The question of ‘revolution’ is stalking this generation’s spectrum of activist projects and movements. We should interject that an equal question of evolutionary electoral transformation is stalking the revolutionary option, could we bring it off. There is a danger of revolutionary dogmatism. But there is an equal danger of ‘less than revolutionary’ naivete. We can’t force history, until and unless it grants the real opportunity. But this is surely on the way. We confront the necessary and the impossible in a paradox of action and deadlock. We could never expect or hope that the immense and growing power of the american political juggernaut could ever be challenged. But history suggests otherwise, to a close look: the French, the Russian systems that gave birth to revolutions were immensely powerful in their reactionary force. And yet in both cases they fell very rapidly to simple street marches.
A similar point is coming with the American system: it is proceeding down a suicidal path that is of the irrational type we see in the earlier French and Russian systems, with an important difference. That is that we are confronted with the outcomes themselves of revolution confronting revolution all over again. But there is no simple dynamic behind that in the sense of revolution.
Actually this was the problem figures such as Marx/Engels attempted to deal with and solve: they were not talking about virgin revolutions into modernity or liberalism, but successor revolutions applied on new grounds, economic, to the partial outcomes of the prior cycle. The point is crucial since we see with Leninism the detestation of liberalism leading to a postliberal successor. It didn’t require the sophistries of ‘end of history’ propaganda to see that this was regressive. The point was well understood by Marx/Engels, but somehow the confusion over the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ entered as a tare that corrupted the logic of revolution. The original revolutions of the democratic type were correctly pegged ‘bourgeois’ revolutions, and their association with capitalism, growing apace from the early modern, and then exploding in the era of the industrial revolution were correctly seen to have compromised democratic realization: the analysis of class that resulted clarified the flaws in such as the French Revolution. The resulting demand for a proletarian revolution was entirely apt but at this point we might simply create a generalized democratic revolutionary prospectus based on a communist foundation of some kind. We have actually constructed a solution to this dilemma: democratic market neo-communism and we can envisage a version of the phases of democratic revolutions that resolve better the issues of class and capitalism. Whether this is a proletarian revolution or the variant we have suggested: thinking in terms of the ‘universal class’, the fact remains that we must bring an economic bill of rights to the original capitalist economic ideology. That is, we must envisage that democracy in its original electoral form was found to be easily captured by class elements based on economic ‘freedoms’, the free market. This has been analyzed thus a thousand times and the point now is to bring the whole question to fruition without fumbling the ball the way that Leninism did. We can argue the first attempt here was so flawed it doesn’t really count and proceed with great caution to do the job right. And this at a time when the crisis of politics, culture and climate has provided the open ended opportunity. We may not see the avenue open to direct revolution but as we recall the way the original revolutions spontaneously created the transition we should look to the developing chaos that is suggesting so strongly the need for a new era of politics and economy. We need to be ready when the moment comes, and it is important to have an organized platform and a coherent overall plan of action. After all the labors on the left that platform still doesn’t exist.