Letters from the Street

Philosophy, theology, and whatever else crosses my mind.

Russian Revolution: August 16 – Sept. 1, 1917

August 16, 1917 (August 3, 1917 old style)August 16, 1917 (August 3, 1917 old style)

Stalin is elected to the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks.

August 17,1917 (August 14, 1917 old style)

The division in the State Conference becomes palpable when General Kornilov arrives. Kerensky patriotically asserts his authority, to which Miliukov explains: “In reality, he invokes only a feeling of pity”. Kornilov speaks with heavy defeatism, with attentive Allied diplomats in the audience, and explains that the Germans can easily win Riga, and if he is not allowed a full military dictatorship, Petrograd is sure to fall. Rhetoric vehemently crosses the aisles, threats abound, open fighting nearly breaks out. The government is starkly divided between Social Democracy and Military Dictatorship. Amazingly, world renown Anarchist Peter Kropotkin shows his support for the defense of Russia through a dictatorship, explaining that: “We need a federation such as they have in the United States.”

August 20 – 25, 1917 (August 7 – 12, 1917 old style)

The Second Conference of Petrograd Factory Committees takes place. There will be three more conferences prior to the Bolshevik revolution.

August 25- 28, 1917 (August 12-15, 1917 old style)

The Provisional Government holds a State Conference in Moscow. Workers Soviets overwhelming vote for a general strike in opposition to the Conference, but the Petrograd Soviet votes 364 to 304 to not strike. The Workers partly accept this, and instead strike for a single day: 400,000 workers walk out. As a result of the backwardness of the Petrograd Soviet, a vote is taken to hold new elections, and receives support in the form of 175 votes to 4.

End of August 1917 (Mid of August 1917 old style)

Kornilov, the commander in chief of the Provisional Government, sends troops to Petrograd.

August 27, 1917 (August 14, 1917 old style)

Kerensky judges Kornilov’s move as an attempted military coup. He fires Kornilov from his post as commander in chief and orders him to come to Petrograd, and makes himself the new commander in chief.

August 31, 1917 (August 18, 1917 old style)
The Petrograd Soviet, despite the objection of Menshevik president Cheidze, holds a vote on the abolition of the death penalty. The vote resolves: 900 to 4 to abolish the death penalty. Only the top leaders of the Menshevik party — Tseretelli, Cheidze, Dan, Lieber — vote against. On the 22nd, the Provisional Government agrees to abide by the Soviet decision, fearful of retribution otherwise.

September 1, 1917 (August 19, 1917 old style)
Kornilov refuses to come to Petrograd. He goes to Bykhov instead, surrenders, and gets caged. He manages to escape later. Kornilov demands that Kerensky allow him to reassign his army to Petrograd. Kerensky refuses.

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Russian Revolution: June 24 — August, 1917

June 24, 1917 (June 11, 1917 old style)
The Mensheviks continue their assault on the Bolsheviks, agitating that they be arrested, and claim the party is controlled by Germany. After days of debate, the Mensheviks drop their demand to disarm the workers. Further, realizing their support would vaporize following the dispersal of the June 10 protests, the Mensheviks put forward a motion to hold demonstrations on the 18th, and the Soviet passes the motion.

July 1 – 11, 1917 (June 18 – 28, 1917 old style)
Kerensky’s unsuccessful military offensive on the Austrian front, led by General Aleksey Alekseyevich Brusilov, despite incredibly low moral, poor supplies and logistics, and in the absence of sound strategic thinking. German counter-attacks bring devastating loses: 150,000 Russians are killed, with nearly 250,000 wounded. The pro-peace Bolsheviks show their massive support with an enormous demonstration against the war of 400,000 workers and soldiers in Petrograd, Moscow, Kiev, Kharkov, Ekaterinoslav, and other cities, nearly all protestors carrying banners echoing the Bolshevik line. Meanwhile, under the cover of the demonstrations, the Anarchists attack several prisons, “liberating” 460 criminals. The Provisional Government turns this into propaganda, claiming the Bolsheviks helped. Many of the Petrograd Anarchists are arrested.

July 4, 1917 (June 21, 1917 old style)
After the demonstration of July 1 (June 18th old style), workers at the Putilov factory go on strike. The Bolsheviks, together with workers from 70 other factories, meet with the Putilov workers, sympathize with their grievances, but call for restraint. Workers are starving. Soldiers demand to be sent home to plough the fields: the 1st Machine Gun Regiment declares that “detachments shall be sent to the front only when the war has a revolutionary character.” Entire divisions of soldiers are arrested for disobedience. Soldiers are constantly demanding that Bolsheviks immediately overthrow the government, but the Bolsheviks need the support of the entire Soviet. Lenin understands that the present calamities will lead to a change in the Soviet, which will then enable a real, democratic, Soviet revolution.

