C.L.R. James

The Gathering Forces

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Section I

The Third World – The Peasantry

The reader will note that we are constantly talking about struggles, conflicts, the attempts of classes to dominate one another or break through to something new. This is supposed to be a special viciousness introduced into history by Marx and Lenin, ending in the inevitable bloodthirstiness and savagery of Stalinism. This not only untrue, it is stupid.

Marx insisted from the beginning that he had not invented the class struggle, that he had not conjured it up as an idea or as a mere interpretation of historical actuality. Various others had done that before him and even more so afterwards. Among the most specific additions that Marx made to social thought was while there had always been class conflicts, with the arrival of the workers at the industrial base of society, a class had come upon the scene which as the culmination of its struggle would abolish all classes and any notion of society as being in any way built upon class differentiation.

Deep in the evolution of European philosophy there was this concept of a life-and-death struggle for every single human being, in which each is engaged from the very beginning of his consciousness of the world. In the main it has been the prime purpose of politica1 leaders and of their philosophers, to deny any such general truth, even to indict it as criminal, while at the same time employing such a notion of life-and-death human struggle when it serves their specific purposes, as for example in a war. Before entering into the questions involving the world’s peasant peoples, we must examine two quotations on this subject, one from a classic of philosophy, and the other, equally well-acknowledged, from sociology, the science of society. First Hegel.

In the extracts that follow, extracts that will be discussed as we go on, Hegel is dealing with the phenomenology of mind and he is, saying what are the mental processes of people in society. He deals with the mental processes of the master and the slave, of the man in charge of an economic development and the man who is working for him.

The presentation of itself, however, as pure abstraction of self-consciousness consists in showing itself as a pure negation of its objective form, or in showing that it is fettered to no determinate existence, that it is not bound at all by the particularity everywhere characteristic of existence as such, and is not tied up with life. The process of bringing all this out involves a twofold action – action on the part of the other [the person over there] and action on the part of itself. In so far as it is the other’s action, each aims at the destruction and death of the other.

This is what has been taking place in Detroit and elsewhere in the United States, and throughout the world. It says: in so far as it is the other’s action – other – two separate people – the relation between them, each aims at the destruction and death of the other.

But in this there is implicated also the second kind of action, self-activity; for the former implies that it risks its own life.

The question is that in a class relation life is risked, and Hegel says a fundamental part of a relation of one section, one man to the other, and Marx and others have applied it to classes, is the fact that they are ready at a certain stage, the relation demands a fight to the death Your life has to be risked.

The relation of both self-consciousnesses in this way so constituted that they prove themselves and each other through a life-and-death struggle.

In other words, the different sections of society cannot work out any system and cannot find out what they are to each other and what they are to themselves unless they reach a stage where they are fighting to the end and life and death are involved.

They must enter into this struggle, for they must bring their certainty of themselves [you have to find out what you are], the certainty of being for themselves, to the level of objective truth, and make this a fact both in the case of the other and in their own case as well.

They have to fight to know what they are. They have to fight to know what they are going for. They have to fight to the death to know what the other fellow wants. And it is only under these conditions that some understanding of full self-consciousness is reached.

And it is solely by risking life that freedom is obtained.

Otherwise you don’t know. There are places where he says, you live a sort of superficial life and then:

Only thus is it tried and proved that the essential, nature of self-consciousness is not bare existence, is not the merely immediate form in which it at first makes its appearance, is not its mere absorption in the expanse of life. Rather it is thereby guaranteed that there is nothing present but what might be taken as a vanishing moment – that self-consciousness is merely pure self-existence, being-for-self. The individual who has not staked his life, may, no doubt, be recognised as a Person; but he has not attained the truth of this recognition as an independent self-consciousness. In the same way each must aim at the death of the other, as it risks its own life thereby; for that other is to it of more worth than itself; the other’s reality is presented to the former as an external other, as outside itself; it must cancel that externality. The other is a purely existent consciousness and entangled in manifold ways; it must view its otherness as pure existence for itself or as absolute negation. (Hegel: Phenomenology of Mind, p. 233)

We have been dealing with the relation between master and slave. Now he goes on to the bondsman. The master has one form of existence, the slave has another. And now Hegel says:

But again, shaping or forming the object has not only the positive significance that the bondsman becomes thereby aware of himself as factually and objectively self-existent ... (p. 238)

It is in shaping the object for the master that the bondsman becomes aware of himself as factually and objectively self-existent.

