developments supposedly have resuscitated the role of small production in general. She writes that
"the current level of technology and new developments in manufacturing techniques and organization have brought capitalism from an era where gigantic factories ruled to an era where merely large factories rule." (27) From this, she goes on to oppose the idea that "bigger is automatically better," which she attributes to some unnamed "advocates for socialism". She eventually gets to the point where she hints that while "small-scale non-modernized farming" may be losing out under capitalism, it should have at least some place in socialism. (28)
. But how can the distinction between "large factories" and "giant factories" support the idea of
agrarian petty production? If today a merely "large" auto factory produces as much, if not more,
than a truly gigantic factory produced in the 30s, is this a victory for petty production? Sarah is
confusing the size of individual factories, or workgroups, with whether production is socially
planned and carried out on a large scale. She ends up with the absurdity of extrapolating from
merely "large factories"--which may employ robots and computers and be linked with a far-flung
network of suppliers by fiber optic cable and satellite links--to the idea of a place for the
"small-scale non-modernized" production. This is truly an amazing feat of logic. The size of the
individual workplaces and workgroups will vary from year to year under socialism depending on
technology and new inventions as well as whether socialism has finally reached the stage of the
communist, classless society. But the direction of the economy by society as a whole is utterly
dependent on large-scale production. (29) Sarah's denunciation of the supposed "bigger is
automatically better" idea and her solicitude for preserving some of the numbing drudgery of
small-scale production, which she delicately calls "highly labor intensive" work, is a reflection in
the left-wing movement of the neo-conservative ideological climate of the present.
From Cardenas to Echeverría
. The reduction of the agrarian program to land reform is actually not socialist, but something closer to Cardenismo. I have pointed out in the past, "the presentation of government assistance to the ejidos, the development of some communal forms, and better government planning as a sort of socialism that can save the peasantry is in line with the rhetoric of the 30's in Mexico." (30) Lazaro Cardenas pioneered the reconstruction of the Mexican bourgeois state, while radical peasants and socialists represent a very different class force. Nevertheless, the ideology of Cardenismo has continued to play an undermining role among radical activists in Mexico. Such radical peasant movements as the EZLN dream of democratization as the ideal social aim, in which all classes will come to a consensus, and the government will make the ejidos prosperous by implementing a better version of the old PRI policies of Lazaro Cardenas and Luis Echeverría.
. The CWV has been infuriated at the view that their peasant socialism makes it difficult for them to criticize Cardenismo. They believe that since they denounce Cardenas as a person that they must be free of Cardenismo in their political views. And they do denounce Cardenas as a person. Sarah's recent article begins by ascribing many bad things to the Cardenista land reform, and apparently denouncing Echeverría to boot. She writes that "Some forces have talked of the reforms under Echeverría as developing a 'modern subsistence sector.'" (31) Nevertheless, by the middle of her article, she reaches the point of citing Echeverría's agrarian program, the program of the "modern subsistence sector", as a positive example of aid to the ejidos. This occurs in the part of her article which asks "What about proposals for a general land reform which greatly strengthens the ejido system in Mexico?" She has been discussing various proposals, which she finds unrealistic to this or that extent. But she says, "a strengthening and improvement of the ejido system is possible" because "it was done under Echeverría". (32) This is the only positive example she gives of aid to the ejido, and she doesn't distinguish her idea of aid to the ejido from his.
. Now, far from me to say that anything done by Cardenas or Echeverría is necessarily bad in itself just because they did it. Cardenas raised the minimum wage, for example. But if Echeverría's agrarian policy focused on improving the ejido system, doesn't this suggest that it is Cardenismo or Echeverrismo to present aid to the ejidos or modernization of the ejidos as socialist? Doesn't it suggest that an agrarian policy that stakes everything on the ejido is Cardenismo?
