Boggs Center, Changing Concepts Of Revolution, Retreat 6/25/05 by Grace Lee Boggs

Boggs Center,  Changing Concepts Of Revolution, Retreat 6/25/05

What time is it?  No longer American Century.WarfareState has replaced

Welfare State. U.S. facing defeat in Iraq/ worsening conditions at home/protests  growing.   Classic characteristics of revolutionary situation (Lenin) or Counter-revolutionary situation (Germany in 1930s)


Yet radical groups only exposing, protesting. WHY?  Is it because we have not developed new concept of revolution based on examining revolutions  of 20th C (Russian, Chinese, 3rd World)  and Movements of Two-sided transformation beginning with 1955-6 Montgomery Bus Boycott?

 EL SALVADOR REUBEN ZAMORA: “We must open ourselves to new kinds of Revolutions.”  5 Affirmations and 3 ReOrientations for Popular Movement. (1993) Recognizing that concentration on taking State Power allows state to turn popular movement into appendage, we  need to change revolutionary strategy 

  • from war of movement (assault on power structures) to war of positions

                        (construction of power from below);

  • from  Single subject (workers, women, blacks  et al) to Multiple Subjects
  • from Verticalist to Horizontal. i.e. From Politics of Control to Politics of Alliance


Based  in communities of indigenous peoples.

Armed takeover of Mexican cities on Jan. 1, 1994 when NAFTA went into effect.

Goal  was not to take power, but  to create space for “democratic struggle.”

Call for Non-Violence and for all sections of society to enter into discussions;

  • go beyond spontaneous struggles to understanding complex political ideas
  • go beyond OPPOSITION (taking power) to RESISTANCE (create new infrastructures from below).

By going from Global to Local Zapatistas have become world symbol of Grassroots Post-Modernism. Beyond NeoLiberalism to  International of Hope

(Naomi Klein: The Unknown Icon. AntiCapitalist Reader, ed. Joel Schalit)


  • Critique of Scientific Rationalism, the philosophy  which in 17th C enabled ruling class to (a) expropriate knowledge from Women thru witchhunts (b) expropriate Land from peasants and  © conquer/dominate Nature. Frances Bacon “Knowledge is Power.” (See Starhawk:  Burning Times; Carolyn Merchant: Death of Nature: Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution)
  • EcoFeminists: Vandana Shiva is Indian physicist, philosopher, feminist. E.G. e.g..Chipko & other village movements vs.Violence of high tech/big dams.. Maria Mies is German sociologist and environmentalist.  Both view HiTech & focus on economic growth as “colonizing”  Nature,Women. Third World.   WORK in the  new society (unlike Labor under capitalism) needs to be modeled on Work of Women, Peasants, Artisans – which is difficult but rewarding because it  is nurturing and creates Use Values.
  • In The Subsistence Alternative, Mies has  page on Detroit Summer.

 LISTENING TO AFRICA by Pierre Pradervand (UN)

            “The time has come to realize that the poverty of Africa has blinded us to its

human and cultural wealth – just as our own very recent material wealth seems to have hidden from us more insidious forms of spiritual, human and moral poverty.”

In the 1980s Pradervand visited 111 villages in 5 countries (Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe and Kenya)  and found farmers  consciously seeking another development based on their own reality  rather than trying to emulate/catch up with  the industrial development of the West. E.g. Wangari Matthei – Nobel Peace Laureate. More Self-Reliance/Small rather than large-scale development; Regional Markets. Care for local environment. Leaders are Women/ Local.  Success depends on working together..

See also

  • Paul Harrison: Third World Revolutions and The Third World Tomorrow
  • Paul Ekins: The Living Economy: A New ´Economics in the Making
  • The New Global Economy: A Participatory Workshop from U of MN
  • Dirlik:: Places and Politics in an Age of Globalization



Not just replacing Oppressors with Oppressed.Villains with Victims,  but creating 2-sided Movements that are  Self-Transforming/Structure Transforming. Began with 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott.  In 1965 MLK recognized that with  Voting Rights Act and Watts Uprising, the 1st (protest) phase of  movement was over. NOW  facing   

  • The contradictions of Hi-Tech which limits Participation and Human/Spiritual Growth, and encourages materialism/militarism.
  • Need for new structures, in our relations with one another and with rest of world.
  • Young people  need to be involved in Self-Transforming/Structure-Transforming direct action in “our dying cities.”  I.e. put careers and Middle Class values in second place as  SNCC youth had done.


Our experience with Black Power led us to conclusions similar to Zapatistas/MLK. Need to distinguish .Rebellions from Revolution (Rev&Evol). Rebellion brought black politicians to power,  who then  became appendages to the system.  This became clear in 1980s struggles with Coleman Young over Poletown, Casinos. (See DU Brochure; JB: Rebuilding Detroit: An Alternative  to Casino Gambling. ).  Need to connect issues.  So in 1992 we founded DETROIT SUMMER  to provide young people with an opportunity to rebuild, redefine,  respirit Detroit from the ground up.  By using Detroit Summer model to reconnect schools with community,  we can address crisis of schools (dropouts/finances) and  at same  time bring “neighbor” back into the ‘hood.


Instead of depending on grants, have begun creating small businesses that model Self-Reliance, produce Use Values.   ( See Michael Shumann, “It’s time to pay for the Revolution Ourselves.” The Nation 1/24/05)




    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

    You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


    Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: