Franz J.T. Lee, November, 2009
The Serpentine Road from Bourgeois Revolution to Proletarian Emancipation
In the third millennium the global belligerent conquest of 'Humania South,' especially of the Caribbean, Central and South America, by the United States of America, is in full swing. However, on the historic world stage, in the wake of a possible systemic capitalist collapse, an inexorable Pyrrhic war is raging that is threatening to devour the super powers themselves. Poignantly, in political consonance with Rosa Luxemburg, Oscar Wilde has portrayed the quintessence of the 'American Revolution' and of its disgraceful aftermath: "America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between." 1)
About the revolutionary legacy of the USA, Simon Bolivar hit the nail on its head: "The United States appear to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty" 2)
However, a specter is haunting the United States of America and Europe -- the specter of the Bolivarian Revolution.
All the great powers "have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter": Pope and Obama, Merkel and Sarkozy, Goriletti and Uribe. De facto Uncle Sam has already invaded Colombia and has annexed it militarily. Any sober mind could note that Venezuela is next on the list of conquest. Precise bellicose preparations for a full scale attack, organized internally and externally, are well on their way. The coming confrontation is not a skirmish between Obama and Chavez, not ideological shadow boxing against the 'empire,' not a vendetta between Chavez and Uribe, no, it is the logical continuation of the French Revolution, of bourgeois capitalist democracy, of social intra-systemic reform, of global imperialism. For us in Venezuela, ever since April 11, 2002, it was (and more than ever still is) a permanent global anti-capitalist war. It is the immediate urgency to defend and materialize our planetary 'Matria,' our emancipatory matrix.
Beyond doubt, in the name of our Bolivarian Revolution much has been done for the various social classes, due to well-known constraints, for some less, for others more. Venezuela is still far away from becoming a socialist country within a global emancipatory process.
As part of the 'gender' debate, true to Rosa Luxemburg, for us over the last decade, social reform was a dialectical, quantitative, pertinent means towards a qualitative end: world revolution, towards world peace. The perilous revolutionary road towards the Rubicon, to cross it towards emancipation, indeed is serpentine.
Bourgeois revolution brought about the current productive and destructive chaos and anarchy. The question remains: can we poison the black mamba with its own venom, with its nearly invincible weapon: with revolution?
If not, then what is human emancipation?
With global class struggles how could we transcend, 'transvolve,' from bourgeois / proletarian Revolution to Human Emancipation?
In their 'Manifesto' of 1848, Marx and Engels developed the first theory of imperialist globalization and scientifically already predicted the coming global capitalist anarchy, a direct product of the European bourgeois revolution in its totality: "Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells. " 3)
But, what is 'revolution' all about in the epoch of globalization, of the final collapse of capitalism?
Historically the only revolution which radically transformed all previous economic, political, social, philosophic, logical, military, energetic, religious, moral, linguistic and cultural structures and relations into a single mode of auto-destruction, was (and still is) the global, bourgeois, capitalist democratic revolution. This unique planetary process, this revolution outmoded all previous modes of production. Currently, approximating the Rubicon of earthly existence and human life, less than one-tenth of humanity has already robbed 90% of human wealth. In its ravenous zeal to accumulate extra profits this parasitic elite is striving to materialize 'full spectrum dominance,' is 'revolutionizing' its own belligerent, technological self-demise. Daily it is producing arsenals of mortal weapons of mass destruction, ranging from biological arms, like AIDS, ebola, monkey, bird and swine flu, to HAARP, to electro-magnetic weapons that could cut the planet nicely into halves ... or to station our only contaminated space ship near to Venus or Jupiter ... and to hundreds of mortal nuclear weapons of all fatal categories.
Except the bourgeois capitalist revolution, ever since 1789, why did all other revolutionary endeavors fail or why did we lose them? Perhaps, is there something fundamentally strange about social revolution?
