We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Friday, February 12, 2016
Lenin, Putin and Me
Although Welton starts out his very readable essay casually by citing anecdotes from his personal life in relation to the Russia and its revolution, he soon get serious about a central issue that has proved to be a conundrum for Marxist intellectuals and many left revolutionaries. Welton focuses in on this issue by examining the Russian Revolution and the theoretical statements of many Marxist intellectuals and the practice of Russian revolutionary leaders. The issue boils down to "who will educate the educator?" He argues that this conundrum caused the Russian revolutionaries to descend into an authoritarian bureaucracy which was far from the worker's utopia that its "bourgeois intellectual leaders" envisioned.
I dealt with this issue earlier this year in my commentary in response to an article entitled "Thoughts on Rojava: an interview with Janet Biehl". My answer which I didn't make explicit in this commentary is that a bottom-up structure together with a supportive ideology must be established from the very beginning of any worthwhile revolutionary organization as a bulwark against authoritarian and centralization tendencies.