Revolution: there is no formula
Capitalism, even in deep crisis, will never cease struggling to adapt and grow. It will not collapse or dismantle itself, until it destroys the planet and everyone on it. So it falls on us to destroy it. In destroying capitalism, we construct something new. Revolution is the total transformation of the way everything is produced, the social relations of domination that go along with it, and the ways of thinking that keep us trapped.
We need to understand our roles in the revolutionary process so that we may direct our energies to contribute the most we possibly can. The more intentional we are, the more effective we can be as consciously active agents for emancipation and social transformation.
There is no formula or plan to tell us what to do. We learn what we can from the millions of revolutionaries who have existed everywhere in the world throughout history, but each place and time is different, so whatever worked for them can’t automatically be applied to our circumstances. While relayed experiences, theories and observations are extremely useful, the revolution can’t be simply handed to us by others; we have to figure it out for ourselves.
We learn by doing. We can only master something if we practice it. This is true for playing a musical instrument, making furniture, or organizing for revolution and building a new society. Knowledge doesn’t come from the sky or from inside our heads; it comes from the real world and our experience of it. We make decisions about what to do, based on our interpretations of reality.
Many people call themselves revolutionaries because they possess and express “correct” beliefs, or write up the perfect programme or position paper. But no amount of study of theory, no amount of discussion, no collection of brilliant insights can ever change things — unless they are based in reality and are in turn implemented in reality. Theories that don’t come from practice can’t connect to reality. And they’re useless until they are actually USED. Knowledge is not an end in itself, but a guide to action, a tool to affect the material world. It is in use that it becomes embodied, and real.
Since none of us can destroy capitalism alone; we need to act collectively. The reason we need theory is to construct a shared frame of reference with which to share knowledge and experiences, so we can overcome what divides us, and organize our disparate spontaneous acts of resistance into a unified and powerful social force.
Any theoretical framework is a collection of interlocking concepts. Basic core concepts are only a starting point. There is no “right” beginning or end, and there are infinite layers. Reality is incomprehensibly complex; we need models that are relevant to our goal and help us stick to the path toward it, while avoiding getting bogged down or sidetracked.
Our theories are not original; all ideas come from our social milieu, conversations we have, what we experience and hear and read.
While unified in purpose, we are not identical. What each of us contributes reflects our individual strengths, limitations, and gaps in understanding. Each is needed. Diversity allows for resilience.
No one should monopolize revolutionary knowledge, or own it. It belongs to all of us. We should all learn to express and apply our collective knowledge in our own ways, to go out and replicate new circles, knitting nodal points into a network, cells into an organism. The whole point is to spread and organize. Our collective knowledge can remain alive and functioning only if we each keep writing, practicing, discussing, sharing our experiences. We must all become leaders, teachers, warriors.
If we find it difficult it’s not because we can’t, but because it goes against the training that capitalism has subjected us to from a lifetime of miseducation, of relentless lying to us about our intelligence and capacity and about reality itself, constructing its own frameworks in our heads from birth on. But there is no other way. No short cut. No opting out. If we don’t participate, we perpetuate the division of labor: limiting our own agency while leaving our fate in the hands of others.
None of us has the answer. We’re facing something completely new. We have guideposts, but no one has a formula. There isn’t one. The path can only come clear through process of collective struggle.