We live in a revolutionary moment. The disastrous economic and political experiment that attempted to organize human behavior around the dictates of the global marketplace has failed. The promised prosperity that was to have raised the living standards of workers through trickle-down economics has been exposed as a lie. A tiny global oligarchy has amassed obscene wealth, while the engine of unfettered corporate capitalism plunders resources; exploits cheap, unorganized labor; and creates pliable, corrupt governments that abandon the common good to serve corporate profit. The relentless drive by the fossil fuel industry for profits is destroying the ecosystem, threatening the viability of the human species. And no mechanisms to institute genuine reform or halt the corporate assault are left within the structures of power, which have surrendered to corporate control. The citizen has become irrelevant. He or she can participate in heavily choreographed elections, but the demands of corporations and banks are paramount.
History has amply demonstrated that the seizure of power by a tiny cabal, whether a political party or a clique of oligarchs, leads to despotism. Governments that cater exclusively to a narrow interest group and redirect the machinery of state to furthering the interests of that interest group are no longer capable of responding rationally in times of crisis. Blindly serving their masters, they acquiesce to the looting of state treasuries to bail out corrupt financial houses and banks while ignoring chronic unemployment and underemployment, along with stagnant or declining wages, crippling debt peonage, a collapsing infrastructure, and the millions left destitute and often homeless by deceptive mortgages and foreclosures. A bankrupt liberal class, holding up values it does nothing to defend, discredits itself as well as the purported liberal values of a civil democracy as it is swept aside, along with those values. In this moment, a political, economic, or natural disaster—in short a crisis—will ignite unrest, lead to instability, and see the state carry out draconian forms of repression to maintain “order.” This is what lies ahead.
Brinton argues that a decaying power elite in a prerevolutionary society exploits not only the populace but also its own natural allies. Brinton lists other preconditions for revolution, including a unified solidarity in opposition to a tiny, discredited power elite; a refusal by the press, scholars, and intellectuals to continue to defend the actions of the ruling class; an inability of government to respond to the most basic needs of citizens; and a steady loss of will within the power elite to rule. The denial of opportunities to the sons and daughters of the professional class and the middle class galvanizes resistance. A crippling isolation soon leaves the power elite with neither allies nor outside support. Finally, the state is convulsed by a crisis—usually triggered by economic instability and often accompanied by military defeat, as was the case in Czarist Russia, or a long and futile conflict, as is the case with our own wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is at the moment of crisis that revolution begins.
While violence and terrorism are often part of revolutions, the fundamental tool of any successful revolt is the nonviolent conversion of the forces deployed to restore order to the side of the rebels. Most successful revolutions are, for this reason, fundamentally nonviolent.
The superior force of despotic regimes is disarmed not through violence but through conversion.
Davies adds that “socioeconomically deprived poor people are unlikely to make a successful rebellion, a revolution, by themselves.” It is rather a disenfranchised middle class and alienated members of the ruling class who orchestrate and lead a revolt. “Without the support of disaffected bourgeoisie, disaffected nobles, and disaffected intellectuals, the French Revolution might have been some kind of grand, episodic upheaval,” he notes.
Alexander III and his successor, Nicholas II, attempted to return the country to a rigid autocracy. Repression mounted, and the opening provided to a free press ended, especially in 1907 with the reinstatement of censorship and the banning of publications. Executions for offending the Czar mounted: there were 26 death sentences during the thirteen years of Alexander III’s reign (1881–1894) and 4,449 between 1905 and 1910—just six years of the reign of his grandson Nicholas II.12 “This fifty-six year period [from the freeing of the serfs in 1861 to the Russian Revolution in 1917] appears to constitute a single long phase in which popular gratification at the termination of one institution (serfdom) rather quickly was replaced with rising expectations which resulted from intensified industrialization and which were incompatible with the continuation of the inequitable and capricious power structure of Tsarist society,” Davies notes.