. Moreover, what actually happened under Echeverría? By Echeverría's administration, the PRI's ejido policy was in crisis. The expansion of ejidos and the money the PRI had put into agricultural infrastructure had resulted in a vast development of capitalism in agriculture (both inside and outside the ejido system). As a result, commercial Mexican agriculture had grown by leaps and bounds; some peasants had prospered and the mass was impoverished; many hired themselves out as laborers; and others flocked off the land to the cities or to the U.S. in search of work. Discontent was rife in the countryside. So the PRI put on a left face, with Echeverría posing as an anti-imperialist in foreign policy and a reborn Cardenista friend of the peasant in agrarian policy. His agricultural policy was discussed last year in Pete Brown's article "The decline of the small peasant continued: On Echeverría's ejido policy of the 70's". (33) Many government planning agencies and bureaucracies were developed. And yet, for most peasants, there were only the most modest benefits. The overall stagnation of the ejidos continued, and so did the developing trend for Mexico to import basic grains. There were, however, many activists coopted into Echeverría's programs. While Lazaro Cardenas's program had at least resulted in a clear, if ultimately temporary, improvement for the peasants, Echeverría's lasting contribution was a big expansion of the government bureaucracies concerned with food and agriculture, such as CONASUPO (Compania Nacional de Subsistencias Populares).
. Yet Sarah uses the Echeverría program as an example of the "strengthening and improvement"
of the ejido system. She doesn't see that the experience of this period provides additional
evidence that the communist agrarian program cannot be restricted to land reform. Her vision of
the agrarian program remains with the ideological limits of PRI's old agrarian program of
bimodalism, prior to the shift to neo-liberalism.
The search for the perfect ejido reform
. Echeverría's ejido program is one of a number of proposals that Sarah considers throughout her article. They all focus on preserving petty production from being replaced by large-scale production. Some of the proposals that Sarah advises socialists to consider are those from Tom Barry's book Zapata's Revenge, Free Trade and the Farm Crisis in Mexico. Sarah is interested in Barry's proposals because he aims at "alternative rural development", which means the preservation of small-scale and "labor intensive" farming. Jack Hill, who reviewed Barry's book almost a year ago in an early issue of CWVTJ, describes that Barry is arguing "for sustainable development strategy based on the small farm sector". (34) Sarah notes that Barry's plan is based on backing up the ejido by with "technical and financial support for agriculture" by the government and with protectionism. (35)
. Both Sarah and Jack take an interesting attitude to Barry's plan. They proclaim it impossible and yet, at the same time, support it. This is truly typical of the outlook of the petty-bourgeois who are desperate to try anything, but sense that the larger forces will inevitably crush them. Jack Hill states that "Barry's ideal of a kinder gentler globalization of agriculture under monopoly capital is not possible." (36) But apparently it is only Barry's ideal, not his reforms, which are impossible. So Jack concludes that "a determined struggle of the masses" can accomplish a good deal of Barry's program anyway.
. Sarah also writes that Barry's plan of "a highly integrated system of large and small scale, capital-intensive and labor-intensive agriculture geared to the needs of the masses is highly unlikely under capitalism. This is the fundamental flaw in Barry's and in similar proposals." (37)
. But Sarah thinks the plan should be considered despite this fundamental flaw. She writes that "Reforms such as those proposed by Barry might mean a less skewed and less dependent capitalist development in Mexico. They might improve Mexico's position in relation to other capitalist powers. They could improve living conditions for some of the population. It might mean a less truncated and skewed internal market." (38)
. Well, that's certainly a long list of possible accomplishments for a plan that Sarah says is not possible (or at least, "very unlikely") under capitalism. Sarah seems here to identify improving living standards and achieving reforms useful to the masses with the struggle of national capital versus foreign capital. This perspective, however, contradicts what Sarah has told us several paragraphs earlier, where she wrote that such "less dependent" (more nationalist) capitalist development was impossible. She wrote that "in general I don't think a return to nationalistic politics [policies] which seek to protect and develop national capitalism are possible now." (39)
. Sarah also briefly consider proposals from other writers who were also looking for a way to save small-scale and highly labor-intensive agriculture. (40) Sarah writes that "Barry and the writers from Food First represent different political trends. For instance, I think the writers from Food First are more in favor of breaking up the large scale highly capitalized estates. Barry's proposals are admitted within the context of neo-liberalism while the writers from Food First are more directly against neo-liberalism. However, the writers for Food First have proposals for agriculture which bear some similarity to Barry's. And the writers from Food First also think that their proposals would better the position of Mexican capitalism." (41) Sarah seems to prefer Barry's proposals over the others, apparently on the grounds of realism since "no capitalist government is going to break up any significant portion of large-scale commercial farming and turn them over to the ejidos." Of course, Sarah has also told us that it is unlikely that any capitalist government could really implement Barry' ideals. But since Sarah has not really described any of these proposals, I will not try to compare them.
