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... is not functional, and that confuses issues when some people start talking as if there were mechanical cause and effect relationships ... or even worse, as if all cause and effect relationships are mechanical.

The economic profession is rife with this sort of confusion, which causes a tremendous amount of "well, the real problem is too hard so lets all pretend its this easier problem" kind of work in economic history done within the traditional marginalist school.

The cause and effect relationship here is viability. A Political Revolution is a very uncommon thing, and far more uncommon than the periods where there are some groups of people somewhere in society trying to provoke one.

Therefore, the search for common factors to the Political Revolutions that have occurred in the international Atlantic political economy (which has from its inception expanded to include most nations in the world).

The basic causal argument is that there are factors that increase the viability of Political Revolution. However, conditions that make a Political Revolution viable are certainly no guarantee that it will occur, because these are people we are talking about, rather than charged iron filings.

Indeed, it seems that one thing that makes Political Revolution inviable can be the presence of enough people in the society who have lived through one. As far as I understand it ... which is likely to be vaguely ... the Pan-European Revolutions of 1848 were essentially stillborn as those who the French Revolutionaries counted on as allies within the French body politic recoiled from the prospect.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Feb 24th, 2008 at 02:17:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The basic causal argument is that there are factors that increase the viability of Political Revolution. However, conditions that make a Political Revolution viable are certainly no guarantee that it will occur, because these are people we are talking about, rather than charged iron filings.

OK, --I quote this mostly because I liked it--

Nicely put.
There is a tendency in the technological world to treat human events in a mechanistic way, which is comforting to gearheads like I used to be, but works badly. The Neocon cartoon reality is a good example.

I think I would put it a bit differently, and this applies to your comments to follow.
There are two fields here- likelihood and viability.

Likelihood---will it happen? and

Viability--- can it live?

The piece is not about viability, but about likelihood. The author does not really address the question of whether what follows will be an improvement over what is discarded.

ATinNM, however, nails it- without a fundamental paradigm shift, it will fail. It will be nonviable. Unfortunately, all those nice CO-words, like cooperation, collective bargaining, community, have been tarred and feathered pretty well. So the revolution might still happen, though, and hence all those very real fears about brutal fascism.

Helen also has her finger on the pulse of it--what currently exists is a fundamentally barbaric transnational corporate oligopoly, whose participants (including Sarko's handlers) have the emotional tone of cockroaches--but who have mastered the "bread and circus" thing pretty well (Thanks, Mig). As long as the toys last, there will be no revolution. But the toys are about to run out.

My view?
Without a miracle, Obama will crash and burn. FDR faced significant challenges-- but they were minor compared to those Barak will face. He's likeable. I pity him.

I think the 0.1% still have a few tricks up their sleeve. Consider a post-2012, post-Obama world, with a second failed, Democratic presidency, and a lot of lost hope. I think at that point they need a new enemy- O.B. Laden is wearing thin even today, as public enemy no.1 and they will likely find one- to  justify another round of violent predation, with universal conscription and national bankruptcy. Which will then REALLY stir the pot.
If I were a member of the Repub. Pioneers club, I'd do my best to sabotage Obama and then pick up the pieces.
Essentially what they tried to do to Clinton.
If I were the opposite number in Europe and/or China, I'd decouple and rearm. Fast.
Bad vibes here.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 11:27:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Likelihood---will it happen? and

Viability--- can it live?

The piece is not about viability, but about likelihood. The author does not really address the question of whether what follows will be an improvement over what is discarded.

Likelihood---will it happen? and

Viability--- can it happen?

A Political Revolution is a dynamic self-reproducing process. That's one substantial difference between a Political Revolution and a golpe de estado (or what the Frances would call a coup d'etat). A golpe de estado is an event ... a group of people taking power, after which they try to govern.

Or to use an analogy, a golpe de estado is like an ax striking a tree. A Political Revolution is like a Forest Fire.

And like a Forest Fire, a Political Revolution is very hard, and often in any practical sense impossible, to get started, and once started very hard to stop.

The viability refers to that initial condition ... can a Political Revolution get launched and continue long enough to start to catch fire?

I am not referring to the "viability" of declared aims of Revolutionaries that emerge from the process ... precisely because a Revolution is such a rare state of affairs for a polity, many declared aims are going to fall by the wayside as a post-Revolutionary status quo emerges.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 01:48:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You two have exactly opposite assignments of meaning to "viability" and "likelihood". Which is amusing but not really a problem.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 04:33:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... different readings of viability. "Can it survive long enough to catch on", in my reading ... so viability is a categorical version of likelihood, likelihood effectively zero, the normal case, likelihood not effectively zero, where talking about how likely it is become relevant.

Sure, its possible to think about its long term viability, but violent, that is political, Revolution is not a long-term sustainable process, so the answer to that is, "its not", so I'm not worried about distinguishing between its viability at genesis and its viability long term.

If there is a New American Revolution, then when it burns itself out, that will again answer the long term viability question in the negative.

Green Star, In Morning
Soldier, take warning
That Green Star at Night
Will Guide True Love's Fight

Beyond Freedom and Despair
I can see a land so fair
If we move, we move far
Guiding only by our single Star

Green Star ...


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:37:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of what we talk about here on ET relates to the idea of viable (in the usual sense) new political and economic structures, in a post- neoliberal world.

