Reformism or Revolution?

reformismSomething I have noticed every now and then, in some form or other, is the fundamental question: Reformism or Revolution?  This subject cropped up most recently in a blog by a teenager who has become politically engaged.  I left a brief response on their article in relation to this topic, which I think is worth sharing here.  I have my own opinions on this ideological concept which I left aside from the comment below.  However, I am likely to return to this subject in greater detail in the future.

‘Firstly, you have a very good blog here. Although you are 16, it seems that your thoughts are quite advanced – your articles evidently have much consideration put into them.

However, I would like to ask a few questions based on the above article that I think are worth considering. But, before that, I also have to ask, are you suggesting that it is better to reform capitalism or fix it?

If we are suggesting the task is to ‘fix’ capitalism, we must ask ourselves, what is broken with it? Therefore, what is capitalism, and is it worth fixing at all?

If we can answer those questions, we may come to one of either two conclusions: Capitalism is a generally good thing, which has gone awry, and therefore, worth fixing, or, capitalism is generally a bad thing, in which case it is worth changing. If we come to the latter conclusion, we might consider one of two things: Reforming capitalism over time into some other form of organising and running society (reformism), or, a revolution which would bring about more immediate change.

When coming to your own conclusions on this, I would consider the history of capitalism throughout the world since its emergence around 250 years ago. What has been its general social, economic, and political trends? I would also ask the same questions of reformism and of revolutions throughout this period, in such places as France (which has had many), Germany (1918-1919), Russia (1917), Spain (1936), Ireland (1916- c. 1923). In reference to the comment above about Stalin, Mao Zedong and that ‘communism might just be best left on paper’ – this is a cliché and lazy answer which ignores the reality of why social movements and revolutionary movements come about, and what they mean or what they are. One might ask instead, “what is communism, and has it ever been achieved?”…’

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