the third revolution 1.1 .pdf
Original filename: the_third_revolution_1.1.pdf
This PDF 1.3 document has been generated by Canon / , and has been sent on pdf-archive.com on 25/03/2018 at 06:09, from IP address 107.77.x.x.
The current document download page has been viewed 87 times.
File size: 33.7 MB (38 pages).
Privacy: public file
Download original PDF file
Also by Murray BookchinandpublishedbyCassell:
From Urbanizationto Cities(1995)
Humanity ( 1995)
London WC2R 0BB
NewYork, NY 10003
@Murray Bookchin 1996
All rights reserved.No part of this publicationmay be reproducedor transmitted
in any form or by any means,electronicor mechanicalincluding photocopying,
recordingor any storageinformation or retrievalsystem,without prior permission
in writing from the publishers.
First published 1996
British Library Cataloguing-in-PublicationData
A cataloguerecordfor this book is availablefrom the British Library.
Library of CongressCataloging-in-Publication Data
Bookchin,Murray, I 921The third revolution : popular movementsin the revolutionaryera
p. c m .
(hardback: v. l). - ISBN0-304-33594-0
(pbk : v. l)
l. World politics.2. Revolutions-Europe-History.
3. Revolutions-United States-History. L Title.
Typesetby Ben CracknellStudios
Printed in Great Britain by Redwood Books,Tiowbridge, Wiltshire.
The Riseof Commerce:The Dutch Revolt
and the New ModelArmy
"A Kind of Revolution"
The Committeesof Safetyand the Militias
Rebellionandthe Constitutionof 1789
PartIV TuE FRTNcH
Chapterl6 The Originsof Revolt
Chapter17 The lourntesof 1789-t790
Chaptert9 The Sectionsof Paris
Chapter20 The Insurrectionof June2, 1793
Chapter2l Terrorand Thermidor
For my granddaughterKatya
This book has been written becauseof a deepeningconcern I have felt over the
past two decades:the ebbing of the revolutionary tradition. The era of the great
revolutionary movements, from that of the English Revolution of the 1640sto
that of the Spanish Revolution of 1936-39, is waning today from the consciousnessof even radical young people, let alone the reasonably educated.
Insofar as these revolutions are remembered at all, they are dismissedas irrelevant failures or as the incubators ofauthoritarian statesand their rulers such as
Oliver Cromwell, Maximilien Robespierre,and foseph Stalin.
Yet while the names of the tyrants that the revolutions are said to have
produced live on as historical villains, the names of the people who tried to
rescue their liberatory potentialities are nearly lost, and so too are the
exhilarating ideas they propounded. All but forgotten, in fact, are the littleknown popular spokespersonswho articulated great visions of freedom and
often coordinated great insurrectionary uprisings in towns and the countryside,
like Thomas Mtinzer, Richard Overton, Daniel Shays,fean Varlet, JeanVarlin,
Louise Michel, and Nestor Makhno. Each of these individuals, among many
others, earnestlytried to propel the great revolutions of past centuriestoward a
full realization of their emancipatory goals.Yet they and their endeavorsare
usually forgotten, often completely so, except among people who have a
specializedknowledge of the revolutions in which they participated.
That the revolutionary era of the past four centuriescontinually widened the
radical horizon of fi'eedom is equally unknown to the present generation.Few
people today are awareof the radical programs,achievements,and gains,as well
as the errors that were made, especially at the popular base of revolutionary
movements.ordinary people-peasants, workers,artisans,radicalintellectualsmade great attempts to take full control of society, establish fairly egalitarian
torms of social organization, and defend important human rights as well as
expound lofty goals of freedom. That such an era, with all its problems and ideals,
may become lost to memory has been too chilling for me to contemplate.
pR E FA C E
It is this social and historical amnesia that has impelled me to write an
account of the revolutionary era-to set down people,events,social factors,and
political programs of popular revolutionary movements that began with the
peasantwars before the modern era and reachedremarkablefruition for a brief
time in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. Each of these revolutions was built
ideologically on the historical memory of the revolutions that had precededit.
