Political evolution or political unrest?

Sam Pawlett epawlett at uniserve.com
Tue Mar 30 12:46:07 PST 1999

> I do not think that such a position can be maintained. If the history of
> the twentieth century teaches us anything, it is that political democracy
> -- regular elections, circulation of elites, a free press that allows
> political debate, and so forth -- is of immense importance. When Karl Marx
> wrote that the Rights of Man and of the Citizen -- liberalism -- bourgeois
> liberties -- were not "human emancipation," he nevertheless qualified his
> observation by noting that they were "civil emancipation" and that civil
> emancipation was a very good thing.

If the 20th century teaches us anything it is that class struggle brings about parliamentry democracy, a free press and civil rights. The limited political openings we see in S.Korea, Phillipines, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Taiwan, Mexico, Central America, Indonesia have been brought about by class struggle in various forms. The elites in these countries and their foreign guardians were forced through class struggle to make limited concessions to the masses in fear that they might lose everything. "Constructive engagement" has accomplished nothing. It took masses of students and courageous working class Indonesians to force Suharto into the background, not constructively engaged quasi-omniscient, quasi-benovolent western corporations and their diplomats. The situation in Burma has become worse through "constructive engagement". The only thing that will force SLORC from power is popular struggle. A daunting task, but it shows signs of developing.

> I think that the wreck of twentieth century
> Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism-Maoism -- along with the wreck of Mussolinism,
> Francoism, Hitlerism, and so on -- has taught us that civil emancipation is
> much more important than Marx recognized, and that you have no prospect of
> getting anywhere close to human emancipation unless you take a road that
> leads through civil emancipation -- the liberal and social-democratic
> republic.

Marx *and* Engels were opportunists in the good sense of the word. They believed that the working class should use all available means to further its interests including revolution, elections, whatever. However, I don't think they harbored any illusions about parliaments, that parliaments are very limited as a tool of class struggle.

Sam Pawlett

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