Revolution and the Tasks of Revolutionaries
What is revolution? There are various conceptions of how revolution comes about. One is that revolution comes about because people believe in or want a revolution. If we just try hard enough or are ideologically firm enough we can bring about a revolution. Another conception is that when conditions get bad enough people will rebel and make a revolution. And another is that revolution is a single event, such as the moment when a government is overthrown.
The science of change can help us sort out this question. From its correct answer flows the intellectual perspective and the strategy and tactics that can guide the struggle to achieve the vision of a society, where cooperation and fulfilling the needs of humanity are the guiding principles. Whether in nature or in society, qualitative change occurs with the introduction of something new into an existing quality. Thus begins a leap, whereby changes take place in stages, as the old quality is destroyed and replaced by the new quality. There is no turning back once this process of qualitative change has begun.
Revolution in society begins with the introduction of qualitatively new means of production into the economy, which are antagonistic to the way that society is organized. It is a process of the disruption and destruction of the entire society, and the struggle to overturn the existing social and economic order and replace it with another that facilitates the development of the qualitatively new means of production. The resolution of this struggle is never pre-determined. The objective conditions created by the qualitatively new means of production make certain things possible. But a new society must be envisioned and built, and it must be done by the will and intellect of human beings.
As society struggles to reorganize itself, it is the task of revolutionaries to unite the thinking of the workers with the vision that the qualitatively new means of production makes possible.
The Revolutionary Process Begins
The political revolutions that swept the world from the 1700s to the mid- twentieth century all had as their foundation the leap from agriculture to industry. In different forms across the world, these revolutions aligned the social and political superstructure with the new means of production. New classes formed – the working class and the capitalist class. New ideas were introduced that challenged the old order and provided a vision for a new one. One after another, monarchs were toppled, new political institutions were created, ideologies developed, and new ideas and values took root, that facilitated and stabilized the new economic and social order based on industry. These vast changes began with the introduction of a qualitatively new means of production, but would not have been possible without the struggle of human beings, forced into motion by the changes and shaped by the possibilities of the time.
Capitalism came to dominance during this leap from agriculture to industry as a stage in the development of private property. Now, like all the other stages before it, capitalism is facing its own demise. The capitalist system first developed upon, and in compatibility with, the new industrial means of production. With the introduction of the qualitatively new means of production – the new laborless technology – into the industrial system, a new leap has begun.
The intricate network of all the various means of buying and selling is being disrupted as wage-labor, the source of all wealth, falls in value and price. Beginning first with simple robotics, and now with more sophisticated advanced technology, each invading quantity of the qualitatively new technology is destroying the capitalist system, and even the foundation for the system of private property. Neither the capitalist class nor the working class can live with the destruction of the capitalist system, and are already fighting to create a new society that reflects their interests. This time there are only two paths – towards a peaceful and cooperative society based on the new means of production, or the imposition of a fascist State to preserve and sustain the system of private property.
The rising social movement has the historical advantage. The qualitatively new technology is compatible only with a society that is based on the distribution of the wherewithal of life on the basis of need. In this regard the movement is objectively communist. Its goals are for the distribution of the material and cultural wealth of society according to need. Today, reorganizing society to be compatible with the new means of production can only mean constructing a communist society.
Revolutionaries seek out the social force that, due to its position in society, can overturn the existing relations, and organize a new society that is capable of using the new means of production, to carry human progress forward. Today, a new class of workers is being created by the new electronic means of production. This new class is emerging as that force. Their demands for the basic necessities of life are at the center of the rising social struggle of the millions affected by these changes. The destructive consequences of the ongoing introduction of the qualitatively new means of production makes it more and more clear that the demands of the new class also represent the interests of society as a whole.