Americans were deeply consciousof the English Civil War of the 1640sand
1650s;the French were profoundly affectedby the American Revolution, whose
radicalism is usually woefully understatedin the historical literature today; and
the revolutions that followed were immensely influenced by the events of the
My principal orientation in this work has been toward the popular or "mass"
movements and the so-called "grassroots"institutional structures and organizational frameworks of the groups that propelled the great revolutions forward.
For each revolution, I have tried to provide the social, economic, cultural, and
political background that gaverise to and sustainedits radical movement.
I have avoided viewing the intentions of these movements as reflecting the
emergenceand consolidation of industrial capitalism; rather, I have taken the
demands of various revolutionary tendenciesat their word. I believe that the
great massof people who made the revolutions describedin this work genuinely
believed in the notions of liberty, equality, fraternity, and the pursuit of happiness that they articulated-not necessarilyin free trade, a ruthless egotism, or
classcollaboration, contrary to the retrospectiveinterpretations that have been
given to their liberatory slogans.
Each revolution, moreover, advancedmoral, political, and social alternatives
to capitalism-although they lacked any clear idea of what capitalism would
become and often even cleared the way for modern capitalism. The popular
revolutionaries did present alternatives to the self-seeking,competitive, and
acquisitive society that prevails today. The reasonsthat they failed should be a
matter of the greatestinterestto us, now that capitalism is often taken as a given
in ordinary discourseor seenas the "end of history,"the outcome of humanity's
long and bitter struggle for the good society.
Hence I do not work with the teleologicalconviction that what now existshad
to come into existence;rather, it was one of many orher possibilitiesthat were
latent in the revolutionary potentialities that existed generations, indeed
centuries,ago. Any prejudgments of the past in the light of the presentrepresent
the abdication of a moral interpretation of history-the abjuring of an
emancipatory "should be" that critically opposes the prevalent "what is." If a
largely retrospectiveor even fatalistic perspectivewere to guide us, we would
have to consider the high ideals that emerged in past revolutions as merely an
ideological patina for uncontrollable economic forces that determined human
behavior irrespectiveof human wishesand desires.
In fact, if cultural factors were merely reflexesof economic ones, capitalism
would have emerged at almost any time in the past, as far back as antiquity.
Capitalistsin sizablenumbers lived in ancient Greeceand Rome aswell as many
parts of medievalEurope,and they were no lessacquisitiveor enterprisingin
iheir pursuit of wealth than our own bourgeoisie.But what prevented them
from taking a commanding position in social life-assuming that they tried to
do so-was precisely a host of cultural factors that favored the ownership of
land over capital, denigrated material accumulation, and strongly emphasized
social status in the form of noble titles rather than the ownership of fungible
The title of this book-The Third Revolution-has been chosenlargely to show
that capitalismaswe know it today was not predestinedto gain the supremacyit
presentlyhas;rather, that popular revolutionary movementsoffered,and fought
for, more rational and democratic social alternativesto the present society and
to so-called"bourgeois revolutions,"to use the label that has so often been given
to the English, American, and French Revolutions. I have thus examined the
classicalrevolutions internally, from within their own inner dynamics, rather
than externally,from the standpoint of where we are today.
placesunavoidablelimits on the extent
My emphasison popular insurgencies
to which I can describethesesweepinghistorical movementsas a whole. Readers
who want more detailed accounts of specific revolutions may consult the
sources in my notes and the bibliographical essayat the end of this book.
Fortunately, nearly every work I cite in the essaycontains referencesto the
abundant, increasingly specializedworks that now exist in many languages.I
havetried to use sourcesin the English languageas much as possibleto meet the
needs of the general readership to which this book is addressed,and I have
provided referencenotes mainly for the quotations that appear in the narrative.
