This is not a frivolous question even if it seems so. I just read this quote from Lenin on facebook:
"A revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, not every revolutionary situation leads to revolution."For me this diary is the seeds for another book. Let me explain why this quote is more important now than in Lenin's time. In our recent book Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World Jim Coffman and I spell out an analysis of human history that is very different than any other. We base it on works of many including George Lakoff who has contributed here often. If you read below the break I'll give a synopsis then go on to talk about the possibility or impossibility of another revolution of real substance.
Here is a very short synopsis of what our book (and therefore this diary) is about:
The Global Economy that sustains the civilized world is destroying the biosphere. As a result, civilization, like the Titanic, is on a collision course with disaster. But changing course via the body politic appears to be well nigh impossible, given that much of the populace lives in denial. Why is that? And how did we get into such a fix? In this essay, biologists James Coffman and Donald Mikulecky argue that the reductionist model of the world developed by Western civilization misrepresents life, undermining our ability to regulate and adapt to the accelerating anthropogenic transformation of the world entrained by that very model. An alternative worldview is presented that better accounts for both the relational nature of living systems and the developmental phenomenology that constrains their evolution. Development of any complex system reinforces specific dependencies while eliminating alternatives, reducing the diversity that affords adaptive degrees of freedom: the more developed a system is, the less potential it has to change its way of being. Hence, in the evolution of life most species become extinct. This perspective reveals the limits that complexity places on knowledge and technology, bringing to light our hubristically dysfunctional relationship with the natural world and increasingly tenuous connection to reality. The inescapable conclusion is that, barring a cultural metamorphosis that breaks free of deeply entrenched mental frames that made us what we are, continued development of the Global Economy will lead inexorably to the collapse of civilization.First of all the concept of a cultural metamorphosis is worth examining for such change is a precursor to any real revolutionary change. Few of us, if any can imagine the depth of change in our thinking that such a metamorphosis would entail. We have danced around this here on many occasions and the seemingly uniform response seemed to be that we are incapable of such depth of change. Our book suggests the same but gives some very good reasons why.
Jim Coffman wrote much of the chapter called : The Logic of Development In it we spell out the way that the mechanistic view of the world has distorted our view of how things come to be and then evolve. We have to restate evolutionary theory as we go for it is all wrapped together. The basic causal inversion is replete in all what we have brought forth. Mechanism does not beget development, development begets mechanism. This is so big an upending of modern thought that it is hard to see. We have been taught from day one that the world comes about from mechanisms.
Revolutionaries like Lenin knew better as did those who took this country from the rule of the British. If there were a "blueprint" for revolution things would have been very different. No, revolutions "develop". They materialize in a very special context. This is real down to earth complexity theory. That context is the product of a "cultural metamorphosis" that comes together developmentally and eschews mechanistic rules and procedures.
So we might ask whether or not we are at or near such a point now. If you read on in that chapter you see the likely answer to that question. In the early stages of a developing system there are lots of options. As development goes on options have to be discarded. Eventually such a developing system reaches a point where the options it has left may not suffice to provide what it needs for survival. In biology this is the relationship between evolution and extinction.
Social systems do much of the same thing. Lenin's revolution came because there was a "cultural metamorphosis" as well as an atrophy of the system's adaptive capacity.
Now we have to step back a step. We have had an American "revolution" and a Russian "revolution" and others. The global ties between these subsystems of the "big" system globally were still relatively weak. Nevertheless the entire globe was affected and international capitalism spent the rest of its existence reacting.
But we can fast forward now. We have a much more highly developed global system. Developed how? Not in terms of its survival options but in terms of its loss of options. We keep noticing that things that were projected as futuristic a little while ago are less frequently brought forth as signs of "progress". Even though much of the world is now finally developing solar and wind power it is not highly recognized as how we will survive the crisis we have created. Illusions abot China being able to exercise options already locked down in the West are also not looking as promising.
So where are the seeds for the "cultural metamorphosis"? What is the source of ideas? Our book offers what we think is the only answer that makes sense in the present context. It suggests that we go to a new relationship with the earth system that sustains us. It is only new in that when a version of it existed earlier the context was not even remotely similar.
What is lacking then? How is it that some of us have this view of our situation and so very many others do not? Even as we talk about necessary change most of those who seem close to us are still locked into ideas about society and revolution more suited for Lenin's time than ours.
There is no worldview out there to support what we need. Our book is a beginning. It is a call to rise above the fog the old ideas have created. Unfortunately, it seems like time is short. Can we hope to make something happen before it is too late? Don't look to government for an answer. It is a big part of the problem.