http://www.alternet.org/visions/how-americas-spirit-revolution-was-crushed?paging=off¤t_page=1#bookmark: How America’s Spirit for Revolution Was Crushed
Today’s ‘revolutions’ are aimed not at liberating, but at controlling us all.
This is an interesting article, but the tide of eloquence is still insufficient to the complexity of the question. No blame, the article is helpful for ‘out of groove’ thinking, up to a point.
We will defer full discussion here and simply link the question to our stream and sequence model discussed today: revolutions are rare in world history until the rise of modernity, and then they explode in the early modern from the Reformation to the French Revolution. The conclusion to the French Revolution is ambiguous, and seeds a new way of thinking about revolutions, i.e. the socialist/communist themes are the continuation, but these occur at the boundary of our analytical interval: note that the most successful revolutions occur exactly in the interval of our sequence in the sequence/stream analysis, while the genre gets more difficult thereafter. This is no accident, and something Marx was puzzling over in the year 1848. There are of course multiple revolutions after the fashion of the American, but at no point is the dilemma found in the French Revolution resolved. And here a whole new discourse of revolution emerges, e.g. via marxism, but, note, these are all outside the sequence interval. The whole game is spasmodic. For an obvious reason: they demand a reconstruction by reasoning individuals of the mystery of the early modern, the one thing it is virtually impossible to do. The failure points the way to a future success: the elements of revolution must be carefully deliberated in thought and turned into a procedure to create a new form of society, a quite intractable task, given the instruments so far available. A revolution is a sudden/quick attempt by a crowd or group/groups to initiate a causal sequence of events that will create 1. a new government…2. a new form of government…3. a new form of society/economy… The first shows multiple later exemplars. E.g. the multiple colonial revolutions against some form of imperialism after the fashion of the American, the prototype. The experiments with ‘new forms of government’ are a short list: either the objective is democracy or else bust…the forms of fascism don’t really count.
Now we see why the problem is difficult: the real successor to the French Revolution, or its completion, if you will, requires #3: a new form of society/economy. But the way to a postcapitalist society is not easily traveled. There are no exemplars in the early modern, save one, the Munzerian (proto-communist) revolution manque that was suppressed, giving birth no doubt to the bourgeois revolutions. We can see that bourgeois revolutions are fairly easy to replicate. It is almost a downhill run. The Munzerian example should be warning something was missed in the early modern: a job requires completion outside the sequence phase.
That is not an impossibility, but the examples of the early modern will be misleading. The path to a postcapitalist/democratic revolution is no path at all, if we try to imitate the French Revolution. It needs to be #1,2,3 all at once, and we would think it was impossible to bring off, save that the Russian revolution proves this false: the route is #1, to the level of a bourgeois revolution, then #2,3 to a new form of society. The problem there is that there was no model of a postcapitalist society. The result swiftly contracted around a set of oversimplifications. And a revolution on that scale can’t really be accomplished by a crowd or street protest. It requires a model of an ultra complex system whose pieces are carefully reckoned with. You almost get a picture of sans culottes using software on, say, iPads will correctly catalogue the relationships of institutions in place with procedures to attempt causal sequences that create real change. It is obvious from the French Revolution that the events were lost to situations too complex to resolve easily. That’s natural: how many of us really know how a government works, or the society/civil society behind it?
So pessimism about ‘revolutions’ in the stream phase of an epoch is not surprising, but the situation simply echoes the possibility of success shown in antiquity, and the clear early success of the Russian revolution. The problem is not the same as the ‘democratic’ bourgeois revolution: the revolution must grapple with the forms of civil society, and most of all free market economy, and that suggests a transient totalizing but not totalitarian phase that can control the whole economic sphere, followed by a reconstruction of democracy inside the result, which must also move toward a global solution to the politics of nations in a union, you guessed it, of ‘socialist republics’. This seems very unlikely, until you have a planet so burned out noone has any illusions left about free market utopias. The democratic phase of bourgeois revolution conceals a totalitarian system concealed behind a veneer. Once that is seen by a larger public the transition will be less confusing. At the end of the whole globalization movement that was to bring the economics of class to some resolution in the emergence of a middle class, etc, the besotted capitalist elites, converted to the fantasies of Ayn Rand, wish to eliminate the middle class, restore poverty in a final battle of class warfare, rendering the whole Industrial Revolution a pointless exercise in the ‘let them eat Hostess twinkies’ model. The deliberate destruction of the kind of weak compromises of figures like Roosevelt is significant. Nothing forces such illogic doomed to recreate proletarian rebellion.
Nothing in the ‘sequence’ phase shows an example of this, the reason we tend to flounder in false analogies (usually to the French Revolution). But taken in its own terms the question is seen as realizable in the end, after long confusion on the way. The greatest experiment in neoliberal capitalism reborn in the wake of the fall of Bolshevism already shows the merry go round coming full circle to the postcapitalist question. We should consider the whole of world history, to find the real exemplar: the early Xtian ‘revolutionary’ movement was thwarted totally by an overwhelming power, and a proletariat far more corrupted in the bloody culture of the Roman games, but in the end ‘catacombed’ against overwhelming power, coming to the point of revolution in the decadence of an empire. So there are two outcomes: revolution ‘now’, or the slow catacombing against supreme power, waiting for the moment to strike. That moment is coming faster than we think if it is true that the planetary climate is at risk. So the postcapitalist ‘communist’ resolution needs to be ready, and the complexity of the question needs to forget the French Revolution and look at the blueprint of society on its own terms, as if the moment of revolutionary transition, were to be run with connected iPads of software illustrating the dynamics in question.
Our ‘stream’ phase revolution may not have the spontaneity of the early modern, but it has a prophecy given at the start in the glimpse of the future given by Munzer in the dawn of the Lutheran bourgeois. The ‘cunning of Reason’ seems to have seeded the outcome in the centuries to come.