Centuries ago the revolution formed the conditio sine qua non for the coming into being of various capitalist classes in Europe; also for their decisive victory over all the antiquated ruling lords, overlords and warlords. The success of its most effective discovery, of a seemingly invincible arm of social combat against a decrepit nobility and clergy, and later to be launched against obstreperous labor classes, assured that the outmoded world powers would never return again to stay and that henceforth as 'turn-coats' or Quislings their ideologues and mercenaries could be used freely in the service of capital accumulation, of alienating the workers or, if necessary, simply to be disposed of as over-productive, archaic flotsam and jetsam, by casting them onto the titanic capitalist dung-heap of history. Till today this is part and parcel of the intrinsic logic, the iron fist morality and reality of world capitalist revolution. Lately this happened to the Boer ruling classes of Apartheid South Africa. Accompanied by a Nobel Peace Prize this Herrenvolk was cast into eternal oblivion. What really got rid of Apartheid in the 'Land of Sunshine' was corrupt 'Sun City,' the capitalist revolution towards total, totalitarian globalization, towards global Apartheid. Nothing has revolutionized the world more than the bourgeois accumulation of capital.
Marx's 'Capital' describes the very long history of economic, capitalist revolution, inter alia, of its exploitation. domination, discrimination, terrorism and alienation. In the Mediterranean region and adjacent territories, over more than 2500 years, the brutal unilateral accumulation of capital, wealth and power, the 'master-slave' class relations, the systemic, dialectical contradiction 'labor versus capital' and the forward march of homo homini lupus, of history, expressed themselves in various modes, appearance forms: in the French Revolution (1789), Industrial Revolution (1830) and the first anti-colonial 'American Revolution' against Britain. In reality, this was a colonial uprising against the British crown. The 'Boston Tea Party' and the revolting slogan 'Taxation without Representation is Tyranny!' formed part of the emerging anti-colonialism which was being born in the Caribbean and America. Only later it developed itself into a bourgeois capitalist social revolution per se, as part of the global capitalist revolution, euphemistically called the 'American Civil War' or 'American War of Secession' (1861-65).
As Oscar Wilde pointed out, there was nothing 'civil' or 'civilized' in this extension and globalization of imperialism, as had already been predicted scientifically in 1848 by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in their monumental 'Manifesto of the Communist Party'.
American imperialist barbarism in Iraq and Afghanistan shows what the famous revolution was all about. More than ever we have to clarify, to conceptualize what is a social revolution and what it is not. For classical socialism this is clear, but things are changing very rapidly nowadays. Adjectives describe essential appearance forms (of a noun), phenomena of a thing, a concept, relation or process.
Let us look at a simple example:
White snow. Snow is white.
It would be totally absurd to talk about boiling snow. With silvery, boiling water, we could make a delicious tea, but we cannot make snow balls with boiling water. This is independent of the fact that both could be the same thing, could be the same chemical composition, H2O. It would be absurd to talk about 'national socialism' in Venezuela or about 'Christian socialism' in the Vatican. How could the bourgeoisie that invented and made the revolution with and against the proletariat now be confronted by the proletarian revolution.
Did the revolution change? Do we have to update our arms?
This proletariat is a product of the bourgeois accumulation of capital, of capitalist economic, political and social revolution. Because there is no living substitute for healthy, human thinking and thought, isolated words, written phrases, even language, do not think for us, they are just imperfect social tools. Only Pavlov dogs, 'speaking tools,' radio and TV apparatuses, cell phones, 'think tanks,' walking encyclopedia, Zombies and angels are exempted from acting and thinking. They do not need to worry about making the revolution or to emancipate themselves.
Surely we are free to call our ideas, thoughts and acts, in any language, in any words, by any name. Practice, ideology, freedom, socialism or democracy are words that we often use in political life, but they could become virulent breeding grounds, degenerate seeds of confusion, propaganda, mind and thought control; as such they lack stringent decision, incision and precision. On the battlefield, in the 'war of ideas,' they result in sinister, anti-emancipatory, repetitive, reactionary, barren practices.
