Why do they not revolt?

Jorn Andersen ccc6639 at vip.cybercity.dk
Sun May 26 06:23:03 MDT 1996

Paul Gallagher wrote:

> From: Jorn Andersen <ccc6639 at vip.cybercity.dk>
> > Workers usually revolt when they think they can gain from it.
> > And rightly so, I think.

> Sometimes they don't.  They think they have a future as capitalists
> (and sometimes they might be right), or see no future in socialism,
> or look toward religion or nationalism.  There are lots of ways
> of coping with life during capitalism.

Someone (Lenin, I think) said that social revolutions happen when the
oppressors can't rule in the old way anymore and the opressed don't
wan't to be ruled in the old way anymore.
Somehow it sounds like a tautological truth - but it's not bad for a
start: If capitalism is booming why think about revolution? You just
go to your boss and ask for a pay rise. (A little over-simplistic,
I know.)
On our side: A certain level of built up dissatisfaction as well as
built up strength is necessary. Some workers might want to revolt,
but if they don't think others are with them, they don't. And that's
a crucial point. Class struggle - as any collective proces - does not
develop along straight lines. (So forget about those who tell you that
this or that struggle is going forward and forward and nothing else...).
There is a lot of unevenness. Even in the most heated revolutionary
situations you will see that those who fought yesterday won't fight
today and vice versa.

Of course you are right that there has to be a visible and trustworthy
socialist alternative (a party) if socialism is to be put on the agenda.
If not then revolts can take place under other banners: Nationalist,
religious etc.

> I haven't really given this
> much consideration, but I don't want to tell people they don't understand
> their own self-interest.  It's a little like telling them they're stupid.

But you would tell people to go to a doctor if they are ill - even if they
don't think they should themselves, wouldn't you?
I would put it this way: If you think we need to revolt then it won't come
if you don't tell others what you think. If you do this, you'll find out
that you are in a minority. And if you still wan't to revolt then there is
no other way than try to convince other people that you are right and they
are wrong.
It's got nothing to with being stupid, *if* you accept that other people's
opinions can at the same time be honest *and* wrong.

> I suppose it's hard for me to reconcile personal, daily life, which seems
> for most people to involve constant accomodation to power (I could be very
> wrong here, though), with the potential that's there for revolt.

Well, we all have to survive, don't we? Most of the time this means
accomodation - but sometimes it means we have to revolt.
If you have ever followed a longer strike - or read an honest account
of some of the great uprisings of this century (and before) - you
will see that it's the same people who use to accomodate - and the
next day or month are involved in militant struggles.

> Also, do the bourgeoisie understand their self-interest as a class?
> Sometimes they, or their institutions, seem extremely clever, able to
> control and co-opt everything, other times they seem bizarrely foolish.

The bourgeoisie generally understand their class interests very well
- but they have one problem: They have to constantly fight each others
to survive. When they do this they sometimes look foolish.

> I may be going off in a very unproductive direction here - trying to
> reduce class struggle to questions of individual psychology.

It can't be reduced to that - but class truggle is shaped by individuals
as well as individuals are shaped by class struggle.


Jorn Andersen


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