Communist Party of Colombia (M-L)
Now Venezuela, which is going through a political process called the “peaceful revolution,” is suffering another violent, large-scale onslaught, combining various forms of attack by imperialism and its allies. Their aim is to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro in this first year of government, after their failure in trying to prevent his taking office in March of 2013, refusing to acknowledge the results of the elections held after the death of Colonel Chavez.
It is worth emphasizing the bloody effects of fascist barricades of the bourgeois opposition, with the participation of CIA agents and Colombian paramilitaries, among other military players who caused more than fifty people to be killed in the first year of the successor and defender of Chavez’s policies. Riots with barricades that block the major roads and the destruction of government buildings have spread in Caracas and other cities; situations that have forced the government to punish military commanders, to alert the armed forces and militia and to hand down decisive repressive orders against these fascist actions of the bourgeoisie. At the same time, the revolutionary people are standing up and are preparing to use the most rudimentary military resources in order not to succumb to the reactionary attack, reaping significant levels of continental and global solidarity.
These actions against the economic stability of Venezuela remind us again of the bourgeois-imperialist boycotts with the CIA in charge, prior to the overthrow of the democratic government of Salvador Allende in Chile 40 years ago, by a resounding, atrocious and bloody military coup. There are already not a few political factors in Venezuela and outside the country that are leading to the danger of a “civil war.” As a result, a necessary and timely debate is beginning on the role and need for the revolutionary violence of the masses to win power and defend their gains.
Successful revolutions and revolutionary violence
The October 1917 Revolution in Russia triumphed by means of an armed popular insurrection that overthrew tsarism and gave power to the Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, which established the proletarian state with a new army that emerged from the revolution and not from the tsarist military apparatus, the powerful Red Army.
In Russia in 1917 under the leadership of the Bolshevik Communist Party the building of socialism began in one of the most backward countries from the capitalist point of view, to transform it into a powerful and advanced socialist economy with increasing overall social well-being for the people. A great power, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was created in the 1930s and ‘40s which, after only 21 years of socialist power, was able to defend itself when World War II began in 1939. It did this through the revolutionary violence of the proletariat and the Soviet people, from the bestial and catastrophic imperialist military aggression of Nazi-fascism and contributed decisively to their total defeat. Its troops raised the communist red flag in Berlin in 1945 as the end of the Great Patriotic War. The Heroic Red Army, the entire proletariat and the Soviet people advanced, and were able to recover quickly from the damage inflicted by the Hitlerite hordes. This revolution continues to be of special significance and transcendence for humanity by having begun a whole historical epoch of struggle for the suppression of the exploitation of man by man.
Revolutionary violence was also the guarantee of the victory of the peoples who took up arms against the Nazi-fascist power in Eastern Europe, fighting side by side with the USSR during World War II.
Revolutionary violence was the midwife of the great Chinese revolution that shook Japanese imperialism, although it was later turned around until it became the present capitalism-imperialism led by the misnamed communist party of that country.
The national liberation of the people of Vietnam decisively confronted for its definitive freedom from imperialism first the French and then the Yankees, who made full use of their military apparatus, using all the techniques and atrocities of its death machine, only refraining from using the atomic bomb. But despite this infamy, in 1975 the National Liberation Front took Saigon after 16 years of fighting.
In 1962 the National Liberation Front in Algeria led a memorable victory of the Arab people that expelled the French colonialists to the other side of the Mediterranean, aligning itself with many national liberation struggles of the peoples and nations of different countries of Black Africa.
Also among the Arabs there stands out the importance of the nationalist armed struggle of the Palestinian people, not comparable to the “intifada,” which at its highest point was combined with the diplomatic struggle of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to win acceptance of “Palestinian autonomy” as a kind of formal declaration of the existence of a Palestinian state without territory. This is a figure battered by fierce attacks of the Israeli army and other racist and bourgeois class measures of the Zionist government in Tel Aviv, always supported by Yankee imperialism, represented today by the re-elected President Barack Obama.
Latin America has been the scene of processes of popular revolutionary struggle in which revolutionary violence has been the guarantee of victory, as shown by the repeated successes in the battlefield against the royalist troops until achieving their liberation from the Spanish empire.
Against the rule of the exploiting classes within each country, at the dawn of the last century their stands out the revolution of the Mexican peasantry and people, whose rebellion was summed up in the slogan “Land and Freedom,” which was raised at all moments in the struggle by the Revolutionary General Emiliano Zapata.
