Draft dealing with the historical
as it stood after several rounds of discussion:
What follows is not, of course, a complete survey of revolutionary or socialist history. There is, in particular, much important history that precedes 1905. We will talk more about this, and its place in our analysis, in part 2 of the present declaration. But our goal for the moment is to contrast two starkly different periods―1905 to 1979 and 1979 to the present―since the difference between them deeply affects political prospects for revolutionaries in the second decade of the 21st century. During the first of these periods every human being on the planet grew up with the experience of social revolution as a concrete and meaningful reality, or at least as a tangible possibility. In subsequent years however, in particular since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990, the situation has been the opposite.
We select the date1905 because that is when revolution openly erupted in Russia. Even earlier, however, Social-Democratic parties with mass support began to emerge in Europe, continuing to strengthen themselves up to the beginning of the first world war. (There was some reflection of this in the USA as well). In 1910 a revolution broke out in Mexico and by 1920 the insurgent forces had consolidated themselves in power. In 1917, meanwhile, Soviet power was established in Russia. During the 1920s and 1930s Europe saw multiple struggles pregnant with the possibility of revolution―in Germany, France, Britain, and Spain among others. The end of the second world war was accompanied by the expansion of Soviet-style regimes in Eastern Europe, the Greek civil war, and the victory of the Chinese revolution. The rest of the 1940s and all of the 1950s were marked by the anti-colonial revolution―a global upheaval which always contained at least a significant pro-socialist current, developed most significantly in Cuba after the victory of the July 26th Movement in 1959. During the 1960s this process continued, with important experiences (both positive and negative) in places like Egypt, Algeria, and Indonesia. Another high point was reached when Saigon fell to the National Liberation Front in 1975. Echoes of the old revolutionary Europe could be heard in France (1968) and Portugal (1974-75). The Vietnamese victory was followed by Nicaragua and Grenada in 1979.
These events helped shape the consciousness of multiple generations, stimulating ideological discussions that developed hundreds of thousands of revolutionaries on a global scale.
Starting in the 1980s, however, things changed tangibly. In 1983 Grenada was invaded outright by the USA and the New Jewel leadership overthrown. 1990, in addition to the fall of the Berlin Wall, saw the Sandinistas voted out of power by the Nicaraguan people, worn down by a US-sponsored Contra war. The restoration of an overt and particularly rapacious form of capitalism proceeded apace in the former Soviet Bloc during the 1990s, and Vietnam soon began following the Chinese in adapting to a market economy.
Further, since 1979 there have been only sporadic and partial positive struggles (Ireland, South Africa, Palestine, The Philippines, Venezuela, Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America, especially amongst indigenous peoples) each severely limited by the prevailing political and economic climate. For the most part the world has been dominated over the last three decades by an increasingly triumphant imperial project, with no visible alternative in place. This social reality, like the previous reality from 1905 to 1979, has shaped human consciousness. Anti-capitalist revolution no longer seems inevitable, or even possible, to the overwhelming majority of individuals who came of age in the new era―that is, everyone who is less than 45-years-old today. It seems, instead, like a distant dream.
Comment by Salvatore
I certainly agree about the period since that late
1980s, but not with respect to the significance of the Berlin Wall.
Actually I find the bombings of Panama and of Iraq (those really
hit me hard in general, as I was just coming of political age then) and
the tanks bombing the Duma to be much more important demarcating
signals, rather than the Berlin Wall, which reduces the change to
bourgeois propaganda dictates and whitewashes history.