12 Sep 2009

Revolution Regained. §§1-5, Perlman, Manual for Revolutionary Leaders



by Corry Shores
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[The following is summary and commentary. Paragraph subheadings (“§”) are my own. Original text reproduced below.]


Michael Velli (Fredy Perlman)


Manual for Revolutionary Leaders


I. Generation of Revolutionaries



§1 We are Pirated


History is a chronicle of warfare and plunder, fueled by capitalist greed.

The greater the material product of society the greater the plunder; the larger the stock of productive forces the more extensive the destruction.



§2 Revolution and Resistance


There are ways to resist this plunder and destruction. Perlman will examine two of them:

1) modern revolution

2) continually-modifying resistance (“resistance which takes the form of a continually changing response to continually developing productive forces”).



§3 Paradise Disdained


Perlman’s text will adapt 20th century style revolution to the new conditions that productive forces have created. This familiar form of revolution has worked in areas with low levels of productive development. However, matters are different in more productively developed regions. Here individuals realize their own powers. They cease desiring a paradise of production. Instead, they want to overcome their repressive system.



§4 Why Rise-Up without an Up-Rise?


So individuals are realizing their “self-powers.” This threatens the dominant social order. In response, it tries to eradicate these “rebellious elements.”

However, such rising individuals do not usually organize a revolution.



§5 Cradle of Revolt


Perlman will explain how modern revolution can be conducted in areas with “highly developed productive forces.” But revolution requires leaders. And they emerge from a revolutionary milieu that lies outside the modern model of revolution. As well, they shape and transform this milieu as a raw material. Hence Perlman first will outline revolutionary responses that do not fall under the modern model.



Original text from marxist.org:


Manual for Revolutionary Leaders


I. Generation of Revolutionaries


Plunder and war continue to spread across the world. They are stuff of past and present history. The greater the material product of society the greater the plunder; the larger the stock of productive forces the more extensive the destruction.

It is not the task of this manual to examine the plunder or the destruction, but to treat contemporary forms of resisting them. Among forms of resistance only two will be examined: a form which has become established as the modern model of revolution, and resistance which takes the form of a continually changing response to continually developing productive forces.

It is the task of the manual to apply the twentieth century model of revolution to the conditions created by the development of productive forces. By its successes this model has proved itself the quintessence of revolutionary political activity in modern times. Its processes have so far been limited to conditions characterized by a low level of development of productive forces. At a high level of development of productive forces, responses to the dominant social order take the form of attempts of individuals to realize their self-powers, their capacities, to the level made possible by social development. Social relations that have played out their historical role come into conflict with the possibilities opened up by the productive forces. Suddenly people who have come on the scene, who have become disenchanted with the entire system, who have become disillusioned over the system and who are ready now and willing to do something about it. The possibilities of the productive forces cease to be the subject of prayer, the promised land to which a savior will someday lead mankind.

The attempt of individuals to realize their self-powers to the level made possible by contemporary productive forces is a threat to the stability of the dominant social order, which tries to purge itself of rebellious elements. However, in spite of the repressive character of the social context in which they appear, at a high level of development productive forces, rebellious responses to the social order do not avail themselves of the modern model of revolution. The attempt of individuals to live at the contemporary level of development of the productive forces does not give rise to activities consistent with the quintessence of revolutionary political practice, namely to revolutionary organizational ideology, leadership and the struggle for State power. On the contrary, distinct moves in the opposite direction can be observed.

Although the aim of the manual is to apply the modern model revolution to conditions of highly developed productive forces, a brief overview of responses which move outside the boundaries of this model will be given because these responses are themselves the field out of which leaders emerge, and because the field itself becomes a raw material which leaders attempt to shape and transform.



Perlman, Fredy. Manual for Revolutionary Leaders. Available online at: http://www.marxistsfr.org/reference/archive/perlman-fredy/1977/revolutionary-leaders/index.htm



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