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Counterrevolution Due to Persistence of Patterns

Harvey Jackins, at the July 1986 Peace and Disarmament Activists’ Workshop

Question: I’d like your thoughts on one of the great questions. We had Russia and China moving toward a genuinely new society, and they’ve fallen back to state capitalism. How did that happen without a major violent revolution? It seemed relatively smooth. Was it just a matter of old patterns, or were there mistakes in terms of structure that made it possible?

Harvey: I think it’s the persistence of patterns of oppression in the heads of the leaders of the revolution and in the subculture. There’s always an allure. For example, you notice it when you get elected to be business agent for the union. You’ve been used to being laid off, and here you’ve got a steady job with a wage comparable to the lowest pay of a journeyman, something like that. All of a sudden you’ve got security. Your family thinks, “Maybe we can have a little decent furniture.” All the pressures of upward climb come in on you real heavy. The boss starts talking to you nice. Union members come around and say, “Fat cat,1 loan us some money; if you don’t, you’re a (derogatory word).” The pressure of the patterns is there. And it certainly is on the people who take leadership in a revolutionary movement. They haven’t thought about patterns. They don’t know about patterns. The only models they have for somebody operating in a leading position are the old oppressive models. I think this is the principal thing.

Also, the counterrevolutions didn’t occur without violence. A lot of people died in Russia, and there was a lot of violence in China. Large numbers of people died in the regression to capitalism after Mao’s2 death.


1 A “fat cat” is a wealthy and privileged person.
2 Mao Tse-tung, the leader of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1976


Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00