The Dim-Post

July 11, 2016

Counter-revolutionary quote of the day

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 8:44 am

I am still reading the Deutscher biography of Trotsky. It is excellent. We’re up to the Red Terror. This passage:

The words ‘we have made a modest beginning’ had an ominous ring. Having accomplished a revolution, the Bolsheviks could not renounce revolutionary terror; and the terror has its own momentum. Every revolutionary party at first imagines that its task is simple: it has to suppress a ‘handful’ of tyrants or exploiters. It is true that usually the tyrants and exploiters form an insignificant minority. But the old ruling class has not lived in isolation from the rest of society. In the course of its long domination it has surrounded itself by a network of institutions embracing groups and individuals of many classes; and it has brought to life many attachments and loyalties which even a revolution does not destroy altogether. The anatomy of society is never so simple that it is possible surgically to separate one of the limbs from the rest of the body. Every social class is connected with its immediate neighbour by many almost imperceptible gradations. The aristocracy shades off into the upper middle class; the latter into the lower layers of the bourgeoisie; the lower middle class branches off into the working class; and the proletariat, especially in Russia, is bound by innumerable filiations to the peasantry. The political parties are similarly interconnected. The revolution cannot deal a blow at the party most hostile and dangerous to it without forcing not only that party but its immediate neighbour to answer with a counterblow. The revolution therefore treats its enemy’s immediate neighbour as its enemy. When it hits this secondary enemy, the latter’s neighbour, too, is aroused and drawn into the struggle. The process goes on like a chain reaction until the party of the revolution arouses against itself and suppresses all the parties which until recently crowded the political scene.

20 Comments »

  1. Dear old Burke foresaw all this in 1790. He might have been a bit silly about Marie Antoinette but he got the important stuff right.

    Comment by robhosking — July 11, 2016 @ 10:16 am

  2. It’ll be so much easier and more humane in the next revolution as we’ll have internet records to identify the most dangerous reactionaries.

    Comment by richdrich — July 11, 2016 @ 10:19 am

  3. @ robhosking – Niccolò Machiavelli said it best

    “It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

    Comment by Gregor W — July 11, 2016 @ 11:00 am

  4. It’ll be so much easier and more humane in the next revolution as we’ll have internet records to identify the most dangerous reactionaries.

    Cats, mostly. And quotes attributed to Ghandi and Abraham Lincoln.

    Comment by robhosking — July 11, 2016 @ 11:22 am

  5. After a successful revolution kill off the revolutionaries and destroy revolutionary spirit to secure the new regime. Trotsky did not understand this and continued to progress revolution against perceived enemies. Stalin was able to remedy the situation, purging the Trotskyites.

    Comment by unaha-closp — July 11, 2016 @ 11:39 am

  6. We can see the counter-revolution occuring now the close Brexit result has occurred and those who directly benefited dont like it-
    “But the old ruling class has not lived in isolation from the rest of society. In the course of its long domination it has surrounded itself by a network of institutions embracing groups and individuals of many classes; and it has brought to life many attachments and loyalties ” The EU of course being run like a version of the Romanoff Court

    Comment by duker — July 11, 2016 @ 1:27 pm

  7. For some reason the image of Bomber going up against the wall springs into my mind.
    Of course if he was to be leading the revolution that would not apply but so far despite his noise he shows as much likelihood of that as being able to run a piss-up in a brewery

    Comment by Ray — July 11, 2016 @ 3:33 pm

  8. “we can see the counter-revolution occuring now the close Brexit result has occurred”

    I’m sure Farage would enjoy being compared to Trotsky, but Brexit does not constitute a revolution.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — July 11, 2016 @ 4:05 pm

  9. ” Brexit does not constitute a revolution??? Something like 2/3 of UK Mps were for remaining in EU, so in modern terms it is a major change in direction which only came about because of the popular change. Anyway the push back definitely is a counter-revolution under way- interesting to see if succeeds.
    This absudist nonsense is from the ruling elite who see dire consequences…
    “it’s not hard to imagine that there could be embryonic Fuhrers among the populist agitators now offering to restore national greatness and to oust unwanted newcomers. The EU has kept the peace in Europe since 1945. Only fools and madmen would tear it down.” Its too laughable.

    Comment by ghostwhowalksnz — July 11, 2016 @ 5:07 pm

  10. “omething like 2/3 of UK Mps were for remaining in EU, so in modern terms it is a major change in direction which only came about because of the popular change.”

    A revolution is more than just a ‘major change of direction’. If it was, every election that results in a change of government would be a revolution.

    Hannah Arendt defines the term very well, IMO, and Brexit is not that.

