Wednesday, 6 November 2013

What Revolutions Do

'I don't think the capitalists are going to give up without one hell of a fight' I said to Scott, rather lamely, as he explained his somewhat sketchy programme of forthcoming events; the introduction of the universal social wage, nationalization of land and agriculture and the immediate closure of the Department of Work and Pensions. Indeed, it was all getting more than a little Citizen Smith in the corner of the Star, whose staff are now used to our joint berating of the said capitalist system, whose creaking momentum, Scott is sure, is about, any minute now, to crumble to dust.
And this morning I found myself quaking at Russell Brand's expression of a 'plausable and beautiful revolution' (see today's Guardian front page) since whilst I really enjoy the Brand & Paxman experience, any cursory glance at history tells us that any kind of revolution is ghastly violent. I mean, one guy was thrown out of a window in Prague and Europe went to war for thirty years not so long ago (historically speaking) so don't tell me that nicking everybody's investments overnight is going to make them happy, it will not, it will make them bloodthirsty. What's more we are no longer used to feeling domestically bloodthirsty, we have no idea what it will be like. This is a worry.
Most revolutions, and the things that happened of a similar type before the term revolution was invented, occur with some seismic shift in technology- say the printing press (Reformation), or gunpowder (Empire States) or the steam engine (Industrial). It is anybodies guess what our contemporary technology is doing, but one thing is for certain, it dulls the senses when you have it, and it infuriates those who do not. Hence the War on Terror; our primary concern. It may be worth fishing out that old Baudrillard book, 'The Gulf War Did Not Take Place' to work out what to make of the War on Terror, but it is certainly a consequence of our domestic indulgence, and perhaps perilously, that indulgence we would be loathed to give up.
It is quite possible Marx was right, and that Scott is right, but yesterday evening I had that nagging feeling, deep in my gut, that maybe we could put off the revolution just for a little while, because I've got something I'm looking forward to next week other than carnage. I was, suddenly, bereft of virtue!

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