What must be done? That is the central question - and of course, the answer, it has been amply proven, is not for a “revolutionary vanguard” to seize all power in society, and transform the world into a workers’ paradise, since that experiment resulted in a tyranny worse than that of the Tzar, exactly as Bakunin had predicted.
Given that the Marxist-Leninists are by and large discredited, if not disgraced; and given that our current, global, neo-feudal, corporate oligarchy, under which the vast majority of humanity lives, is now also deeply mired in a profound and ever deepening crisis of legitimacy, because it is inhumane, exploitative, imperialist, ecocidal, genocidal, and increasingly fascist in nature; what then, is to be done? The two dominant ideologies have failed us, and failed us utterly and completely.
The facts are these:
The global corporate oligarchy has gone from merely dominating the planet, and effectively ruling the world - as the leading business journal of the Western hemisphere, the Financial Times itself admits, calling its unofficial headquarters in Davos, at the World Economic Forum, “the de facto world government”, or as the Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul called it, The new royal court, and the new Palace of Versailles - to shifting itself, or better said, metastasizing itself, into what I predicted in 2006 would be the elites’ response to the global crisis of legitimacy which confronts them: “lock-down”, as I called it in 2006, meaning, a resort to fascism - given that the ruling elite understood that, by 1999, they were already losing, or had lost, the propaganda war.
The same corporate oligarchy of the global billionaire class, and their political, media and technocratic minions, have proven beyond any doubt, moreover, that they are not only fascists, but are also unable to stop themselves from their continued pillaging, poisoning, plundering, and devouring of the Earth, as well as the 99% of humanity.
Revolution is the only thing now that will end, or dethrone, the currently ruling global corporate empire - given that the elections are all bought and paid for by the same big money interests, and all of the major political parties are either bribed, corrupted, or otherwise coopted by the same billionaire ruling elite.
A global awakening is indeed occurring across humanity, and a new renaissance is beginning to emerge - and it is accelerating, and growing in power and in scale. A positive, cultural tipping point is approaching, but whether it is two weeks away, 20 years away, or longer, remains to be seen.
A global stupefaction is also occurring, and it would seem, is occurring among the greater majority of the people, even while an awakening and a renaissance is emerging among the minority.
The great majority of people show no inclination or receptivity towards even the idea of a revolution, be it non-violent, as I would urge, or otherwise. Gore Vidal was right, when he wrote, in the 1980s, I believe it was, that “America is now living in pre-revolutionary times”. And by now, I would extend that to the world. But, pre-revolutionary times can last for decades. It does not mean that revolution is on the near horizon. In fact, while it is urgently needed, and not only legitimate and justified, but is, by now, a moral and practical necessity; it seems unlikely, aside from a few isolated pockets of the world, that revolution will break out in the near term. That is tragic, and heart-breaking beyond words, but it appears to be the reality.
Given that, by now, only revolution will save us from either fascism, or continued ecocide, and that the great majority appear to be nowhere near ready for it, we must take a longer term view, in terms of our strategies for social change - and sheer survival.
What is virtually guaranteed, is that the new empire, the last empire, which is the global, neo-feudal, corporate-fascist oligarchy, will fall, either by revolution, by the people defeating it, or by it defeating itself, through collapse.
What is uncertain, is when, not if, the empire will fall. That being said, it could take several years, or 20 years, or 200 years, before this newest and last of empires, the empire of greed, the empire of fascist, ecocidal, corporate oligarchy, falls inevitably to dust. What then, is our strategy, for: (a) surviving the slow motion collapse that is now underway, and has already begun, and surviving the global corporate-fascist coup with our humanity intact; and (b) hastening the demise and fall of this latest and last of empires, so that there is more of the Earth left, when it finally dies?
