Here are a collection of quotes which show the true nature of revolution.
Part 8 of This Series:
To preface: I think that people completely misunderstand the nature of revolution. All successful revolutions have only turned violent in self defence against the forces of reaction, no revolutionary wants violence but in the struggle to seize power where the ruling class have a tight control, violence is bound to happen.
There have actually been peaceful revolutions as a matter of fact (Such as in Somalia and the Eastern Bloc) and advocating for violence has never worked except with petty-bourgeois classes who have some stake in the system but are poor such as the peasantry.
Once a movement becomes violent without it being in self defence and without the approval of the masses it over time just ends up as left adventurist terrorism and the end result is the selling of drugs. Revolutions do not happen by a few rogues with nothing to lose wielding guns (Except for national liberation movements where all it takes is a spark to light a fire), revolutions happen when the masses come together and organise on the streets and march to seize power, because they have just had enough. Defenceless revolutions and revolutions without a mass organisation have in the past happened but the people should be armed in self defence and there should be a mass Communist party organising logistics and being with the people.
When the masses are behind something you cannot lose, it could even be peaceful because if the state fires on peaceful marchers then the law has broken loose and the states legitimacy vanishes (it no longer has a monopoly on violence).
A revolution is not some glorified fantasy where you let loose all your rage with the system and seek to abolish and destroy everything, it is about building a new and serving the people, more likely than not it would be in some united front with petty-bourgeois elements and even the national bourgeois (As W.Z. Foster has written in detail about in the case of America). Even Marx and Lenin believed peaceful revolution was possible especially in the developed countries and Lenin thought the Russian revolution would be peaceful until March 1917.
For example, the Russian revolution only turned violent in self-defence as the forces of reaction led by the Kerensky government fired upon the peaceful general strike led by the Bolsheviks which was mobilising the working masses for change and to seize power. It was this act of the government which saw the legitimacy of the law and the state break down and showed the gov for what it was. It was from this in self defence that the Bolsheviks fought back and won the civil war, (over white forces that emerged from the breakdown of the Kerensky regime) and established the U.S.S.R.
Similarly in China, initially the Communists were allied with the KMT, as both shared the legacy of Sun Yat-sen. The Communists were even encouraged to join the KMT because it was the pre-eminent force of progress in China as they overthrew the monarchy in the Xinhai revolution which awoke the Chinese people and paved the way for them to arise from the Century of Humiliation. However after Chiang Kai-shek took over the KMT took a turn and ended up supporting landlords and warlords as opposed to the masses. It was only when the KMT massacred Communists in 1927, (as they knew they were becoming a threat) did the Communists fight back in self defence, and they still were able to ally with them against a common enemy (the Japanese imperialists) later. Mao Zedong also developed revolutionary political innovations. He noticed that the peasants were already up in arms but due to Soviet dogma, which regarded the peasants as backward, they were reluctant to organise them. However Mao realised that they needed to be mobilised as most people were peasants at the time (only a minority were proletarian) and that looking down on the masses would get the Communists nowhere and if they did not organise them then the reactionaries would. He was expelled from the CPC Central Committee in 1927 for his organising of the peasantry. However he continued his own organising from his base of power in Jiangxi and the party eventually ended up adopting his tactics as they worked.
A revolution in America will come from building up a mass movement and creating a coalition of workers, farmers and small business owners centered around the working class against the capitalist ruling class and the capitalist oligopolies. There are divides among the bourgeoisie and there can be a coalition of lower levels of capitalism who feel they are at odds with the upper levels (As stated by William Z. Foster in ‘The Twilight of World Capitalism’). Revolutions do not come from thin air, nor are they astro-turfed by us, no they come from the objective contradictions in society. Revolutionary zeal is crystallised in the masses who either know that there is something wrong with the system (social revolution) but cannot formulate why, or else they develop false consciousness. It is up to us Communists to guide this phenomena towards a proletarian revolution as the alternative is a fascist putsch, if we don’t reach the masses fascism will take hold.
A revolution is not inherently violent, it is wreckers such as ultra-leftists, left adventurists or simply put terrorists who start violence within the movement and they should be opposed. Historically all revolutions have only turned violent when violence was forced down upon them, it is funny that so called ‘reformist’ socialists say they want want a mass movement to put pressure on the government but that is literally what the CPUSA did in the 30’s with the F.D.R. government (such as winning massive gains for the working class, stopping a fascist coup and being a major force in getting the U.S. to intervene against Nazi Germany) and the reason they were not able to go further was because they did not have a mass movement big enough that would have been able to make a coalition with other groups to build a movement of the people which could have brought about change peacefully. As the majority would have been on their side and everyone but the very top levels of capital (as socialism would benefit the vast majority of people and most people are completely dissatisfied with the current system and ruling regime) and those they pay to put down the protestors would support the movement and even then they can be changed and see that the mass coalition of people peacefully demanding change are right as it us through our coalition that a new government that actually represents the people would be elected which can bring in the changes desperately needed right now in America and start actually addressing issues.
The point is that our guns are in self defence against this bourgeois system which exploits us, we would prefer a peaceful resolution although it is unlikely, although everything should be done before we go on the revolutionary offensive. There is no revolution without first being actively engaged with and winning over the hearts and minds of the masses, and once the bourgeois state fires upon us it loses all legitimacy and it is open game for us to go on the revolutionary offensive and for our proletarian organs to replace the bourgeois apparatus.
There is a false binary of either parliamentary reformism and nothing else or go straight on the offensive against the bourgeois state. What I am talking about is arming ourselves to be ready for the moment we strike, I am not talking about parliamentary reform at all, this has nothing to do with bourgeois parliaments at all. I am talking about building our own proletarian grassroots bases of power and institutions within our own communities and once we have won over the masses going out and tearing down the bourgeois institutions that oppress us and replacing them with our own. I am talking about general strikes and marching to seize power. Hopefully it can be peaceful, the question is whether they fire upon us or not and whether or not the military will defect to us or not.
In the Latvian revolution of 1939 (following the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact), the people (in the major cities as well as towns and rural areas) marched on the bourgeois institutions of power and occupied them and workers got rid of their bosses, police stopped listening to orders and the Communists managed to establish a Soviet Republic before the Red Army even entered. In the Somalian revolution the Communists had infiltrated the army, the Communist movement was limited mostly to the cities but there were general strikes of workers and they similarly marched on the bourgeois seats of power, the military then defected and took over power, straight away proletarian institutions were established, the Communist party took power and representatives from China and the Soviet Union came in.
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