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Why was there no revolution in Britain?

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Dreamcatcher's picture
Dreamcatcher
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Joined: 21-06-06
Jun 24 2006 18:49

Glad it made sense!!!

Yes, I agree that it didn't mean that there was no chance of revolution. The 1910-14 wave of strikes was certainly strong and scary for the powers that be.

However, so much of the radicalisation was blunted by the gradual extension of the franchise which created an illusion of involvement and 'people power'. Also, it is notable that the biggest socialist party (Labour) was completely content to work within the system (others such as the Russian Social Democrats split between the revolutionaries and parliamentaries after all). The Fabians, Social Democratic League etc were too small in membership to have an impact.

For me this has been an impetus for switching from orthodox Marxism and Leninism to more anarchist tendencies: the former rely too much on parties, while I believe in a de-centralized movement.

Anyway, I am starting to repeat you and myself.

ernie
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Joined: 19-04-06
Jun 26 2006 22:29

Hi

The use of democracy by the ruling class faced with the revolutionary wave was certainly a very important part of its defeat of the proletariat. Today, it is still the golden chain that shalkes the class to the capitalist state.

On the question of the large socialist parties, you say

Quote:
Also, it is notable that the biggest socialist party (Labour) was completely content to work within the system (others such as the Russian Social Democrats split between the revolutionaries and parliamentaries after all). The Fabians, Social Democratic League etc were too small in membership to have an impact. "

It is true that in the German party etc the right wing and the centre were marked by their acceptence of working within capitalism. But there was also a strong reaction to this by the Left which sort to struggle against the influence of these ideas. Unfortunately they lost and you know the rest. The struggle by the left to defend the revolutionary nature of the proletarian party produced many important lessons and theoretical developments for the class; for example Luxemburg's Reform or Revolution.

On the Russian party it did not split between revolutionaries and parliamentarians but over the question of the functioning of the party. The Bolsheviks used Parliament when the conditions were correct. However, the two visions of the functioning of the party were obviously related to the vision of the revolutionary process. We should forget that the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks still belonged to the same party.

On the question of de-centralisation against the party, could you explain more?

In relation the development of the party, or lack of it, in Britain you might be interested in our series of articles on this question. I cannot find the link at the moment but if you are interested we could find it.

Sarmatia1871
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Joined: 22-07-06
Jul 22 2006 13:17

A lot also depends on your definition of revolution as well - if it only means armed workers throwing up barricades, storming the centres of government and setting up a new social order, then Britain seems totally lacking (unless you want to start making really big claims for the English Civil War).

This wasn't due to lack of sentiment - radical groups were very active in Britain throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, and had mass support on several occassions. However, the old elite always managed to maintain a very strong position, and was never dislodged to the same degree that its German, French or Russian counterparts were, and which in those countries enabled radicalism to take over for itself.

However, if you look on revolution more as a process, in which political, social and economic systems change completely from one form to another, then Britain certainly went through such a shift over the course of the 19th century. I think Eric Hobsbawm makes a big point of this, talking about the "Dual European Revolution" in this period, with France typifying the political and Britain the economic aspects.