The Question of Equality
Equality is the fundamental demand of the rebellion of the poor: it should be the ideological force behind the new society. How this egalitarian demand is understood is crucial to the distinction between the Democratic Revolution and the Marxist-Jacobin Revolution.
The Marxist answer to the egalitarian demand is the dictatorship of the proletariat, which Maurice Duverger shrewdly describes as an accurate continuation of the Jacobin theory of terror:
". . .Man is born but capitalism corrupts him: In order to destroy the system of oppression, exploitation and alienation development by capitalism, violence must be used. Violence against the state, in the first palace, so long as it is in the hands of the exploiting classes: This means revolution. Next, when the working class has taken power, the force of the state is directed against the exploiters and used to destroy every trace of exploitation: this stage is the dictatorship of the proletariat."
In a society such as ours, in which the rich are too few and the poor too many, the Marxist-Jacobinist approach has a ringing appeal. With the term proletariat, one simply substitutes the poor. By "expropriating the expropriators," or eradicating the rich, equality is achieved with one bold stroke.
The trouble with this formulation, however, is that the dictator-proletariat is itself dictated upon by an all-powerful Party, while even among the poor there is a hierarchy of classes, beginning with the "advanced" proletariat, followed by the peasantry, the intellectuals and the petite bourgeoise. Moreover, there is a contemptible class, the lumpenproletariat, a term reserved for "the scum of the earth."
Stated, therefore, in Marxist-Jacobinist terms, the rebellion of the poor is self-contradictory: it is unable to approximate the egalitarian idea.
The reason for this lies in the heart of Marxism itself equality is exclusively regarded as a relation between social classes, hence, the solution to bourgeoise domination is proletarian dictatorship. In sum, while the domination is proletarian dictatorship. In sum, while the domination of one class is oppressive, the domination of another is not. But the egalitarian principle states that all men are equal, however their class, color, or creed; it is thus a condition of each and every individual in society. A man is not just a worker, a farmer, a teacher, or a capitalist: he deserves to be treated justly and equally as the rest not because of these social functions but because and simply because he is an individual human being. But the Marxist-Jacobinist equality depends on class, on status, which is contrary to the human concept of equality. It is for the reason that man in a totalitarian state is defined arbitrarily and persecuted arbitrarily by assigning him to a social class.
How could this logical practical contradiction gain so much power and appeal? Partly because of coercion and pertly because of the fascistic tendencies of capitalism in underdeveloped societies. Communism was the only honest alternative in Tsarist Russia and feudal-warlord-colonial China. The democratic revolutionaries in these countries were neither sufficient nor strong enough; there was no sense of democratic revolution.
Democratic institutions, no matter how weak or corrupted by the social system, are a pre-condition for a democratic revolution, or what is called, "revolution from the center." Its central problem, like that of the rebellion of the poor, is equality. Equality, moreover, that is necessary initiated in the political realm.
Obviously, then, the fundamental task of drastic political reform it to democratize the entire political system. The high cost of election, for example, works against the egalitarian principle, for the rich man or the instrument of the oligarchic rich, have an edge against the poor. The literacy test discriminates against the illiterate, who, in the present-day state of mass communications, need not necessarily be less qualified than the literate. The minimum voting age is 21 discriminates against the 18-years olds, who are considered old enough to fight and die for their country. The oligarchic clutch on the political authority makes democratic rights the exclusive benefits of a controlling class.
The Marxist-Jacobinist claims that political reconstruction is impossible without social revolution. On the contrary, political reconstruction can change society, as we are now changing society through a reorientation of our political authority.
Political structure forms is by no means minor: it is, in the context of our experience, quite revolutionary. The gap between the humble citizen and the center of national power is considerably narrowed down. But what is of paramount importance is the advent of participatory democracy. The masses will no longer wait until controversies and issues of the day are crystallized for them by the debates of vested groups in the media; they crystallized the issues themselves, their opinions and sentiments are directly felt by the political authority.
The old political system divided our people between the influential, principally on the basis of social and economic status. The new political system unites them into a citizenry with equal individual rights.
Politics in the old society were essential a politics of conflict, the composition among individuals and groups for social domination. It was not a surprise therefore that the poor, the wretched, and the frustrated, got what they could out of the politics of conflict, since they never looked upon them as a force for authentic integration. If behaved indifferently towards government, only "coming alive" during elections, or whenever they sought favors rather than their due from it, it was because they believed that for the most part government was entirely at the service of the oligarchic and influential few. Their feeder roads, their schools, their bridges, were to remain unbuilt for one reason or another, while the private roads, schools, and mansions of the rich were easily constructed. There was no controversy about responding to the needs of the influential, there was always controversy about satisfying the needs of the many. All these came to be simple because the influential could disguise private greed with public concern.
This state affair prevailed principally because of the dishonesty, intellectual and otherwise, in the public forums. The national interest, the common good, were daily betrayed in the same of "principles." But for the masses, the test of principles was the condition of their lives; all the rhetoric did not give them the sense of equality that they have now.
This is something that cannot be taken away from them in the name of the civil liberties of the old establishment. Having known political equality, all the freedoms, let alone the freedom of expression, which were distorted in the old society, our people henceforth demand that all freedoms be considered under one supreme criterion: how will they serve the cause of the rebellion of the poor.
Evidently, the egalitarian principle requires a reconstruction of our political values.
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