Latin American and the Caribbean later entered the scene with the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, resulting from the popular armed uprising that was launched from the Sierra Maestra, under the leadership of Fidel Castro and Che, against the dictator Fulgencio Batista, who was defending the pro-imperialist bourgeoisie.
In the mid-1960s there emerged in Colombia the insurgent organizations: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the People’s Liberation Army (EPL) led by the Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist). The history of these organizations shows how important are military instruments of struggle against imperialism and the Colombian oligarchy. With their unity of action in the 1980s and especially with the creation of the Simon Bolivar Guerrilla Coordinator, there was endorsed the historical necessity to advance strategically towards a unity project that will unleash the power of the people for the people.
Tactically they are part of the response to the reactionary violence that closed off space for the political struggle of the people and left several hundreds dead in the decades of the 1940s and ‘50s, which showed the bloody history of the exercise of power by the Colombian oligarchy. It was responsible for the genocide of the opposition party Patriotic Union of the 1980s to the ‘90s, recognized by International Human Rights organizations. There also weigh down on their backs the crimes against members of the political movements To Struggle and the Popular Front in the same period. The insurgency was also particularly inspired by the lessons of the revolutionary victories in Cuba, Vietnam, China and the USSR.
At the present time in Colombia crimes against humanity by the ruling class are continuing; among these stand out the ethnocide against the indigenous and black people in the Pacific region and its main port Buenaventura; at the same time the government of Juan Manuel Santos speaks of peace and dialogue with the insurgents. These are facts that make clear the deception of the demobilization of the paramilitary groups during the government of the fascist Uribe and his ally Santos as defence minister. Reality shows that these groups changed their names and are fully active as part of the design of State terrorism. This is increasing in the country together with the imposition of the mega-mining and energy projects and the measures of economic opening such as Free Trade Associations. This economic and social injustice, as well as the lack of freedom and institutional political spaces for the struggle for democracy, have continued the need for the Colombian guerrilla armies that are advancing the people’s war against imperialism and its junior partner, the lackey oligarchy.
In 1979 there stands out the victory of the insurrection of the people of Nicaragua, led by the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), which developed the people’s war since the 1960s confronting the Somoza dynasty, which exerted a ruthless dictatorship at the service of the interests of the Washington government since 1937.
These acts have their own characteristics and yield important lessons; one should study them in order to learn from their essence in the use of revolutionary violence and not to mechanical transfer them in ways continue shifting from one place to another according to the history, context and political and cultural traditions of the peoples, among other factors to consider.
Popular revolution or bourgeois pacifism?
But even so, and against all evidence, the upholders of “21st century socialism” and of the theories of Khrushchev and Gorbachev, as well as some Maoist currents argue that it is not necessary to go through the sacrifices of revolutionary violence. With this preaching they aim to put an end to the debate on how their gradualist and pacifist reformism, which respects capitalist private property, prolongs the power of the bourgeois and its system of exploitation, which creates unlimited misery and every type of humiliation for the people.
They flee from, fear or reject the revolutionary way to power by extolling the “democratic road” of elections orchestrated by the
State of the exploiters. At the same time, they widely proclaim the supposed impossibility of a revolutionary victory and denounce the “adventures” of those who decide to take up revolutionary violence as the only way to power.
By their considerations about the relationship of forces, starting with their refusal to admit the decline of capitalism while they see the vigour of imperialism, with its increasing potential and ability to manoeuvre, these currents argue that victories such as those of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, of the Vietnamese people against the Yankee imperialist barbarians and other examples that we have recalled with those who read us are no longer possible.
These political considerations are based on concepts that are anti-Marxist, pacifist and for class conciliation, spread since the social democratic forces that are essentially individualistic petty bourgeois have entered into the government. These are the loss of proletarian power in the great USSR of the time of the Bolshevik Communist Party led by Lenin and Stalin, the fall of the systems of people’s democracy such as the People’s Republic of Albania, the disenchantment with the anti-Marxist content of the theories of Mao and the conversion of the Chinese Communist Party into a proponent of capitalism and the head of an imperialist state. These are realities that shape a strategic achievement of the world bourgeoisie in contention with the proletarian revolutions, which is natural in this era of imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism.
These setbacks affected the vision of many fighters, who declared the “crisis of Marxism,” theorized “new tactics” centred on reformism and extreme bourgeois democratic and petty bourgeois ideas, distancing themselves from the revolutionary path. Others found in this reality an excuse to betray the popular camp, passing over to the side of the exploiters, while the old opportunists thought that it was the right time to brighten up their theoretical trinkets of a social democratic and revisionist type.