The process of the new class forming itself into a class, conscious of its interests and purpose, takes place in stages. In their struggles, now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real significance of their battles is their ever- expanding connections and experience of their common interests, and the introduction of new ideas that illuminate their fight. This organization of a class (and ultimately a political party that expresses its interests) is continually being upset again and again by the competition and division cultivated by the ruling class. But resting on the objective changes taking place in society, this movement continues to rise up again, stronger and mightier. Revolutionaries participate in every stage of the struggle to introduce the new quality – the new ideas of consciousness of class, a vision of a cooperative society, and a strategy to achieve that vision.
Uniting the Subjective and Objective
We see that the objective factors are in place. There is an economic foundation for a communist society. An objective communist class that can only live by using that foundation to create a communist society is arising. The other side of the dialectic – the subjective – must be united with this objective reality. The task of today’s revolutionaries is to connect the thinking of the workers with a vision that the new technology and the emergence of a new communist class makes possible, and a strategy to achieve that vision.
Changes in the economy make changes in the political thinking of the workers inevitable. Such changes in thinking take place as stages of a leap, just as they do in the objective sphere. The leap in thinking is the destruction of the old mode of thought and the creation of the new. The new ideas must be brought into the struggle as a new quality of thought. In the process of qualitative change, thinking and activity must be adjusted with each stage of development. Revolutionaries are part of the struggle for this new society, and work from inside the movement to guarantee that an intellectual leap takes place, as a reflection of each stage of the leap in the actual, objective sphere.
Ultimately, the historic task of the new class is to overturn the existing property relations, and to create the cooperative, communist society, that the qualitatively new technology makes possible. To accomplish this requires a broad acceptance of communism as the practical means of reconstructing society; a broad core of conscious communists firmly embedded within the movement, who can influence the developing movement; and a communist political party that reflects the interests of the objectively communist class. Such a party would not be an ideological party, but a party that would lead the conscious and uncompromising fight of the class for the attainment of political power.
Recognition of stages of development help determine what must be accomplished in the current stage in order to help move the process to the next stage. The first step is that the class must become conscious of itself as a class; it must achieve some level of political unity and political independence from ruling class ideas and its political system. The idea that the private property system can be brought to an end, and a vision of a world where fulfilling the needs of humanity are the guiding principles, must take root in the thinking of the workers. The workers will learn some elements of this from their own experiences, but to break out of the old way of thinking takes the introduction of a new quality of thought – new ideas – at each stage of the struggle, to guarantee the subjective response is aligned to each stage of objective motion.
The propaganda activity of every revolutionary today is to facilitate this process, to offer an analysis of the problem, a vision of the solution, and a strategy and the tactics to get there. The League of Revolutionaries for a New America is attempting to rally these emerging revolutionary leaders from within the movement, to form a broad core of conscious communists, who can influence the movement, as it strives toward the forms that politically express its class interests at each stage of development.
The Fight for a New Society
The movement is going toward communism. Its demands are coming into conflict with the State, which is standing in the way of the workers securing the basic necessities. This movement is in fact, if not in understanding, already struggling to transfer capitalist property to itself, in order to feed, clothe, house and care for itself. It is in the process of the movement’s realization that the State will not redress its grievances, that the demands for new solutions are already arising.
Revolutionaries do not have to direct the movement, or pull it in a certain direction. Revolutionaries proceed from the recognition that the movement has an objective goal. We take the actual struggle of the revolutionary section of the class as the basis for our program, and push from within the movement for its accomplishment at each stage of development. In every struggle of the class, revolutionaries show the class a vision of the cooperative society that is possible, and a strategy to get there.
May/June 2018 Vol28.Ed3
This article originated in Rally, Comrades!
P.O. Box 477113 Chicago, IL 60647 firstname.lastname@example.org
Free to reproduce unless otherwise marked.
Please include this message with any reproduction.
The age-old vision of a world without scarcity, without exploitation, class domination, organized violence, and stultifying labor has been the dream of millenia. The new completely socialized labor-eliminating means of production ... sets the basis for its realization. Now human history can begin, the light of the individual shining in the full brightness of liberated life, that can only be realized within true equality and cooperation: communism, a cooperative society.'Without Vision, the People Perish'
Rally, Comrades ! May/June 2011