“In reality the mere existence of privations is not enough to cause an insurrection; if it were, the masses would always be in revolt,” Leon Trotsky noted.14
Politicians, a moribund labor movement, and the mass media—either cowed or in the service of corporate power—assure the population that the old prosperity is still attainable, but via a different route. Prosperity will no longer come from expanding the manufacturing base, which characterized the very real prosperity of working men and women immediately after World War II. The neoliberal version of the promise of rising living standards is based on the fallacy of economic deregulation and financialization. Let us be rich, the elites say, and you will share in the spoils. All you have to do is work hard, obey the rules, and believe in yourself. This myth is disseminated across the political spectrum. It is the essential message peddled by everyone from Oprah and the entertainment industry to the Christian Right and positive psychologists. But this promise, as the masses of underemployed and unemployed are discovering, is a fiction.
==Wages of Rebellion (Hedges, Chris)
The dynamics of complex adaptive systems are such that hidden within the turbulence that is our world today and the extreme violent socioeconomic and geopolitical disruption and chaos that is almost certain now in the years ahead, there lies the emergent potentiality of an unanticipated evolutionary adaptation, a transformative new architecture of governance and social interaction that is just, fair and yet insuring individual liberty and personal freedom bounded by the absolute rights of property, the rule of law and yet independent from the will of the collective, which must eventually always embrace the lowest common denominator. The human world is in a seminal process of dynamic, painful evolutionary change; a period of punctuated equilibrium that will give birth to a new organizing civilizational paradigm.
The embryo will not be aborted; it will not be dissected and although, as with all such evolutionary processes, it will retain many of the general features of civilizations past, it will be as different as all past epochal birthing of new civilizations were from their progenitors. Although the historical dialectics of Hegel have been unfairly tainted by the somewhat unfair attachment to Marx and the communist/socialist collectivists, the historical process of dialectics describes rather well the process of the evolutionary dynamics that require and drive socioeconomic and governmental adaptations. There is a historical determinism that transcends even the most vibrant and purposeful of individual actors.
As human nature is far from perfect, and always will be so, to assume that government conducted by the flawed can rise above their flaws is ludicrous. In fact, the opposite is the confirmed case over and over again throughout history; governments always accrete excessive power over time, providing an ever more conducive environment for the flawed of humanity to grow, fester and gain coercive powers over the masses. These are our so called “elites”. The founding lights of the American experiment in a constitutional republic understood this, but so did the ancient Greeks.
On June 1st, 1788 the American Constitution became the supreme law of the United States and no matter how exceptional and truly revolutionary this document was, it failed to prevent the inevitable against the insatiable maw of centralizing power. It very likely has failed far more miserably than can be imagined, as the American experiment is soon to be consumed entirely by a governmental tyranny far worse than any ever enforced by the Kings of England.
The final stage is being set for the global elites to wrest what remaining powers any of us have to determine our own destinies and to control our individual futures, as well as our persons. I fear that we are not remotely ready to make the leap to the new civilizational paradigm and thus will, of necessity, suffer under the yoke of the desperate attempts of the American and global elites to retain their power, their wealth and position in the hierarchy of the current crony capitalist, fascism that is the ruling system no matter how either the “left” or the “right”, or any other anachronistic descriptive moniker portrays their minute differences.
It can not be socialist as that requires a powerful centralized government with substantive coercive powers. It can not be any form of collectivist Utopian ideal as they, like the current failed American democratic experiment, end in dystopia. It absolutely will not be the rule of a fascistic oligarchy of technocrats and wealth. Something new will emerge, it must or the long march of humankind will end in misery and slavery.
What emerges eventually will, be in keeping with the one overriding principle of Hegel’s, that the history of man (humankind) is nothing more than the history of man’s march towards freedom. Freedom can never be achieved under the dictates of the few or the many. It will be attained when every single human-being is free to choose their own path, a path that does no harm to anyone else nor infringes on the inalienable rights of all free people.
A few additional random thoughts:
- There will be actions by central banks to forestall the economic and financial market tsunami that is only now starting to be felt, though the tremors have been building for a very long time. These efforts may result in powerful contra-short covering rallies, but will fail. The last redoubt of the bull has been the overworked and absurd notion of “they won’t let it happen”, but beware of the power of failed expectations and the destruction of misplaced hope.
- China will be the first major State to undergo a revolution. The stock market collapse along with the Chinese version of Katrina in the explosion and subsequent fallout in the city of Tianjin, among the many socioeconomic fault lines now trembling in a China facing an economic recession within a global collapse will rapidly erode the legitimacy of the communist government.
When stocks were booming, tech stocks were leading the way up.But now that the market has turned, tech stocks are starting to lead the way down…