The leadership of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela uses as its principal mode of action of the process towards “21st century socialism” the 13 elections in which they have been victorious over 15 years of Chavez-type government. They scarcely and less frequently point to the mass mobilization that defeated the reactionary coup of April 2002. This, as is known, was preceded by attacks on the oil economy and shortages, assassinations such as those at the Llaguno Bridge and other violent acts that create anxiety, carried out by imperialism and its lackeys together with calls to take part in mass demonstrations that try to show the illegitimacy and rejection of President Hugo Chavez Frias.
Those acts, looked at in detail and in depth, together with the current aggressions of a fascist type of the Roundtable of Democratic Unity, MUD, led by the former presidential candidate Capriles, clearly reveal the continual use of reactionary violence by the bourgeoisie. These include continual death threats against Bolivarian leaders, as well as the plans for imperialist military aggression and separatism with the support of the fascistic governments of Colombia headed by Uribe and Santos, which since 2002 have been fighting the Chavez victory in Venezuela, acting as instruments of Yankee imperialism. Supported by the border intelligence services and the role of the paramilitaries, they also blasted the initiatives for continental integration outside Washington’s umbrella.
These pacifist and reformist theoreticians portend disaster for the revolutionary armed struggle of the Colombian guerrillas (FARC, ELN and EPL), and they are pushing for the signing of the peace accords, to demobilize and convert them into political groups in the framework of bourgeois institutions in which they would strive to achieve their political objectives.
With the advice of this demobilizing current this also happened to the popular struggle of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) in El Salvador and the National Revolutionary Organization (ORNG) in Guatemala, which reached “peace” agreements with very meagre or negative results for the broad popular masses and forcefully obstructed the revolutionary process. It was the same school of thought that advised the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) to submit to an electoral process the power won through the popular insurrection and the armed struggle against the pro-Somoza forces, representing the pro-imperialist bourgeoisie; that experiment ended up as a relief for the forces overthrown by the Sandinistas.
The concept of the state
The ideas of a peaceful path to power derive from the thesis that so-called democracy under capitalism, or bourgeois democracy, with its various national and international formal and institutional rules, is a tool at the service of any citizen. These ideas separate the social existence and class interests from the political and ideological components that define democracy as favourable to those who defend it.
The ideas of a peaceful path to power are for those enamoured of the tenets of the French Revolution , which did constitute a historic landmark that placed the bourgeoisie in power through revolutionary violence used against the feudal monarchy. But these class tenets were made into eternal laws, which are none other than those of the exploitation of man by man. These were abolished and superseded with the socialist revolution that the October Revolution of 1917 inaugurated.
The upholders of the ideas opposed to revolutionary violence as the road to power believe in the neutrality of the “UN peacekeepers” and consider the army, the police, the judicial and prison system of each country, with few exceptions, as institutions free of class contradictions and antagonisms that lead to a bitter and bloody struggle, when necessary, to defend the economic interests that are the real determinants of political decisions.
This is complemented with their one-sided analysis of the popular class origins of the majority of the troops of the bourgeois army. This overlooks the political and ideological training the soldiers receive from the officers (mostly of petty bourgeois origin), especially the high command, who, by their income and lifestyle, tend to resemble the class in power or, by working hard, succeed in entering it because the bourgeois train them with their values as gendarmes of their property and political, economic and social institutions, which are those of the ruling system of exploitation.
Since the dawn of the last century, social-democracy opposed the Marxist-Leninist definition of the State as an apparatus of the rule of one class over another. Its idea is to “take the State from within” or “empower oneself” by becoming of the bourgeois governments (“cohabiting”) or exercising hegemony in the service of class conciliation. They reject the role of the transition of the People’s State or Socialist State as the proletarian dictatorship against the overthrown bourgeoisie and guarantor of democracy for the worker and popular masses, as well as to defend the gains of the revolution and of socialist construction.1
The revisionism that emerged from the theses of Nikita Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the CPSU, and especially developed with the theses of “Perestroika” of Mikhail Gorbachev, has been assimilating the social-democratic theses and practice. Today they are very similar to and in agreement with other theories, such as “21st century socialism”, which have at their core the pacifist concept of struggle, antagonistic to any tactic that combines the forms of popular struggle and organization, including people’s military actions.