. However, a socialist agrarian program should not focus on this search for the perfect ejido
policy, but should focus on developing the struggle in the countryside. It is the desire to find a
program to do the impossible--preserve the vitality of petty production--that makes it impossible
to find the right program of reforms and help lead Sarah and Jack into many contradictions.
Keeping the peasantry on the land
. Sarah does have a few suggestions of her own with respect to preserving the peasantry "as
peasantry". The ironic thing is that her proposals would pull peasants off the land even faster than
anything likely to have been proposed by the unnamed socialists who she accuses of driving
peasants off the land. The problem is that it is impossible to increase the standard of living and
the economic possibilities of the peasantry without increasing the speed at which the peasantry is
Factories in the countryside
. One of Sarah's suggestions is that a socialist government "might very well locate a substantial amount of diversified industries away from the current large urban centers, not only providing employment to those who have been driven off the land, but a higher standard of living (higher wages) and an accelerated development of the rural economies." (42)
. Under socialism all workers, on the land or off, will have a similar standard of living ("from each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her work"--or, under communism, "From each according to his/her ability, to each according to his/her needs"). As well, the integration of the city and the countryside will go much further than simply moving a few factories around. So Sarah's proposal seems to envision either a reform in capitalist society or the very earliest stages of transition to socialism. But in any case, it is quite feasible to locate some factories away from the large urban centers. (43)
. But what is surprising, is that Sarah believes that locating factories in the countryside will preserve the small peasant economy. Every indication is that this will accelerate the decline of the small peasant economy and draw peasants off the land in large numbers. If millions of Mexican peasants flee to sprawling slums around Mexico City, or even travel long distances to the U.S. in search of work, it can be imagined how fast impoverished peasants will fill up the jobs in nearby factories.
. Many peasants, receiving a higher wage in the factory, may eventually decide to stay there--if they think the factory job is permanent. Sarah to the contrary, long hours of non-modern agricultural drudgery is not particularly attractive, and if the peasant finds a decent sort of factory job, higher wages, shorter hours, and more security, he/she may eventually ask: why work two jobs, one in the factory and the other trying to make a go of it in hopeless competition against large-scale agriculture or against richer peasant neighbors? But let's take the supposition most favorable to Sarah's case. Consider the peasant who works in the factory with the intention of staying on the land. Such a peasant will invest part of his/her factory wages in improving the land, buying better farm implements, modernizing the method of cultivation, etc. This is not an idle hypothesis--it is exactly what many Chiapas peasants who had gotten construction jobs in the energy industry did when they got back to their ejidos. And this influx of money resulted in disintegrating the ejido at an accelerated pace.
. Indeed, Sarah herself recognizes that this is what happened in Chiapas. She writes that
". . . the authors from Food First write disparagingly of the employment in the oil industry of indigenous people in Chiapas. Peasants who had accumulated some savings from working in the oil fields (primarily young men) returned home and invested in 'Green Revolution' technologies. The authors conclude that this dramatically altered class and social relations in those villages. They seem to hope that such development of class differentiation can be slowed or even stopped." (44)
. The effects on the rural class structure and social relations included the ejido peasantry dividing more and more into better-off peasants and exploited neighbors. It included some peasants buying trucks and going into the trucking business, other peasants becoming usurers, some peasants becoming more successful farmers while others fell further and further behind, and the all-round disintegration of the small peasant economy. It also included the breakdown of patriarchal relations which had kept young peasants dependent on their elders in all matters, including their marriage relations. (45)
. It seems, the only way to preserve the old ejido is to preserve peasant poverty and misery. If the
peasants get too miserable, they have to flee to find a job. But if the peasants get a bit of money
from elsewhere, their very drive to make a go of it on the land results in the breaking up of the
traditional village solidarity. Factories in the countryside may well have a progressive effect on
the countryside, but one thing is for sure--they will pull even larger numbers of peasants off the
land and accelerate the decay of the ejido, just as the construction boom in Chiapas did.
