An article was penned by Victor Villanueva where he makes the claim why the third world can’t be revolutionary. This is, of course, an attempt at a refutation of Third Worldism. His argument was barely so. The article is rather disjointed, with statements and arguments that don’t seem to go anywhere, nor are they seemingly connected to the point he’s trying to make. It’s also peppered with reactionary jargon intended to appear as more technical than it is. On a personal level, I wouldn’t use the words “But, as Slavoj Zizek often points out…”, in anything.
So for simplicity’s sake, I’ll only deal with the crux of his argument rather than tackling all the little disjointed points he makes. His argument essentially comes down to the claim that the third world is underdeveloped so therefore it is incapable of having a revolution, to say nothing of leading it. This stance is entirely based on Trotsky’s Theory of the Productive Forces, upheld by many Trotskyists, leftcoms, and assorted dinosaur “Marxist” First Worldists, which basically claims “the necessity of strengthening the productive forces of the economy as a precondition for the realization of socialism.” This is otherwise known as productive force determinism. Essentially this comes from Trotsky’s prejudiced view that the peasants were too backwards to reach socialism. Villanueva argues that without an industrial base there cannot build socialism.
There’s two primary points that negate this reactionary Trotskyist argument:
First, this idea that a backwards country cannot rise into socialism has been debunked by the very history of Communist Revolution itself. Both Russia and China were underdeveloped when their revolutions took place. China was one of the most backwards countries in the world, and yet it had the largest and greatest revolution of all time. It was Marx’s prediction that it would be the advanced capitalist countries where the socialist revolution would take place. This theory has been proven wrong. This is not to say that it absolutely couldn’t happen, but I would highly doubt so given historical experience.
Secondly, the industrial base in the third world isn’t underdeveloped. It is correct to say that the third world is maldeveloped, rather than under-developed. This is an important distinction to make when we seek to make an analysis of our world today. To refer to the third world as merely “under-developed” and the first world as “industrially developed” is inaccurate, given both that the majority of industrial production exists within the third world, and that the first world today is largely de-industrialized, and transformed into a “shopping mall economy”, with the white-collar service sector constituting the vast majority of the economy. In this sense, the first-world is also economically mal-developed, but in a parasitic way.
Finally, this idea that somehow the third world can’t be revolutionary is insulting to the global proletariat. Those who toil for the benefit of first world people, those of the real industrial base should not be discarded with such disdain. It is nothing short of ignorance and total detachment from the global proletariat to think that the beneficiaries of imperialist plunder are the revolutionary base.