We Can’t Be Rojava, but We Can Be France

Published at 09:29 on 4 June 2020

My previous post mentioned that a successful (and, for the most part, nonviolent) revolution is probably possible (as in the immediate future), but what sort of revolution would it be?

Not an anarchist one, like what happened in Catalonia or Rojava. The average American’s mind has simply been too polluted from birth with bourgeois propaganda for that to be feasible. Perhaps no nation’s national identity is so bound up with the rhetoric of laissez-faire capitalism as is ours.

So much for the bad news. It would still be a revolution in a distinctly leftward direction, towards a vision of a society with greater equality.

And perhaps more important even than that, a revolution that would shatter the spell that the US political system is something handed down on sacred golden plates from demigods, never to be seriously questioned. It would be a revolution that will serve to make further revolution possible.

If there is one society that a post-revolutionary United States would most look like, it would probably be France.

Let there be no mistake, France is a deeply flawed society. Roughly one-third of the French voted for a fascist political party in the most recent election (and that is not an anomaly).

Likewise, our Trumpist fascists are not going to magically disappear, either. They are going to harbor grievances about a “coup” organized by the “globalists” having deposed their orange god-king. There will doubtless be violence as a result (they tend to be armed).

They will be violent regardless of how Trump is displaced. They do not believe anyone but their side has moral legitimacy to lead. As such, they will oppose any transfer of power, no matter how mundane its mechanism.

But, keep in mind that there are several kinds of Trumpers. There are the true believers, who are fascists to the core of their being. Then there are the opportunists, who jumped on the fascist bandwagon because it was politically convenient and they were too weak-willed to resist it. Those latter fascists are much less likely to be the sort of problem that the former ones will be; there is hope for them transitioning back into garden-variety center-right politics. Not all of the 40% will be the hard core that causes lingering problems.

Despite their presence, progress will happen. Even conservatives like David Frum are now talking about the need for things like greater financial equality, strong universal health care and statehood for the District of Columbia. And this is what a conservative is advocating; most on the prevailing side won’t be conservatives.

Do not underestimate the ability of a surge in consciousness to move society forward significantly more than the conventional wisdom deems possible. Lincoln did not campaign on freeing the slaves, yet events acquired a life of their own and ended up compelling him to do so.

France has had more center-right administrations than center-left ones, yet there is still significantly more social equality there than there is in today’s USA.

France, like the USA, has its persistent racism. It is not for nothing that the events in Minneapolis have inspired demonstrations, not just in other major US cities, but in Paris.

France is a former world power that clings to the notion that it is still a power; the French state is noted for its military adventurism. Likewise, US military adventurism will not magically vanish, either, despite it now being all-but-inevitable that the USA will be eclipsed by China as the global hegemon.

But it would, to reiterate, be a different political culture. The French Republic, like the American one, got its start in an eighteenth century revolution. The French have never really forgotten this, while we in America (particularly those on the center and liberal left), have by and large become shamefully docile. That can change, and a successful popular revolution, however limited from an anarchists’ point of view, is highly likely to change it.

It would, in short, not be a perfect world. Far from it. It will merely be a better world, one where it will be possible to realistically dream of a better one yet.

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