Concepts like 'revolution' or 'socialism' are super-structural historic expressions of their specific age; different words could portray the very same idea or thing; some words even change into their very opposites. Fascist ideology and propaganda use semantic tricks to confound the ordinary working people. For example, from the 'Manifesto of the Communist Party' (1848) till the October Revolution (1917), cum grano salis, politically the following words as described in socialist literature were practically used as synonyms: a Marxist, revolutionary, communist and Social Democrat. Today the former and the latter are total opposites, arch-enemies.
However, semantics is not the apple of discord here. The problem for Venezuela, for the Bolivarians, is scientifically to act and philosophically to think the revolution, is to understand what is its ideology and practice, and to surpass all these as praxis, theory and 'human emancipation' (Marx).
This we have to do pretty fast, from its Colombian military air bases, the Yankee 'plague' (Simon Bolivar) is already pointing its arms of mass destruction at Caracas.
Hence, continuing with our central topic, what is the difference between the general word 'revolution' in any language, and the philosophic concept 'rivoluzione' or 'rivoltura'?
The latter were coined by the emerging bourgeoisie during the Renaissance. It is really all fair in love and war. Shakespeare's Juliet had a sweet taste of this theoretical dilemma:
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet ..." 4)
Names and words are not identical to living, flowing contradictions, relations and realities. In globalized imperialism there exists no eternal, absolute truths to be learned by rote as quotes, proverbs, catechisms, prayers or dogmas. In many educational institutions and socialization centers we still are producing 'Pavlov dogs,' we are destroying the brains, the weapons, of our children; we are making them easy prey to the fascist 'rainbow revolutions,' to the Murdoch empire, to the Mental Holocaust, to mind and thought control and destruction.
Without thinking and thought no emancipation!
The bourgeoisie knew that it could not make its revolution with Zombies, they needed their Maquiavelli, Adam Smith, Hobbes, Galileo, Kant, Hegel, etc.
In the epoch of globalization, in the mode of mass destruction, all scientific and philosophic working class struggles urgently necessitate 'praxical' incision, theoretical precision and 'trans-volutionary' vision.
These are the central arms to emancipate ourselves: a new invisible logic, invulnerable science, invincible philosophy, the novum per se. Per aspera ad astra! Who does not aspire towards the unthinkable will never reach it!
Historically, at least as dialectical negation of capitalism, forming real and true anti-capitalism, as socialists, we could learn much from the stringent capitalist revolutionary modus operandi and modus vivendi. They only understand their own language, 'full spectrum dominance,' the law of the guillotine, decadent terrorism. If social reform, millions of prayers, peaceful resistance and beautiful fraternal dialogues ever could stop United States war planes from bombing us and thus would leave our natural resources intact, then only 'military humanism,' white phosphorous bombs and depleted uranium ammunition would disappear from the face of the earth. However, alas, war criminals always first shoot and then ask questions. E contrario, emancipators are peaceful, they always behave civilized, that is why we have eternal peace talks, everlasting dialogues and a shortage of coffins and graveyards. Now and then David wins a battle against Goliath, but the price, the million casualties, is too high, and thereafter? After such heroic battles what is the Socialist Republic of Vietnam or Algeria today? Did we eliminate capitalism? What is going wrong? Our Bolivarian Revolution, our ALBA, quo vadis?
Worldwide in every respect we have to be superior to world imperialism, but ... how to acquire this proletarian strength and power in a limited 'spacetime'? Should we change the latter?
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Gaza and Falujah remind us of over five centuries of exploitative labor pain, of bourgeois revolution. To construct the world market, the Bermuda Triangle of 'unequal exchange' (Samir Amin), no massacre, no genocide, no pillage were great enough to accumulate capital and profits, to satisfy power megalomania. Since Miletus, the Periclean golden age, the Spanish Inquisition, the European Conquest, no world religion, no ruling class ideology were holy enough to destroy millions of promising brains, to cast them into the Moloch of the super-structural Mental Holocaust.