    It’s ironic, though, that the support for Brexit relied so much on nostalgia for Empire and merry-old-Englande, but you are trying to defend it by using the rhetoric of revolutionary change.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — July 11, 2016 @ 6:24 pm

  11. “…Brexit does not constitute a revolution??? Something like 2/3 of UK Mps were for remaining in EU, so in modern terms it is a major change in direction which only came about because of the popular change. Anyway the push back definitely is a counter-revolution under way- interesting to see if succeeds…”

    Brexit is a revolt, but is not a revolution. This is because the institutional tools of the existing system were used to send a message. Of course the attempts now starting to subvert the referendum result, if successful, will further severely damage the credibility of the already dysfunctional Westminster system, and potentially make possible the rise of a truly revolutionary anti-democratic fascism via UKIP.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 11, 2016 @ 6:25 pm

  12. potentially make possible the rise of a truly revolutionary anti-democratic fascism via UKIP.

    Hyperbole much? Farage and the Ukip while loathsome are not fascist, the hysterical elements of the left that throw this word around do their credibility no favours.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — July 11, 2016 @ 6:36 pm

  13. UKIP is simply the BNP dressed out of Marks & Spencers.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 11, 2016 @ 6:58 pm

  14. While being a Nazi requires being a fascist, being a fascist does not require you to be a Nazi. Farage, and UKIP, are fascists, peculiarly English fascists but fascists none the less. Fascism is simply a syncretic ideology that is militantly nationalistic, racist and reactionary. It’s goal is to purge the nation of decadence by seeking to modernise the country by doing away the descrepit and descredited institutions of the current state and make the nation strong again by returning to a mythical, racially pure golden age of national glory. It seeks to use democracy as a path to power, but once in a position of power it will seek to do away with democracy, because democracy is antithetical to it’s racist agenda. Thus far UKIP fits this description near perfectly.

    Farage and Johnson (who is not a fascist, just an overweaningly egotistical wanker) rlepresent a peculiar strain of British upper class twit (parrodied by Rowan Atkinson’s Flashart) that has form for it’s attraction to the bias for rigorous, cleansing action promised by fascism. Think Oswald Mosley and Edward VIII. The fascist are currently agin making a play for power in the UK by creating an alliance with the losers from neoliberal globalisation and articulating a broad antiestablishment sentiment – originating in class war, regional decline, postindustrial devastation, generational anxieties, etc. – along bigoted, national chauvinist lines. This type of alliance between radical reaction and social conservatism is central to fascism. The Nazi party drew its strength mainly from the skilled working class and lower middle class, while being very business friendly. Of course Nazism was an extremely radical version of fascism, so it pays to look at Europes most successful fascist, General Franco, who built his regime on the support of the anti-democratic land owning aristocracy and industrialists, castilian nationalism and reactionary cultural and social conservatism enforced via the Catholic church. Farage and UKIP seek a similar alliance in the UK, drawing support from reactionary aristocracts and business, nationalists and “deep England” cultural and social conservatives, particularly in the English lower middle class (skilled manual labourerss in UK parlance) and below.

    Of course, UKIP don’t advocate shipping people off to camps, or mass repatriations. But they are not yet close to power, and fascism in power has a particular logic of its own.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 11, 2016 @ 7:45 pm

  15. I don’t think it’s particularly accurate. Lenin and co went after those that supported the revolution but didn’t support them, or thought they didn’t support them.

    Comment by NeilM — July 11, 2016 @ 8:45 pm

  16. Eg Danton and ….Trotsky

    The quote is more what Lenin Stalin (and Trotsky) used as a rationalisation of their violence. It wasn’t actually true.

    Comment by NeilM — July 11, 2016 @ 8:51 pm

  17. Sanctuary you are wrong [again] they aren’t fascist. Its like calling someone with your bitter and outdated hard left leanings communist.

    Comment by Cliff Clavin — July 11, 2016 @ 9:17 pm

  18. My dear Cliff, that is quite an argument you’ve mustered there.

    Comment by Sanctuary — July 11, 2016 @ 9:25 pm

  19. It’s true though that who got to considered to be counter revolutionary expanded to include anyone outside the polit bureau office and most of those inside.

    I think the key sentence is:

    Every revolutionary party at first imagines that its task is simple…

    Therefore if the revolution doesn’t create the perfect society pretty much immediately then it’s not because it’s a difficult thing to do but because there are evil people preventing it from happening. Which gets to include pretty much everyone eventually.

    It’s still a common view.

    Comment by NeilM — July 11, 2016 @ 10:48 pm

  20. “It’s goal is to purge the nation of decadence by seeking to modernise the country by doing away the descrepit and descredited institutions of the current state and make the nation strong again by returning to a mythical, racially pure golden age of national glory.” Look, it’s right there in their manifesto, just before “Kindergarten teachings and strengthening of the spirit” just after “Judaism: proposed response.”

    Truly, really, have missed the left-wing phrase-generator called Sanctuary while its owner has been holidaying in Spain. Any chance of you allowing the homeless to bring tents or caravans onto your lifestyle block? Syrian refugees?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — July 23, 2016 @ 1:34 pm


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