July 6, 1917 (June 23, 1917 old style)
The Kronstadt Anarchists demand the liberation of Petrograd anarchists, lest they liberate them by force.

July 7. 1917 (June 24, 1917 old style)
Izvestia reports plans by the Provisional Government to close a series of factories in Petrograd, potentially leaving thousands jobless. Meanwhile, the Oranienbaum garrisons inform the government that they support Kronstadt.

July 9, 1917 (June 26, 1917 old style)
The Grenadier Guard Regiment returns from the front and joins the Kronstadt Anarchists.

July 14, 1917 (July 1, 1917 old style)
The 2nd Machine Gun Regiment demands: All power to the Soviets!, while the 3rd Infantry Regiment refuses to send 14 replacement companies to the front. Meanwhile, the 1st Machine Gun Regiment marches from Oranienbaum to Petrograd. The Soviet Executive Committee, now sharing power within the Provisional Government, tells them to go home, but the soldiers refuse. The Bolsheviks organise food and quarters for the machine-gunners. According to the historian/observer Sukhanov, in these days Petrograd “felt itself to be upon the verge of some sort of explosion.”

July 16, 1917 (July 3, 1917 old style)
This period is called the July Days. Mass demonstrators in Petrograd are making noise for the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies and want the Soviet to replace the Provisional Government. Again, the slogan of the day is All Power to the Soviets. After receiving an order to go to the front, thousands of machine-gunners hold a meeting about an armed insurrection. The Bolsheviks try to cool things off, while the Anarchists stoke the fire. The soldiers decide to march, fully armed, and send delegates from one factory after another, with workers dropping everything to join the march. Tens of thousands go marching, demanding All power to the Soviets! The Bolsheviks change tactics. No longer trying to restrain the masses, they agree to support them, so long as they peacefully march to the seat of government, elect delegates, and present their demands to the Executive Committee of the Soviets. The masses agree. Meanwhile, the Government spends the entire day calling on troops from across the country to come in defense of the capital. The Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries (SRs) decry the Bolsheviks for the insurrection, claiming they are threatening the Soviets. The leadership of the Petrograd Soviet changes its composition and becomes a Bolshevik majority. Further strengthening the Bolshevik majority, the Mensheviks and SRs refuse to co-operate and walk out, having lost their majority power. They remain in control of the Soviet Executive Committee, and thus the ravine deepens further between local Soviets and the Soviet Executive Committee.

July 17, 1917 (July 4, 1917 old style)
Today the Bolsheviks are the demonstrators. At 3am, 80,000 workers and soldiers reach the Tauride Palace. Junkers (military cadets) meet the demonstrators, and tear up placards. A shot is fired, but disaster is averted. The Bolsheviks spend the early hours of morning figuring out how to organize the demonstrators. By 11 am the demonstrators assemble yet again. Now, entire Regiments arrive, but they are no longer at the front of the demonstrations: the workers have taken the lead by sheer mass of numbers. Even in factories where Mensheviks and SRs hold influence, four out of five workers join the demonstrations. The nation witnesses a massive General Strike. Lenin speaks to the demonstrators, encouraging their slogan of All power to the Soviets! Over 500,000 people attend the demonstrations in Petrograd. The first of the soldiers from the front arrive ready to support the Provisional Government, and frightened that a revolution is imminent, are ordered to launch ambushes against the masses. 400 people are killed and wounded. The Mensheviks, hands covered in blood, eventually “convince” the demonstrators to go home. Chaos ensues and approx. 400 people get injured. Bolshevik leaders get arrested. To keep the Bolsheviks in their place, the Provisional Government spreads the rumor that Lenin is a German spy. This little nasty had worked like a charm against the Czarina and should do the trick now. Lenin goes underground in Finland. He’ll be back October 20 (October 7 old style.)

July 18, 1917 (July 5, 1917 old style)
At 6am, the Government begins the offensive. The offices and printing machinery of Pravda are destroyed. Workers distributing the paper are murdered in the streets. Ironically, the last documents to come from the press are the continued Bolshevik position of stopping the demonstration. Government agents then ransack the Kshesinskaya Palace, headquarters of the Bolshevik Central Committee and Petrograd Committee. Union and Soviet workers are arrested in mass from factories and meeting halls in retaliation for their leadership of the demonstrations. Wide-scale fear and intimidation grips the city as the police presence intensifies to an almost martial law status; the mere mention of Lenin or the Bolsheviks is cause for arrest.

