Saturday, January 3, 2009

It has been pointed out that this poll doesn't contain enough shades of opinion to cover every possible opinion. That is probably true , and I apologize for this. I'll probably repeat the question sometime in the future with a different format. What I do see from the voting so far is that those who have bothered to respond have a realistic view of the immediate prospects for such a thing. I guess that I'm not getting the "readership" from the "have a protest so big the police run away in terror and THIS is THE REVOLUTION" crowd. YES, I once saw this proposed "seriously", by a person who is old enough to know better but who promulgates such nonsense for his own peculiar reasons. A revolution ,which I think neither desirable nor likely is , by the very necessity of reality, a violent and chaotic period when old political and economic "realities" are dissolved. It necessarily involves a great amount of human tragedy. It happens without the conscious direction of "revolutionists" (those who believe in revolution in the abstract as opposed to those "revolutionaries" who actually do revolution in revolutionary times instead of pretending that rhetoric and child-like petty terrorism is "the revolution" in non-revolutionary times). In non-revolutionary times the revolutionist prepares organization that will direct a revolution to a desired goal.
My own opinion....I can see the argument for revolution as necessary to clear away historical deadwood, but I cannot agree. I stand by my gradualist prescription as the best and least costly way to achieve a libertarian society. THAT'S my vote. Neither likely NOR desirable. The first is separate from the second. The first is a matter of cold calculation. The second is a matter of moral choice. The essential point is that the organization that a gradualist such as myself proposes is not different in any way from that which a revolutionist would propose to prepare the way for a revolution. All points are exactly the same, and disagreement would only revolve around particular tactics in the here and now. It is actually possible (inevitable actually) that the "revolutionists" would hold a less intransigent line at certain times than a gradualist would. That being said the general way that a sensible revolutionist and a gradualist would organize are virtually indistinguishable.


  1. What about "gradual revolutions"? I am not being entirely facetious here, for this seems to be what is unfolding in a lot of Latin America. - Processes that go on for years and then (hopefully) end up changing power relations in those societies in a fundamental way. Fundamental change is what revolution is about anyway. The idea of a quick rising up and a smashing of the state and capitalism is obsolete, for sure.

  2. That's a good question. Historical revolutions that are something more than doomed rebellions HAVE always lasted "years". The example of the French Revolution, from 1789 to the rise of Napoleon, the Russian from 1917 until the final consolidation of the Communist dictatorship in 1921 and the Spanish from 1936 until the final victory of Franco in 1939 come to mind.Similarily the Chinese Revolution. The "new Russian Revolution" that replaced the commisariat with a new class of kleptocrats and managers was also a matter of years. The relatively "quick" episodes in that revolution such as Romania and Albania were mere sidelines to the lareger changes in the ex-Soviet bloc.
    Come to think of it there has NEVER been a "revolution" in the sense of a extremely fast overthrow of fundamental "changing power relations in those societies". Lots and lots of coups-des-etats but no "revolutions". Perhaps the idea of revolution is not just obsolete but was ALWAYS an historical mirage. Something to think about.