On the question of the necessity of revolution, there are at least two ways of going about proving it. One way is to look at it from the outside and understand that it is a sociological law that movements that hurt profits are violently attacked to the extent that they hurt profits.
The other way is to ask why that is—to examine what the guardians of capitalism are like, how they operate and maintain their readiness to do their job. That is what I’ve been meaning to write a piece on forever. I realized that the notes I’ve been gathering to write this piece might be good food for thought for other people, so here they are. This post will change and grow as I add more notes or do more research, and will likely be replaced with a link to a finished article if that is ever written.
ADDITION 2017 04 25 2238 CDT:
– sociopaths (“i got mine, fuck you” or, for fascists, “we got ours, fuck you.”)
– liberals of various sorts–people who accept the sheepdog view of society as eternally true (sheeps who would overthrow the sheepdogs need to get crushed so that wolves don’t eat the rest of the sheep)
– social democrats (people who believe communism is possible, but think that we can get there evolutionarily, so will kill anyone who tries to get there through armed revolution because that will kill more people or because it is more chaotic).
– revisionists (possibly the same as the social democrats in an important way) (who believe we are on track to communism and anyone sabotaging the development of the productive forces is sabotaging our advance toward communism). probably for them and the social democrats, the point made about feeling of urgency applies–they aren’t the masses in tremendous pain, so (maybe) it’s a projection of their own feelings of basic comfort with the current situation onto the masses, and the sense that to bring the masses up toward revolution is a mistreatment of the masses. and they can indeed find plenty of members of the masses who will agree with them, albeit the backwards and not the advanced.
* how urgent the problem feels to the bourgeois individual in question. if you didn’t come from a poor working-class family in guatemala and you are instead obama from an affluent background, you may both want to change the world in a way you consider progressive, but you will have radically different senses of how urgent it is and therefore what tactics are called for
* for some, possibly: abandonment of responsibility because they don’t have close to full control over the system and how it was when they gained power in it
paternalistic/sheepdog mentality universal in anticommunist manifestations
great man of history theory: great men stewarded lemmings through history, wherever, it went. mao was a grand brainwasher man who led the lemmings into his dark plot.
maybe common to all of them is a doubt of the masses as the motive force of history
even the social democrat / reformist communist / CPC party member doubts the power of the masses.
all of these individuals necessarily have a certain set of blinders. no amount of begging will let them see it any differently, just see you closer and closer to threatening the foundations of the system and the only ways they think it can exist.
how charity fits into this, both into the paternalism and into the massive number of charitable societies they set up.
how all forms of it necessarily intersect with individualism, because individualism is always being created by being in a bourgeois position.
individualism manifests as opportunism for the revisionists and social democrats–let’s move things along in *my* time, or for *my* country.
ADDITION 2017 04 25 1122 CDT:
A lot of people–especially people from a middle-class background who haven’t had to stress the fuck out about money as hard as poor working-class people or worry about being driven out of business by the competition like the ruling class– have the impression that the whole world is driven by the same rules that apply to their life. They can choose to put the pursuit of profit low on their priorities–they can spend extra money on meat from well-treated livestock, they can choose to be a lawyer for a nonprofit instead of for a giant corporation. So they have a hard time seeing that the world as a whole, at its largest levels, is driven by different principles than the ones that drive their personal decisions.
Based on their own personal experiences–and having done little investigation into what decision-making is like at the highest levels (of the biggest corporations, and of the most powerful countries)–they like to imagine that you can appeal to the rich to change their attitudes.
But here it is, in one simple principle: at the highest level, the world is guided by the principle “be a monster or get eaten by monsters.” It is a sociological law that this is how it plays out in capitalism, as ironclad as the law of gravity.
Someone might ask, “Can’t they all agree together to just stop this principle?”
a. What other principle is there in a world that is driven by profit? Like, it will still be necessary to drive your competitor out of the market, or else you know for sure you’ll be driven out of the market. You say “don’t put profit first” but where do you put it when you’re competing at that largest scale? You say, “Well maybe they should want less and be less power-hungry” and that’s like, okay, fine, how are you gonna make them that way? Your instincts say, “Well, pass a law, run an advertising campaign.” But what if the most powerful people in the world think it’s laughable and pathetic to abandon power when it’s there to be competed for?
