Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Maoist revival: Obama's permanent revolution by PAC

The original Marxist theory of a "permanent revolution" was largely the product of Leon Trotsky's mind, though Marx and Engels had broached the subject to some degree. However, Trotsky's theory became the dominant one among most Marxist thinkers in the early part of the twentieth century, specifically because the Russian Revolution seemed to prove its validity in their minds.

Essentially, Trotsky believed--like Marx and Engels--that socialism must be a world-wide phenomenon for it to actually exist in its purest form. There could not be socialism in one country, alone. The problem was that many nations of the world had not reached the proper state of development for a full-scale proletariat revolution, for they had yet to undergo a successful bourgeois revolution, a necessary precursor--according to Marx--for a successful proletariat one. Trotsky argued that in Russia, a successful proletariat revolution was still possible--a permanent one--despite the lack of a fully successful bourgeois one, provided that revolutions proceeded outside of Russia to prevent the pressures of a capitalist world from prematurely aborting the proletariat revolution in Russia.

Ultimately however, after the death of Lenin, the ostracizing of Trotsky, and the rise of Stalin, the latter's idea of "Socialism in one country" became the dominant narrative. Trotsky's theory was simply ignored; it was assumed that there had been a fully successful proletariat revolution and socialism had been achieved.

Years later, however, Mao Zedong revived the idea of a permanent revolution--or a continuous revolution--during the Great Leap Forward, begun in 1958. He said then:
I advocate the theory of the permanent revolution. You must not think that this is Trotsky's theory of the permanent revolution. In making revolution, one must strike while the iron is hot, one revolution following another; the revolution must advance without interruption…
Mao obviously knew he was re-imagining the concept, but this fact is lost on many, who seem to think there is a distinct relationship between the two. For Trotsky, permanent revolution meant a successful proletariat revolution, one that could not be undone. For Mao, permanent revolution was a state of being for society; there was no single revolution, there necessarily had to be revolution after revolution, each undoing part of what came before.

Why? Because Mao saw that once the Communist Party took power, those in positions of authority quickly began to resemble the same figures they had replaced. This led Mao to institute purge after purge, replacing many long-time Party loyalists with new, younger faces. The slightest failure was reason enough to be replaced, thus truthfulness became a foreign concept among Mao's underlings; none would risk saying anything that did not justify every action Mao took. Idealism ruled over reality and because of this China--as a whole--suffered terribly.

I noted one particular aspect of this--Mao's program of backyard steel--previously, as means of understanding why Obamacare would be heralded as a success, no matter what. But that was metaphorical to some extent; I was not suggesting a real link between Obama and Maoist thinking.

However, it would now seem that there may actually be such a link. As has been well documented, Obama governs from a state of constant campaigning; everything, every policy, every initiative is pushed as if it were a part of a campaign platform. And with a lapdog media, by and large, this has been an effective strategy. But not quite the same thing as Mao's permanent revolution. Until now.

For it appears the Administration is actually trying to establish a Party withing the Party, via a super-PAC that would be tasked with nothing more than promoting agenda items of the Administration, especially controversial or radical ones. The proposed PAC--called Organizing For Action--would very much function as an arm of the President, but wholly separate from most governmental controls:
Many traditional advocacy organizations, including the Sierra Club and the National Rifle Association, are set up as social welfare groups, or 501(c)(4)’s in tax parlance. But unlike those groups, Organizing for Action appears to be an extension of the administration, stocked with alumni of Mr. Obama’s White House and campaign teams and devoted solely to the president’s second-term agenda.
It's a truly scary idea--for people actually concerned with liberty and individualism--insofar as this step represents an attempt to empower populism as a specific tool of the Chief Executive, a tool that cannot be checked by the reminder of the government. And of course the acceptance of such a creature demonstrates the massive hypocrisy on the part of people who applaud it and would participate in it, people who feign outrage over the amount of money in politics, over the Citizen's United decision, who pretend that the latter was some sort of death knell for democracy.

Like Mao's idea of permanent revolution, such an org would--as a matter of course--always be pushing change; there would be no single goal to be reached (unlike with a campaign org), nor specific rights to protect (unlike with most other politically motivated orgs), there would just be the constant struggle.

Socialism in one country. Who would have thought it would be here?

Cheers, all.


  1. Interesting since most Neocons are former Trostkyist...

  2. I don't follow. Was that an attempt at being clever? You'll have to try a little harder, since there's nothing in this bit about neocons and if you think I qualify as one, you're an idiot.

    As to the link between neoconservatism and Trotsky, there is a slim one that may exist, but it's a philosophical argument, at best. Mostly, it's just pseudo-intellectual claptrap, though. I thought that particular discussion had been put to bed a decade ago, regardless.

    Thanks for the comment.

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