Published online 20 October 2015.
Revolutions are of course a bad thing — except when there are good things about them (but we don’t talk about that here).
“Everyone here” knows that revolutions are violent, bloody affairs, and that it’s better to wish that they’d never happened. This is especially true since “everyone here” knows that their favorite government has put in so much important historical time suppressing these revolutions. (The cited link, of course, is only the tip of the iceberg as regards actual US counter-revolutionary activity.) I mean, how can that be bad? Seven years ago we elected our first Black President, and we’re about to elect our first woman President, so America is the good guys, right?
The advocates of revolution, as “everyone here” knows, are all heartlessly-cruel, privileged white men who have no genuine feeling for the sufferings of the oppressed. They know full well that other people are going to fight and die in a revolution, but they’re too busy whitesplaining and mansplaining about revolution to care. True radicalism at DailyKos.com is embodied in the slogan “the Republicans are far, far worse.” I mean, “everyone here” knows that, just as “everyone here” knows that the sequester was Congress’ idea, right? True radicalism at DailyKos.com proudly raises the banners of “universal coverage” while proudly singing the anthem that has replaced The Internationale as the rallying cry of “everyone here” — I can’t remember offhand what it is, but I think it bears a faint resemblance to this song:
So, anyway, revolution is bad. The French Revolution, for instance, was a violent, bloody affair, and so it’s best to imagine that the French peasants would have been better off had those malicious revolutionaries not stirred them up with all kinds of subversive stuff. I mean, come on, what’s a few high bread prices between friends, eh?
The Russian Revolution was to some extent a smug, elitist reaction to Russia’s participation in one of history’s least important wars. (The preparation for, and enactment of, World War I was for the most part an outgrowth of capitalism; having conquered the world, the voracious corporations (governments in tow) still couldn’t get enough, because (as Jason W. Moore relates in his book) the boom-bust cycle had lost its profitability. Thus preparation for war, and eventually war itself, was imagined as maintaining the profit rate.) But that’s okay, because war is only an expression of capitalism; at least it’s not revolution.
There were actually two Russian Revolutions. The one in March replaced an autocratic regime; even worse was that it had no real leadership, which meant that nobody could be blamed after the fact. The one in November showed that the name “revolution” can be applied to coups d’etat and all sorts of other things. Thus one very effective trick to stopping revolution (which came out of the Russian Revolution) is: if you don’t want revolutions, call anything a revolution.
And now Bernie Sanders is calling for a “political revolution.” What’s he thinking? Doesn’t he know that revolution is bad? You should never trust in revolutions, because they’re never necessary. Pleading before existing power to enact “reform” is always the best way. As global warming quickly spirals out of control, our reform efforts should be able to “cut carbon emissions” a little bit by 2050, when all of the current crop of politicians will be dead and gone and will thus not have to apologize. Your favorite politicians will put on “leftistface” for you every election cycle and then get back to business once they’re elected, and eventually, when capitalism has exhausted planet Earth (including of course the societies which live upon it), your government will be slightly better, unless it’s worse.