b. It’s moving too fast. How can you spread this principle fast enough without the system evolving an immunity to a kinder, gentler principle e.g., “Don’t compete beyond this line of ethicality.” And what is that, does it involve dumping, certain ways of treating workers, can you no longer lobby? Can you no longer ask your politician pals for favors? The whole system is set up to make so many of these methods of exerting extra-market influence invisible even to the people doing the competing.
c. Society breeds people to be like this (fraternities)
d. One version of the mindset is the “protecting American values, the greatest values” mindset–which justifies anything to keep America powerful, because the preservation of American values (“It’s good and righteous to start a company.”) is important above all.
e. So really, it generates a variety of mindsets *all* of which have the basic premise “Seeking profit at all costs is justifiable” in some sense. It’s not always “I am righteous,” sometimes it’s “I’ll do what I want and if I outcompete someone then they’re weak and I’ll laugh as I conquer them,” but the system naturally selects for these mindsets, because anyone psychologically able to carry out these tasks will outcompete anyone who balks or can’t proceed calmly and strategically at all times. What we’re talking about is the breeding of a variety of types of conscience, all of which are suited to reliably carrying out these actions, over decades and longer.
f. “‘Everybody in the United States wanted to be the first person to go after bin Laden and get this hunt going, and they had given me that role,’ [former CIA agent] Schroen remembered.”
These consciences are often not qualitatively different from a garden-variety centrist liberal’s conscience in the way they prioritize u.s. life over the lives of others. They are totally fine with a war and a foreign policy that kills more (way more) than 2,800 innocent people (as on 9/11) in response to 9/11.
* An important part of this question is going into the mechanisms by which the ruling class (a) conceals its own existence, and (b) creates a different image of itself in the public’s mind.
ADDITION 2017 04 21 0341 CDT:
I have heard from someone I think is generally trustworthy not to trust the CPF(MLM), but still something they wrote I think is helpful in answering this question. It draws on dialectical materialism to give us the far limits of anything the bourgeoisie think. In this way it’s actually really important and helpful, because otherwise we might continually fret that we are leaving something out. But just as we now know that there are no exceptions and the proletariat must *always* smash the ready-made state machinery in order to move toward communism, just the same, bearing the following in mind, we may know certain things will *always* be true of how the bourgeoisie think:
CPF(MLM) argue that thoughts do not fall from the sky, but in fact objective material forces give rise to thoughts. The thoughts of communists, specifically big Thoughts like Mao Zedong Thought or Gonzalo Thought, come to be because of the material reality of a country–it is the very opposite of them falling from the sky. A revolution cannot move forward except through one of these thoughts.
By that same token, though–and to be clear, the following is something I think they are implying but none of the few documents I’ve read actually makes it explicit–since we know that the revolutionary potential is completely gone from the big bourgeoisie, we know that their thoughts do not move society forward at all–they cannot pull anything progressive into this world. They can only relabel and repackage things from our gross, narrowly-self-interested society. And this means that the Thought that is running the bourgeoisie, and thus the principal thoughts of all the individuals who are carrying out that Thought, are similarly old, stagnant, and self-interested.
As they write, “The imperialists do not think; they are decadent, they are the product of the general crisis of capitalism. Time is ready for the People’s War, not for speeches on a brainless decadent system.”
This may sort of seem banal, and maybe it is to you, to just say “all the leaders of the bourgeoisie are principally guided by ideas stemming from the bourgeois ideology.” But to me, this is helpful in setting definitively the outer bound of possible answers to this question.
– “There can be no peace between the man who is down and the man who builds on his back.”
– Bourgeoisie is self-selecting, self-purifying, i.e., “capitalists who pass up unethical or semi-illegal methods of making money will tend to be sunk by capitalists who will use those methods. Hence, the entire business structure is filled with people who are willing to ruthlessly compete, and anyone who is not is pushed down and out.”
This applies equally to people in the FBI, CIA, and military when it comes to who can get the job done for the bourgeoisie, whose wealth controls politics and has the ultimate deciding power what shape the military and intelligence agencies take and who occupies which positions.
– i actually say “just read “Killing Hope” and get back to me.” Killing Hope is all the times from like 1940 to 1992 that the u.s. intervened to overthrow foreign governments. if someone reads that, they will see crystal clear the “uphold capitlaism by any means necessary” attitude reflected in the very highest body. obvs if it’s in that body, they enforce it in all other bodies further down the food chain, otherwise what’s the point of doing so internationally.