... this type of consciousness has also a negative import, in contrast with its first moment, the element of fear. For in shaping the thing it only becomes aware of its own proper negativity, ... (p. 239)

In working at the business it realises its own insignificance, its own weakness:

... its existence on its own account, as an object, through the fact that it cancels the actual form confronting it. But this objective negative element is precisely the alien, external reality, before which it trembled Now, however, it destroys this extraneous alien negative, affirms and sets itself up as a negative in the element. of permanence, and thereby becomes for itself a self-existent being. (p. 239)

By changing this thing in front of it and working for the master and being the person who handles it, it thereby becomes a self-existent being.

In the master, the bondsman feels self-existence to be something external, an objective fact; in fear self-existence is present within himself; [but] in fashioning the thing, self-existence comes to be felt explicitly as his own proper being, and he attains the consciousness that he himself exists in its own right and on its own account. (p. 239)

The man is the slave to the master, and the self-existence of the consciousness of the slave is in reality the master. However they have reached the stage by fighting it out to the death, each understand the other and something begins. Now, however, he has to handle the goods which the master is going to enjoy, and he is afraid of the master because he has to handle this thing and do it well. He realises in his self-consciousness that the master is in reality the master of everything. But in shaping the thing and taking part in making it into something else, he then realises his own self-consciousness as an independent being.

If we penetrate this bit of Hegel, we can come to understand the bitter but inevitable nature of the struggles that go on in the world, and have gone on. From this we can comprehend the nature of the struggle of classes which Marx took from a commonplace observation to a profound and world-significant universal philosophical comprehension.

The life and death struggle that Hegel talks of appears in the bitter character of peasant wars from those in Germany in the sixteenth century to the guerrilla struggles in Latin America and Vietnam today. It characterises as well the struggle of those who are some mere decades away from peasant existence, such as the Negro people of the United States.

What Hegel expostulated as philosophy for the individual thinker Marx proceeded to advance as the movement of social bodies. Marx wrote:

What I did that was new was to prove: (1) that the existence of classes is only bound up with particular, historic phases in the development of production; (2) that the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat; (3) that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society. (Marx-Engels: Selected Correspondence, p. 57. Italics in the original.)

Those lines were written in 1852; they were pushed to a conclusion in twentieth century terms by Lenin:

... a new source of great world storms opened up in Asia. The Russian Revolution was followed by the Turkish, the Persian, and the Chinese revolutions. It is in this era of storms and their repercussions on Europe that we are now living. Whatever may be the fate of the great Chinese Republic, against which the various civilised hyenas are now baring their teeth, no power on earth can restore the old serfdom in Asia, or wipe out the heroic democracy of the masses of the people in the Asiatic and semi-Asiatic countries. (Selected Works, Vol. XI, p. 51)

For Lenin this all confirmed the class nature of political struggles and thinking about the political future, about the Historical Destiny of Marx’s Doctrine, which is the title that Lenin uses for the previous quotation and the next:

The Asiatic revolutions have revealed the same spinelessness and baseness of liberalism, the same exceptional importance of the independence of the democratic masses, and the same sharp line of division between the proletariat and bourgeoisie of all kinds. After the experience of both Europe arid Asia, whoever now speaks of class politics and non-class Socialism simply deserves to be put in a cage and exhibited alongside the Australian kangaroo. (Selected Works, Vol. XI, pp. 51–52)

What once pertained to Europe is now of Asia and of much more. The life-and-death struggle described in a classic philosophical work is in reality class politics, the class politics that encompasses the world. At a time when society as a civilised entity is endangered by social stratification which calls itself democratic or liberal or socialist, we are compelled to reconsider those moments of participation of the peasant masses which help account for whatever civilisation we still have.

The name of Solon is still to be found in the newspapers and the school texts as a personification of political wisdom. What he did was to set Greece on the road to what is legitimately claimed to be the most remarkable achievement of civilisation. He involved the peasantry in the revolution which broke the power of the landed aristocrats. Trade and industry of the elemental kind was substituted, but the peasantry took the great role open to it in bringing about the new-:regime and what we now know of as “the glory that was Greece”, especially that startling concentration of civilised accomplishment that was Athens.

