Posted on Nov 24, 2014
by Chris Hedges
The Real News screen shot
No revolt can succeed without professional revolutionists. These revolutionists live outside the formal structures of society. They are financially insecure—Vladimir Lenin spent considerable time in exile appealing for money from disenchanted aristocrats he would later dispossess. They dedicate their lives to fomenting radical change. They do not invest energy in appealing to power to reform. They are prepared to break the law. They, more than others, recognize the fragility of the structures of authority. They are embraced by a vision that makes compromise impossible. Revolution is their full-time occupation. And no revolution is possible without them.
There are environmental, economic and political grass-roots movements, largely unseen by the wider society, that have severed themselves from the formal structures of power. They have formed collectives and nascent organizations dedicated to overthrowing the corporate state. They eschew the rigid hierarchical structures of past revolutionary movements—although this may change—for more amorphous collectives. Plato referred to professional revolutionists as his philosophers. John Calvin called them his saints. Machiavelli called them his Republican Conspirators. Lenin labeled them his Vanguard. All revolutionary upheavals are built by these entities. [See a list of some of these groups, with links to their websites, at the end of this article.]
The revolutionists call on us to ignore the political charades and spectacles orchestrated by our oligarchic masters around electoral politics. They tell us to dismiss the liberals who look to a political system that is dead. They expose the press as an echo chamber for the elites.
The revolutionist is a curious hybrid of the practical and the impractical. He or she is aware of facing nearly impossible odds. The revolutionist has at once a lucid understanding of power, along with the vagaries of human nature, and a commitment to overthrowing power.
Revolutions can be crushed by force—history has amply demonstrated that—or hijacked by movements or individuals, such as Lenin, Trotsky and later Stalin, that betray the populace. Through the careful manipulation of counterrevolutionary forces, faux revolutions can demand not reform but the restoration of retrograde power elites. The Central Intelligence Agency mastered this technique in Iran when it organized street demonstrations and protests in 1953 to successfully overthrow Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh and his Cabinet and again in 1973 when it ousted Chile’s President Salvador Allende. We see the same tactic at work today in Venezuela.
The task of the revolutionist is to create organizations whereby “ordinary people and their power can be brought to bear in ways that will deter and dissuade those who are in a position to influence these decisions, because time, as we all know, is running out,” he said. “If we continue along the same course, I’m afraid the result is not simply going to be environmental disaster; it’s also going to, I think, feed … an outcry for really forceful government, and not in a necessarily democratic way.”
“I think that for [Max] Weber, the truly important civic virtues were just exactly the ones that would assert themselves at a time when basic institutional values were at stake and human values were at stake, and that you don’t win, or you win rarely, and if you win, it’s often for a very short time, and that that’s why politics is a vocation for Weber,” he said. “It’s not an occasional undertaking that we assume every two years or every four years when there’s an election. It’s a constant occupation and preoccupation. And the problem, as Weber saw it, was to understand it not as a partisan kind of education in the politicians or political party sense, but as in the broad understanding of what political life should be and what is required to make it sustainable. He’s calling for a certain kind of understanding that’s very different from what we think about when we associate political understanding with how do you vote or what party do you support or what cause do you support. Weber’s asking us to step back and say what kind of political order and the values associated with it that it promotes are we willing to really give a lot for, including sacrifice. And I think that it’s that distinction between the temporary and the transient and what’s truly of more enduring significance that sets Weber off against the group he hated, the relativists.”
Popular Resistance, https://www.popularresistance.org/
Fight for the Future, https://www.fightforthefuture.org/
Backbone Campaign, http://www.backbonecampaign.org/
Rising Tide North America, http://risingtidenorthamerica.org/
United Workers, http://unitedworkers.org/
Vermont Workers’ Center, http://www.workerscenter.org/
Veterans for Peace, http://www.veteransforpeace.org/