. Sarah wrings her hands over this problem. On one hand, she doesn't think that it is possible to avoid the class differentiation that follows from peasant employment in the oil fields. But when Sarah or Jack say that a proposal is impossible, that doesn't mean they are against it. So she immediately suggests that things might be better if, instead of employing young men, there were jobs for women instead. She writes that
"Perhaps the struggle of the peasants may alter how this process takes place so that effects are not so deleterious For instance, within the Zapatista revolt, women have demanded participation in small enterprises and more rights." (46)
. The struggle of indigenous peasant women for their rights is indeed one of the inspiring aspects of the Chiapas rebellion. Last year I focused attention on this aspect of the struggle in a section of my article "The ghost of Lazaro Cardenas and the present crisis in Mexico." (47) Women having an independent source of income will result in increasing their status and undermining the old social relations. Nevertheless, peasant women starting small enterprises will, over time, undermine the old ejido relations just as much as peasant men having more income will. The women's enterprises take them into the commercial economy. And it either takes them away from the land, or they will use the money to modernize agriculture. Women are likely to be especially aware of the problem of the drudgery of non-modern agriculture, because so many other drudgeries are forced on them. And if they wish to get the peasant men to participate in family tasks and take over some of what patriarchalism considered "women's work", they will no doubt see the value in eliminating as much highly labor intensive tasks on the small plot as possible. There are only 24 hours in a day.
. In fact, it is not so easy to separate the "deleterious" effects of employment from the positive effects. Both the disintegration of the ejido and the destruction of patriarchalism are related to each other. They go hand in hand. The undermining of patriarchalism by the employment of young men in construction probably contributed to women rising up for their rights against the old patriarchal customs. And the fact that the women are demanding their own small enterprises itself accelerates the downfall of the old ejido customs.
. Sarah herself, after suggesting that women's employment as a solution, then says that the differentiation of classes will go on anyway. (She can't quite get herself to say that the disintegration of the ejido will go on, because that would go against peasant socialist glorification of the ejido, yet the differentiation of the small peasantry into different classes and the decay of the ejido are the same process.) So her article ends up with the following four contradictory positions on peasant employment in outside industries:
a) factories in the countryside will help keep the peasants on the land and preserve the ejido;
b) however, a particular example of this, the employment of young indigenous peasant men in construction work in Chiapas, "dramatically altered class and social relations in those villages", i.e., helped accelerate the disintegration of the ejido;
c) the employment of indigenous peasant women in small enterprises will be "less deleterious" than the employment of indigenous peasant men in construction;
d) but the differentiation of classes (presumably including the exodus of peasants from the land) will continue anyway, no matter whether it is women or men who get supplementary jobs.
. In fact, the employment of peasant women in small enterprises or in factories will accelerate the
elimination of the peasantry "as peasantry". In order to endorse the struggle of the indigenous
peasant women, Sarah has to support reforms which will have the opposite result from her goal
of preserving a niche for petty production in agriculture.
The reality of small-scale production
. This illustrates that small scale, non-modern agriculture is not the basis for liberation of women. At one time, the CWV itself wrote that "In additional to socialized medicine and education, adequate social security and pensions, and child care for every family that needs it, laundries, cafeterias and housecleaning services are needed to rescue women from domestic drudgery." (48) Can it be imagined that a complete system of such services can be provided by ejidos populated with members bogged down in highly-labor intensive small-scale agriculture? Such agriculture provided a certain social safety net through patriarchalism, but that method isn't compatible with women's liberation or socialism.