In Rome there took place the great revolution led by the Gracchi. It failed but peasants right through the peninsula of Italy insisted that citizenship could no longer belong only to the inhabitants of the city of Rome but should be the possession of the peninsula as a whole. Under the Roman Empire, many historians believe; it was this notion of a universal citizenship which was extended to all the free inhabitants of the Empire that was crucial in maintaining that remarkable political achievement. Indeed, the very concept, citizenship, in Rome came to be associated with the very reality of civilisation itself. It is important to remember this today.

What followed in the late Middle Ages was continuity along a similar line. The. Reason for the failure of such highly advanced centres of civilisation as the city-states of Florence and north Italy was that they were unable to incorporate the peasantry of the surrounding areas. It proved impossible to maintain the polarisation of urbanised artistic, economic and social sophistication at one end with rural idiocy, superstition and isolation at the opposite extreme. The city-state had to give way to capitalistic society, a monarch heading the whole Nation, supported to a substantial degree by the feudal landowners. The failure of the prologue to modern society, the attempt of the city-states of Italy (and indeed those of the Low Countries) at popular democracy was based upon the failure to involve the peasant masses.

The first great modern revolution was the one that owes more to the peasantry than to any other section of society. The yeoman farmers of England in the English Revolution of the seventeenth century were the basis of the finest army that Europe up to that date had known; it first and foremost ensured the success of that revolution. Secondly, the army in discussions with its leader, Oliver Cromwell, produced as a political formation the Levellers, the leaders and spokesmen who formulated the Agreement of the People in its various forms. These laid down the relevant principles of democracy, the popular, democratic content of which has not yet been fulfilled in any modern country. Thus, the yeomanry was not only the fundamental mass leverage of the overturn of the ancient monarchy and its accompanying feudalism; it also put forward clear and distinct political ideas, which must be the basis of any socialist society.

From the vantage point of the extensive Russian peasantry, Lenin repeatedly explained that you cannot have socialism without carrying democracy to its extreme, a concept impossible to understand in an historically concrete way unless one begins with the party of the Levellers.

Everyone knows that it was the peasant revolution which helped to break the power of the French aristocrats. But there is something else which the majority of people do not know. All over France village communes consisting of peasants and agricultural workers organised together and formed the various federations which became the different districts of which France is composed today. While Paris spearheaded the revolution, the new France was built on the Federation established by the actions of the populace in the countryside.

We believe that this achievement of the peasantry in establishing what we know as modern France needs to be solidly established today when the peasants of the world have once again laid claim to the making of history and the advancement of civilisation, this time not on a city, or national, but on a worldwide scale. It is not accidental that this tremendous historical event is registered in a piece of writing by Michelet, the famous historian of the French Revolution.

Michelet writes:

This opposition becomes completely insignificant in the midst of the immense popular movement which was asserting itself everywhere. Never since the Crusades was there such a shaking up of the masses, so general, so deep. In ’90 the impetus of fraternity now the impetus of war.

Where did this impetus begin? Everywhere. No precise origins can be fixed for these great spontaneous acts. In the summer of 1789 during the terrorism of the brigands, the scattered population, even those of the hamlets are afraid of their isolation: hamlets are united with hamlets, villages with villages, even the city with the country. Confederation, mutual help, brotherly friendship, fraternity, this is the idea, the title of these pacts. Few, very few, are as yet written down. At first the idea of fraternity is limited. It involved only neighbours, and at most the province. The great federation of Brittany and Anjou still has this provincial character. Convened on November 26th, it achieved its purpose in January. At the centre of the peninsula, far from the main highways in the lonely little town of Pontivy, the representatives of 150,000 national guards are meeting. Only the horsemen wear a common uniform, red jackets with black lapels; all the others distinguishable by their pink, purple and suede lapels, etc., recalled at this same gathering the diversity of the cities which sent them. In their coalition, to which they invited all the municipalities of the kingdom, they nevertheless insisted upon forming a permanent family of Brittany and Anjou, whatever new departmental division may be necessary for the administration. They established a system of correspondence between their cities. In the general disorder, in the uncertainty in which they find themselves due to the success of their new order, they arrange at least to be organised separately.

In the less isolated countries, at the crossing of large routes, especially on the rivers, the pact of fraternity takes on a wider scope. Under the old regime with the multitude of toll charges, and internal customs, the rivers were merely limits, obstacles, fetters; but under the rule of liberty they became the main routes of circulation, they put men in contact with ideas, with feelings, as well as with commerce.

