Thursday, July 2, 2009

Revolutionaries without Revolution

As a former student radical, I had always thought that The Revolution must be bred among and led by the masses - the poor, the disenfranchised, and most particularly the working classes alienated from the means of production - against the bosses, the elites, the "bourgeoisie." But we now have the daily unfolding spectacle of The Revolution being led and imposed from above, against the will (and interests) of the masses, which of course in the case of modern America are the working "middle" classes.

Why does this revolutionized concept of Revolution make us so uneasy? For one thing, it is too easy. It substitutes fiat money (inevitably to be "made good" by much higher taxes of all kinds) for class struggle and the valuable lessons of solidarity, self-organization and class consciousness that genuine political movements bring. And for another thing, it benefits the wrong people: bureaucrats at every level of government; "middlemen" of every sort; officials and functionaries; planners planning, managing and directing social and economic activities of which they are fundamentally ignorant; self-serving "service providers"; those dangerous souls who crave power over others and for that precise reason should never be allowed to acquire it.

When Andre Thirion wrote Revolutionnaires sans revolution in 1972, he was looking back in sorrow at the dashed dreams of Surrealists and Stalinists alike in the 20th century. Thirion at length became a Gaullist. He concluded that "The antagonism between capitalism and Socialism is merely the result of poverty."

This statement might be interpreted in many different ways. The way America's current government interprets it seems to be "We can buy Socialism with other people's money."