A Social Revolution Will Necessarily Involve Violence and Death on a Massive Scale

It is, in fact, capitalism that has created and continues to promote death and violence and terror on a global scale. Inequalities in wealth and quality of life cause death and disease in capitalist countries themselves, and the capitalist west’s underdevelopment of most of the rest of the world and the aforementioned massive disparity in wealth and health has dire consequences (Hill and Kumar 2009; Hill and Rosskam 2009). In addition, imperialist conquest historically and contemporaneously unleashes death, terror and destruction on a colossal scale. Stalinism, and other atrocities, committed in the name of, but not in the spirit of socialism, also shares this guilt, but as argued above, there is no inherent reason why the historical perversities of Stalinism need to be repeated. As for the violence entailed in future social revolution is concerned, this is, of course, an unknown. However, as argued in Cole 2008a, pp. 78-79, socialism is a majoritar- ian process not an imposed event which is not dependent on violence. It is, of course, inconceivable that a world social revolution would involve no violence, not least because of the resistance of the dominant capitalist class. However, there are no reasons for violence to be a strategic weapon. Anyone who has ever attended a mass socialist gathering, e.g. Marxism 2008 in Britain (http://www.marxismfestival.org.uk/), can attest to the fact that violence is not, in any way, an organising tool of the socialist movement. Mass violence is the province of world capitalism. Moreover, Marxists oppose terrorism unreservedly. Terrorism is reactionary, in that it diverts attention away from the class struggle. It militates against what Leon Trotsky has described as self-organisation and self-education. Trotsky favoured a different resolution to the revenge desired by many who subscribe to terrorism. As he put it:

The more ‘effective’ the terrorist acts, the greater their impact, the more they reduce the interest of the masses in self-organisation and self-education ... To learn to see all the crimes against humanity, all the indignities to which the human body and spirit are subjected, as the twisted outgrowths and expressions of the existing social system, in order to direct all our energies into a collective struggle against this system - that is the direction in which the burning desire for revenge can find its highest moral satisfaction (Trotsky 1909).

 
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