It is near the Rhone, two leagues from Valence, in the small market town of Etoile, that, for the first time, the province is renounced; fourteen rural communes of Dauphine unite and embrace the great French unity (November 29, 1789). A very effective reply from these peasants to the politicians and to the Mouniers who appealed to provincial pride, to the spirit of partition, who were trying to arm the province of Dauphine against France.

This Federation, renewed at Montelimart, is no longer only Dauphinoise, but is mixed with several provinces from both banks, Dauphine and Vivarais, Provence and Languedoc. This time, therefore, they are French. Grenoble sends people there of its own accord, in spite of the municipality, in spite of its politics; she no longer cares about her role as capital, she prefers to be part of France. All together they repeat the sacred oath which the peasants have already sworn in November: ‘No more provinces! the Nation!’ And to help each other, to feed one another, to pass the corn from hand to hand along the Rhone (13th December).

The work of rural people in transforming society and eradicating ancient ills was continued in the American Civil War. White farmers and black former slaves intervened to bring American civilisation to a new height. In the first half of that conflict the farmers of the American north-west opposed the extension of slavery into the free states and territories. These farmers played a crucial role in the creation of a new political party, the Republican Party, dedicated to free states and territories.

In the final decisive years of that war, the slaves themselves flocked to the Northern Army to guarantee the unity of the country and to safeguard and deepen their own emancipation. The stage was being set for something in the next century.

Not only do the present generation of Afro-Americans, themselves a few generations away from Southern soil, rural people undergoing the new impact of urban life and industrial capitalism, battle for equality in every sphere of life. They demand in reality the outline of an entirely new America. Rural people in their transition to urban life have nurtured the pre-condition of a new ordering of the constitutive elements that make America.

In the twentieth century the Russian peasants took the stage. It required the Russian peasantry of two revolutions, 1905 and 1917, plus the counter-revolution of the 1920s to enable us to see clearly an experience that is now thoroughly international. Stalin was forced in his drive for mastery not only to destroy the Bolshevik Party, to stifle free intellectual and artistic development and behead, shackle and fetter the working class.

He had to subjugate the peasantry to ensure his domination of all that had been the product of the Russian Revolution, a domination which enabled him to defeat that revolution in a way that all the reactionary armies had not been able to do. Stalin, with his eyes set on the necessity of economic development of backward Russian society as a whole, unloosed a war upon those he called “Kulaks” – an insulting word referring to the middle layer and the well-to-do among the agricultural population. He sent millions of peasants, torn away from their land by military power, to Siberia.

In competitive economic terms a vast peasantry was more than state capitalism in Russia could afford, particularly in the face of the need to rationalise its economy.

At the very same time, in the turn from the port cities of Shanghai and Canton to the peasantry in the interior that took place in 1927–28, the Chinese Communist Party made its own turn – but in an opposite direction. At first it went into the interior of the country for tactical reasons, to escape the persecutions opened upon it in the cities. Mao Tse Tung was theoretically unprepared for the intricacies of the agrarian question. But the. objective situation was such, and the readiness of the peasants for self-arming so ingrained in the Chinese countryside, that while paying lip-service to Stalin, the Chinese Communists began to root their own party situation in the struggles against landlordism.

The fruit of all this was Chinese national independence and the troubles this has given the bourgeois powers of the West and the traditional Communist movement ever since. Without the Peasant Associations of China, which did not wait for their formation upon any Communist Party, all this could not have come about. The peasantry was announcing its entry into world politics. What may have happened to the Chinese Revolution after the consolidation of national independence is another question. But the achievement of national independence by a peasant army stands as an unquestionable fact by all willing to see.

The Indian national struggles after World War I followed something of the path whereby the Russian intelligentsia went to the peasant mass a century before. The Indian leader, Gandhi, made his name and fame by emulating the life of the peasant and engaging in all kinds of activities which would capture the peasants’ imagination. Even those who called themselves Socialist in India, would, by the late 1930s, attempt to carry the whole peasantry with them in the effort to expel the British. Gandhi found a unifying tactic in the refusal to pay taxes, the peasants drove the struggle forward to include assaults on the landlords and moneylenders.

It was the intervention of war which moved the mass of the sharecroppers into the new struggle. The Japanese had invaded East Bengal peasant committees began to administer affairs in the village and order justice there. Undoubtedly among the vital reasons that the British imperial authorities were prepared to leave the sub-continent that is India and Pakistan was the determination of the peasants to engage in uncompromisable struggles which no amount of diplomatic conferences with Indian Congress Party leaders could in any way obviate. An organic social rupture was taking place in the length and breadth of Asia with the masses of peasants as its centre and political independence as its viable result.