. Perhaps the answer by the CWV would be that, under socialism, the overall economy should
provide these things as aid for the ejido. But this would be a picture of socialism as a glorified
form of the PRI system--only the government agency, the new, supposedly socialist,
CONASUPO, would really work "for the needs of the people" and provide everything necessary.
But if the members of a work group are really to have a full voice in the provision of all the
social services they make use of, then they have to be part of the overall system that provides
these services. It can't be that these services are provided by the part of the economy that is
large-scale and modern, and the lower tier of petty production is isolated off in a separate niche
which receives services but doesn't provide much back for it. To have a full voice, the work
group has to be part of the overall social production. Whatever the size of their work group, and
whether it is in industry or agriculture, the members have to be workers with rights and
responsibilities to the whole economy, and not just to their little niche.
REORGANIZING THE PROLETARIAN MOVEMENT
. Changes are coming to Mexico, and this presents an opportunity for the workers to raise their head and put forward their own demands, and for the poor peasants to fight marginalization and extreme poverty. Once again, mass struggle is rising. But for this struggle to be utilized by the socialist activists and workers to rebuild an independent proletarian movement, and for the working masses to achieve some of their social demands in the coming period, requires a clear assessment of the nature of the coming changes and of the various forces in the movement.
. The CWV has lost its head in its excitement over the current Mexican movement. Its romanticization of the movement replaces the struggle to help orient the movement and to rebuild communist organization of the proletariat. The CWV can't face the fact that it is going to take years of struggle in Mexico, as elsewhere, to have the proletariat organize independently in its own interest and to establish an anti-revisionist Marxist party, So instead the CWV accommodates itself to whatever exists. The peasant movement rises up in Chiapas, and the CWV doesn't just ardently support it, but becomes peasant socialists. There is no Mexican anti-revisionist center to support, so the CWV backs a petty-bourgeois nationalist journal El Machete as the rallying center for the left. And the CWV paints all this in revolutionary and Marxist phrases.
. Marx had a different attitude to revolutionary work. He sought to organize the proletariat as a revolutionary force. When a revolutionary upsurge, such as that of the European wave of revolutions of 1848-49 subsided, he did not renounce large revolutionary goals and reconcile himself to whatever existed. Instead he took up protracted work to organize the force necessary to make a new revolutionary assault. The Marxists did not retreat in front of the years of work needed to organize the proletariat as a truly revolutionary force. He wrote:
". . . While we say to the workers: 'You have got to go through fifteen, twenty, fifty years of civil wars and national wars not merely in order to change your conditions but in order to change yourselves and become qualified for political power,' you on the contrary tell them, 'We must achieve power immediately, otherwise we may as well lie down and go to sleep.' While we specially point out the undeveloped nature of the German proletariat to the German workers, you flatter the national feelings and crafts prejudices of the German handicraftsmen in the crudest way, which is of course more popular." (49)
. The CWV is interested in the peasant movement, so it flatters and idealizes the peasant ejido.But
real communist work consists not of glossing over the current crisis of revolutionary thought and
the disorganization of the proletariat and the revolutionary movements, but in working to
overcome it. It consists not in dreaming that the general democratic movement will become a
socialist revolutionary movement if only the peasants and the left are militant enough, but in
knowing how to promote the development of an independent socialist and proletarian trend right
amidst the overall mass and class struggle. Only such work can both forward the long range
interests of the proletariat and provide the greatest benefits to the masses from a fall of the PRI's
political monopoly. Revolutionary activists are faced with proletarian reorganization and the
rebuilding of the communist movement on the basis of consistent anti-revisionism. This is
long-term work, but it is what is necessary to prepare the revolutionary proletariat to step forward
once again as the force determined to turn the old world upside down.