July 19, 1917 (July 6, 1917 old style)
Around 120 Kronstadt sailors refuse to give in, and retreat to the Peter and Paul fortress. Red Guards (a militia of regular factory workers) accompany the sailors, following their pledge to protect them. The Government forces setup a barricade and begin a seige. Stalin mediates and reaches an agreement with both sides: the Kronstadters will disarm, in return for getting free passage back to Kronstadt. The General Strike comes to an end, and workers return to their jobs, fearful of arrest. The Government induced terror becomes near hysteria, and countless numbers are arrested as spies. All troops called in from the front arrive in Petrograd, in a massive show of force.

July 20, 1917 (July 7, 1917 old style)
Prince Georgy Yevgenyevich Lvov resigns as prime minister and minister of the interior of the Provisional Government. He had held this post since March 15, 1917. Kerensky becomes the new prime minister. He will keep this office until November 7, 1917 (October 25 old style.) The Provisional Government orders the arrest of Lenin, claiming he is a German spy, and that the Bolsheviks incited the uprising. The Provisional Government further orders the disbandment of the Petrograd garrison.

July 21, 1917 (July 8, 1917 old style)
The Provisional Government attempts to improve public relations, and announces that it will hold elections to the Constituent Assembly on September 17, work on legislation for the 8 hour day, create better labor safety, and carry out land reform. None of these promises would be kept.

July 24, 1917 (July 11, 1917 old style)
Lenin goes into hiding.

July 25, 1917 (July 12, 1917 old style)
The Provisional Government re-introduces the death penalty in the army. The Provisional Government re-introduces a law allowing drumhead trials at the front (summary executions for retreating, etc). Furthermore, all radical political ideals are censored, and many newspapers are shut down. On the 19th, Lenin responds that a worker’s government will “close down the bourgeoisie’s newspapers”.

August 1, 1917 (July 18, 1917 old style)
Kerensky, as head of the Provisional Government, makes Kornilov commander in chief.

August 7, 1917 (July 24, 1917 old style)
The Second Coalition Government is formed; Kerensky appoints himself President. The Mensheviks, Cadets, and SRs join the government.

August 9 – August 16, 1917 (July 26 – August 3, 1917 old style)
Sixth Congress of the Bolsheviks occurs, representing 240,000 party members. Since Lenin is in hiding, Stalin delivers the report on the work of the Central Committee. The Congress resolves that a peaceful revolution has become impossible. Further, the Party decides on the principle of democratic centralism.

August, 1917
Since March, 568 enterprises, laying off more than 104,000 workers, have closed down. Prices on average have risen by 248% compared to 1913 prices, though urban centers are hit the hardest; in Moscow prices inflated by 836%. Meanwhile, real wages fell by 57.4% since 1913. Bread rations are severe; in Moscow the ration allows 2 pounds of bread per person, for an entire week. In this month, there are 440 cases where peasants and soldiers seize the land of big estate holders. The Provisional Government can barely keep up with the amount of work required to suppress the countless uprisings.

Do-Re-Mi

I’m working on a one-person play about Karl Marx. It will be a mix of monologue, rap, and old worker’s songs (we need to keep that old stuff alive!)

I’m changing the words of some of the songs so as to make them relevant either to today’s scene, or to the life and ideas of Karl Marx. Here’s one of them, borrowing heavily from Woody Guthrie’s Do Re Mi (I like John Mellencamp’s version from the tribute album “A Vision Shared.”)

 

Now if you want to get some pay, you’ve got to work the livelong day,

Do what the boss man tells you to and never have your say.

Cuz he owns the whole damn load, all the land and all the roads,

All the judges and the cops and politicians, by the way,

See, he’s got more money than you even know,

And it gives him all the power over how things go, so

If you ain’t got the do re mi, folks, you ain’t got the do re mi,

Why, you never stand a chance against the bosses

As long as they have it all under lock and key.

This whole world could be a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or to see;

But believe it or not, you won’t find it so hot

If you ain’t got the do re mi.

If you ain’t got the do re mi, folks, you ain’t got the do re mi,

Why, you never stand a chance against the bosses

Without having proletarian unity.

This whole world could be a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or to see;

Yeah your little ass is grass without the whole damn working class

Takin’ over the do re mi.

