A Violent Communist Revolution?
I was sent a good article (by Dr Stephen Hicks, see below) going into why, perhaps, violence is very likely to be part of a communist revolution, noting:
"In final consequence, it follows that when differently-conditioned individuals meet, the conflict can be resolved only by force. Socialists cannot argue capitalists into socialism. They cannot objectively present reasons or appeal to reason. They can only take over by violence and remove their social enemies."
Here is my reaction, folks...
If this analysis is accurate then it means Marx saw fundamental aspects in social and economic situations as leading to violent conflict. It does not mean he WANTS violence or that he recommends it, thinks its preferable. He thinks its highly likely or even inevitable because of the situation and the inherent conflict between two groups. Thats already an important distinction, of the type that would be considered in a court of law.
Second point, the other thing is that he (and various other socialists then and now) may actually prefer the revolution to be non-violent, perhaps. But the chances are low because its the ruling elite who start the violence, in responding against pressure from below. That is understandable, given that they dont wish their power to be taken away. And given that persuasion and reason have already failed, or did not have much chance in the first place IF the ‘economic mental conditioning’ aspect is correct.
But, still, it means that the key cause of the violence is the elite choosing it as a form of defense of their power, rather than the working class wishing things to turn violent. A key element to be added to that is to then ask “ok, so then why did Stalin and Mao continue to use violence years after the elite were defeated there?” That’s a problem, indeed. But it is not necessarily a criticism of socialism/communism at root. Because it is very dubious to say that Stalin and Maos era was genuinely communist or that they used violence as a result of applying communist principles. It's far more reasonable to say that there violent actions were in direct contradiction to communist principles (specifically the ‘free development of all’).
Third point is that IF this analysis is correct then it means that almost all such system changes will involve violence. Including how capitalism was established. So what is the point of pro capitalists criticizing socialism here? If socialism is established via the same route of violent conflict as capitalism was then there is no superior moral position for capitalism here.
Fourth point is that the inevitability of some violence, if this is all correct, does not mean the system that develops out of it will work badly. To take an example from the right - defenders of, say, the British Empire in India will admit that it started in violence, but then point out the British laid train lines and telegraph lines and built schools and government buildings etc. Its also possible that a communist system, which comes out of a period of violence conflict, ends up organising things quite well. So, once again, what is the point of supporters of capitalism using this as some criticism of communism if they admit, in other cases, a good system CAN come out of conflict?
Oh, good old left wing reasoned thinking wins again!
The article mentioned above:
And good left wing cartoons here at The Nib: