Articulating the need and meaning of revolution

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Scallywag
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Nov 4 2014 23:18
Articulating the need and meaning of revolution

How do we explain why we need a revolution and what a revolution would be like and aim to accomplish,

Common arguments I hear from liberals are that a revolution would be violent and that in the UK people aren't oppressed, that we live in a democracy and so there is no need for a revolution. Usually followed by your 'anti-British' and 'if you hate capitalism so much why don't you go live in Cuba or China'. sad

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boozemonarchy
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Nov 5 2014 00:37

Maybe get these people talking about how shit their work is instead? One thing might lead to another. wink

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AES
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Nov 5 2014 01:46

If I want to talk to someone about social revolution, I normally approach the subject by asking something like "do you think the capitalism is the last stage of human development?" I remember there was a survey asking this question which was once put to the whole population of a western european country around the time of the fall of the Berlin wall, and if my understanding of the survey multiple choice answers is still correct, about 22% answered that they "believe a better society will follow capitalism". The alternative is that capitalism is the end of history. I think this is a sober way to begin a discussion about such an important subject. I try avoid being unnecessarily utopian.

Maybe thereafter because of its huge scope and significance, I would go to discussing alienation and security. I find that many or most people recognise that there is a need to nurture and support social relationships to live a healthy life, or feel that there is an absence of this, and if they don't think then I put that concept to them with a basic discussion and questions, like "let's imagine that things quickly got much worse, even completely out of control, what conditions do we have at work and where we live and do those relate to us and our interests? How could we rearrange the way we organise ourselves to better suit the type of society we just said we want?"

Classic dialogues on revolution are Malatesta's Fra Contadini and Berkman's ABC of Anarchism

jojo
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Nov 5 2014 01:51

If we don't get rid of capitalism soon there won't be any more human development at all. Even if war and austerity don't finish us all off, climate change will.

To answer Scallywag's questions. Yes, a revolution will be violent, but it'll be violence in pursuit of something better. All the violence and hate now is in pursuit of shit.

In the UK we live under a bourgeois democracy which exploits the masses for the benefit of a few. In Cuba and China people live under a bourgeois democracy that calls itself communist, and which exploits the masses for the benefit of a few.

Under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie personal relationships become prisons as they seperate people off from the solidarity and love of shared communal existence. For many people human life becomes a daily agonizing struggle just to stay alive. It's difficult to imagine things getting much worse as everything tends to become more and more like Kobane, as the fanatically crazed bourgeoisie, split into warring factions, just go round killing. This is without doubt the most inhuman and anti-human society that our self-exploited species ever invented. It's time to organize to get rid of it. And we still can.

Scallywag
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Nov 5 2014 02:05

Well it's not people that I personally are talking to, but I mean that within society there is a certain cynicism towards a society organised differently from what we currently have and what we do have is presumed to be the best as 'it works'. So there is an 'anti-communism' ideology which is pretty well enforced. For example I think this can be observed in the reaction Russell Brands calls for a 'revolution' have received in the media and by liberals, part of it may be down to the fact that it is Russell brand saying these things and he is hardly the best spokesperson for them, but part of it also is total cynicism and disparaging towards a society organised differently and of course liberal ideologues are also quick to remind us of how we live in a 'democracy', live in a wealthy country and don't need a revolution.

So my question then is how do we challenge this right wing dogma and also present an anti-capitalist argument which people will be able to understand and relate to and then also introduce anarcho-communist ideas whilst again still making it easy for people to understand and relate to?

Scallywag
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Nov 5 2014 21:28
jojo wrote:
If we don't get rid of capitalism soon there won't be any more human development at all. Even if war and austerity don't finish us all off, climate change will.

To answer Scallywag's questions. Yes, a revolution will be violent, but it'll be violence in pursuit of something better. All the violence and hate now is in pursuit of shit.

In the UK we live under a bourgeois democracy which exploits the masses for the benefit of a few. In Cuba and China people live under a bourgeois democracy that calls itself communist, and which exploits the masses for the benefit of a few.

