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You Say You Want A Revolution

You say you want a revolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world

You tell me that it’s evolution

Well, you know

We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction

Don’t you know that you can count me out

— The Beatles

We said we wanted a revolution. We said the world was in a class war. We said politicians were corrupt, institutions were crumbling. We said our ecology was falling apart. We said there would be no return from this.

We said the news was fake. We said the Democrats were part of the problem. We said the police were the enforcers of the state, not of the law. We said we needed radical change.

We said we were inspired by revolutions past, many of which were violent, many of which were counter-revolutions. We embraced revolutions present, in parts of the world we didn’t understand. We said the system needed to be torn down. We said the people have the power.

We said Trump was part of a larger problem.

We said all of these things because they are true. We hide from these things now that there is blood on our hands. There is blood on our hands. We aren’t Donald Trump. We say what we mean and we mean what we say.

The revolution went horribly wrong. We aren’t Donald Trump. We don’t incite a revolution and retreat to the bunker.

Did we make it clear enough that the revolution has to be anti-violent? Because it has to be. Did we make it clear enough that the revolution has to be anti-racist? Because it has to be. Did we make it clear enough that the revolution will be democratic? Because it has to be. Did we make it clear enough that the revolution won’t be for bourgeois values of freedom but rather for communal values of solidarity? Because it has to be.

Did we make it clear enough that the revolution will be safe and healthy, even when we have disagreements about which information is true? Because it has to be. Did we make it clear enough that the revolution has to be sustainable ecologically? Because it has to be. Did we make it clear enough that all genders, religions, sexualities, nationalities, ages and abilities will be welcome and equal? Because it has to be so.

Did we make it clear enough that the revolution will provide not only human rights but also economic rights? Because it has to be this way. Did we make it clear enough that the revolution will be international? Because it has to be. Did we make it clear enough that the revolution will be non-hierarchal? Because it has to be. Did we make it clear enough that this revolution will be organized? Because it has to be. Did we make it clear enough that this revolution will be clear? Because it has to be.

Who is getting much out of Joe Biden, a man responsible for historic mass incarceration of black and brown people, telling us he is morally above the actions of citizens who stormed the capitol? Who is getting much out of the ruling class, the reason for the destruction and violence of our natural world and all life on it, telling us what a dark chapter in American history this is. Who is getting much out of people who once called themselves leftists and liberals falling over themselves to prove how disgusted they are by their fellow citizens, some even calling out the state for not intervening violently?

The revolution went wrong. Everyday under capitalism we are witness to and complicit with systematic violence against the earth and each other. Only by organizing around fundamental human values of love, care and empathy for one another will be combat these forces. We want a revolution. We called for it. We lost the war of ideas to the ruling class, a capable and brutal foe.

Is now really the moment where we hide from our demands upon the system to love us the way we love each other? Is now really the moment we say we never wanted a revolution? Is now the moment where we retreat and act like we did not understand the risk? People are hungry, homeless, war torn, the earth is dying. The demands have not changed.

But yes, blood has been shed. We should learn, we should mourn, we should honor those lost. To see the bourgeois values of violence, white supremacism and authoritarianism infect many classes of our society is a tragedy indeed.

We see this day as a dark chapter because we see our hand in it. We see the way we tried to change our society for the better. We see how difficult this is and how many powerful forces are up against it. We see other people willing to sacrifice themselves for a greater cause. For a cause we cannot recognize, in a mentality too close to home.

We see these things and we are already far ahead of the ruling class, who is incapable of reflecting upon the violence baked into their modus apparatus. We see the revolution gone wrong. We see the values we aimed for corrupted, the people we value further marginalized, the change for the better turning to change for the worst. We see these things and it hurts us. This is our humanity talking. The revolution is bigger than any of us. So we must go on, in spite of ourselves, to a better tomorrow.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com 

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