Revolution as a Living Process

Luxemburg looked on strikes and political struggles as dialectical, historical processes. The structure of the economy and the workforce helped to shape, but never determine, the options available. Thus, if industry was small scale and geographically scattered, strikes would typically be small and scattered as well. Each set of strikes, however, forced changes in the structure of capital. If workers won higher wages, for example, the increases might provoke consolidations in the industry, mechanization, and new patterns of supervision, all of which would influence the character of the next round of strikes. A strike would also, of course, teach the workforce new lessons and alter the character of its cohesion and leadership.66 This insistence on process and human agency served Luxemburg as a warning against a narrow view of tactics. A strike or a revolution was not simply an end toward which tactics and command ought to be directed; the process leading to it was at the same time shaping the character of the proletariat. How the revolution was made mattered as much as whether it was made at all, for the process itself had heavy consequences.

seeing-like-a-statech. 5

The ends do not justify the means. The means are an integral part of the end. When what you're trying to change is an entire way of living and being, revolution cannot simply be a once-off event.

cf Connecting vs Organising.


seeing-like-a-state Scott, James C. 1998. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. Yale University Press. ↩︎ 1