These definitions have failed in life, as is illustrated by the case of the Chilean Army and General Pinochet, who became Commander-in-Chief under the President of the Popular Unity, Salvador Allende, based on the “pro-civilian stance” of the military. This has also been confirmed by the recent events in the so-called “Arab Spring,” particularly in Egypt, or the overthrow of President Zelaya in Honduras with the support of Obama. This was a coup that, even though it was not bloody, was still violent because it led to withdrawing the country from ALBA and ensuring its looting by Yankee multinationals. We do not agree with calling or qualifying it as “soft” or “gentle”.
One of the key guarantees of success and strength of the power created by the Cuban revolution was the dismantling of the army of the dictator Batista to ensure the expropriation of the local bourgeoisie that he had protected, and the building of revolutionary military forces capable of defending the island from imperialist aggression.
There is no practical, historical or political basis to claim that the bourgeoisie would accept the expropriation of its capital without resisting fiercely or that it would allow a change in the political system that would serve to build up forces that would put its political class rule in danger. The main instrument to resist are the repressive institutions that have been built up as the core or mainstay of the bourgeois State anywhere or in any historical and cultural situation.
The government and power
While the government, in exercising the leadership of the State, is leading the implementation of a political program of a particular class, tactically and strategically the State outlines the institutions which contribute to strengthening the socio-economic bases of the given society, the aspects of the superstructure and the channels to facilitate the enjoyment of the achievements of the program with the participation of the citizens (or of the people, depending on the type of State) and ensure the defence of the bases of their development and preservation.
Hence the limitations of the tactical governments that can win out in particular situations of the political weakness and disorganization of the classes in power, which are combined with the drive and tenacity of the struggle, levels of unity and breadth of popular organization. These governments are a great tactical victory of the people and can dramatically invigorate the accumulation of forces heading toward the revolutionary leap. But they turn into their opposite when they forge illusions among the masses and exaggerate their scope, if they do not reject the reformist temptation and make clear the need to help break down and not spruce up the State of the exploiters. These governments contribute to the process of accumulation of forces if they take up their commitment to fight on the side of the people by creating a new State that is in essence of the Popular or Proletarian class. This lays the foundations for the defence of national sovereignty against imperialist aggression and for revolutionary construction of the new society with a socialist perspective.
Under these conditions it is obvious to all revolutionaries the need to reflect on how to destroy the State of the exploiters that the latter defend with fire and sword, a task that is indeed impossible without resorting to revolutionary military struggle, as a key component of the revolutionary popular insurrection against the system of oppression. These reflections lead to creating a tactical plan to prepare the armed popular insurrection and its military component, based on the concrete conditions of each country.
The class struggle, power and popular insurrection
This is derived from the developing analysis of the class struggle as the motive force of history, including the need or inevitability of major clashes between antagonistic classes called revolutions. This leads to the inevitability of the emergence of civil wars that, led by the revolutionary vanguard of each country promote the proletariat to the position of ruling class, at the head of all those who have been exploited and oppressed by capital, as the leader of the whole people, as their social vanguard with a revolutionary party that leads it.
But the revolution breaks out when there is a revolutionary crisis, it is a qualitative leap in the workers and popular struggle when the moment arrives when “the peoples do not want to be ruled as before and the ruling classes cannot govern as before”2 arrives, creating an exceptional political crisis that facilitates the emergence of the popular uprising that uses the revolutionary violence of the masses, showing untold sacrifices to confront the military forces of the exploiters, trained to defend their power with violent crude and bloody actions, not with persuasive and “soft” process, as some bourgeois political scientists say who call on them to respect the law and peace, for non-violence or with preachings that do not to allow for rivers to run with blood that justify criminal, interventionist and antidemocratic actions of imperialism and the local bourgeoisies.
Power emerges from below, from the peoples who make history and need a theoretical and political guide elaborated by a revolutionary party positioned as the vanguard of struggle to avoid repeating history as a comedy or farce.3 The military apparatus, no matter how strong and well-intentioned they may be, who are able to succeed, they must link themselves with the masses, to fight together with them, calling on them to participate and support the popular armed uprising of the people.
The accumulation of forces, the military struggle and combination of struggles
The accumulation of forces to storm the bourgeois power is the essence of revolutionary politics that demands a relationship to each step, the relationship between tactics and strategy.
After defining the principal form of struggle in the historical period and establishing the priorities of the class according to their role in the strategic plan, one can proceed to lead the practical struggle, prioritizing; at each step being involved in and taking advantage of different workers and popular struggles without discarding any, practically guaranteeing the combination of all forms of organization and struggle that arise from the direct actions of the masses of the workers, peasants and people.