Let me make it clear from the outset that this book does not attempt to be a
work of academic scholarship. Rather it has been written to chart out a
memorable legacyfor the reader unlikely to be concernedwith esotericsources
or minor details.It is admittedly an account of the popular movementsthat
propelled the great revolutions forwar.d to their most radical and democratic
extremes-and it is an interpretation of eventsas they might have been seenby
a radicalparticipant in them.
I do not regard such an approach by a twentieth-century lifelong student of
the great revolutions as presumptuous. When circumstancesafforded popular
revolutionaries sufficient freedom of expression,they were often very eloquent
their own interpretatio.r, of *hut they were doing and made their
goals quite clear in pamphlets, speeches,manifestos,and actions.What I have
qone is to cite
them, their ideas, and their actions with the attention they
P R E F ACE
deserve,and free them from the historical dungeons to which many of them
havebeen confined by conventional,often middle-class,and partisan historians.
I make no claim to be impartial in my own views-as though "impartiality"
were possiblein discussionsof great revolutions-and I admit quite frankly that
I would have stood side by side with ]ean Varlet in the sans-culottes'uprisingof
1793 and with JeanVarlin during the embattled days of the Paris Commune of
This volume-the first of two, ranging from the peasantwars of the sixteenth
century to the French Revolution-was read as the basis of a course on the
revolutionary tradition to my students in Vermont in 1988-89. The extensive
text that I prepared was supplemented by extemporaneouselaborations and
discussions.I wish to thank my colleague and companion, Janet Biehl, for
editing the text and giving it more of a book format for the generalreader,filling
in background material, and writing most of Chapter 13 on the basis of
discussionsbetween us and her own research.Both the style and content of the
book remain entirely my own responsibility. I wish also to thank my editor,
SteveCook, of Cassell,for his encouragementand support for this book.
Volume Two of The Third Revolution will take the reader through the
nineteenth century,focusing on the French uprisingsof 1830,1848,the Paris
Commune of 1871,and into the twentieth century, focusing on revolutions in
Russia, Germany, and Spain. So acutely aware are we, these days, of the
shortcomings of these revolutions-the elitism of the political factions and
parties in France and Russia,for instance,and the extent to which the needsof
women, native peoples, and persecutedminorities of all kinds were not fully
encompassedby revolutionary movements-that we tend to overlook how
sweepingthe popular revolutionary movements in Europe and America were in
so many respects.
The fact that I have not addressedin any great detail certain shortcomings of
the great democratic revolutions, such as the limited role that women were
permitted to play in them and the oppressionthat African-Americans suffered
even as the American Revolution honored their "natural rights" in the breach,
does not mean that I am oblivious to the rights and interests of women,
homosexuals, and ethnic minorities. But any introductory account of the
revolutionary era must necessarilybe highly selectivein its choice of eventsand
facts. Fortunately,there are now many books availablethat deal in considerable
detail with issues of gender and ethnicity in these revolutions and that
adequatelyfill out my own gaPs'
l une 14, 1993
Revolution from Below
The title of this book, The Third Revolution,is taken from what may seem an
extraordinary historical coincidence.The demand for a "third revolution" was
actually raised in two great revolutions: the French Revolution in the closing
decadeof the eighteenth century, and 120 yearslater in the RussianRevolution
during the opening decadesof the twentieth.
The revolutionary sans-culottes
of Paris in 1793 raised the cry to replacethe
supposedly radical National Convention with a popular democracy-the
Parisian sections-that they themselves had established during a series of
insurrections,often againstthe wishesof the Convention'sJacobinleaderswho
professedto speakin their name. In another place and another time, in l92l in
Russia,the revolutionary workers of Petrograd and the famous "red sailors" of
Kronstadt, the capital's nearby naval base, raised the identical cry. They, too,
sought to overthrow an authoritarian, though seeminglyradical regime-in their
case,one led by Bolsheviks-with democraticallyelectedcouncils or "soviets."
