Boris Kagarlitsky

(Institute of Globalization and Social Movements, Russia)

Revolution as a contradictory process

The concept of Revolution seems now to be less clear than 50 years ago. During most of the XX century the direction of process and the concept of social progress as defined by radical thinkers of XVIII and XIX centuries remained unchallenged and accepted. Even if there were clear differences between such thinkers Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx and Max Weber, they all were somehow promoting the idea of social progress as a transformation of society that is making it more egalitarian and creating conditions for human emancipation.

Revolutions were often criticized for not delivering on this promise and there could be doubts of whether this perspective was not entirely utopian. But those critics questioning the very need of revolutions to speed up social progress usually didn’t question the definition of a revolutionary process.

The situation changed after 1989 when we saw a mass rebellion against Communist regimes which not only emerged from a series of early XX century revolutions but embodied some of the most important achievements of social progress during that century.

The left itself during last 20 years underwent so many crushing defeats and deteriorated morally and politically to such an extent that its hegemony in the protest movements is in no way guarantied.But still, there is a chance to rebuild politics and culture of solidarity and thus rediscover the original meaning of Revolution.