Russian Revolution: May 30–June 23, 1917

May 30, 1917 (May 17, 1917 old style)
The Kronstadt Soviet declares itself the sole governing power of Kronstadt.

June 12-16, 1917 (May 30 – June 3, 1917 old style)
The First Conference of Petrograd Factory Committees takes place and supports Bolshevik policies. There will be four more conferences prior to the Bolshevik revolution. See the next one on August 20 – 25, 1917 (August 7 – 12, 1917 old style)

June 13, 1917 (May 31, 1917 old style)
Minister of War Guchkov, a member of the Cadet party, resigns after street demonstrations against him. Kerensky replaces him.

June 16 – July 7, 1917 (June 3 – 24, 1917 old style)
The First All-Russian Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets begins in Petrograd. The Socialist Revolutionaries have the majority, the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks the minority. The Congress almost unanimously agrees to end World War I, though only through tremendous consternation agrees to support the Provisional Government, despite Bolshevik protests. Tensions flare between the parties, with the Mensheviks insisting that the Bolsheviks must be disarmed, despite not having weapons, which would in practice mean disarming the Soldiers’ Soviets. The Bolsheviks insist that all power must go to the Soviets.

June 18, 1917 (June 5, 1917 old style)
The Parliament in Finland (a territory of Russia) declare Finland a sovereign state, except on questions of foreign policy and war. The Provisional Government sends troops to crush the Parliament, which soon wavers, and votes in favor of their own dissolution.

June 23, 1917 (June 10, 1917 old style)
the Central Rada (formed in Kiev on March 17) proclaim the independence of the Ukraine. The ongoing Congress of Soviets unanimously supports this declaration of independence. The demonstration the Bolsheviks planned to hold against the Government is banned. The Mensheviks then go factory to factory, telling workers not to stage a demonstration, who in turn berate the Mensheviks. The Mensheviks see a massive conspiracy — “The masses are thick with Bolsheviks” — and secretly ask the Cossacks to help them crush the Bolsheviks, to which the Cossack ataman replies: “We, Cossacks, will never go against the Soviet.” Whole regiments accept the ban on the demonstration solely on the basis of Bolshevik acceptance, whose party policy wholly accepts any and all decisions of the Soviet.

Russian Revolution: May 7-May 23, 1917

May 7 – 12, 1917 (April 24 – 29, old style)
Seventh All-Russian Conference of the Bolshevik party. Lenin’s April Theses are officially the party’s program. The new slogan is All Power to the Soviets.

May 14, 1917 (May 1, Old Style)
The Petrograd Soviet votes in favor of forming a new, Coalition Government, despite Bolshevik condemnation and in contradiction to the March 1 decision of the Soviet. Weeks earlier, Lenin warned about the dangers of this new Dual Power. Miliukov’s resignation comes on the following day.

May 15, 1917 (May 2, 1917 old style)
Pavel N. Milyukov resigns as foreign minister.

May 17, 1917 (May 4, 1917 old style)
Leon Trotsky arrives from America.

May 18, 1917 (May 5, 1917 old style)
The Second Provisional Government, also called First Coalition Government, is formed. The seats are occupied as follows

Lvov – President and Minister of the Interior
Kerensky – Minister of War and Navy (Socialist Revolutionist)
Chernov – Minister of Agriculture (Socialist Revolutionist)
Pereverzev – Minister of Justice
Tereshehenko – Minister of Foreign Affairs
Shingarev – Minister of Finance
Nekrasov – Minister of Communications
Konovalov – Minister of Commerce
Peshekhonov – Minister of Supplies
Manuilov – Minister of Education
Skobelev – Minister of Labor (Menshevik)
Tsereteli – Minister of Posts and Telegraph (Menshevik)

The First Coalition Government will end on July 15, 1917.

May 23, 1917 (May 10 Old Style)
The Soviet of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies resolves that only discharged and wounded soldiers can perform as militiamen. Lenin explains his critique.

Russian Revolution: May 1-4, 1917

May 1, 1917 (April 18, old style)
Massive May Day celebrations occur in Russia. Foreign Minister Pavel N. Milyukov (also spelled Miliukov) sends a declaration to the Allies regarding the Russian Government’s war aims. The government’s position is that of being ready to quit the war without any ambitions regarding territorial annexations. However, knowing that the French and the British wouldn’t be happy with that position, Milyukov attaches a note of his own. Milyukov elaborates that Russia is still willing to “continue the war until complete victory” and that Russia is very much interested in expanding her territory.This note is leaked to the press and will cause the Provisional Government’s first crisis. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Miliukov secretly promises the Allies that Russia will continue the war until complete victory and the annexation of new territory is achieved. Miliukov’s secret note prompts armed demonstrations of furious soldiers in the streets for two days. The Bolsheviks resolve that the resignation of Miliukov is not enough; a new Soviet government must be formed, and give party members new instructions.