To define the political struggle as the principal form of struggle does not prevent proceeding with revolutionary military work. On the contrary, the rise of the political struggle transcends military action as the prolongation of the mass political struggle must be oriented to reach higher forms of insurrectionary action.
To argue about the legal frameworks and the advantages for not working for the preparation for the armed popular insurrection is an erroneous thesis that worships the bourgeois institutions and paralyzes the revolutionary development of the workers and popular struggles.
Seen as a whole, the accumulation of forces includes offensive and defensive actions that in their whole should guarantee the revolutionary initiative in order to advance quantitatively and qualitatively toward the successful leadership of the process.
The preparation and development of the use of revolutionary violence is not a single act for the revolutionary vanguard and the masses, who need it in their fight against oppression. That is why they demand a permanent work to prepare them.
The dialectics of the accumulation of forces should include military work as a key aspect for the moment of the decisive struggle for power. The military fighters of the people arise through actions to defend the struggles of the masses and their leaders from the repressive actions of the military and the uniformed and secret police, as well as through indispensable tasks to recover from the class enemy the financial and material resources that are in their hands. Thus there begins to form a contingent that will be skilled in the conduct of military actions and in the handling of instruments and resources of the military arts.
We revolutionaries, especially the communists as part of them, cannot be confused by the emergence of rudimentary organizations of military self-defence of the masses, urban or rural. These exist and tend to proliferate given the conditions of deterioration and decay of the regimes, until it becomes a popular demand to fight to secure human life, as well as the organization of the masses and their possibilities. When the class enemy has revealed itself by striking the masses with official state terrorism and its paramilitary gangs who, by the intimidating force of their arms, create panic among the people with their frequent assassinations, disappearances, beatings, threats and subjugation with arbitrary arrests and abuse of authority through corruption, we think that to encourage such organizations of military self-defence of the masses is a revolutionary duty to raise the fighting spirit of the people.
Also, the revolutionary parties should be attentive so that they can determine when these military forms of the masses at a basic level offer conditions for a qualitative leap by forging guerrilla forces.
Guerrilla warfare has had a place in world history from when Spartacus confronted the Roman Empire. It has been a resource to resolve the disequilibrium of forces between the peoples fighting for their liberation and the powerful armies and police forces of the bourgeois State, which in cases such as Colombia are formed by “war dogs” or mercenaries called “professionals soldiers.”
The armed conflict in Colombia and its perspectives
The fighting capacity of the Colombian people on the military level continues on the rise. This is confirmed by the substantial stockpiles of weapons and bombs, the air firepower and the largest and most bloodthirsty army of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is facing guerrillas who have not been defeated, who manages to increase their units throughout the country.
The ELN and the FARC are continuing in their trenches. The EPL is strengthening its guerrilla contingents and under the leadership of the Communist Party of Colombia (Marxist-Leninist) is fighting to win. It has overcome the harsh setback of the betrayal of the 1990s that the class enemy hatched in creating the faction Hope, Peace and Freedom, which was put into service in different fields of anti-popular work, including military and repressive actions. That reality was distorted by the class enemy and the opportunists to refuse to recognize the persistence of EPL in the battles of the people’s war.
Beyond the pretensions of the re-election campaign of fascist Santos, it is a reality that the oligarchy is interested in a quick “Express Peace.” in a submission or surrender; a “peace” that does not open political gates or create bases to move toward economic and social justice for the people, starting with making immediate concessions to the social movements, which as the agrarian, ethnic and popular ones are demanding in their statements that have managed to unite in some cases the organizations that comprise them. Similarly, there are many demands that the government will not address, such as those of the trade union movement and urban population.
The bourgeoisie with its rejection of the bilateral cease-fire and the convening of a Constituent Assembly and other rigid positions at the round table at Havana, as well as with the obstacles to dialogue with the ELN and the EPL, make it clear that is not in favour of a political solution to the conflict but it is for a “Roman peace” that must leave it hands-free at the service of its pro-imperialist policy for mining and energy looting and against the environment. This is influenced by the actions of worker, peasant and popular masses and the military operations of the guerrillas.
The winds of demobilization and containment are blowing to destroy the revolutionary popular accumulation of strategic significance represented by the guerrillas, but they – especially the EPL – will not allow the victory that the government, its U.S. advisers and opportunism of the right, which is the enemy of the revolutionary path to power, are seeking: to see the insurgent movement absorbed or converted into civilian political organizations.