1. "El Machete and the Mexican left" which appears in CWVTJ #7, p. 21, col. 2 and Communist Voice, vol. 1, #3, p. 46, col. 1. (Return to text)
2. "The continuing crisis in Mexico", p. 42, col. 1. This article can be found on pages 40-43 of
this journal, but it first appeared in CWVTJ #11, Oct. 7, 1996. Page references to this article are
to this journal, not CWVTJ. (Text)
3.Sarah notes that "Under capitalism, small scale non-modernized farming" is "being wiped out", and contrasts this to the idea of developing "some small and some highly labor intensive farming." (Text)
4. Ibid., p. 41, col. 2. (Text)
5. Ibid., p. 42, col. 2. (Text)
6."Extra from El Machete, Elements of Analysis for the Current Political Situation," CWVTJ#11, pt. 2, emphasis added. This is the not just stand of one author, but of the entire El Machete collective . (Text)
7.Ibid., p.42, col. 1. (Text)
8. She goes on to say that bimodalism "will not change under capitalism except in situations where, similar to the U.S., the agricultural population is small." But the division between big and small, rich and poor exists in U.S. agriculture too. The basic Marxist description still holds true.(Text)
9. Ibid., p. 42, col. 2 --p. 43, col. 1. (Text)
10. These sections might well be a substantial majority of the peasantry, since the poorest
peasants, the semiproletariat, might well outnumber all the rest. (Text)
11."Principles of Communism", Selected Works of Marx and Engels, vol. 1, p. 93, Answer to Question 20. (Text)
12.Herr Eugen Duhring's Revolution in Science (Anti-Duhring) Part III. Socialism. III. Production. See the sections on the abolition of the division of labor and the abolition of the antithesis between agriculture and industry. International Publishers, pp. 320-5. (Text)
13. Marx and Engels, "Manifesto of the Communist Party", Selected Works, vol. 1, p. 118, near
the end of Section I. Bourgeois and Proletarians. (Text)
14."The Peasant Question in France and Germany", Selected Works, vol. 3, p. 468, at the start of section II. (Text)
15.Ibid., p. 470, section II. (Text)
16. Ibid., p. 476, near the end of the article. (Text)
17. Speech, entitled "Deception of the People with Slogans of Freedom and Equality," at the First All-Russia Congress on Adult Education", Section IV or Collected Works, vol. 29, pp.358-9, 361, italics as in the original, underlining added. (Text)
18. Two Tactics of Social-Democracy in the Democratic Revolution, near the end of chapter 12 "Will the sweep of the democratic revolution be diminished if the bourgeoisie recoils from it?" (Text)
19. See "CWV looks for Marxism without anti-revisionism" in CV vol. 1, #5 for a discussion of
CWV's proud reprinting from El Machete of Tono Garcia's sectarian denunciation of
20.CWVTJ #11, p. 14, col. 1, col. 2. (Text)
21. CWVTJ #7, p. 19, col. 2. Sarah was characterizing El Machete's viewpoint. Anita is identified
in CWVTJ #11 as having ties with El Machete (through her membership in a solidarity committee
that backs El Machete), and her article in CWVTJ #11 just elaborates on El Machete's analysis.
