Revolution#116, January 20, 2008
On the New-Democratic Revolution
Last week’s article on Pakistan—“Pakistan: A Dangerous Cauldron Heats Up”—examined the erupting situation in that country. That article, while overall correct, contained a significant and important error in its conclusion.
The article correctly, if necessarily briefly, analyzed how Pakistan is dominated by imperialism, and how that domination includes both capitalist super-exploitation and the integration of still significant feudal and semi-feudal production in agriculture into the circuits of capital dominated by imperialism. It described the different ruling fractions within Pakistan, the class and social basis of these forces, and the ways in which imperialist oppression has distorted Pakistan’s development and prevented its coherence as an independent nation. The article went into how this imperialist oppression has expressed itself in both production relations and in the political superstructure—with the U.S. playing a major role in even deciding who rules the country, building up and utilizing its armed forces, etc. And as part of that, it also took up the importance of Islamic fundamentalism, as an ideological and political expression closely related to the continued strength of feudal and semi-feudal relations and class forces in Pakistan. The article also analyzed how those different forces all struggle for advantage and can also come into conflict with—even very sharp conflict with—imperialism, even as the overall framework and terms in which they struggle is dominated by imperialism. The current clash between U.S. imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism on a world scale, and its sharp expression in Pakistan itself, is a salient example of this.
Unfortunately, at the end of the article the formulation of the tasks of the new-democratic revolution in Pakistan negated the important role of feudal relations, class forces, and ideas in Pakistan. The paragraph defined new-democratic revolution in this way:
“New-democratic revolution—pioneered by Mao Tsetung in China—is the path to that liberation. New-democratic revolution unites and represents the interests of all who can be united to overthrow the bureaucrat-capitalist class and state system dependent on imperialism. But the goal is not to repackage imperialist domination in a democratic form. Instead, new-democratic revolution overthrows imperialism, as the first stage of a socialist revolution aimed ultimately at the world wide overthrow of capitalism-imperialism.”
This formulation leaves out the task of overthrowing the feudal elements tied in with the ruling structure in the oppressed nations, as well as the uprooting and transformation of those feudal relations and structures once liberation has been achieved. This is wrong and, if taken up as a line, would lead to serious problems. In a country like Pakistan, as in most oppressed nations, those class forces and relations are still extensive and often pervasive. Because of this, the new-democratic revolution must include the peasants directly oppressed by feudal landlords in the countryside, as well as those who have been displaced into the shantytowns and miserable slums of the city. The revolution in the countryside must very often go through a stage of land to the tiller—where there is a division of the land and a period of small-scale or small-owner agriculture following the breakup of feudalism, and which the new power must lead step by step into collectivized and ultimately socialized agriculture. This revolution can also, in general, unite with sections of smaller capitalists who have real conflict with imperialism over the subordination of all national development to imperialism. Enlightened strata more generally—including even non-theocratic religious forces—can also play an important role in this revolution. All this must be led as part of a program that radically breaks with all the structures of dependency on imperialism and with the enslaving relations and ideology of feudalism—as the first stage of a revolutionary program for getting rid of all exploitation and oppression and the social relations to which it gives rise.
[this error has been corrected in the version of the article currently available online]
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