11:56 PMWhat might be a program for a left-wing discussion group?
”These were gatherings of youth on which problems which were posed by life and literature were discussed, where we listened to lectures on social issues, read literature smuggled from abroad. The first circle of such character of which I was a member gathered in the apartment of Kibalchich on Kronwerke Avenue. In this circle there was a program on social questions according to which each member of the circle took upon himself this or that social topic and prepared a lecture. On Sundays and Thursdays the lectures were given and discussed; often, these discussions led to passionate debates lasting after the midnight”.
So, that’s the way one should lead a circle:
1) create a program, consisting of a list of social questions.
In place of “circles” of XIX century in the era of Internet we have electronic news groups and forums. One of such forums is “RevLeft”. What I like about the forum is the following:
1) it is an international forum, which protects it from national narrow-mindedness, locking in on narrow national problems.
However, what is lacking is “a program” for the different threads of discussion. There are fragments of important issues here and there, but as it is there is no overall direction, it is chaotic. Thus it should be in the beginning, in any true grassroots movement. Mind you: only in the beginning. Someone should propose a program, in the sense M. Popov outlined above.
1) There is a revolution in the production of material things and intellectual products.
Focusing on this last concept, I like to point out that human being is the most important “force of production” (to use Marx’s term). It is not the machines, or the technology, as was supposed before. It is the knowledge that drives these machines and technology, and this knowledge is embodied in human beings, or in the humanity as a whole.
Marx talked about certain relations between “forces of production” and “relations of production” as giving rise to revolutions. But he didn’t really include humanity among the forces of production (although there are significant parts in his text where he talks about the importance of science and technical knowledge, to which he refers to as "general intellect"). But this was for obvious reasons: Marx was living in the mechanical age, in the age of the appearance of primitive machines. But we live in the era of "late capitalism", in the period of transition from information revolution to nanotechnology revolution. So, for us human being, as the principal bearer of knowledge, and hence as the principal component of production, comes to the fore.
Hence, any meaningful discussion of modern Revolution should start with the problems of conception of a human being. In which social forms is s/he to be conceived? Certainly, not in the family, that outdated and oppressive institution. Next, we should discuss forms which modern education should take. For what goals are we to educate the human being of the future? How are we to do it?
1) the Stone age (the old stone age, and the new stone age).
We’re still using iron and steel as a primary building material. But that is obviously on the wane. We’re advancing towards a whole new age when we will be using artificial materials, in the most important aspects of production. This is a result of advance in physics, and specifically nanotechnology. Tentatively, we might call this “the atom age”, as nanotechnology has to do with re-arrangement of atoms and molecules.
So, we can list the 4 ages of humanity.
Second, a revolution must be grasped together with the subject who makes it, i.e. the revolutionary organizations and the masses behind these. A history of revolutionary organizations is a "sine qua non" for any understanding of a revolution. The more modern and complex a revolution is, the more important becomes the history of revolutionary organization. And if "history" is a history of class struggles, then a history of a revolutionary organization is a history of a struggle of factions within it. The history of the Jacobin club is less important than the history of the Bolshevik party. And the history of the Bolshevik party consists of the many struggles which were fought first to create it, then to differentiate it from other organizations of similar hue, and finally the history of struggle against Stalinism by various left and right-wing factions.
We can and should learn various types of social revolutions which preceded the modern one. These include the English revolution of XVII century, the French revolution of XVIII and XIX centuries. A grasp of these long-gone revolutions will give a grasp of the general dialectic of revolutions.
However, we're on the threshold of a modern revolution which will truly be global. This was illustrated by the recent events of “the Arab Spring” which has quickly spread into “Occupy” movement around the world. So, if we're to judge from these events, the global revolution will start on the periphery of global capitalism, for example in the Near East (I have in mind the heroic struggle waged by the Kurdish people), and will spread to the imperialist countries, as the radical feelings of people are on the rise there too.
Hence, all three kinds of revolutions are interlinked and form one whole.
Preliminary to congresses, Skype sessions may be held.
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