Perhaps there is no more singular illustration of the power of the peasantry than the world impact of Vietnamese peasants. The Vietnam peasants have in effect now mobilised whole sections of the American population and immobilised whole sectors of the American State. The Vietnamese as a people live in an industrially primitive civilisation revolving around the cultivation of rice and the isolation of a village-based social structure.

Yet they are facing the tremendous power of the United States with an energy, an endurance and a heroism which cannot be exceeded. Napoleon, the greatest man of military affairs of the last centuries, faced it in Spain, he faced it in peasant Russia, he faced it in San Domingo. And today the Vietnam farmer shows us what the peasantry contains in itself.

Africa is in many ways key to the understanding of the role of the peasants in a world order in transition. The first new, independent state to be established on that continent was Ghana. The rise of Nkrumah in Ghana was ultimately determined by the peasant population in both political and social terms. While Nkrumah built a certain base for his political party in the major city of Accra, it was his tireless campaigning in the most outlying parts of the country among the rural people which produced the situation where the once all-powerful Colonial Office had to bring him out of jaii to govern. No one else could govern the country. The population, ready, as Nkrumah has written, for anything, had seen to that.

The closeness of the city people to the peasantry in Ghana created the objective environment for the unification of the mass of the population, both in city and country. The market women who have for centuries united town and country through well-established domestic marketing arrangements, the internal migration of people, and the sophistication of the: coastal population, provided the bridge to the more distant rural population.

Nkrumah was able to respond to this readiness of the population, this closeness between town and country, and to express the aspirations of the total population. But more than this. He was the most vocal spokesman for African unity, for the notion of a Pan-African movement – the continental unity of peasant peoples.

We have now surveyed the role of the peasantry throughout the world, and have dealt with the reactionary prejudice that it will take hundreds of years before supposedly backward masses are brought up to the level of supposedly advanced peoples. Historical example after example show that the popular mass need only see the possibilities of a new society and the possibilities of assistance, not domination, of the advanced technical knowledge of the world: within fifteen or twenty years we can have a totally different world society.

Political independence is only, however, the first step in a long and difficult process. Now must come the working out of the difficult internal problems, the work relations, the connections between town and country, the utilisation of popular resourcefulness. The mess left by the colonial powers, still not by any means totally out of the picture, must be cleared up.

The work and slim writings of a leader of the movement for independence in Tanganyika, D.K. Chisiza, offer the most concrete and penetrating analysis of the problem before Africa – and indeed the rest of the former colonial territories – that we know. Chisiza, unfortunately killed in an automobile accident when barely thirty, provides that kind of understanding that the architects of the new Africa must have.

The great strength of Chisiza’s analysis lies in the fact that it begins and ends in the spirit of concern with the ninety per cent of the population which is rural and tribal. It is through this emphasis that he avoids the abstract treatment typical of old-fashioned autocracies and modern bureaucracies while aware of the general problem of Africa in the midst of the cold war and the dangers of atomic annihilation, neocolonialist economic control and intervention by way of political intrigue and mercenary armies, Chisiza keeps his sights aimed at the transformation of the African tribalist into an industrial citizen. The uniqueness of his analysis and its general unavailability, not only in Europe and America but in Africa as well, fully justifies an extensive quotation from his work in this document. The following is taken from his Realities of African Independence, published in 1961.

Men flock in from rural areas to take up jobs in industrial enterprises. They are taught certain skills. But no sooner is the training over than they decide to return ‘home’. Thus money, time and valuable effort will have been wasted on training men who will keep no track with industry. Worse still when these men return to the industrial centres for another bout of employment there is no arrangement to get them back to the jobs for which they were trained. The result is that they take up new jobs for which they have to receive new training. But before long the process is repeated all over again, the men turn their backs on industry and head for ‘home’. Governments which have schemes for training foremen, charge hands, mechanics, artisans and other skilled or semi-skilled workers face precisely the same, and no less a problem. This will probably prove to be one of the most intractable problems confronting African governments.