Under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie personal relationships become prisons as they seperate people off from the solidarity and love of shared communal existence. For many people human life becomes a daily agonizing struggle just to stay alive. It's difficult to imagine things getting much worse as everything tends to become more and more like Kobane, as the fanatically crazed bourgeoisie, split into warring factions, just go round killing. This is without doubt the most inhuman and anti-human society that our self-exploited species ever invented. It's time to organize to get rid of it. And we still can.

I think most of us here would agree with you JoJo, but these are mostly emotional appeals. We are all to aware of the suffering and oppression around us and it's cause, but others aren't going to buy it. Not when there is strong anti-communist propaganda and sentiment.

boomerang
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Nov 5 2014 20:06
Scallywag wrote:
So my question then is how do we challenge this right wing dogma and also present an anti-capitalist argument which people will be able to understand and relate to and then also introduce anarcho-communist ideas whilst again still making it easy for people to understand and relate to?

This is the million dollar question. smile People have lived their entire life being taught to believe lies, and to get them to want revolution and anarchism requires undoing a lifetime of lies, layers and layers of them. It's a long process. So here's three ways I can think of to achieve that:

1. Because it's a long process, it will take multiple conversations, so to really change people's minds about it, they need to be someone you see and talk with regularly, like a friend or family member or co-worker. That doesn't mean you can't plant seeds with people you talk to less often

2. Commit yourself to organizing, to building class struggle, which starts slow with reformist aims, but with the mind towards building it towards a revolution. As the class struggle grows and gains victories, revolutionary ideas seem less impossibly utopian. To prevent things from stagnating in reformism, best to be part of an anarchist organization that participates in the class struggle and helps persuade people to take things all the way.
(Note I mean class struggle in the broad sense, including organizing around racism, sexism, service cuts, tenant issues, etc.)

3. Kidnap Michael Moore and force him to use his brilliant film-making skills to make movies about anarchism instead of liberalism. Or brainwash Oprah, get her back on the air, and get her to tell her audience that anarchism is where it's at. People seem to listen to her. Or try to become the next Michael Moore or Oprah and do it yourself.

I wish I had better answers for you / us.

boomerang
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Nov 5 2014 21:56
AES wrote:
Classic dialogues on revolution are Malatesta's Fra Contadini and Berkman's ABC of Anarchism

Ooh! The Malatesta thing seems great. (Already read Berkman's.) Thanks for the link. But what the hell kind of names are Jack and William for an Italian to use?

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Nov 5 2014 22:40

In the version I have (which is called Fra Contadini, a dialogue between two peasants) William is Bert and Jack is George, which is probably a matter of translators preferences. The text is very dated from about 1884. Another classic is Kropotkin's Appeal to the Young

jojo
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Nov 6 2014 05:40

Scallywag wrote.

"I think most of us here would agree with you JoJo, but these are mostly emotional appeals. We are all to aware of the suffering and oppression around us and it's cause, but others aren't going to buy it. Not when there is strong anti-communist propaganda and sentiment."

I don't think I was making emotional appeals at all. Is alienation a purely emotional state of affairs? I regard what I was trying to say as more like the delineation of working class ethics. The thread is asking what communism will be like. Well it'll have a new and an ethical grasp of life and living. In this ethical society, people and their needs take precedence over all else. This is a huge change in outlook from what we currently survive under.

The bourgeoisie has morality, based mainly on bourgeois property rights, and the rights of individuals to exploit other individuals for personal gain. The basis of bourgeois morality is the law of value and the need to perpetuate the rise in the rate of profit.

The basis of communism is the ethical and evolutionary necessity for all people to have the chance to realize their potential along and in solidarity with everyone else. Communally.

Scallywag
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Nov 6 2014 10:04
jojo wrote:
Scallywag wrote.

"I think most of us here would agree with you JoJo, but these are mostly emotional appeals. We are all to aware of the suffering and oppression around us and it's cause, but others aren't going to buy it. Not when there is strong anti-communist propaganda and sentiment."

