Revolution Means Taking Care of the Future

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 2175 ... August 24, 2020

Revolution Means Taking Care of the Future

Verónica Gago

Thinking a socialist future implies imagining what this future might look like, and then asking how we can get there. Utopia, as conceived by revolutionary theory, implies a pragmatic aspect relating to the question of transition. Transition is a challenge. History has shown that it is not linear: no direct path leading from one point to another exists. Instead, we need to consider transition as a process. Feminist body politics aimed at dismantling rigid norms of gender and sexuality show that revolutions take time. The temporal space created by this, however, opens up a field for exploration and experimentation, a terrain on which contradictory forces clash. Is it possible to walk such a transitional path without knowing where it will lead?

The struggles now unfolding in Chile and across the globe against neoliberal privatization, the destruction of welfare provisions, and the progressive commodification of our lives stand in a largely inverse relation to such a revolutionary temporality. Their project is less future-orientated than it is... invested in defending something lost or something perceived as under threat. These are struggles for the commons, struggles to confront ongoing dispossession, or demanding the return of stolen wealth: struggles showing that our utopias need foundations to turn into a reality. We need functioning structures of care and self-care to find the energy to fight in the first place.

Should this lead us to conclude that these struggles are more conservative, or backward-looking than they are utopian? No. They entail a utopian thrust in their knowledge of the conditions from which they initiate transformation. For this reason, these are now decisive and indispensible struggles. Taking self-defence as a starting point, they spawn the possibility of something new; they bring to light something that has not existed. They found this political movement on a temporality that is not nostalgic or archaic, but directed toward producing the present. We can see that revolutionary desire requires a solid infrastructure to come to fruition.

Rosa Luxemburg coined the concept of a revolutionary Realpolitik to grasp transition with greater precision, as a process in which day-to-day struggles for concrete improvements take place against the horizon of a radical reorganization of society, and in which struggles in the here and now, in grassroots politics, pave the way for the steps to follow. The teleology of an ultimate revolutionary "goal" shifts. Not because it no longer exists or loses importance, but because the temporal relation to everyday politics has changed. We can and must question every act, whether it is imbued with revolutionary dynamism or not.

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