The question must be asked: why is it that Africans from rural areas find it difficult to sink roots in industrial centres? Why won’t they settle down to regular industrial employment? There are six answers to this question:

  1. Because they feel lonely in urban areas. An African who has been brought up in an extended family system, under which family ties are very strong, cannot bear to be away from his family and relations long. He is subjected to a loneliness which comes close to being a torture. Those who are brought up in a horizontal family system may not fully appreciate its intensity. But it is there – real, intense, merciless.
  2. Because towns subject them to a sense of insecurity. Tribal life revolves around the institution of ‘mutual aid and co-operation’ from which people derive a tremendous sense of security. Like lend, it is the equivalent of banks, savings, insurance policies, old age pensions, national assistance schemes and social security. This ‘mutual aid and co-operation’ is non-existent in towns because urban communities are made up of people drawn not from one but numerous tribes – conglomerations in which the institution cannot survive even if it were introduced.
  3. Because they have obligations to their people ‘back home’ which can be fulfilled only in person. The people who come to work in industrial centres are at once children of their parents, fathers, husbands, brothers and uncles. According to African custom, they must therefore look after and take over the responsibilities of their aging parents; they must periodically build houses for themselves and ‘the old people’; they must initiate their male children in the customs and traditions of their tribes; and they must discharge their duties as husbands – all of which cannot be done from afar.
  4. Because they find it trying to adjust themselves to the mode of life of urban areas. Town life bears little resemblance to the life they lead in rural areas. In fact it is a wonder that they are able to put up with the complexities and vicissitudes of urban life for as long as they do. The gap between the two ways of life is so wide that one can cross it .permanently only at the risk of protracted psychological discomfiture. It is a far cry from the world of the hoe, deer hunting, war dances, canoe regattas and moral rectitude to that of the conveyor belt, tennis, tango and promiscuity.
  5. Because a good many of them feel that one cannot bring up children properly in towns. Juvenile delinquency, hooliganism, prostitution, marriage instability, greed and individualism, which characterise life in urban areas, are revolting to. rural peoples. That is why those of them who are forced by circumstances to ask their wives to join them in towns, send their children ‘back home’ to be brought up in the traditional way.
  6. Because their goals are realised quickly. Men who come to towns have definite goals in mind. It may be the purchase of a sewing machine, a plough, a bicycle, clothes or kitchen utensils. They may be trying to raise money to enable them to build brick house, or to settle cases or to pay taxes. As soon as the goals are achieved, it is deemed time to put odds and ends together and head for home.

    All these reasons combine to compel the rural African to return to the rural areas ‘where men are men and women are proud of them’. (Chisiza, Realities of African Independence, p. 21)

    What makes these detailed analyses exemplary in their perceptiveness is that they correspond to the problems of peoples trying to make their way everywhere. From the original entry of the Russian peasantry onto the forefront of political experience to the emergence of modern Africa, the overriding central issue has been the division between town and countryside, between ever-centralising bureaucrats and the resourcefulness of local initiative.

    Here is this problem in the Russian Revolution at the eve of the long dark night of its deterioration and degeneration. Lenin is speaking.

    Under certain conditions the exemplary organisation of local work, even on a small scale, is of far greater national importance than many branches of central state work. And these are precisely the conditions. we are in at the present moment in regard to peasant farming in general, and in regard to the exchange of surplus products of agriculture for the manufacture of industry in particular. Exemplary organisation in this respect, even in a single vlost, is of far greater national. importance than the ‘exemplary’ improvement of the central apparatus of any People’s Commissariat; for our central apparatus has been built up during the past three and a half years to such an extent, we cannot improve it quickly to any extent, we do not know how to do it. Assistance in the more radical improvement of it, a new flow of fresh forces, assistance in the successful struggle against bureaucracy in the struggle to overcome this harmful inertness, must come from the localities, from the lower ranks, with the exemplary organisation of a small ‘whole’, precisely a ‘whole’, i.e. not one farm, not one branch of the economy, not one enterprise, but the sum total of economic relations,the sum total of economic exchange, even if only in a small locality.

    Those of us who are doomed to remain on work at the centre will continue the task of improving the apparatus and purging it of bureaucracy, even if in modest and immediately achievable dimensions. But the greatwst assistance in this task is coming; and will come, from the localities. (Selected Works, Vol. IX, p. 191. Emphasis in the original.)

    That phrase, “Those of us who are doomed to remain on work at the centre”, is the ultimate wisdom, the need, the overwhelming desire of the greatest student of human affairs that any government has ever known. His mastery of philosophy, political economy and politics, could find its climax and fruition only in going to work among the peasants in a Russian village.

    Last updated on 18 October 2020