Students of revolution ought to take up the study of the ‘macro’ effect in WHEE for its analysis of the distinctions that arise in a ‘driven’ system, one that is like the model used to describe it: a finite transition model. Contrasted with pure free agency. This complication to ordinary flat history yields an unnerving insight into the difference between what a system does, and what the people inside it do. To set the crudest analogy (there are many, don’t take any one too seriously): a man with a ten dollar bill in a monthly replication has certain potentials. If he is given a boost to that situation with a a unique grant of a hundred dollar bill from an exterior source, then he has a much larger set of potentials. For as long as the hundred dollars lasts. Then he is back to the ten dollar bill situation.
A finite transition model generates a similar effect: we see the fixed interval transitions, so-called by hypothesis, and the periods in between them. We call the larger history ‘system action’ and the mirror image ‘free action’. If we compare the finite transition called the Axial Age with its succession, as ‘free action’, we see alarmingly the one-way trek toward decline of ‘free action’. But over history human autonomy is increasing and man is beginning to emerge for the finite transition era (all of this a considerable mystery that makes the model hard to deal with). But the fact remains that revolutions were rare to non-existent before the rise of the modern, and the record also shows, for the first time, the difference between revolutions by system action and revolutions by free action. Unfortunately for the analogy the nature of revolution changed in the minds of many radicals in the era of the birth of communism (just before Marx/Engels) and the aspiration was to something far more difficult than a democratic revolution now seen as the ‘bourgeois revolution’. But even so we can sense that the revolutions of the early modern succeeded, more or less, while the later continuation is far more vexed. But democratic revolutions of the type emerging in the modern transition have become very frequent, as if their reality has been mastered. But the type of a communist revolution, although clearly prefigured in the early modern from Munzer to the levelers of the English Civil War, has never quite emerged via ‘system action’ and this has left the radical communist left trying to do something far more difficult than a bourgeois revolution with no historical example. This obscure point is the reason for the way bolshevism veered off into a stalinist muddle. This means that a communist revolution must reinvent revolution, have a clear blueprint for a functional post-market economy, and a new constitutional framework that expresses the communist idea. The key to this trick is to see that a communist revolution is really a democratic revolution that deals with the issues that made democratic/bourgeois revolutions fail as democracies, either sooner or later, as in the American case.
In any case the point is that the communist transition is far more complex and was never given an exemplar in the early modern. But we should consider if English history doesn’t suggest the real clue: the English Civil War clearly gestating a spectrum of outcomes among them communism was swiftly coopted in the Lockean fashion of the bogus ‘Glorious Revolution’, still to be sure with ‘liberal’ elements, and this became the standard of the ‘democracy’ of the age of the American Revolution. Clearly the communist outcome must be to resolve the failure of democracy to be democracy given its capture as a vehicle of capitalist elites. What every generation of communists has been saying from the start, but somehow with the right approach somewhat garbled in total rejection of all liberal freedoms. Solving this paradox in a manner free of the bolshevik anathema of all rights and liberties is the key. We can see that the problem is a set of remorphed elements of a typical bourgeois revolution: a revolutionary change of government and a transition to a new system. The latter is where everything went wrong with bolshevism. The transition degraded to a new authoritarian system with no solution to the problem of postcapitalist economy, with the one party state a new form of the bourgeoisie in control the the means of production.
We can see in the American case that the transition was in part decided on two levels: the bourgeois revolutionaries, and a populist adjunct that finally pushed the revolution toward a first form of democracy. Few later revolutions were lucky enough to have that double whammy, but this larger situation could be the key to a real communist revolution: a revolutionary leadership and a populist late surge to bring the revolution to the larger class.
In any case, the ‘macro’ model can be a reminder that the French Revolution is not an example to follow of a communist revolution. The problem is not insuperable: we are talking about the large-scale formations of global capital. The mass of sub-economic activity from flea markets to petty-bourgeois shopkeepers is a different question, that can be left to a sub-threshold of benign anarchism…(maybe).
In any case it is suspicious propaganda triumphant to yield all thought to the efficacy of markets. They are clearly deadly at this point.
In any case, it must be faced the the energies of the early modern are different from those we have in its wake. With these we must reinvent revolution to find passage beyond the madness of capitalism run amok.
We have posted already today on the Limits to Growth analysis. The problem was clear forty years ago, yet the workings of capitalist ideology have lost us almost two generations to the frozen Frankentstein motions of the capitalist class.
The analysis of history here might help to free thought from revolutionary cliches of the early modern and to consider carefully a true first born of the French Revolution, that is something new altogether.