Thursday, 8 October 2009


I would like to pick up on a quote from D. Sandy Petrey cited by Louise Weeks in her blog...

"Strikes became the primary symbol of socialist revolt. Zola consequently left his study of the commune to La Debacle to incarnate the movement of the proletariat in a strike, a subject whose vast dramatic potential had never before been exploited in a novel".

In my view, strikes – and miner strikes at that – would have been a very attractive symbol to people looking to join the socialist revolt. Throughout history, the largest revolutions have always been built on extremes, and there is little more extreme than mining, as Chris emphasized today. The meteoric rise of the Third Reich is perhaps best in underlining this. From the signing of the Versailles treaty at the end of WWI to January 1933, Hitler consistently turned the extreme conditions the Weimar Republic faced to his advantage: hyperinflation, failure of more moderate governments, fear of the left (largely cooked up by him in the form of the Reichstag fire) to name but a few – the only difference being every social class could relate, let alone the miners.

Propaganda was instrumental in this success. If strikes were “the primary symbol of the revolt,” strength and nationalism were the symbols of the Fascists in the early 20th century. One of the famous Nazi slogans was “one people, one nation, one leader while Benito Mussolini constantly referred to his policies as 'battles' in Italy. Both promoted unity in revolutionary, war-like conditions. It is my hypothesis that political allegiance or action will be as extreme (or not) as the conditions a people are faced with, which is where I draw my comparison to Petrey’s quote and my example.

Back to the original matter, The Hegelian view that a violent overthrow and eradication of the previous state is necessary is just as counter-productive, if not more than having an under-achieving government. the ultimate goal of revolt and subsequent dictatorship of the proletariat is equally as damaging as the rejection of the status quo (i.e – the ruling class).


  1. Sorry Glenn - I have made an error in the linking from the page so i could not read your blog. I found the link via Louise's blog. Email me and remind me to link to the blog.

    This entry is interesting but it needs to be based more clearly on your reading of the actual text.

  2. Okay, will do.

    Haven't got the book yet but will probably blog again once I have.