Saturday, January 18, 2014

Radical or Revolutionary?

   This piece was inspired by a friend of mine who made a comment in which she said I was such a radical. I wasn't sure what I thought about that, so after contemplating it for a while I asked myself, Radical or Revolutionary?
  I'm sure if your reading this then at one time or another you've considered yourself one of the above. To many this term would be synonymous, yet to others these two words are worlds apart. This may all unknowingly be a game of semantics being played in my head, but I'm going to invite you to play the game with me as well. That being said, I would like to examine this from the inside out and outside in, sharing my own thoughts on this and as well as those of the public at large
    The radicals of the late 18th century America, along with some planters would for the most part be the same people who started the American revolution (quite a combination). Going further back in English tradition to the time of the Civil war, we again see the emergence of these so called "Radicals" spreading their propaganda of one oppressor over another. In both of these we do see revolution as opposed to simply radicalism but really all that changed were the masters or the titles of those who rule. Now fast forward to the America of the Vietnam era. What do we see? We see a lot of radicals yet very few revolutionaries.
In each of these cases we see people who are called radicals trying to change things within the system. Now sure, the American Revolution threw off the crown; however, it kept all the trappings of a superior-minded racist society hellbent on exploiting the "savages". Not to mention taking full advantage of the poor white immigrant who was dazzled by the false vision of the colonies. The point is that the system did not change!
   Another problem that I see come about when using the term radical is the picture that it commonly paints for the common person. Now I have never been too concerned with what people think about me but sometimes when you use some words you are already handcuffing yourself to an image that is misunderstood or simply not true. For the average working person here in the States, when they think of a radical they envision some slacker with a sign who should be at work instead of pushing their ideas on honest hardworking people. Obviously this is a misunderstanding but this is the reality which we have to work with. Quite honestly I'm not so sure I want to be associated with "activist culture" I don't want to be put inside a tidy little box. Needless to say I admire anyone with the courage and intrepidity to publicly stand up for what they believe in; however, it often appears that those activists who usher forth from the left accept with hungry hearts and empty minds any cause that may come along the way. This is a definite problem for me because frankly I don't agree with everything they say. The same people who gather their forces, descend upon one location then switch signs to go down the road to take another cause to task, using the same catch-phrases with slight variation in which they sound like little more than puppets, does not sound like a person engaged in an action if their own freewill!
   We must think for ourselves using the tenets of eternal wisdom when handling these issues, and not just follow along either because it is expected of us or because it's what "radicals" do or for fear of being ostracized by the activist community! If you have pondered these thing and searched your soul, then sure go right ahead and make a stand for what you believe, but for the love of reason let's just not follow blindly!
  The same can be said of those "radicals" that come from the right. Even though this is a relatively new phenomenon due to the advent of President Obama and the ruling Democratic party, they are becoming a factor nonetheless. They really are no better. They pretty much follow the same mode of operation as the above mentioned, they just have a different set of causes to follow. Notice I said "set of causes" because that's what is demanded on the "radical" either to the left or the right. You must fall in line with your thoughts and conform strictly to the side that you have chosen or face anathema or exclusion from the side of radicalism you have chosen!               
   I for one, will be my own person. I will chose my own beliefs. I will not fall in line like an automaton and if some find that reprehensible to their tiny and insignificant mind, I must struggle to find pity for them. Yet pity them I must!
This has been my experience with most radicals. Of course this doesn't have to be true every time but more often than not it seems to be the case. Perhaps the problem is that I espouse the Individual within the context of the commune and I welcome views of every stripe. Or perhaps I'm too firmly entrenched in the middle ground for my own good! Nevertheless let us move on.
     Now in the case of  a revolutionary, the idea is to destroy the previous system. Not to dilly-dally about with the old system, merely putting window dressing on a house that is burning down around them. Not to play footsie with the powers that be which have grown fat by sucking on the bones of those outside the sacred halls of power! Perhaps and even likely the revolution should salvage some of the respected and ancient life ways and beliefs ( not as the communists did and completely attempt to break from the past, which I believe if one looks closely, was one of the reasons for 20th century communism's collapse), but abolishing exploitation and organized violence by those who have placed  themselves in a place of authority. 
    A new problem arises though when you use the term revolutionary. People have been conditioned to view a revolutionary as an idealist with a gun or a bomb, spouting off violent cliched slogans like a broken record. The revolution I am talking of is one that starts within the self and then through the example of fearless self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming odds inspires other to join in. The individual is the tree and from its growing and withstanding the elements and time it flourishes and grows strong. The the roots spread out, seedlings fall and from what was once only one, now you a multitude, a wall of trees forming a forces breaking the power and trends of a prevailing wind.
  A revolutionary doesn't need a weapon in the normally conceived usage of the word. The power of  love and reason make the atomic bomb a weak and irrelevant thing. In a short piece I recently wrote I up lifted peaceful revolutionaries like Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Aung San Suu Kyi, as models of virtue (though each were flawed as most of us humans), for we of the gentle revolution who are despised by both the powers that be and many of our allies who believe in violence. But how can a few guns defeat a first world power? How can acts of terror in a potential police state have an effect that will bring about the end we seek. In fact, the reactionary forces tend to enforce the worst elements of a police state in situations such as these. Though Gandhi claimed that non-violence was not a tool for the weak I believe it can and must be adapted to the circumstances of the 21st century. It is also well known and has been demonstrated that violence only brings more violence. So why do we keep trying to use it? It is nigh impossible to have lasting and effective change by spreading the disease of violent dystrophy and calling it revolution!
     It is so true that between the subverted media and a culture hate that is force-fed patriotism and militarism from the first time they step into a public school, the odds of freeing ones self let alone others seems rather slim. But regardless of how minuet the possibility of a non-violent revolution of non-cooperation may be I still declare that it is the modern worlds only hope!
    So what is it to be radical or revolutionary? The question still stands, do you want to work, hands tied by preconceived notions and simplistic minds unable to work outside the box? On the left the socialists can't get out of their own way with a legion of bureaucrats filling nonsensical positions, fostering a nanny-state mentality. Or an alleged democracy which, as Ben Franklin said, is "two wolves and a sheep deciding on dinner". Where we elect overlords who are controlled by capital and are clueless to the will of the people. Or, as in Marxism where the "committee of the people" actually turn into an oligarchy or nepotism draped in communistic revolutionary slogans. This is not revolution, this is the status quo!

      Or... shall we smash the system and start over? Like Vishnu trampling upon reality with his fateful dance so the world can be refreshed and renewed. Or like the ancient Jewish people time and time again rebuilding their world because of repeated failures in the eyes of their Lord. Just as in the natural world the seed grows, then the plant is formed, then it refurbishes the world with new life as it dies. This is how we should see and live out the revolution! If not, we will be stuck in an endless battle of repetition in which the few control the many by one way or another. It is a sad and pitiful state!
As we have seen in the past the powers that be will relent from time to time to placate the populace and to make us think that we have made a difference. This is a deception and I cry out with the breath of my soul:
Friends! Comrades! Be not satisfied with the systems of this world which have been proven failures. Let us tear it down and start anew!  
May the Spirits bless and Long Live Anarchy!
by Steven R. Cebula - poet, anarchist and student of truth