If You Mean It, Be It

Many of us become active because we see things that outrage us. We want to change them. Unfortunately, our good intentions tend to dissolve in a reactionary activism that falls short of recognizing the depth of what we are fighting against. If we see a homeless person and have a surging feeling that we need to help them we may do one of several things. We can give them change from our pocket, give them a less insulting sum of money, or become truly affected and strive to change the system that creates this situation. The eradication of the root causes, hierarchy and capitalism, is the only fight that will bring revolution as opposed to revolutionary acts which will not necessarily create fundamental change.

Dedication to eradication of hierarchy and capitalism requires that one follow a certain course.

The first step to revolution is confronting yourself. Many people tend to disregard this step or claim that they have experienced it while in reality they are shamelessly perpetuating hierarchy within their radical community. Oftentimes knowledge of current events and history is mistaken for awareness.

Looking at oneself and changing socialized behaviors that reflect fears and insecurities which are partially responsible (along with structural factors) for institutions such as sexism, homophobia, and racism is no small task. This means confronting fears, studying dynamics in relationships, and if followed through it means having a transformative experience and breaking free of the power of socialization. In doing so one gains control over his/her own socialization (it never disappears) and is able to change his/her behavior. Like any major life transformation there is a high price to pay. The difficulty of facing personal flaws and affecting and losing relationships are two examples why many radicals do not fully realize this step before becoming involved in activism.

Being social beings, once awareness has been raised there is a desire to share what has been learned with others. The next step is to take that feeling and educate as many people as possible. It is not going to a demonstration but the impassioned education of those in ones community that will change the system. This step can be characterized as interpersonal transformation or simply as raising awareness.

Once awareness has been raised in a community the question of those who have taken personal responsibility becomes “what can we do?” This is the closest we have ever come to seeing revolution. This joining together of dedicated revolutionaries can and has led to amazing organizing and group work. The Zapatistas are a formidable example of revolutionary organizing. This is the difference between an activist and a revolutionary.

This leads us to the unknown final step in reaching revolution. Unknown because it has never existed. When a large enough transformation takes place and it is a movement of people who truly have experienced the aforementioned steps, then there is a strong basis for a true revolutionary movement: a movement that is truly committed to changing the system and eradicating hierarchy. A revolution under any other circumstances will only be a tiring repetition of age-old struggles for power with varying levels and appearances of oppression.