May 3 – 4, 1917 (April 20 – 21, old style)
The April Days, also called the April Crisis. Mass demonstrations in Petrograd and Moscow against Pavel N. Milyukov’s declaration of war aims.

Individual Rights or Solidarity Rights?

I suppose it goes back to the Enlightenment. The scientific revolution triggered the end of the Middle Ages. Instead of being told what to think, people started to think for themselves. And learn. The old doctrines of church and state began to be replaced by empirical investigation and the rise of reason. Not just in the physical sciences, but also in philosophy, culture — and politics.

The Enlightenment had a huge impact on how people thought about their relationship to government and each other. The revolutions in the US and France were major outcomes of these changes.

One of the things that changed was the concept of what Jefferson called “inalienable rights.” A right is something you’re born with. We all have it. It’s not given or even guaranteed by the government, although it can be taken away by someone stronger than you.

Americans have been raised on the recitation of these rights. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” “Freedom of religion, of assembly, of petition.” “Freedom from unlawful search and seizure.” And so forth.

These freedoms, coming as they did on the heels of millennia of authoritarian government (tribal rulers, kings, princes, emperors, popes and caliphs, etc.), were truly revolutionary in their impact. As the power of the hereditary aristocracy gave way to the power of business tycoons, some of whom like Andrew Carnegie rose from very humble beginnings to the very peaks of success, and as the divine right of kings gave way to the Declaration of the Rights of Man (sic), at last it was possible for individuals to make their own decisions, based not on who their parents were, but on what they could learn, make, think and do.

It was truly liberating. It was an entirely necessary development to create the kind of material wealth that so many of us enjoy today. By “so many of us,” I don’t just mean the 1%. People in the working class in all advanced industrial nations enjoy a standard of living that a king in a dark, dank castle could not have dreamed of. (Except, of course, when it comes to the power to rule.)

Many still consider these rights, these individual rights, to be the height and summation of all that humans can aspire to. Liberty forever! (Equality and fraternity, not so much.)

I’m not writing this to discount the importance of these rights. They are still of the utmost importance to our lives, and will remain so indefinitely. But that is not the end of the story of the development of the concept of rights. There is something else happening. The idea of rights is still expanding. Here’s where I think it is leading.

As important as these individual rights are, they leave large gaps in our ability to provide all people with security, good health, shelter, good nutrition, good education, etc. All of those things remain commodities to be bought and sold on the market. Take health care: you pay for it like you pay to go to a movie or for a Louis Vuitton handbag. But health care is not a luxury, it is something that everyone needs.

Under our concept of individual rights, healthcare will always be a commodity to be bought and sold. Why? Because under individual rights, one person has the right to ask for as much money as the market will bear, and to keep all of it for him or herself, regardless of how that affects anyone else.

Let me repeat that: regardless of how that affects anyone else.

That’s how pollution gets poured into our streams and air. That’s how poor people are evicted from their homes so that some developer can make even more money on the property.

We need another kind of rights, in addition to the individual rights that have done so much for us. We need solidarity rights. These are rights that we hold in common, not ones that each of us has separately. The right to decent shelter, clothing, food or health care is not a personal right. You can’t take these things away from someone else, under our current system, because they own and control them.

Within solidarity rights, things change. The individual doesn’t own something like health care. They can’t use it to extort money out of other people. Same with housing, food, or education. These are rights we have, not rights that have. In sharing good food, for instance, we’re not taking something away from someone else, because it never belonged to them in the first place. They still have a right to be compensated for their labor in producing it, they just don’t get to set the highest rate they can and pocket the profit that they exploited from people who need good food.

When Bernie talks about doing away with college tuition, he’s not talking about “free tuition” as his critics say. He is talking about how we all own education, in common with each other. We’re not trying to take something away from anyone else. That something was taken away from us, when it was made a commodity that someone else could get rich from. Rich off of your back. Rich off of the work you do to provide for yourself and your family. Rich off the choices you have to make, whether to have the good insurance or the car that doesn’t break down.