In surveying the eventsof thesetwo periods, it struck me as fascinating-and
more than a mere coincidence-that this very same demand, word for word,
was raised in both Parisand Petrogradtoward the end of two historically crucial
revolutions that were separatedby such a great span of time.
The two peopleswho raised the demand profoundly differed in their cultural
and social conditions. Neither the Petrogradworkers nor the Kronstadt sailors
were schooled,as far as I can discern,in revolutionary history--certainly not in
the details of 1793-and they could not have known much about the Parisian
Yet they directed the identical cry against a seemingly revolutionary regime that they had helped bring to power and by which they now felt
what was it about the dynamics of these two great revolutions that caused
such a demand to be raised twice?what brought theserevolutionary populaces
into open, even bloody, opposition to the leaders,organizations,and regimes
that claimed to be radical to one degreeor another?
In both casesa "first revolution"hadbeendirectedagainsta patentlyobsolete
monarchy-the Bourbonsin Franceand the Romanovsin Russia-because
of the royalregime.A shapeless
membersof the courtly ruling classhad
taken over the reins of governmentin this "first revolution,"replacingthe
monarchywith a new and moderatebut irresoluterepresentative
Accordingly,in both cases,
which a radicalgovernmentthat had the supportof the most insurgentpeople
proceededto overthrowthe moderateone. But once in power,the radical
government,too, becamediscreditedto a point where the revolutionary
populacedemandedstill a "third revolution"to reclaimthe powertheyhad lost.
A numberof writerson revolution,perhapsmostpopularlyCraneBrintonin
haveadvanceda "stages"theoryof revolutionsthat
accountsvery well for the first two revolutions.Accordingto Brinton'sapproach,the English,French,and RussianRevolutionsall underwenta seriesof
fairly distinct stepsthat followed a rough schematicpattern,somewhatas
Initially, the peopleare drawn into a more or lessunified revolt againsta
of a moderateregime-or what I
monarchy,which leadsto the establishment
(and they) in retrospectcall the first revolution.After its initial success,
by a civil war that awakensbroad sectorsof the lower classes,in which
extremistsengagein a strugglewith their formerly moderateallies,thereby
leadingto the secondrevolution.In time,however,conflictswithin the revolutionary campare resolvedby a military regime,which itselfis supplantedby a
restorationof the old regime.Accordingto Brinton'sapproach-and that of
Marx, I should add-this counterrevolutionis neverentirelysuccessful.
revolution,viewedasa whole,wins in the sensethat its socialconquests
be removedby the restoredold regime and are thus institutionalizedas a
despitethe nominaldefeatof the revolutionand
its military sequelae.
BesidesBrinton, theoristsinfluencedby the "human ecology"ideasof the
ChicagoSchoolof urban sociologyhavealsoadvancedsucha highly idealized
pattern.So,too, haveMarxisthistorians.LeonTrotskycontendedto the end of
his life that Stalin'srule overthe formerSovietUnion constituteda "Thermidor"
rule of the Directory-the moderates
comparableto the counterrevolutionary
and the lacobins-in France.
bereftof truth. Stages
theoryis not completely
alike.The extraand unsuccessful
were in the major revolutions,successful
ordinary similarity,at leastin the sequenceof events,betweenthe English,
French,and RussianRevolutionsraisesfascinatingquestions'someof which
bearon the natureof revolutionitself.
To what extent did political factors outweigh economic ones?To what extent
were the outcomes different from what revolutionary leadershad intendedand if greatly so, why? What emancipatory directions could the revolutions have
followed, had certain specific events not altered their coursesprofoundly? In
what ways and with what goals did the popular movements-more specifically,
ordinary people themselves-affect theserevolutions?