In his "Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard," Thomas Gray in elegant poetic fragrance is reminding us of the immense cruelty of these cardinal and capital crimes against toiling humanity who never had any real future, who never had the chance to blossom, who were nipped in the bud. Till today millions of hopeful young persons are perishing in the toxic consumerist air. In 'favelas' and ghettos millions of 'lost souls' are vegetating in dire misery, eternal poverty and are being rotted out by means of military man-made epidemics and pandemics. What tremendous human vis vitalis, eros, libido and orgone are concentrated in billions of human beings, this creating, creative force progressively is being annihilated by a small power elite. What the masters most fear is that these masses, their 'speaking tools' could one day become class conscious creators and emancipators. Western, European and Christian culture, civilization and colonization guaranteed the success of capitalist revolution on a world scale.
Thomas Gray tells us about this hidden human force:
"Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air." 5)
Now, what relevance does the above have for us, for Venezuela, for the Bolivarian Revolution?
Thomas Paine, for a long time an 'illegitimate,' atheist founding father of America, in a Cartesian doubting spirit, ... that could also be applied to the very ideology of the bourgeois revolution itself, ... emphasized: "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right. " 6)
Yes, this is the repetition of diatribal lies until the very authors themselves believe in their own hoaxes, in the devil, 'terrorism,' Bin Laden or Al-Qaeda. In the critical spirit of Ludwig Feuerbach, Paine was very clear about where to begin with the 'cultural revolution'; he did not trust in the marauding golden calf, in the divine dollar. Long before Karl Marx he stated:
"All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. " 7)
In the same bourgeois democratic revolution Francisco de Miranda was fighting to realize liberty, equality and fraternity. The honorable inscription of his name in the Arc de Triomphe in Paris demonstrates his relevance in word and deed towards revolutionary enlightenment. Of course, the utopian and scientific socialists had hoped that the revolution would not stop half way, would not be a betrayal of the human rights of global workers. However, in the very origin of the terms 'revolution' and 'revolver' we find the Janus-head of bourgeois revolution itself, its anti-feudal and anti-proletarian core, the suppression of workers' struggles. Ever since, the revolution expresses the intra-systemic dialectics, the laws of motion, the process of reckless accumulation of capital of this world order.
Now, revolutionary change can and must come only from within, anything else is 'terrorism,' there is no exit, no exodus, no 'exvolution' from globalization, from corporate imperialism. Capitalism is an anarchic, chaotic closed mode of production.
Now we have a slight idea about revolution. Finally, let us take an etymological sojourn through the barren wilderness of bourgeois revolution. In words and concepts like Religion, Reform, Renaissance or Recession, generally 'Re-' means to return, regress, repeat, to come back in circular or cyclic form; like a rat race on a spinning wheel. The verb 'volver' means precisely the very same motion. Hence revolution is a double negation, a bodyguard of capital and a social guardian of the imperialist status quo ante rem and of the corporate, establishment in re.
During the feudal Middle Ages, in the city-states of Northern Italy the verb and concept 'revolver' and 'rivoluzione' or 'rivoltura' were created to express the bourgeois battle to gain political power against the outdated clergy and archaic nobility, but also to suppress the revolts of the upcoming workers. In the superstructure of the Renaissance the social concept 'revolution' coincided with the economic birth of 'labor houses,' of the homo faber, of primitive factories, of capitalism as a future dominant mode of production. In the same way as the scientific and technological revolution was advancing, the bourgeoisie by means of the Reformation and mechanical materialism progressively was liberating itself from religious obscurantism and began to formulate its own secular theories of social revolution, as a desired, human, class act. After the betrayal of the bourgeoisie, by casting the workers out of the revolutionary benefits, the Industrial Revolution brought misery and poverty to the European working classes. In 1848, in the midst of various revolutions, Marx and Engels formulated the theory and program of 'human emancipation,' the Manifesto of the Communist Party'. This is not a credo or dogma, it is a historic document to update, to renew, to rejuvenate.
Now, this is enough 'praxical' food for theoretical thought and enough theory for emancipatory delicatessen.
Here in The Andes, facing Pico Bolivar, that is losing its snow cap, with reference to the above, to the urgent 'transvolution' from bourgeois revolution to creative emancipation we will continue with our critical opinions and analyses next time.
4) From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, 1594.