Thursday, March 10, 2011
How Fares Teh Revolution?
Well, I don't want to go quite that far, but maybe so. Since I tend to slow down while I'm here in New Mexico, I'm not really up on all the News of the Uprisings Around the World, but I did hear that the Wisconsin legislature is plowing forward with their anti-union measures and doing it in defiance of the Democrats (still in exile in Illinois) and the People. I heard that the Egyptian military "cleared" Tahrir Square in Cairo with a great deal of violence and that the masses in Iraq are still up in arms -- and apparently still being shot down -- over the absolute corruption of their imposed and managed "democracy."
And then of course there's the continuing slaughter in Libya and the constant dithering over it in the capitals of Europe and the United States. The slaughter in the Yemen. The other Uprisings and slaughters here and there.
The upshot, from my partially disengaged perspective, is that The Revolution is sputtering and best and being turned back on many fronts -- despite some extraordinary rhetorical and documentary efforts on the part of the Revolutionaries and those who support them.
In other words, the rhetorical war is being won rather handlily, but the ground war is not going that well at all, even though there have been a number of apparently victorious removals of tyrants.
A rhetorical device that's making the rounds is this chart demonstrating the direct effects of the Class War that's been underway -- with or without Revolutionary push-back -- for more than a generation.
The Class War hasn't stopped; in fact, the battle has been redoubled by the Billionaires who are determined -- more than ever -- to have their way. In addition, there is a constant litany of "social war" issues being pressed with more fervor than at any time in the past.
As I've said for many years most if not all of the Revolutionary fervor in this country is on the Right, not on the Left, and even though we're seeing some union push-back on the economic front now, for a very long time it has been a matter of holding on to the status quo at best, with very little or no forward thinking, especially not on economic matters.
We're seeing some resistance to the overwhelming corporate influence on Government and the dreadful results that has had on the well-being of the People. The existence of resistance is encouraging, but until the issue is expanded beyond the narrow economic interests of a sub-section of the working population ("Hey! At least they still HAVE jobs!") the Revolution is bound to stall.
In Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere, Revolutionary fervor is being attacked militarily in some places, attacked with minutiae in others. While it's obvious to me that the Revolutionaries have broadened their issues from the purely pecuniary to more fundamental principles of Dignity, Justice, and Community, their opposition is strong and there is no easy path forward. That doesn't mean the Revolutions have failed, but neither have they succeeded.
In another post, I asked whether we were seeing a version of 1848, 1968 or 1989. Indeed, as the Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt seemed to successfully overthrow tyrants and tyrannical governments, allusions to 1989 were seen and heard with some regularity. But then Libya happened, as well as the stalled Revolutions in Yemen, Bahrain, Iran and so forth, and allusions to 1848 cropped up more and more. A couple of the Revolutions of 1848 were more or less successful in changing the nature of governments to some degree, but most were brutally crushed. The Revolutionary philosophies that came out of the Revolutions of 1848 (especially Marxism) were more important ultimately than the uprisings themselves. And that may be the case now.
But what of 1968, a period of largely student driven uprisings all around the world, that were ambiguously successful. What happened as a result of the 1968 Uprisings is actually very complicated. Governments did fall, troops were called out here and there, and many, many student Revolutionaries were slaughtered (Mexico City was one horrible example.) But in China, the Revolutionary fervor of the young was channeled by the Government into the Cultural Revolution which had the ironic effect of strengthening Mao and the regime while nearly exterminating all opposition.
Something like that took place in America when Reagan and his sponsors cleverly -- brilliantly, really -- co-opted the Revolutionary spirit, language and rhetoric (of "liberation" and "freedom") from the student uprisings and used them to further the corporate/aristocratic factions at the expense of everyone else.
It worked and it is working now. The question is whether it will continue to.
The Rightist argument is wearing very thin. People are at the point of not listening any more. The Left may still be in a quagmire of supporting the support for the Status Quo, holding on rather than moving forward, but even that doesn't hold back the resistance from other quarters.
There are still mountains to climb.