I was reading Emma Goldman's view on revolution that are based on her observation on Russian revolution. They are indeed astute and written with intense understanding of the failure of the communist revolution to turn into just state.
The inherent tendency of the State is to concentrate, to narrow, and monopolize all social activities; the nature of revolution is, on the contrary, to grow, to broaden, and disseminate itself in ever-wider circles. In other words, the State is institutional and static; revolution is fluent, dynamic. These two tendencies are incompatible and mutually destructive. The State idea killed the Russian Revolution and it must have the same result in all other revolutions, unless the libertarian idea prevail.
Revolution is indeed a violent process. But if it is to result only in a change of dictatorship, in a shifting of names and political personalities, then it is hardly worth while. It is surely not worth all the struggle and sacrifice, the stupendous loss in human life and cultural values that result from every revolution. If such a revolution were even to bring greater social well being (which has not been the case in Russia) then it would also not be worth the terrific price paid: mere improvement can be brought about without bloody revolution.
In its mad passion for power, the Communist State even sought to strengthen and deepen the very ideas and conceptions which the Revolution had come to destroy. It supported and encouraged all the worst antisocial qualities and systematically destroyed the already awakened conception of the new revolutionary values. The sense of justice and equality, the love of liberty and of human brotherhood — these fundamentals of the real regeneration of society — the Communist State suppressed to the point of extermination. Man's instinctive sense of equity was branded as weak sentimentality; human dignity and liberty became a bourgeois superstition; the sanctity of life, which is the very essence of social reconstruction, was condemned as unrevolutionary, almost counter-revolutionary. This fearful perversion of fundamental values bore within itself the seed of destruction.
Witness the tragic condition of Russia. The methods of State centralization have paralysed individual initiative and effort; the tyranny of the dictatorship has cowed the people into slavish submission and all but extinguished the fires of liberty; organized terrorism has depraved and brutalized the masses and stifled every idealistic aspiration; institutionalized murder has cheapened human life, and all sense of the dignity of man and the value of life has been eliminated; coercion at every step has made effort bitter, labour a punishment, has turned the whole of existence into a scheme of mutual deceit, and has revived the lowest and most brutal instincts of man. A sorry heritage to begin a new life of freedom and brotherhood.
Trotsky and Stalin were enemies, enemies in the sense that Joseph Stalin was never a revolutionary. All he wanted deep down was to replace the czar and become a czar himself -- and he became it. He became the worst czar that has ever existed.
In Russian history the worst czar was Ivan the Terrible, but he was nothing compared to Stalin. He poisoned Lenin, he killed Trotsky, and he went on killing other great revolutionaries. He was satisfied only when all the great revolutionaries who were responsible for the revolution were finished. He replaced them with people who wanted law and order, and society and organization. He created the greatest establishment ever created, and with such strength that the whole country became a concentration camp.
It is very difficult for rebels and seekers to remain rebels and seekers. They will be rebellious even if the revolution has happened. Any revolution is bound to create another kind of establishment, and the authentic rebellious man will again revolt, revolt against the revolution he himself has created but had never thought would become an establishment. The authentic rebel never becomes part of any establishment.
The problem is that the rebels are very few, and the retarded masses are so many that unless every individual is a rebel, an establishment is bound to follow. The rebel is bound to fight against his own revolution, which is turning into a new establishment. Up to now no revolution has been able to succeed because the moment it succeeds it starts becoming another establishment. The people who had power change, but the people who come in their place are more powerful. And it is more difficult to change them, because they know all the strategies that they have used in changing powerful people. So they will not allow any of those strategies.
For seventy years in Russia there has not been a single rebel, because you cannot just become a rebel in a single moment. To be rebellious needs a certain understanding, a certain alertness, a certain unprejudiced mind. Russia is the only country in the world where revolution is impossible, and this is a very strange situation. It is the country where revolution succeeded on a great scale. But the moment it became a success, suddenly the water turned into ice; it became the establishment. And the rebels who are authentic cannot be tolerated anymore by the same group who changed the whole society.
I now understand meaning of the popular slogan 'Be a Rebel'. Rebel spirit can't be enslaved by false prizes, consolations and medals. Rebel seeds for future generation and always is crucified by society for freedom, for individuality, for expression, for creativity and for not becoming part of the establishment.
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