In answer to that question, I would say we need a multi-pronged and multi-faceted approach. (We have many tools and tactics available, including strikes, boycotts, divestments and blockades, and non-cooperation, above all. But this is a reflection on broad-stroke strategy. We need both.) We need to place ourselves where we are strong; and advance where we are strong, and where the opponent - the corporate empire - is weak. These are the core principles, without which, we are lost. (See Sun Tzu, Shambhala Dragon Editions, for the key text by the unrivalled master of strategy - which we should read, reflect on, and discuss, and read and reflect on, again and again, to absorb its lessons.)
What does that mean, in practical terms? We do not advance or attack where we are weak and the opponent is strong - that means, violence and force are suicidal, and foolish, from a purely strategic point of view. It means, we aim above all, to win the hearts and minds of the people; and secondly, and simultaneously to that effort, we must now build the parallel structures, systems, networks and communities, that will be the seedbeds for the new society, which will replace the old regime when it finally falls - and which will furthermore provide the hope, the inspiration, the empowerment, the vision, the imagination, the boldness, and the courage, as well as the material aid, all of which the people need now, and will need, if we are to be successful, not only in weathering the coming storm, not only in healing ourselves and our Earth, while awaiting the final collapse of the empire; but also, in order to facilitate a hastened demise and fall of the empire, so that the Earth can be reborn.
We must, as a necessity, find a way to distinguish in our minds between long term ideals, and short term and immediate necessities and practicalities. We must cultivate, discuss, clarify and embolden, a vision for a better world - or multiple visions, to reflect our geographic, demographic, and cultural diversity. But we must also build bridges between the people, form alliances - across the political spectrum - and make allies with anyone and everyone who is anti-fascist, or anti-authoritarian - or even, in the short term, with anyone who is making positive action toward human and ecological goals. But maybe most importantly now, we need to build communities, ecovillages, and networks of self-reliance, and of cultural, spiritual and ecological regeneration.
It might sound trite, or unglamorous, and it may not sound heroic, but the building of largely self-reliant, ecological and humane, free communities, is perhaps the most important thing we can do at this time.
Study regenerative agriculture, permaculture, and ecovillage construction and design, and get planting. It may seem simple, but it may be the most powerful tool that we have, at this moment, and for some time to come; along with the equally necessary tasks of communication, consciousness-raising, and the nourishing one another, in body, mind and spirit.
If some people wanted a rousing speech, saying that we will quickly and decisively defeat the fascists, and the equally ecocidal corporate empire, I am afraid that cannot be delivered at this time. That seems not to be the moment we are now facing. Perhaps it will be the moment, in the near future. For now, we build up our strength, and prepare for a long resistance to fascism and ecocide, until we finally win.
We will win. And the Earth will win, and be reborn. But we are going to have to be strategic now; and we are going to need a strong dose of resilience, adaptability, perseverance and resolve, to weather the coming storm.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news. I would rather say that everything is going wonderfully. But it is not - at least, not in terms of the short term picture. The long term is promising. The short term may be harrowing. The better we are mentally prepared, the better we will fare.
Steel yourself, and get digging. But keep a tender heart; and always, keep a vision of a better future in mind. It will come. Indeed, it is already being born.
Remember, in the future, we will look back, and wonder how it was that we ever put up with what was considered “normal”, in the early 21st century - just as we now look back, and wonder how people put up with things in the past, such as racial segregation, slavery, or feudalism, and put up with it for so long.
Life is change. Keep a long term perspective. And don’t let the bastards get you down. There is more yet to be written in the unfolding human story.
Don’t be a spectator. Get involved. Life is better, when we truly live it. And more than we realize, we are the authors of our own destiny.
J. Todd Ring,
December 21, 2021
For further resources, see my recent essay, Key Resources; my Spotify and YouTube playlists, and Facebook and Twitter pages, which, combined, have tens of thousands of articles, books, videos, films and podcasts. And I would highly recommend New Society Publishers, as well - they have an excellent library of both visionary, and very concrete, detailed ideas and tools, for building a better society, within the slowly collapsing shell of the old.