I don't think I was making emotional appeals at all. Is alienation a purely emotional state of affairs? I regard what I was trying to say as more like the delineation of working class ethics. The thread is asking what communism will be like. Well it'll have a new and an ethical grasp of life and living. In this ethical society, people and their needs take precedence over all else. This is a huge change in outlook from what we currently survive under.

The bourgeoisie has morality, based mainly on bourgeois property rights, and the rights of individuals to exploit other individuals for personal gain. The basis of bourgeois morality is the law of value and the need to perpetuate the rise in the rate of profit.

The basis of communism is the ethical and evolutionary necessity for all people to have the chance to realize their potential along and in solidarity with everyone else. Communally.

Well I wasn't writing off what you where saying, but in my experience when you talk about the suffering around you, the 'agonizing' daily life of the workers, war, austerity and climate change and then when you attribute these things to capitalism then often it does get written of as 'emotional appeals' by those who are blind and indifferent to the suffering around them.

So it's not enough just to say these things we need to prove and be able to explain all the faults of capitalism, show how terrible society really is and explain why it works the way it does, and also explain how even in a 'democratic' country like Britain people are still oppressed.

jojo
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Nov 7 2014 09:11

Even in a democratic country like the USA people are still oppressed, because they live under capitalist rules as does the rest of the world.

These enforced rules of capitalism say there are only a limited number of jobs available, because of economic difficulties, so you may have to be unemployed. We're sorry (they lie) but it's a fact of life. It's actually a fact of capitalist life, and wouldn't apply under communism.

Shortages which occur as a result of the capitalist need to make profit, effect health care and education, which, under capitalism are expensive. In communist society they would be at the top of the working class agenda and in free and great supply to all who need them.

But this is ridiculous Scallywag! Are there truly as many people as you seem to think who are "blind and indifferent to the suffering around them!" Most people on the planet are actually victims of all the suffering themselves. They can hardly be "blind and indifferent". What they may not appreciate is that the suffering is caused largely by capitalism. This is what they may be blind and indifferent too! And isn't it precisely capitalism which an organization like libcom is there to criticize?

"Explain how even in a "democratic" country like Britain people are still oppressed!" you say.
Why don't you go first?

Scallywag
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Nov 7 2014 12:37
jojo wrote:
But this is ridiculous Scallywag! Are there truly as many people as you seem to think who are "blind and indifferent to the suffering around them!" Most people on the planet are actually victims of all the suffering themselves. They can hardly be "blind and indifferent". What they may not appreciate is that the suffering is caused largely by capitalism. This is what they may be blind and indifferent too! And isn't it precisely capitalism which an organization like libcom is there to criticize?

Call me cynical but yeah sadly I think there is.

Not everyone suffers to the same degree, some are a lot more privileged than others in the world and even within countries, and those from more privileged backgrounds not always, but I find can be totally uncaring blind and indifferent to the suffering of others around them since they don't suffer enough themselves. Capitalism does give some benefits and privileges to some people whilst still oppressing them and so there not going to want to lose that.

Quote:
"Explain how even in a "democratic" country like Britain people are still oppressed!" you say. Why don't you go first?

I wouldn't do a very good job at it, neither would I do a good job at explaining the need for a revolution.

It's why I am asking.

jojo
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Nov 8 2014 01:35

If people don't know they're oppressed then there's not much hope for a revolution.

Caiman del Barrio
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Nov 8 2014 13:57

I think there's a problem with the question here: why do you think there should be a revolution? Why would you enter into a conversation with a specific, instrumentalist agenda? What's wrong with an open, honest dialogue that doesn't have an endpoint or an objective? In my experience, people are suspicious of revolutionaries cos they act like religious fundamentalists: handing out cheap pieces of paper to strangers, trying to convince people to join their cult via deception, using language and jargon that noone really understands, etc. Even if you succeed in 'recruiting' someone, often you'll find their relationship to your organisation/movement/whatever isn't the one you think they should have: hence the official/unofficial hierarchies in left wing organisations, and, to a certain extent, anarchist groups too.

