Reform v. Revolution

5 Apr

Okay, I think we all realize that revolution whoops reform’s ass. However, this is definitely an issue that comes up all the time in stuff I read and think about. What sorts of actions are effective, which are reformist, when does making things better in the here and now make things worse for the ‘movement’ or what have you.

Some things I do know- voting is not effective or empowering. “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” ~Emma Goldman. I definitely agree with this statement. I would have to draw a line that working to improve the here and now through politics, as in legislative measures etc. is really ineffective and silly etc. But then again sometimes it is nice when people are able to prevent a super-fascist law from being passed, or are able to get more budget for good causes.

Another thing I know is that even if reformist measure are whack, stopping people from helping others is more whack. I have been reading about the Shining Path in Peru- a bunch of Maoists who spent a lot of time killing community leaders, women like Maria Elena Moyano, who organized soup kitchens and other programs to prevent the poor in shantytowns like Villa El Salvador from starving and dying of disease.  They assassinated hundreds of priests, community leaders, etc. because they thought that anything that made the lives of the poor better prevented the poor from wanting to join their Maoist revolution. They wanted to exacerbate the problems, exacerbate the death, hunger, and disease in order to gain numbers for their movement. I want revolution, but that is definitely not the way to go about it. Not to mention that it didn’t work. You can not win the people to your side by killing them.

I just think I would not put too much energy into legislative sorts of reforms. Personally I don’t really have the stomach for that kind of work. I could write and sign petitions, I could definitely debate, but I think direct action is the place for me. I’d rather be cooking and gardening and fixing bikes than lobbying.

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One Response to “Reform v. Revolution”

  1. Fweeb April 6, 2007 at 8:10 pm #

    Maybe I’m just a cynical nihilist that’s playing semantics, but it’s ALL reform. One just happens on a larger scale and provides more visible short-term rewards. In the long run, it all ultimately boils down to the same thing because people are fundamentally people… they are the medium. And the medium is the message. It doesn’t matter what people are disagreeing on or what solutions they feel are best. Some else has an equally valid, equally disagreeable argument and solution and the means by which those disagreements are resolved don’t change, regardless of what it’s about (be it politics, religion, research, or their favorite color).

    Without fundamentally changing the medium of the problem – that is, changing people into something other than people – the same cycle and spiral is un-ending. The radius of the arc is the only thing that changes.

    $0.02

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