[Marxism] Lenin on "pure" social revolution

Einde O'Callaghan eindeoc at freenet.de
Tue Aug 7 02:03:25 MDT 2012

Reading many of the critical comments on the on-going Syrian Revolution I can't help being reminded of Lenin's criticism of Karl Radek on the 1916 Rising in Dublin:

"To imagine that social revolution is conceivable without revolts by small nations in the colonies and in Europe, without revolutionary outbursts by a section of the petty bourgeoisie with all its prejudices, without a movement of the politically non-conscious proletarian and semi-proletarian masses against oppression by the landowners, the church, and the monarchy, against national oppression, etc.-to imagine all this is to repudiate social revolution. So one army lines up in one place and says, “We are for socialism”, and another, somewhere else and says, “We are for imperialism”, and that will he a social revolution! Only those who hold such a ridiculously pedantic view could vilify the Irish rebellion by calling it a “putsch”.

"Whoever expects a “pure” social revolution will never live to see it. Such a person pays lip-service to revolution without understanding what revolution is." 

Of course, there's no guarantee that any revolutionary upheaval will lead to victory for the most radical anti-capitalist forces. And we shouldn't forget that the revolutionary process opened up in 1916 ended up 7 years later in the victory of clerical reactionary forces who introduced the "carnival of reaction" that James Connolly predicted would be the result of the partition of Ireland - a carnival of reaction that still casts its baleful influence on Irish politics. But that doesn't devalue the revolutionary struggles of the intervening years.

As Brecht said: "If you fight, you may lose. But if you don't fight, you've already lost!"

Einde O'Callaghan

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