Murray Bookchin

“Only by being a citizen of a polis can a person fully pursue a life of good quality, which is the end goal of human existence. Because one can only achieve this goal through political association,” Aristotle

The following qoutes are from Murray Bookchin, I will try to put them in a order that explains his main ideas.

The myth of the party

Social revolutions are not “made” by parties, groups, or cadres; they occur as a result of deep-seated historic forces and contradictions that activate large sections of the population. They occur not merely (as Trotsky argued) because the “masses” find the existing society intolerable, but also because of the tension between the actual and the possible, between “what is” and “what could be.”

Abject misery alone does not produce revolutions; more often than not, it produces an aimless demoralization, or worse, a private, personalized struggle to survive.

Spontaneous Revolution

The most striking feature of the past revolutions is that they began spontaneously. Whether one chooses to examine the opening phases of the French Revolution of 1789, the revolutions of 1848, the Paris Commune, the 1905 revolution in Russia, the overthrow of the Tsar in 1917, the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the French general strike of 1968, the opening stages are generally the same: a period of ferment that explodes spontaneously into a mass upsurge.

Whether the upsurge is successful or not depends on its resoluteness and on whether the State can effectively exercise its armed power–that is, on whether the troops go over to the people.

The Hierarchy of Command

As the party expands, the distance between the leadership and the ranks invariably increases. Its leaders not only become “personages”, but they lose contact with the living situation below. The local groups, which know their own immediate situation better than any remote leader, are obliged to subordinate their insights to directives from above.

The leadership, lacking any direct knowledge of local problems, responds sluggishly and prudently. Although it stakes out a claim to the “larger view”, to greater “theoretical competence”, the competence of the leadership tends to diminish the higher one ascends the hierarchy of command.

The more one approaches the level where the real decisions are made, the more conservative is the nature of the decision-making process, the more bureaucratic and extraneous are the factors which come into play, the more considerations of prestige and retrenchment supplant creativity, imagination, and a disinterested dedication to revolutionary goals.

To claim that these parties ceased to take their Marxian principles seriously merely conceals another question: why did this happen in the first place? The fact is that these parties were co-opted into bourgeois society because they were structured along bourgeois lines. The germ of treachery existed in them from birth.