– Prove it: Domhoff “Who Rules America,” “Higher Circles” etc. and maybe like Agee’s “Company” here they are, this is how they think, explain the emotional glue that holds them firm, maybe the psychology and sociology of military top brass and FBI too. glue = nationalism? Psychology of police? especially versus protester and strikers
– to some extent When it comes down to it, the capitalists at the top think, “You fools, someone has to make the food.” This justifies everything they do.—”all these people can go around being unserious if they want; someone’s got to make the world run. ”
– something about the irreplaceable value of a true believer. if you’re occupying a country and you sincerely believe in your country’s motives are good for being there, you will fight and kill to defend your country’s presence there. people who lose the faith will be pushed out or demoted or even axed. a true believer does their job well because they are acting from a deep internal motivation. true believers will tend to rise to the top.
— altho shd be said that once you start to approach very high levels, they start to get materialist again to some extent.
– the implementers of the policy are just like, *cradled* and *umbrellaed* by intellectuals and theoreticians and researchers whom they trust absolutely because they share cultural values (e.g. conservative christianity with them), and these intellectuals reassure the implementers that neoliberal polices are necessary to create prosperity, and tehy take this research as a bedrock. like the idea that it’s a deficit of capitalism in Iraq and Africa sustains poverty, which then breeds terrorism. the econ 101 dogma that some push very hard doesn’t even need to be explained super carefully and isn’t even questioned super hard by the implementers of these policies. they see these trusted researchers seeming to do a lot of really hard work researching, and not a soul they respect in our society disputes it for them, so they just accept this idea: avoiding terrorism depends on neoliberal policies, on capitalism. it’s basic. it’s so basic it’s not even really questioned, not even really closely examined. it’s just a blobby but firm back or base of the mind “*of course*”
– no ascendant capitalist or ascendant imperialist wins peacefully, wins without compromise. so there will always be some capitalist who isn’t crushed, who goes along but bides time, saw some of the fucked up shit they did to win, and thinks, i have just as much right to do that. they are hardened into brutality and ruthlessness also by this competition among themselves.
– read biographies of cia directors + agents, fbi directors + agents, famous police chiefs, famous politicians, etc. e.g. look up who was head of police who killed hampton
– “Our Enemies in Blue” on pig psychology?
– the “thin blue line”; “police culture”
– never go down w/o a fight: overlap of police depts w drug trade, cops on the take; also, “blue wall of silence,” pigs acting like a gang, “beat in, beat out,” acting from self-preservation first
– this attitude of the crookedness of humanity and this being the best we can do pervading everything, the “until 20% of the population stops snorting [coke]” thing in sicario
– by that same token, pigs only see the “worst” in people—they see people who are driven to violence, to addiction, and so on. they start to get this attitude that maybe a lot of people just desrve to be poor, and probably by that same token the people who are in charge probably deserve to be rich.. they don’t see the masses who are just getting by living in dignity even in poverty.
– or like in “the departed” they were giving immunity to frank because he was an FBI informant
– Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion
– “Marx and Engels repeatedly show that the bourgeoisie are connected with these institutions by thousands of threads.”
– the bourgeoisie set the laws, and the police enforce the laws, so the police find themselves confronting the oppressed and exploited as rulebreakers, disposing them against those people.
1. the way the cops make their living is literally by guarding property; if the way we make our living in the world infleunces our consciousness, and the things we depend on for our livelihood become dear and sacred to us, then private property will become that way for a cop
2. the same things that dispose cops to materially want to perpetuate the drug war (incentives outlined in eg new jim crow) also materially dispose them toward adversariality toward the masses.
– cops as lumpen. people who work for a wage who are parasitic on the value produced by the rest of the working class.
* also it seems like a lot of people (eg people whose main strategy is to build “safe” spaces) are led to understimate the need for unity precisely because of the ferocity of the enemy and the enemy’s willingness to resist and fight tooth and claw.
the clarification of the danger of the enemy is a necessary part of creating the apparency of the need for unity among all those currently oppressed. the clarification of the danger of the enemy rules out certain strategies that could only succeed if the enemy is tepid and weak and indecisive. but the enemy is in fact formidable, and it will take all the people united and even then in a fierce struggle, to win.
– something about fascism and white supremacy in the police department, in the fbi, in the history of coups and death squads, greensboro massacre; about how they’d rather rule in a fascist society than not rule at all. or to be very precise, that anyone who would rather rule in a fascist society than not rule at all *will do just that*, and any capitalists and pigs who can’t stomach it will either shut up and go along, get pushed out, or get killed themselves. but the power structure as a whole is, again, “self-purifying” and can pivot to fascism, and in fact this may be said to be its dominant mode if you look how things are in most of the world and through most of history.
