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Conflicting Thought

Revolutionary contradiction

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Posted (edited)

I've been reading Jon Lee Andersons biography of Che Guevara, and it made me think and revisit something that i have always been curious about. 

Why does it appears to be, that most leftist revolutionaires and thinkers, are almost always upper class, bourgeois. Like Che or Fidel or Allende, or Marx. 

Is it becouse they have the advantages of education and free time that comes with their position in society?. Or is it something more fishy going on here. Like popular (in the proletariat sense) revolutionary thinkers and leaders have been "forgotten" or buried by the more famous and i guess "interesting" (class traitors) upper class revolutionaries. 

Im interested in you guys and girls opinion. 

Edited by Conflicting Thought

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4 hours ago, Conflicting Thought said:

Is it becouse they have the advantages of education and free time that comes with their position in society?

Yes. A revolutionary needs some kind of idea to fight for and the support of at least some fraction of those with power. It would take an incredible combination of intelligence, charisma and luck for an uneducated peasant or laborer to come up with some idea people will fight for and persuade his social superiors to follow him. There have been some famous revolutionaries from poor households (e.g. Stalin), but even those have generally found their way to schools which provided them with both ideas and social connections.

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Posted (edited)

Wat Tyler would be one example of the revolutionary coming from (and staying in) the lower socioeconomic class - though you probably couldn't call him particularly leftist.

Edited by Which Tyler

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I've always considered it that when you are living hand to mouth and worrying about how to feed your family, you don't really have the time or energy to run off and start a revolution, your concerns are generally much closer to home.

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This has been studied since the 60's saw the inner city riots in the US. People don't violently advocate for change when things are bad but when things stop getting better. So yes when the opportunity to change from lower class to middle class stops, expect the revolution. 

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Posted (edited)

almost always upper class, bourgeois

extremely doubtful that this is true. for 19th century leftism, the bourgeoisie is not the upper class, but rather a middle class.  upper class is aristocratic.  kropotkin, plekhanov, and tolstoy are from aristocratic backgrounds--but using the term leftwing with its french revolution resonance, it would be by definition anti-aristocratic in general.

that said, we think of the capitalists as the upper class now, because they have been very successful in burying the aristocracy.  three cheers for the bourgeoisie in accomplishing one of its historic tasks.  

though engels was from an industrialist's family (bourgeois proper), marx himself was never wealthy, and his father was an attorney who underwent forced conversion to avoid loss of his law license.  an attorney is likely best considered to be petit bourgeois, either as a shop-keeping private practitioner (even as part of a large firm) or as a civil servant for the state.

lenin's family were peasants and stalin's father was a cobbler; trotsky, castro, and mao came from farming backgrounds, less humble than lenin--petit bourgeois. guevara's family doesn't seem notably wealthy, and allende's background strikes me as middle class professional (petit bourgeois, i.e.). ho's father was a teacher. luxemberg, liebknecht, bebel don't have aristocratic or bourgeois backgrounds; saul alinsky is not upper class. tito's family was villager seljak.

all that said, am not seeing a problem with the class origins of revolutionaries--we read of crude concordances of family class position and assumed ideology, especially out of post-war people's tribunals (always a bad idea), sending citizens for re-education simply because their parents had money--very likely a presumption the law should disallow.  left politics should be sufficiently catholic to include persons from any origin point--it is ultimately about beliefs; if an aristocrat believes that the aristocracy should be abolished, the utterance is neither more nor less correct on account of of the class origin of the utterer.  it is also not a problem for marxism's ideology theory, which is sufficiently nuanced to assert the thesis that it's 'not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness' while accommodating the notion that beliefs can be changed.

doubtful further that producerist mythologies such as "worrying about how to feed your family" disables the cognitive capacity required to think abstractly about one's society and about the rights of others. as althy said, normally some sort of education is necessary to acquire the requisite perspective and information, which necessity is widely recognized and explains why schooling is the object of political controversion.  brecht is quite correct in enjoining 'hungry man, reach for the book: it is a weapon.'

and then we need to think grossly, too--rather than focusing on the idiosyncrasies of easily cited personal anecdotes: the many thousands who set up the paris commune were a mix of working class radicals and regular soldiers; those who participated in the SDS, the weather underground, the black bloc have not been rich kids. there were not enough aristocrats in russia to carry out the october revolution, and the chinese long march was large enough that the US after defeating japan re-armed japanese soldiers to fight against it with their erstwhile enemies under chiang.  allende was not elected by capitalists, nor are DSA types in the US supported primarily by wall street running dogs. focusing on several famous cases considerably distorts the history of the left--cases perhaps made famous precisely by those with interest in highlighting the purported contradiction--recall the thesis that somehow chomsky's arguments are to be impugned by the rightwing because he draws a salary and royalties on writings, as though leftists are not supposed to be market participants.

