A crucial argument for the incessantly promoted idea that capitalism will be with us for a long time to come is the idea of inertia in human understanding. Ideas are stubbornly persistent and can only be changed over long periods of time. Slow evolutionary change is the best we can hope for, and the prospects even for that are uncertain and fragile.
“A civilization reveals itself as fruitful by its ability to incite others to imitate it: when it no longer dazzles them it is reduced to a mere collection of odds and ends and vestiges of former worldly greatness. The successive attempts of Napoleon and Hitler to create a world empire failed, as the United States of North America has failed in our time because any initial attraction they might have exerted on the conquered transformed into resistance and hate as a result of their genocidal policies or military occupation and/or exploitation of the resources of the conquered lands instead of gradual absorption and acceptance of different peoples and the furthering of local cultures.” (Paraphrased from Cioran’s Histoire et Utopie)
“Well also within the working-class, Marx talked about you have the lumpenproletariat and what the lumpenproletariat is, is people that are part of the working class but they’re never really allowed to be part of the working class. Their income comes from criminal activities mostly. They’re barely employed, they’re barely surviving, they’re desperately poor and they’re just completely locked out.” — Caleb Maupin
A century ago, Lenin led the world’s first revolution against capitalism that successfully established a new and different government and society, the USSR. Lenin’s work before, during and shortly after that revolution left a legacy of insights, strategies, and programs. This panel aims to highlight and discuss some of the most pertinent aspects for today of Lenin’s life and work. We intend to include time for audience participation and discussion.
“Marxism and Scientific Socialism as they emerged, they came to understand the concept of revolution as human beings advancing to higher stages of civilization.” — Caleb Maupin
Part 1: A crying need for change
At the Socialism 2010 conference in Oakland, Calif., SocialistWorker.org contributor Leela Yellesetty spoke on “What Would Socialism Be Like?” This three-part article is based on her talk. In the first part, she answers the time-worn charge that socialism wouldn’t work with this question–who can say that capitalism is working?
An article written for the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution, to be read in Beijing today.
Socialism a century ago seemed to be the wave of the future. There were various schools of socialism, but the common ideal was to guarantee support for basic needs, and for state ownership to free society from landlords, predatory banking and monopolies. In the West these hopes are now much further away than they seemed in 1917. Land and natural resources, basic infrastructure monopolies, health care and pensions have been increasingly privatized and financialized.
The recent death of the Russian poet with whom I was acquainted, Yevgheny Yevtushenko, prompted these considerations of the role of poets in social-cultural-political progress in general and in a particularly spectacular fashion in Russia. In few other countries have poets played a more significant than in Russia. Nonetheless, for centuries Russian poets have been harassed, persecuted, and punished for their songs. Dostoevsky imprisoned, Pushkin exiled, Yesenin, Mayakovsky and Tsvetaeva suicides, Mandelshtam and others perished in the cultural events of 1937. Poets seldom lead easy lives anywhere. The poet sees the ideals but he must flee from the world in order to rejoice in them and he cannot remain unaffected by the caricatures of these ideals around him.
Politely walking into pens set up by police, shaking our signs and gently dispersing will not build a movement serious about root-and-branch change. Even the more militant demonstrations, in which people — gasp! — actually take the streets in defiance of authorities, both legal and NGO, are far from sufficient.