We revolutionaries are fighting to unmask this skilful tactic of the Santos government so that the vast majority of the people understand that the oligarchy does not want peace with social justice. To show that it is desirable for the future of the struggle for people’s power and socialism, to count on the accumulated revolutionary experience, which is expressed in the guerrilla armies.
The present change in the relationship of forces, which favours the popular camp since August of 2013 with the National Strike of August 29 in support of the National Agrarian Strike, is an engine for the increase in the popular struggle and in the heat of this reality there is also growing the prestige of the armed struggle and the forces that persist in it.
We Communists, together with the other revolutionaries, will never remain alone if we maintain links with the masses and their desire for change, merged with their struggles for concrete objectives at different levels and convinced that the revolutionary victory is possible if we succeed in preparing the armed popular insurrection starting from the military work of accumulating forces in this strategic direction.
1 The State. V.I. Lenin, FLP Peking edition
I have already advised you to turn for help to Engels’ book, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. This book says that every state in which private ownership of the land and means of production exists, in which capital dominates, however democratic it may be, is a capitalist state, a machine used by the capitalists to keep the working class and the poor peasants in subjection; while universal suffrage, a Constituent Assembly, parliament are merely a form, a sort of promissory note, which does not alter the essence of the matter.
The forms of domination of the state may vary: capital manifests its power in one way where one form exists, and in another way where another form exists – but essentially the power is in the hands of capital, whether there are voting qualifications or not, or whether the republic is democratic one or not – in fact the more democratic it is the cruder and more cynical is the rule of capitalism. One of the most democratic republics in the world is the United States of America, yet nowhere (and those who were there after 1905 probably know it) is the power of capital, the power of a handful of billionaires over the whole of society so crude and so openly corrupt as in America. Once capital exists, it dominates the whole of society, and no democratic republic, no form of franchise can alter the essence of the matter.
The democratic republic and universal suffrage were an immense progressive advance on feudalism: they have enabled the proletariat to achieve its present unity and solidarity to form those firm and disciplined ranks which are waging a systematic struggle against capital.2 “Left-Wing” Communism, an Infantile Disorder. V.I. Lenin, FLP Peking edition
The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions, and particularly by all three Russian revolutions in the twentieth century, is as follows: it is not enough for revolution that the exploited and oppressed masses should understand the impossibility of living in the old way and demand changes; it is essential for revolution that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. Only when the ‘lower classes’ do not want the old way, and when the ‘upper classes’ cannot carry on in the old way – only then can revolution triumph. This truth may be expressed in other words: revolution is impossible without a nationwide crisis (affecting both the exploited and the exploiters). It follows that for revolution it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the class-conscious, thinking, politically active workers) should fully understand that revolution is necessary and be ready to sacrifice their lives for it; secondly, that the ruling classes should be passing through a governmental crisis, which draws even the most backward masses into politics (a symptom of every real revolution is a rapid, tenfold and even hundredfold increase in the number of members of the toiling and oppressed masses – hitherto apathetic – who are capable of waging the political struggle), weakens the government and makes it possible for the revolutionaries to overthrow it rapidly.3. The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Chapter I. Karl Marx.
Hegel remarks somewhere that all the events and personalities of great importance in world history occur, as it were, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. Caussidiere for Danton, Louis Blanc for Robespierre, the Montaigne of 1848-51 for the Montaigne of 1793-95, the Nephew for the Uncle. And the same caricature occurs in the circumstances attending the second edition of the Eighteenth Brumaire!
Men make their own history, but they do not make it just
as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by
themselves, but under given circumstances directly encountered and
inherited from the past. The tradition of all the generations of the
dead weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. And just when
they seem involved in revolutionizing themselves and things, in
creating something that has never before existed, it is precisely in
such periods of revolutionary crisis that they anxiously conjure up the
spirits of the past to their service and borrow names, battle cries and
costumes from them in order to act out the new scene of world history
in this time-honored disguise and this borrowed language. Thus Luther
donned the mask of the Apostle Paul, the Revolution of 1789-1814 draped
itself alternately as the Roman republic and the Roman empire, and the
Revolution of 1848 could do nothing better than parody 1789 one minute,
and the revolutionary tradition of 1793-95 the next. In a similar way a
beginner who has learned a new language always translates it back into
his mother tongue, but he has assimilated the spirit of the new
language and can freely express himself in it only when he can use it
without recalling the old and forgets his native tongue in the use of