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Monday, December 9, 2013

A Primer for Revolutionaries


Nicolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince five hundred years ago. It is still relevant. Consistent with human nature, it is a valuable manual for those who would be princes. But those of us, who, like Machiavelli, recognize our political nature but see greater possibilities for humanity, need a different sort of handbook.

What I present here is for those who would oppose princes and their principalities in order to build republics. There are many politicians who say they are republicans, but in fact they take the patronage and do the bidding of princes who provide the resources for their elections and the directions for their policies. They adopt the princes’ perspectives, their explanations, and the courses of action they propose.

Let me acknowledge that I too am biased and my bias affects the way I observe what is occurring, the analysis of problems that I present, and the remedies that I recommend. My heart is not with the princes who take advantage of the present situation to enrich themselves. Because I identify with those who are poor, those who are culturally despised, and those who have been effectively excluded from power, I describe myself as culturally libertarian, economically social democratic (or socialist if you will), and politically conservative republican.  But this is not a fixed ideology. I know that there are limitations and ambiguities in each of these positions and between them.

By "conservative republican" I mean I am committed to conserve families, neighborhoods, religion, ethnic diversity, history, and the earth. And I hold that political power belongs to publics--not to the church, not to the state, not to the elite, not to the ethnically advantaged, not to unengaged masses, not even to elected representatives. Publics are where people come together as equals to discuss and act on behalf of their common interests, values, and associations. I think that conservative republicanism argues for an effort to build publics and create a new federalism among them. This is the task of progressive revolutionaries.

This new federalism is a return to what Catholic Social Teaching calls the "principle of subsidiarity": human affairs should be handled by the lowest and least centralized level of authority possible. It ties to a central canon of community organizing: "don't do for others what they can do for themselves." It assumes the principles of solidarity and social democracy through which the well-being and dignity of all are assured.

In the following thoughts for progressive revolutionaries, I avoid footnotes and references. The appendix will show many of my influences and teachers though I like to think that most of what I present is due to the magnificent progressive revolutionaries with whom I have lived, worked, and acted throughout my life. It is to them that I dedicate these words and express my deepest gratitude.

Chapter 1: Revolutionary Atmosphere

Chapter 2: Unfinished Revolution 

Chapter 3: Resistance, Rebellion, Revolution, Renewal

Chapter 4: Revolution that Renews

Chapter 5: Motives for Revolution

Chapter 6: Progressive Revolutionary Mind

Chapter 7: Humor and Revolution

Chapter 8: Progressive Revolutionary Analysis

Chapter 9: Violence and Revolution

Chapter 10: Religion and Revolution

Chapter 11: Ethics of Revolution

Chapter 12: Rules for Revolutionaries

Chapter 13: The End of Revolution


Appendix: A Study Guide