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February, 2006

The Future is Up to Us!

The People's Tribune is starting a new column based on the book, "The Future is Up To Us: A Revolutionary Talking Politics with the American People," by Nelson Peery. We encourage our readers to join the discussion. Send your thoughts to info@peoplestribune.org. Order the book by sending $12 to Speakers for a New America Books, c/o People's Tribune, PO Box 3524, Chicago, IL 60654-3524.

People's Tribune: WHAT IS REVOLUTION?

book cover Nelson Peery: A revolution is an historical process by which a subordinate class overthrows its ruling class, establishes itself as a new ruling class and establishes a new political system. It is a process, a living thing. It has a beginning, a stage of maturing, and stages of decline and death.

The first stage is an economic revolution. Changes in the economy force changes in society, a social revolution. The change in society, the social revolution, forces a political revolution. These stages are intertwined. People generally recognize revolution only when it reaches the stage of class struggle or political revolution. Serious revolutionaries, though, need to know the roots and the direction of the revolutionary motion. If they do not, they will be condemned to tailing the movement.

Let's take a moment to look at the developing revolution in the United States. A revolution does not and cannot come simply from the will of people. There has to be a reason rooted in the economy.

Generally, people support revolutionary activity when they perceive that "the system doesn't work any more." This begs the question, "Why doesn't it work any more?" Like anything else, it doesn't do what it used to do because it has changed. Why did it change? Things can only change when something has been added or subtracted. A machine stops working because a part wears out, the part is abstracted from the machine. It is no longer what it was. This also happens when something foreign to a machine is added to it. You cannot replace a gear with a ball bearing and expect it to work.

Here's an historical example we are all familiar with. Southern agriculture was very labor intensive and profitable to the degree that laborers were paid little or nothing at all. Segregation and the oppression of the African Americans was necessary in order to carry on this near slave-like production.As southern agriculture became mechanized, for example through the introduction of the cotton picking machine, the African Americans were driven off the land and into the cities. Concentrated in the cities, they had the political and social resources for a prolonged struggle.The economic revolution in agriculture was the basis of and intertwined with the social revolution known as the Freedom Movement.

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