This idea of solidarity rights will continue to evolve. 50 or 100 years from now, we may realize that there are other solidarity rights that at this time we would not be able to recognize, because in the grand scheme of things, we are still barely out of medieval times and we don’t have the perspective yet.

The expansion of solidarity rights will go hand in hand with the expansion of socialism in our economic and political lives. Without greater economic justice, there will be no development of solidarity rights, and without solidarity rights, economic justice will not last.

Workers of the world, you have your chains to lose and a world to gain — for each other!

Russian Revolution: April 9, April 13, April 16, April 17 1917

(Catching up after vacation.)

April 9, 1917 (March 27 old style)

Trotsky leaves exile in New York to return to Russia. Meanwhile, the Provisional Government declares that its purpose in continuing the war is solely for the defense of Russia. This serves as a compromise position with the Petrograd Soviet, which accepts this new formulation.

April 13, 1917 (March 31 old style)

Plekhanov arrives in Petrograd, after nearly 40 years in exile. Plekhanov is a different man from when he left, now supporting the War for territory, and the advance of capitalism in Russia.

April 16, 1917 (April 3,1917 old style)
Lenin, Zinoviev and other Bolsheviks arrives in Petrograd coming from Switzerland. They are met at the train station by a large contingent of jubilant workers, soldiers, and party members.

April 17, 1917 (April 4,1917 old style)
Lenin presents his April Theses, his agenda for the continuation of the Revolution. He argues that the ruling Provisional Government is unacceptable because the workers, and the workers alone, should be the ones in power. The Bolsheviks soon produce an educational pamphlet for workers on Political Parties in Russia and the Tasks of the Proletariat. Meanwhile, the steamer Trotsky is traveling on is stopped for inspection by the British Navy in Canada, and despite the General Amnesty and having his visa in order, he is thrown into a British prison, along with several other Socialists for their opposition to the War.

Russian Revolution: April 3, 1917

April 3, 1917 (March 21 Old Style)

Lenin’s Letters from Afar, are published, though highly abridged.

Transition to Socialism: Peaceful if Possible, Says Engels

I’ve been posting historical information from the Russian Revolution. At times, the revolution was violent. In nearly every case, this was provoked by the reactionary forces, either of those who were loyal to the Tsar and the old order, or other countries such as Germany, England, and the United States.

The question comes up, must a socialist revolution be violent?

It’s important to remember that the Russian Revolution happened in a particular place, at a particular time, under particular conditions. Those conditions never existed before and never will again. It is not a model for how a revolution has to happen. There are lessons to be learned, for sure, from the failures, from the successes, from the excesses.

Let’s not forget this: while much of the world speaks out in condemnation when the left commits a violent act, or even talks about it (such as the opposition to the appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos, or the Black Panther Party in the 60s and 70s), the ruling class uses violence against the 99% all the time. Every time they kill a black person on the street, every time they shoot an innocent person on a no-knock warrant, every time they fire someone without cause, every time they use dogs or fire hoses on peaceful protesters such as at the Standing Rock encampment, every time they dump toxic waste in a community, every time they use fake emissions testing, every time they arrest and deport a hard-working immigrant, they assert the ability and will to use violence against us. And every time they do, the rest of us know that we could be next, and that innocence is no shield. So this whole topic is rife with hypocrisy and double standards.

Remember this?

Elian Gonzalex

Deadly enemy of the state right there, requiring the deployment of (I kid you not) over 100 federal agents to bring him down.

Just keep that in mind.

Here’s what Friedrich Engels had to say on the topic, from “The Principles of Communism”, published in 1847, the year before he and Karl Marx wrote “The Communist Manifesto.” I believe that they are as valuable now as they were then:

“Will the peaceful abolition of private property be possible?

“It would be desirable if this could happen, and the communists would certainly be the last to oppose it. Communists know only too well that all conspiracies are not only useless, but even harmful. They know all too well that revolutions are not made intentionally and arbitrarily, but that, everywhere and always, they have been the necessary consequence of conditions which were wholly independent of the will and direction of individual parties and entire classes.

“But they also see that the development of the proletariat in nearly all civilized countries has been violently suppressed, and that in this way the opponents of communism have been working [against] a revolution with all their strength. If the oppressed proletariat is finally driven to revolution, then we communists will defend the interests of the proletarians with deeds as we now defend them with words.”

As a lifelong pacifist, I struggle with this issue as much as anyone. There is so much that can be done with nonviolent direct action, as proved by Gandhi, King, and many others. And yet, in the face of extreme injustice, my own moral purity is not what’s at stake.

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