Edited by sologdin

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Posted (edited)
On 8/20/2019 at 7:03 AM, sologdin said:

almost always upper class, bourgeois

extremely doubtful that this is true. for 19th century leftism, the bourgeoisie is not the upper class, but rather a middle class.  upper class is aristocratic.  kropotkin, plekhanov, and tolstoy are from aristocratic backgrounds--but using the term leftwing with its french revolution resonance, it would be by definition anti-aristocratic in general.

that said, we think of the capitalists as the upper class now, because they have been very successful in burying the aristocracy.  three cheers for the bourgeoisie in accomplishing one of its historic tasks.  

though engels was from an industrialist's family (bourgeois proper), marx himself was never wealthy, and his father was an attorney who underwent forced conversion to avoid loss of his law license.  an attorney is likely best considered to be petit bourgeois, either as a shop-keeping private practitioner (even as part of a large firm) or as a civil servant for the state.

lenin's family were peasants and stalin's father was a cobbler; trotsky, castro, and mao came from farming backgrounds, less humble than lenin--petit bourgeois. guevara's family doesn't seem notably wealthy, and allende's background strikes me as middle class professional (petit bourgeois, i.e.). ho's father was a teacher. luxemberg, liebknecht, bebel don't have aristocratic or bourgeois backgrounds; saul alinsky is not upper class. tito's family was villager seljak.

all that said, am not seeing a problem with the class origins of revolutionaries--we read of crude concordances of family class position and assumed ideology, especially out of post-war people's tribunals (always a bad idea), sending citizens for re-education simply because their parents had money--very likely a presumption the law should disallow.  left politics should be sufficiently catholic to include persons from any origin point--it is ultimately about beliefs; if an aristocrat believes that the aristocracy should be abolished, the utterance is neither more nor less correct on account of of the class origin of the utterer.  it is also not a problem for marxism's ideology theory, which is sufficiently nuanced to assert the thesis that it's 'not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness' while accommodating the notion that beliefs can be changed.

doubtful further that producerist mythologies such as "worrying about how to feed your family" disables the cognitive capacity required to think abstractly about one's society and about the rights of others. as althy said, normally some sort of education is necessary to acquire the requisite perspective and information, which necessity is widely recognized and explains why schooling is the object of political controversion.  brecht is quite correct in enjoining 'hungry man, reach for the book: it is a weapon.'

and then we need to think grossly, too--rather than focusing on the idiosyncrasies of easily cited personal anecdotes: the many thousands who set up the paris commune were a mix of working class radicals and regular soldiers; those who participated in the SDS, the weather underground, the black bloc have not been rich kids. there were not enough aristocrats in russia to carry out the october revolution, and the chinese long march was large enough that the US after defeating japan re-armed japanese soldiers to fight against it with their erstwhile enemies under chiang.  allende was not elected by capitalists, nor are DSA types in the US supported primarily by wall street running dogs. focusing on several famous cases considerably distorts the history of the left--cases perhaps made famous precisely by those with interest in highlighting the purported contradiction--recall the thesis that somehow chomsky's arguments are to be impugned by the rightwing because he draws a salary and royalties on writings, as though leftists are not supposed to be market participants.

this man(?.. machine? organization?) is a psyop, do not listen to the sweet honeys issuing from his liars tongue; the easily digestible platitude focus tested to render you docile and contained. do not believe his his lies, they are naught but the black semen, the manatee milk, the delicious black flesh of the giant aquatic centipede. cast off your shackles and be free brethren

Edited by avenge me

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4 hours ago, avenge me said:

this man(?.. machine? organization?) is a psyop, do not listen to the sweet honeys issuing from his liars tongue; the easily digestible platitude focus tested to render you docile and contained. do not believe his his lies, they are naught but the black semen, the manatee milk, the delicious black flesh of the giant aquatic centipede. cast off your shackles and be free brethren

But he talks so purty.

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