My personal belief is that it's not that people don't wanna see serious change in their lives (Jojo's post above mine is frankly bizarre, tbh), but rather that they don't see any preferable alternative (and I'm inclined to agree with them, in general, anyway). The point is to find ways of involving yourself, and thereby the people around you, in processes of change and the reconstruction of their environment in ways which are meaningful and empowering.

Removing the pedestal of the 'activist' as someone who tries to force this in every situation might be a positive start.

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Nov 8 2014 15:21

Are we anti-organisationalists?

In real life, social revolution occurs (not because of conversations initiated by 'activists' or most organisations about the subject but) because of antagonistic forces, especially when conditions for the downtrodden working population become unbearable.

Forming organisations in relation to understanding and organising around these antagonistic forces (anti-capitalism and class oppression; anti-sexism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia...) from the point of view that social revolution is not only circumstantially significant but that capitalism is not the last stage of human development and it cannot be reformed out of history but it must be abolished and replaced with a free and egalitarian society.

Scallywag
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Nov 9 2014 11:27
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
I think there's a problem with the question here: why do you think there should be a revolution? Why would you enter into a conversation with a specific, instrumentalist agenda? What's wrong with an open, honest dialogue that doesn't have an endpoint or an objective? In my experience, people are suspicious of revolutionaries cos they act like religious fundamentalists: handing out cheap pieces of paper to strangers, trying to convince people to join their cult via deception, using language and jargon that noone really understands, etc. Even if you succeed in 'recruiting' someone, often you'll find their relationship to your organisation/movement/whatever isn't the one you think they should have: hence the official/unofficial hierarchies in left wing organisations, and, to a certain extent, anarchist groups too.

My personal belief is that it's not that people don't wanna see serious change in their lives (Jojo's post above mine is frankly bizarre, tbh), but rather that they don't see any preferable alternative (and I'm inclined to agree with them, in general, anyway). The point is to find ways of involving yourself, and thereby the people around you, in processes of change and the reconstruction of their environment in ways which are meaningful and empowering.

Removing the pedestal of the 'activist' as someone who tries to force this in every situation might be a positive start.

Do you mean activists are 'self righteous' or seen as self righteous and the left is too dogmatic? I guess I get your point, but then what is and isn't activism?

I am not sure if people will agree with me or even how I could prove this, but I think there is a lot of discussion at the moment as to whether capitalism really is the best we could do, and a lot of criticism of it as well. I know this kind of contradicts with what I said earlier as to there being strong anti communism, cynicism and disparaging of any kind of revolutionary idea, but I think both of these statements are true actually. Capitalism is being questioned not just from the working classes but by academics and scientists I think, perhaps not capitalism as a whole but aspects of it. The media however, is still powerful enough to shoot down anti-capitalist ideas and a lot of liberals and the middle classes are still 'brainwashed' into believing it's good. Since it's being challenged though then liberals and the media do have to discuss it and then questions like 'do we need a revolution?' even manage to filter into liberal and right leaning political forums.

So I don't see why we don't take full advantage of this situation, there is a conversation happening so why not use the internet a tool past revolutionaries never had, to be able to answer some of these questions, put our ideas across and encourage a revolution, not just on Libcom but wherever we can.

Maybe we are at the beginning of a revolution? Do you think I am right that capitalism is being challenged and do you think that is likely to increase in future? Is it just me becoming more aware of what's going on or is struggles, organising and class consciousness actually increasing?

It seems we just need a push to get it moving and then the final one to abolish capitalism.

boomerang
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Nov 9 2014 01:23

Capitalism hurts all of us, even the richest. No matter our income, competition and inequality have a shit effects on us sociologically, psychologically, our health, relationships, etc. ... plus no matter how rich you are, the environment is being destroyed, and might no longer be able to support human life if we continue down this path.

