Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Revolution number 19

Socialists stand for a social revolution - that is a fundamental change in the way our society operates - where a tiny minority own the means of production and the rest of us slave upon them. There was a time when, if you mentioned revolution, people immediately thought of guillotines from the French revolution, or firing squads and gullags from the Russian.

The modern world though, is changing that. Year on year we are being treated to popular uprisings and mass movements bringing down unpopular regimes. The former Portugal, Poland, Romania, East Germany, Serbia, Albania, Bolivia, Indonesia, Ukraine and now Lebanon. General strikes and streets full of demonstrators have been able to topple the mighty and powerful.

Of course, socialists are far from satisfied with these revolts - often instigated by splits within the ruling elite, or for nationalist causes - we want more. They are often hijacked by the professional politicians who take control and return to almost business as usual after the fireworks have died away. So long as they leave the fundamental aspect of ownership of the productive wealth in a tiny minority's hands, so the effects of these revolts will be a new elite.

But we take heart that they show that it can be done, that peaceful radical changes could be made. They are a part of the learning curve for all humankind, and we can look to the day when we take to the streets to secure democratic control over the means of production, to back up our democratic organisation, and we can do without elites entirely.

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