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Progressive Synthesism: Revolutionary Change Through Democratic Specialization


One of the problems consistently confronting revolutionaries since time immemorial is a lack of harmonious supra-movement relationships and cohesion. In the sparks of revolutionary ferment, whether they arise in a Marxist, Anarchist, Liberal, Feminist, Environmentalist, Syndicalist movement, or indeed that of any revolutionary party (the term being used loosely here), the excitement and trials of those key moments where we must be harmonious or perish seem to direct to ourselves, frustratingly enough, the destructive energies in us; and thus, we are all still deprived of our desperately needed inferno to give but a shadow of light to our world.
Why? Why! Why!?
It seems that the primary reason for the lack of revolutionary activity, perhaps even more important than the disappointingly effective appeasement tactics of the Establishment, is our own tendencies towards a lack of cohesion, infighting, and general helplessness paradoxically in and amongst the greatest moments of self-empowerment in our lives. Let us examine the nature of this poetic failure of peoples across the channels of time.
One explanation for this, sometimes invoked, may be that most or all people are inherently anti-social due to the flaws of the very system we wish to change. However, this rationalization simply sounds unsatisfying to me. It reeks of excuses, passivity, resignation; it exudes the repugnant airs of a comfortably nihilistic, armchair-defeatist philosophy. Ironically, it finds ideological fertile soil in the minds of disappointed ex-revolutionaries, most of whom (in North America and Europe, and to some extent certain elsewheres) having conveniently been raised with the implantation of Abrahamic guilt, original sin, notions of Freudian self-repression and vengeance-based conceptions of justice that unhelpfully assist this static and drearily apathetic mindset.
My conclusion that I draw from analysis of this, personally, is that although to some degree it may have the merit of truth to say that there is some very significant inflection upon our psyches the nature of our environment, people are generally strong enough to, with sufficient willpower and consciousness of their efforts, overcome these systems of thought control and thus supplant their decrepit society with their own visions and strength. We could go back and forth, citing historical examples of humans' passive subliminal submission and active subversion of their social indoctrination. However, ultimately, both kinds of evidence support my assertion in these matters: that humans have a profound capability for power, whether by ceding it through apathetic shrugs and misguided actions, or seizing it back via assertive individual and collective socially-aware action. Though we all be flawed, we are not all flaws; on the contrary, our failures will eventually strengthen us, our past of imperfections supporting a furthered understanding and yet another attempt for liberation.
A second explanation offered is to the contrary; that is, human beings and their social movements do not have the power to change their society, in a material sense. And this, yet again, I feel is defeatist without just (and certainly not probable) cause. There are numerous examples of social movements, however much they fall short of fully transforming our society beyond its Capitalist stage, or any other highly-sought benchmark, extracting from Establishment systems profound and fundamental change on a broad setting. There is certainly power enough the Capitalists have had to placate so many with sizeable "consolation prizes", even if only consolation prizes they be. And at a certain point, those rewards will run out, or be taken away by a particularly idiotic ruling class; and then there will be only the angry masses versus the last vestiges of conservatism, with socially conscious individuals and movements ready to offer them guidance in their fury.
Ultimately, we must realize that the material power to change our society indeed rests with us; it is only our lack of social consciousness that truly holds us back. But, until we achieve that as fully as we can possibly realize it, all persons, regardless of political persuasion, are obstructionists, be they anywhere betwixt the most well-intentioned freethinker or dedicated Nazi.
And that is the third explanation; my favourite, actually. That we are simply without sufficient social consciousness as to coordinate our activities within a relatively self-managed, grassroots setting.
Accustomed as we all are to being told to fall in line, rather than organizing ourselves to do it ourselves, we are simply out of our element when we organize directly with one another as equals, not through indirect, inhumane, prescribed frameworks such as political parties, capitalist charities, nation-states. But it is not "in our nature" to be this way; we are simply out of practice. It is simply the way we were raised; but we can overcome this! It is, literally, all in our head! We simply need to have a general consensus and shared consciousness of a few key issues; the tenets of Democratic Specialization, if you will.
First, we must realize that not everyone thinks the same way. Thus, different people (and different groups) will desire, on a superficial basis, radically diverging ideals.
Second, we must understand that this is ok. In fact, it's more than ok; it's fantastic. Diversity is a good thing; in a healthy setting, in provides the impetus for constructive discussion, and often consensus-synthesis of views. Moreover, most of these views, provided there are common understandings about individual autonomy, the most basic human rights, and common goals, are actually able to coexist permanently in their realized forms.
Third, and finally, we must all accept that not everyone wants to work towards their ideals in exactly the same way. Yet again, this is ok. In fact, it's productive. Although we may not all be able to work directly together, we can understand that we are working towards the same ends, and not oppose each other. For example, direct-action radical anarchists and mass-action liberals of more moderate tendencies must realize that, whether it is marching in streets (creating visibility for the movement) or standing up to police actions and smashing shop windows (creating visibility of the system's inhumanity and tangibly wounding the war machine), both contribute towards eliminating injustice and establishing a more humane world in very real ways. The undeniably vital discussions of tactics and their drawbacks must be conducted in a civil manner. Even if divisions become unworkable for some reason, we shouldn't sell each other out and oppose each other more than we do the system which seeks to destroy us; for that would be conceding defeat in the lowliest sense. Rather, part ways politely, and understand that we all mean to act for the best. Is it so hard to be a reasonable adult about such things?
If there was a phrase for this kind of plea, it would be "Harmony, not Unity!" And that's exactly what we need, as now more than ever we need each other: Every distinct idiosyncrancy, every differing idea about strategy and tactics, every common truth we can all realize together. Without each other, without our community of revolution, without our rapport and love for one another as human beings above all else, we have nothing going for us.

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