By Alex Kruse
Not so long ago, an effort was undertaken to preach the good news to the awakening workers of the world, the good news that offered, and still offers, salvation for all workers in the form of a socialist society. This heightening of consciousness has not died, and will not die. As long as bourgeois society remains, its opposition will always be there, even if diminished to the mind of the individual worker. It is the task of the worker, the vast majority of us, to carry the torch forward as far as we possibly can in order to progress society into salvation. It is no coincidence that I use the language of Christianity, as its struggle to actualize the Kingdom of God and gain universality is parallel if not directly correspondent to the revolutionary struggle for socialism.
For Christ thundered to his disciples a phrase that may have been uttered in the early 20th century on the soapbox outside of great industrial factories from London to Dubuque, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” The aim of this revolutionary was the subversion of the current societal structures in order to create an emancipatory collective. How are we supposed to read this passage when all we know and are taught of Christ is nonviolence? We should read it in the sense that confrontation is necessary in order to oppose the predominant order. We must not only confront others, but we must confront ourselves and what ties us to this order. The sword is violent, it is revolutionary, and it hurts, but I do not think it is to be understood as armed conflict with one another. It should be considered an ideological separation from bourgeois society, the death of one ideology for the birth of another. Rosa Luxemburg makes this point clear in her essay “What Does the Spartacus League Want?” She states, “The proletarian revolution requires no terror for its aims; it hates and despises killing… But the proletariat revolution is at the same time the death knell for all servitude and oppression.”
It seems a futile effort for most, that the actualizing of the proletariat revolution will bring about the ends for which it aims. This task is the greatest and most difficult ever placed upon a class. The subversion of the Roman Empire would’ve been seen as a futile task in its own time. But alas, we can see the struggle in two ways, an end in and of itself, and secondly, a bargaining chip for social progress. It is not secret knowledge that if I want a $10 raise I must ask for $15. But our task, as proletarians, is to bear a tremendous cross. We must raise the consciousness of others so, as Luxemburg pointed out, “The proletarian revolution can reach full clarity and maturity only by stages, step by step, on the Golgatha-path of its own bitter experiences in struggle, through defeats and victories.” Only through defeats will the revolutionary class know how it is to succeed. The “failed” revolutions of the past must be taught and recognized for their progress, as well as scrutinized for their failures. We mustn’t continuously attempt the process in the same manner as those who have gone before us. We must venture into the unknown, the areas not breached by previous revolutions, in order to win the world. The world: a most moderate demand for those who have toiled for so long.