– “even if a progressive or revolutionary party managed to get elected to a parliamentary majority, it would simply control the legislative body of the state; there would remain in place a massive bureaucracy which was structured to operate in an anti-people manner, staffed with bureaucrats with their own political inclinations, defended by a judiciary, police force, and army designed to maintain capitalist “order”, and ultimately operating at the whim of capital, which is capable of effecting policy through direct bribery, capital strikes, and other forms of anti-democratic action.”
– the sheepdog thing, the cops think they’re cut from a special cloth + the world would fall apart w/o them
– also look thru “who rules america” to find attitudes of like, if we don’t rule, the world will fall apart + also this attitude elsewhere eg among economists, cia people, generals, etc., other people in power.
e.g. “you can’t use welfare to get the dignity + self-satisfaction that keeps people not-terrorists, you need a job, and to get a job you need the free market.”
– “in addition, we see that there are regimes of old feudal systems, of old aristocracies, royal families such as in Jordan. We see that all of these oil-producing countries and others see their positions threatened, their interests at risk.” and think of how like, the wealthy families of the united states and the rest of the capitalist world are the same. think of the attitudes inside those families, of the leaders of those families and the respect they demand. think of the way politicians who meet with those leaders bow to those leaders, think of how police chiefs bow to those politicians, and how the individual police are made to bow to their chiefs.
– “The working class is constantly at war with its enemy, the capitalist class. In this war (class struggle), as in any other war, the capitalist class has one main objective-to defeat its enemy, the working class.”
When we frame the question this way, from a military perspective, what is the goal? Our goal is to force the capitalist class to capitulate as a class, and cease to organize for its interests as a class, and become absorbed into the working class. Their objective is not the annihilation of all workers, but the annihilation of all structures that truly help advocate for it as a class as a whole, to get free as a whole. Thus we see that it is not a step-by-step thing but a question of how one power gets its hands around the other power’s neck.
So just as there is no “easing all of society toward communism,” there is also no easing a person toward the left. The break that is necessary is to see the antagonistic contradictions and become committed to solving them by any means necessary.
at end, FAQs:
Q: Won’t the “cycle of violence” continue if we use violent revolution?
A: The “this enshrines violence” line indicates an incorrect attitude about the masses’ ability to know what oppression is. People do not rebel when their leaders are progressive and not reactionary—when the leaders are helping them accomplish their goals and come to an ever-deeper satisfaction and flourishing. If we have created a society where the leadership is good and genuinely democratic, there will not be some raw “desire to attack authorities” that keeps happening.
– look at the class interests of the groups still around after the revolution? class interests determine who wants to attack whom, not some raw “i was raised near violence”-ness.
– look at it in motion: what sort of people with what class interests are getting generated by the economic base and relations of productions who is prone to feel a certain way
– once no more oppressors are being bred, who will want to take back up the violence?
* * *
Q: doesn’t the internet change things?
– in the end, they will massacre people to stay in power; they have before and they will again
– they control the internet and can shut it down and selectively decide what gets shown; they have incredibly advanced algorithms that can detect what is being talked about and censor it.
– they can also produce way more content than us, and spam that content, write articels that seem well-sourced to convince people of things that aren’t actually happening, hire people to pretend to be regular people offering regular-joe opinions, and so on. their resources allow them to flood out what we’re writing with very convincing stuff that casts our stuff into sharp doubt. this is in fact the primary factor—as long as they control the server infrastructure (and they will, under capitalism), the internet will still function primarily as THEIR propaganda tool.
– yes the internet it is a new tool that allows faster conversations, but it also makes our conversations very easily spied on, and so it also, in addition to increasing our abilities, increases their abilities as well
– the idea that “well the whole world will see they’re massacring peaceful protesters!” relies on the idea that someone sooner or later will be so outraged that they will no longer be pacifist and will in fact take to countering massacring force with armed resistance. so even this idea of “but the internet plus pacifism!” includes as a hidden but inevitable term the idea that sooner or later if pacifism fails someone will resort to defensive violence against oppressors. if the idea is “internet plus pacifism no matter what,” well, any oppressor willing to commit massacres will just keep doing it until they have a population consisting only of non-resisters.