22.The "Front" is a coalition, as distinct from the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, which is the EZLN itself. (Text)
23.A political grouping dominated by the PRD and other reformists. (Text)
24. There are some collective ejidos, but they are the minority. Moreover, capitalist relations have spread just as rapidly on the collective ejidos as the other ones. Indeed, some of the most famous collective ejidos, such as those in the Laguna cotton fields, are among those most deeply involved in commercial agriculture and exploiting outside laborers. (Text)
25. "The Continuing Crisis in Mexico," p. 42, col. 2. (Text)
26.See Lenin's pamphlet The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, the middle of the section entitled "Subserviency to the Bourgeoisie in the Guise of 'Economic Analysis'", p.109, emphasis. as in the original. (Text)
27."The Continuing Crisis in Mexico", p. 42, col 2. (Text)
28. Ibid.., p. 43, col. 1. (Text)
29.Of course, certain types of small-scale production or even individual production will always exist, such as various artistic endeavors. But large-scale production will not only be predominant in the production of material goods, but it will transform even the types of individual or artisan work that remain. The massive drudgery of the past will be eliminated as far as possible. This will free up human resources to allow not only far more attention to the environment, but also a resurgence of individual attention in fields such as teaching, medical care, child care, etc.However, even this will not be the same as Sarah's "highly labor intensive" sphere of the economy, because she is talking about a sphere with rather little resources and without the most modern equipment. But future education, for example, will be provided with far more material resources, as well as far more individual human attention, than the children of proletarians receive today. And education will be far more integrated into the actual experience of production, research, and other life experiences than today's education, so the students will simultaneously get more individual attention and be closer to the heart of the large-scale production than today.(Text)
30. "The CWV renounces anti-revisionism", Communist Voice, vol. 1, #3, p. 23, col. 2. (Text)
31.In context, I think Sarah probably intended this as a denunciation of Echeverría, since Sarah says that this strengthened bimodalism. But from Sarah's standpoint of preserving petty production, doesn't this say only that Echeverría modernized petty production? Interestingly, Barry says that Echeverría's "focus was on providing government services to campesinos producing for the market, while the 30 percent to 50 percent who existed on the margin of the market were ignored by Echeverría's populism." (Zapata's Revenge, p. 38) (Text)
32. "The Continuing Crisis in Mexico", p. 5, col. 2. (Text)
33.See Communist Voice, vol. 1, #3, Aug. 1, 1995. (Text)
34."Reviews of two books on Mexican Politics", CWVTJ #9, p. 26, col. 2. (Text)
35. "The Continuing Crisis in Mexico," p. 41, col. 2. (Text)
36. 37. 38. 39. 40.
36.Jack Hill, "Reviews...", p. 27, col. 2. (Text)
37."Continuing Crisis...", p. 41, col. 2. It should be stressed that a highly-integrated system of large and small-scale agriculture already exists in Mexico. All Sarah is really saying is that it is not "geared to the needs of the masses" and will not preserve the ejido. But Sarah writes in a way that gives the impression that socialism is the integration of large and small scale production, something supposedly impossible under capitalism. (Text)
40.Some writers from Food First have interesting descriptions of the situation in the countryside, such as the disintegration of the ejido and the growing differences among the peasantry. It is quite reasonable for socialists to make use of serious work from writers of any point of view. Indeed, it is particularly notable when writers who favor petty production nevertheless describe its patriarchal features and its decay. But what Sarah and Jack Hill have done is grab onto the reformist program of these writers. (Text)
41. Ibid., p. 5, col. 1. (Text)
42. Ibid., p.43, col. 1. (Text)
43. 44. 45.
43.Capitalists have their own reasons for moving factories out of the cities (and, for that matter, PRI agrarian policy under Luis Echeverría and Lopez Portillo was at times interested in it). They may be able to pay lower wages in the countryside, even while paying more than the prevailing local rate. If Sarah thinks it refutes the idea of eliminating the peasantry as a distinct class to point out how the capitalists drive them off the land and into miserable slums, then logically she would have to give up the idea of locating some factories in the countryside after noting how the capitalists do this to exploit cheap labor. (Text)
44.Ibid., p.42, col. 1-2. (Text)
45.My article "The ghost of Lazaro Cardenas and the present crisis in Mexico" refers to the description of this process given by George Collier and Elizabeth Lowery Quaratiello, from the Institute for Food and Development Policy, in their book "BASTA! Land and Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas". See Communist Voice, vol. 1 #5, pp. 30-2. (Text)
46. Ibid., p.42, col. 2 . (Text)
47.Communist Voice, vol. 1, #5. See the section "The struggle of the indigenous women against patriarchalism", which cites the actual demands put forward by the women . (Text)
48. From Baba to Tovarishch, The Bolshevik Revolution and the Emancipation of Women, p. xiv.(Text)
49. Marx and Engels, Correspondence, 1846 -1895, A Selection with Commentary and Notes,
p.92. The passage is from the minutes of the London Central Committee of the Communist
League, 15 September, 1850. (Text)
Last changed on October 19, 2001.