This thread, and the article that is it's base, discusses the likelihood of popular dissension in the U.S. rising to the level of revolt.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 05:44:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "long-term viability" question seems to me a red herring which tends to be used as an argument against "alternative" social/political arrangements. No political system lasts forever. Was the Puritan revolution inviable because after Cromwell died the Monarchy was restored? Was the American revolution inviable because of the the Civil War? French revolution inviable because of the Terror, the Directory, the Empire or the subsequent restoration of the Monarchy? Was the Russian revolution inviable because of Stalin, or because of Gorbachev?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 08:00:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If I were a member of the Repub. Pioneers club, I'd do my best to sabotage Obama and then pick up the pieces.

They will. And if I were Obama, I would shoot first. I don't think he will even think about buying a gun. Sigh.

It's too bad. Given the record of the Bush administration and of pretty much every big-shot decision-makers (Wall Street, the Media(TM), etc.) for the past 7 years, there's an embarrassment of riches to pick from and prosecute the Republican Party and US conservatives out of existence. But it would have to be swift and particularly ruthless. Not gonna happen.

by Francois in Paris on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 09:28:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.
In fact, he would have to be preparing now, and there is no evidence that that is even being considered.
One of the many conspicuous absences from the political dialog is the value of rule of law. That issue would be the foundation of prosecutions, and it's just absent.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 05:35:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When a system has gone bad, mass prosecution of individuals is, for many reasons, a poor remedy.

A truth and reconciliation commission would be more appropriate:

A truth commission or truth and reconciliation commission is a commission tasked with discovering and revealing past wrongdoing by a government, in the hope of resolving conflict left over from the past. They are, under various names, occasionally set up by states emerging from periods of internal unrest, civil war, or dictatorship.


Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.
by technopolitical on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 01:22:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd be happy if Obama simply spent his first few months in office undoing the Unitary Executive. Lots os signing statements and executive orders to unwind.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 03:27:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BruceMcF:
As far as I understand it ... which is likely to be vaguely ... the Pan-European Revolutions of 1848 were essentially stillborn as those who the French Revolutionaries counted on as allies within the French body politic recoiled from the prospect.
Europe saw revolutions in 1830 as well. I think since the American and French Revolutions the West has had a revolutionary outbreak every generation or two until WWII. The achievement of over 60 years of peace and stability is quite remarkable.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 04:31:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
errr, 1968 ? Even though it didn't have that many effects, it was still eventful and, at least in France, economically quite important.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 05:56:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As fond as we are of May'68, I don't think it compares to the American and French Revolutions, the Napoleonic Wars, the 1830 revolutions, the 1848 revolutions, the wars and revolutions around 1870 and the unification of Germany and Italy, the Anarchist unrest in the first 20 years of the 20th century, WWI, the rise of Fascism or WWII.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:01:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1968 isn't only May, but also Prague spring, Tet offensive and My Lai, the Chicago DNC, protests before the Olympic games in Mexico... Kick started the '70's.

1830 was what, a failed revolution in France (The Orleanist king replacing the Legitimist one...), Belgium independence, and Greek independence ? Not that much more major.

As geezer pointed out, "they" have been getting better at shutting down revolutions.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:20:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
linca:
As geezer pointed out, "they" have been getting better at shutting down revolutions.

but as someone in '68 (if I remember right) pointed out "they" have to succeed every time whereas the revolutionaries only have to succeed once.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:42:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"They" are certainly being successful in making the idea of revolution seem absurd.

Paris students now cheer for the cops, and when they demonstrate, it is to get jobs and money.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:45:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How--- American.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 06:18:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The most remarkable things about the decades from 1960-1980, seen from today, are the cartoonish revisionism of the aims and ideas of the times, and the fraudulent "history" that has replaced what really happened.
In terms of ideas, the times were fertile and creative, and changed the world--the world outside the beltway and the boardroom--in a big way.
That defines "important" to me. 1968 was hugely important- and reactive.
However, the winners got to do the editing, and "stuff" won.

Anyone here ever read the port huron statement?

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 06:16:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a lot of debating going on this year on the subject in the French press. Painting May '68 as a student revolt which was mainly individualist and anticonformist, paving the way to our neo-liberal world.

Conveniently forgotten are the general strike, the huge salary raises, the PC attempting to stop the strikes, the real political thoughts that were produced and then conveniently forgotten, the very durable changes in the wage hierarchy and the labour-capital divide of the GNP....


Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 08:36:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Buncha arrogant individualist students having a tantrum.
Same toxic waste that has been so successfully sold in the US.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:33:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Yes.  And I sat behind literature tables trying to get other people to read it too.

Gawd it's been .... 40 years (!?!)

eek

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 11:48:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... it means Political Revolution as in the Puritan, American, French, Russian Revolutions.

Hmmm, 60 years of peace ... Fordism has much to answer for, shame its so hard to track it down nowadays to make it give an accounting.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:40:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Revolutionary outbreaks do not necessarily transfer into successful revolutions... I was arguing about the outbreak part. Prague and May were definitely revolutionary...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Feb 28th, 2008 at 06:43:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the work she is referring to is not about conditions are conducive to a revolutionary outbreak, but what conditions permit a revolution to take off ... since the majority of revolutionary outbreaks sputter out.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Feb 29th, 2008 at 11:53:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Both Prague and Hungary were crushed from the outside, not unlike, say, the Paris Commune.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 03:30:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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