Socialism and Revolution

Gorz, Andre
Publisher:  Anchor Press/Doubleday, New York, USA
Year Published:  1973   First Published:  1967
Pages:  270pp   ISBN:  0-385-04831-9
Dewey:  320.531
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6566

Representative democracy in every industrially advanced country is in a state of profound crisis. But we have been accustomed for so long to accept democracy in the form of its outward appearances and parliamentary institutions that its decay often does not become apparent to us until those institutions have been either brushed aside or reduced to a purely decorative role.

Abstract:  Gorz belongs to the oft-suppressed 'third tradition' of socialism: the tradition of libertarian socialism that is fiercely critical of both social democracy and Leninism. At the same time, he stresses the need for a revolutionary party -- but a mass, democratic party.
Although a collection of essays, this book is remarkably unified in the development of its arguments. He deals with a number of fundamental issues: imperialism, unions, functions of a revolutionary party, reformism, the "ideological front", the state, work, lesiure and culture, changes in the working class.

Excerpt:
Andre Gorz writes: The fact that there is "revolutionary potential" does not, however, mean that revolution is "ripe" or is "maturing" spontaneously within the masses. It means only that the working class has old and new motives for not being reconciled with capitalist exploitation and that in favorable circumstances these motives lead to action. Outbreaks of violent mass insurordination, though they may be construed as signs of a pre-revolutionary or (as in France) of a pre-insurrectional situation, endanger the survival of capitalism only if the seizure of power becomes an open issue in the course of mass action. And this in turn can happen only if mass action is led and organized in such a way as to build up within the factories and cities organs of direct popular power, such as workers' councils and citizens' councils. These organs of "dual power" become effective in taking power and in destroying the capitalist state when they are co-ordinated organizationally and unified ideologically by an overall political vision and a credible political leadership. Co-ordination and political-ideological vision and leadership must not be superimposed from outside: if they are to lead to the building of popular power and a new state, they must be internal to the mass struggles themselves, so as not to create from the outset a new social division between those who lead and those who are led, between the workers and their "spokesmen," between the masses and the vanguard, between state power and the people.
It is the actual process of revolutionary mass struggle and change that teaches the masses self-organization instead of subjection to power. To change minds and outlooks, to liberate the energies and imaginations that will look for new solutions and new political forms in keeping with liberated needs, there must be revolutionary action. Neither the needs nor the solutions can be blue-printed by a vanguard party. Hence the need for spontaneity in all genuine mass movements.
Conversly, the capacity to anticipate the possibility of new solutions -- new social and economic relations and a new way of life -- is a necessary element in mobilizing and liberating repressed aspirations and energies. Hence the tendency to voluntaristic and elitist forms of "vanguardism" which, when organizationally separated from the immediate struggles and aspirations of the masses, always degenerate into dogmatic, bureaucratic political machines or sects. One of the intrinsic difficulties of revolutionary leadership and education is that they can be entrusted to neither an "enlightened" and self-appointed vanguard, nor the spontaneity of the masses, who are never "ready" or "prepared" for revolution: revolution, in this respect, is always "premature."

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