Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Vladimir Lenin

The Left Can’t Even Agree on What Politics Is

In helping my undergrads prepare for their exams the last few weeks, I’ve noticed something–one of the major obstacles to successful left-wing organising is the left’s inability to agree on what politics itself is. Different political theorists understand “politics” differently. You can broadly divide conceptions of the political into two realms. Some people think politics is about pursuing the truth and the good, and other people think that politics is about managing disagreement about the truth and the good. Then within those camps you can make further divisions on the basis of what strategy people prefer to use to pursue the good or manage disagreement. Here, let me chart this out for you:

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You Say You Want a Revolution, but What Kind?

So in light of recent writings about Russell Brand and Robert Webb, I’ve been thinking about the concept of revolution and the connotations it carries in our society. For the average person, I imagine the word “revolution” brings to mind first and foremost the kind of comprehensive, totalizing socio-economic and political change associated with Marxism. As a result, otherwise left-leaning people tend to harbor a deep skepticism about changes that go beyond which political party is in power or the enacting or repealing of various peripheral policies and laws. However, upon further reflection, I don’t think that all revolutions fit this stereotype. Indeed, the exclusive association of the term “revolution” with the conception of revolution used by Marxists is a significant obstacle to necessary, big-picture change.

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