Friday, March 9, 2012

Kropotkin's "The Coming Revolution" as Visualized by Magazin

In German with English subtitles:

Kropotkin - The Coming Revolution - english from Magazin on Vimeo.

Now I wish my German was better because the visuals -- compiled mostly from movie clips -- are compelling though not quite apropos of the text. Or maybe they are. It's hard to read and watch at the same time.

To some extent, I believe that what Kropotkin describes as the Coming Revolution is actually taking place through and in alignment with the Occupy Movement and all the parallel revolts under way. It's not at all like the Revolutions we're accustomed to from the literature (not that most Americans have any direct experience with actual Revolution of any kind...) Rather than trying to take over or replace existing governments, for example, the primary effort under way is to develop new models of society, law and economies. In that context, the battles with authority are minor distractions. The actual work of Revolution is going on well behind the battle lines, not at all in secret because it is practically everywhere, but it's rarely noticed for what it is. And that may be just as well.

Kropotkin was quite the visionary. But the society he envisions is extremely vulnerable to predatory interests; the voluntary association method only works on a small scale, and associations of associations tend to reach maximum levels very quickly so that the kind of "mesh" of associations he envisions is not very likely to occur spontaneously with the necessary variety and on the scale for an "advanced" civilization -- although the "mesh" of associations throughout the Occupy firmament actually resembles Kropotkin's ideal, and it has been largely spontaneously generated. Once there were some linkages they were developed further and further, and to this point, they are stronger than ever. But Occupy is in no way capable of serving all the needs and interests of a whole society... or is it?

An end to property and the state? How does one do that? Or is it even necessary? This is where the discoveries being made today may significantly modify Kropotkin's vision. Too soon to tell.

At any rate, last year Mark Ames over at the Exiled Online peered into the FBI's files on the Yippies and such like. It's quite a cautionary tale. One that it is well to remember. (Warning, there is a link in the story to a pdf file of the FBI documents; it's about 6,500 pages. Might want to skip it...!)


  1. No I dont think, occupy is the same thing like kropotkin vision. Kropotkins utopia is a very pragmatic association of the workers for the purposes and needs not only for them but for everybody. Sometimes big sometimes small sometimes restricted to a local area sometimes in the whole world, sometimes only a short time, some times a long time. They are organising the work to do without having things like money or capital or evan a state between the people.

    Today many people are thinking: Okay nothing works like i want it and nobody even asks me, so in an utopian society everything must be turbo democratic and i have to discuss everything. But thats not Kropotkin. He is not that naive and it is possible to have some big industrial plans to decide what to do and it is not like everybody must agree and so we have to talk and talk, but it is more pragmatic. Its more optimistic like, why should anybody disagree, because its a good descision, made by some reasonable people who think about the content of their plans and not about profit, stockholders, wages and other capitalistic things making every of their decision about society or production wrong.

    The infinite assambleas of occupy seems more like an infinite palaver, perhaps the first step for some sort of new radical organisation, but not a model for a completly changed mode of production and consumation.

  2. "Infinite assemblies?" Hm. That isn't what I see at all.

    Some go on to excess, to be sure, but most that I've seen are very efficient and relatively brief. We can question the results, but now that people are more familiar with the process, that part works. The networks between Occupys have been strengthened too while preserving autonomy.

    As I see it, Kropotkin's vision won't be realized in detail because it can't be. Kropotkin was a man of his place and his age, and today's global situation is quite different. Yet many elements of what he believed was right are engendered through and by at least some of the Occupy ways of dealing with needs and problems.

    It's almost automatic.