About how to respond to the question about why a revolution is needed for those who are relatively more privileged / less oppressed, you can use an analogy of a couple. Let's say your partner is terribly abusing you, obviously you'd be better off leaving that relationship. But let's say your in a relationship where the abuse is more subtle, and you're just not in love with each other and can barely stand each other. This isnt as bad, but not a happy relationship either. People stay in it (capitalism, the relationship) because they think there's nothing better. But what if there was something way better, and you could be in love and truly happy, wouldn't you want that? (Metaphorically this would be anarchism.)

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Noah Fence
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Nov 9 2014 06:00
Quote:
am not sure if people will agree with me or even how I could prove this, but I think there is a lot of discussion at the moment as to whether capitalism really is the best we could do, and a lot of criticism of it as well. I know this kind of contradicts with what I said earlier as to there being strong anti communism, cynicism and disparaging of any kind of revolutionary idea, but I think both of these statements are true actually. Capitalism is being questioned not just from the working classes but by academics and scientists I think, perhaps not capitalism as a whole but aspects of it.

My recent experience is that 'activists', bloggers etc talk about aspects of capitalism but not in the context of capitalism being the instigator of, or the thing that underpins the particular issue they are trying to create awareness of/take action against. They don't really see the connection in its fullest sense. They may even point the finger at capitalism and declare themselves anti capitalist but in their next breath they are suggesting boycotting certain companies and their shops, outlets etc and actively supporting others because of their 'ethical'(snort!) approach, or babbling about the Scandinavian model.
As has been suggested, most people can't see a viable alternative, which is understandable, especially if they haven't experienced the sharp end of capitalism. Therefore, you have many that can see things are at the very least, unfair, but just see it as pointless to even bother thinking about it, let alone do anything and then you have those that want to strive for a nice fluffy free range style of capitalism.
And what am I doing about it? Well mostly I bore my family to death droning on about the exploitation of the working class and log on to Libcom. This approach to revolution is, I understand, fairly popular and is technically known as doing fuck all.

boomerang
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Nov 9 2014 16:49
Webby wrote:
And what am I doing about it? Well mostly I bore my family to death droning on about the exploitation of the working class and log on to Libcom. This approach to revolution is, I understand, fairly popular and is technically known as doing fuck all.

Although if we all bore our family and friends enough, they will rise up and overthrow capitalism just to get us to shut up.

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Tyrion
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Nov 9 2014 16:56
Webby wrote:
Quote:
am not sure if people will agree with me or even how I could prove this, but I think there is a lot of discussion at the moment as to whether capitalism really is the best we could do, and a lot of criticism of it as well. I know this kind of contradicts with what I said earlier as to there being strong anti communism, cynicism and disparaging of any kind of revolutionary idea, but I think both of these statements are true actually. Capitalism is being questioned not just from the working classes but by academics and scientists I think, perhaps not capitalism as a whole but aspects of it.

My recent experience is that 'activists', bloggers etc talk about aspects of capitalism but not in the context of capitalism being the instigator of, or the thing that underpins the particular issue they are trying to create awareness of/take action against. They don't really see the connection in its fullest sense. They may even point the finger at capitalism and declare themselves anti capitalist but in their next breath they are suggesting boycotting certain companies and their shops, outlets etc and actively supporting others because of their 'ethical'(snort!) approach, or babbling about the Scandinavian model.
As has been suggested, most people can't see a viable alternative, which is understandable, especially if they haven't experienced the sharp end of capitalism. Therefore, you have many that can see things are at the very least, unfair, but just see it as pointless to even bother thinking about it, let alone do anything and then you have those that want to strive for a nice fluffy free range style of capitalism.
And what am I doing about it? Well mostly I bore my family to death droning on about the exploitation of the working class and log on to Libcom. This approach to revolution is, I understand, fairly popular and is technically known as doing fuck all.

Have you considered encouraging them to wake up and stop being sheeple? Usually that works well.