13. Such stuff as dreams are made on

Submitted by Spassmaschine on December 17, 2009

We (and people who share our critiques and positions) are often called incorrigible dreamers or utopians, and it is suggested we should be realistic. Are you "dreamers", "utopians", are you "unrealistic"?

Man's exploitation of man is documented in most (though not all) past and present societies, capitalism is still here, and the history of modern communism has been read by some like the definitive manual of failure. In that sense, one can call us dreamers.

Nevertheless, we (and you, no doubt) take reality more into account than the "realists".

The 20th century and the early 21st century offer ample proof of the catastrophic course that radical critique had predicted would be the fate of capitalism. Contrary to what it promised (and still promises for an ever-receding future), this civilisation has not put an end to war, oppression and exploitation. Stalin's and Mao's tens of millions of victims were sacrificed to the primitive accumulation of capital. True, the wage and money system is only indirectly responsible for "ethnic" killing in Rwanda and "religious" slaughter in Indonesia. But the worst massacres, from the mere point of view of the number of casualties, happen at the heart of the industrial world, as is shown by the heaps of corpses in 1914-18 and 1939-45.

Let's leave these extremes to look at places which are fortunate to enjoy capitalism with a human face. A Norwegian once prided himself on his country having done away with great poverty. Well, Oslo might be a nicer city than Chicago. But what are we to think of a system that after a century of social-democracy has failed not to eliminate exploitation (social-democrats weren't aiming at that), but simply to get rid of poverty, and satisfies itself with having just little poverty ? There is a lack of decency and reality in such a success.

When people accuse us of dreaming instead of acting, what they mean is we don't belong, and they're right. We are in this world, not of this world: "(..) what's most real is what is only true in another world" (Baudelaire).

So, what is it we're doing ? Theory, or more simply the expression of ideas with revolutionary ambitions, does not try to lead, to enlighten or to inform the proletarians. Its main function is probably to help a minority not go under, to help radicals know each other and establish links that could prove useful one day. Until then, our leaflets and posters (even those made by comrades more productive than us) don't carry much weight compared to the billions of conservative and reformist words and ideas daily churned out by school, media, politics and the Internet. The only validity of what we're doing depends on the coming of a time that will tip the scales and give historical reality to what is now an often silent minority