Sunday, January 1, 2012

History, 2012 and revolution.

Recently I wrote on this blog about the huge leap in my consciousness and my own psychology when I came to understand the materialist historical process and my place in the world of the time. Today when a new year begins, well the western capitalist new year anyway, I would like to add a few small points to this.

It is good to do so when the world situation is witnessing the rising of the masses with all the inevitable confusions and unfortunately without a mass international leadership. But having said all this a new era has begun.

1917 saw the working class take power in Russia. But this revolution was thrown back and crushed by stalinism and capitalism has been restored. The stalinist regime in China is heading in the same direction. To understand what is going on and what is possible we have to see how history evolved over the past centuries, how long was the process of one system giving way to another and how dialectical, that is how contradictory and complicated this process was. There is of course today the threat of annihilation of life on earth as we know it. This is a new factor in the situation and one to which we must give more emphasis. This can only be averted in the longer term by the building of a mass international revolutionary socialist party.

But even if we can achieve our objective, that is the process of ending capitalism and establishing democratic international socialism will be long and contradictory. It is a process that demands a long term perspective and a will to fight the system no matter what comes.

I reprint below two pieces. One an excellent and extremely clear piece from a Comrade on another list. This explains how the historical process evolved and how one system did not replace another in a clear cut way, rather that there were steps forward and steps back and that even on some occasions a different class would carry through the tasks or partially carry through the tasks of another class. Trotsky's permanent revolution and his explanation of the law of combined and uneven development are essential for our understanding in this period if we are to keep up the fight and help the newly emerging movement find its feet.

The first piece by the Comrade on the other list.

"The "classic model" by which feudalism is overthrown by a bourgeois democratic revolution leading to capitalist rule is a useful abstraction, but nowhere in the world was it ever carried through in practice without severe distortions. The English revolution was followed by a counter-revolutionary restorationist regime, and bourgeois rule was only finally achieved at the cost of concessions to the aristocracy which are still in place today. It was only many decades after the American revolutionaries had defeated the English that they settled accounts with the Southern slave-owning class. The German revolution was carried through piecemeal, after a series of defeats, and paradoxically under the rule of a feudal Prussian junker regime. Even the example of France is nowhere near so straightforward. The French revolution was followed by a long succession of coups, uprisings and new counter-revolutions: the Napoleon dictatorship, a Bourbon royalist restoration, the new counter-revolution of Louis Bonaparte... It was only nearly a hundred years after the revolution, and not before the emergence of the proletariat in the Paris Commune as a new revolutionary class, that a relatively stable bourgeois democracy was finally established in France."


This second piece was written by Trotsky when he was looking back at the wrecking of the Russian revolution by Stalinism. He was speaking of the need to have a long term perspective on the French bourgeois revolution.

He wrote: "A still greater historical perspective is necessary to view the October revolution. Only hopeless dullards can quote as evidence against it the fact that in twelve years it has not yet created general peace and prosperity. If one adopts the scale of the German reformation and the French revolution, representing twp different stages in the evolution of bourgeois society, separated from each other by almost three centuries, one must express amazement at the fact that a backward and isolated Russia twelve years after the revolution has been able to ensure for the masses of the people a standard of living that is not lower than that existing on the eve of the war. That alone is a miracle of its kind. But of course the significance of the Russian revolution does not lie in that. The revolution is an experiment in a new social regime, an experiment that will undergo many changes and will probably be remade anew from its very foundations. It will assume an entirely different character on the basis of the newest technical achievements. But after a few decades and centuries, the new social order will look back on the October revolution as the bourgeois order does on the German reformation or the French revolution. This is so clear, so incontestably clear, that even the professors of history will understand, though only after many years."

Yes as he says: "The revolution is an experiment in a new social regime, an experiment that will undergo many changes and will probably be remade anew from its very foundations." Made anew from its very foundations." It seems to me that we are at the beginning of a process in Russia now which if successful will build it all "anew from its very foundations."

That wee Trotsky was a dude alright.

Have a good 2012.


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