The fact is that the stagestheory describesonly the first and second revolutions. Remarkably,the insurgent people who called for a third revolution seem
to have dropped out of the historical schemaworked out by Brinton, Tiotsky,
and others.Yet they were an abiding presencethroughout the revolutionary era,
and, more than any of the revolutionary figures and parties that loom over most
historical accounts of the great revolutions, they were the authentic radicals in
the eventsin which they participated.
For the insurrectionary people, almost alone, were seeking to reclaim and
expand highly democratic institutions that had been establishedduring earlier
phases of the revolutionary cycle and whose power had been subsequently
reduced or usurped by the parties and factions that professedto speakin their
name. The French sans-culottessought to extend the authority of their
neighborhood popular assembliesor "sections" at the expenseof the increasingly powerful, centralized,essentiallyJacobin-controlledstate apparatus.The
Russian workers and sailors wanted to democratize and reinvigorate their
grassrootscouncils or "soviets" as a substitutefor the increasinglyauthoritarian
Bolshevik-controlled state apparatus.In demanding a third revolution, they in
effect articulated a popular desirefor the establishmentof a radical democracy,
a demand that reached the point of outright insurgency. Ultimately, their
uprisings were quelled when the self-styledrevolutionary organizations of the
secondrevolution turned againstthe popular movement and suppressedit with
The failure of insurrectionary people to achieve a popular democracy has
nonethelessplofoundly affectedthe eventsof our own time. Indeed, seldom has
the past been so integrally part of the present,for we live under the shadow of
the failure of the French and Russian Revolutions to this very day, all recent
claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Whether directly, as in the caseof the
RussianRevolution, or indirectly, as in the caseof the French, they profoundly
shaped the course of the twentieth century and of the century that is soon to
follow-and we cannot afford to face the future without learning what they
have to teach us.
It was not only in the French and RussianRevolutions that the demand for a
third revolution arose:radical popular tendencieshave emerged repeatedlyin
revolutionary movements of the past, essentiallyvoicing the same demands as
the French and Russian insurgents, albeit in different words and different ways.
I N T R ODUCT ION
Revolutionary"mobs" or crowdsseemedto erupt like elementalforcesin
major revolutions,yet they werehardly as formlessor "chaotic"as many historical accountsand reminiscences
would lead us to believe.Episodiccrowd
eruptions or "riots" should not be confusedwith the more lasting and
underlyingpopular movementsthat slowlycrystallizedfrom small groupsin
neighborhoods,towns, and villagesinto increasinglylarger ones during
revolutionaryperiods.Beforehugecrowdssurgedaroundthe Bastilleon July
14,1789,in Paris,or confrontedtsaristtroopsin the avenues
February23 and 24, 1917,the peoplehad alreadyestablished
networksin the slumsand working-class
of both cities.
Such networks existednot only in urban but in village milieus. In the
countryside,villagelife itself often fosteredamongits members,for all their
highly intimateties and a deepsenseof collective
mutual responsibility.Radicalhistoriansin particulartend to overstatethe
extent to which the Europeanpeasantrywas dispersedand atomizedand
thereforeincapableof joint action.Theyechotoo closelyMarx'sdisparagement
of the peasantworld in generalasmean-spirited,
basedon his perceptionof the
egoism of the French peasantryof his own time. If all peasantsocieties
France,it wouldbe difficultto explainthe
that of nineteenth-century
peasantmovementsthat fought so zealouslyand with suchself-sacrifice
MexicanRevolutionof 1912,not to speakof the Vietnamese
Russiawould remain mysteriesto us if we did not understandthat they were
rooted in the strong and collectivistvillage ties of precapitalistagrarian
From the largelymedievalpeasantwarsof the sixteenth-century
to the modernuprisingsof industrialworkersand peasants,
forms of communityassociation-potentially,
the popularinfrastructureof a newsociety-to replacetheoppressive
defactopoliticalempowermentof the people.In time,during the courseof the
took the institutionalform of local assemblies,
much like town meetings,or representative
Thesenetworksweregenerallyimperviousnot only to policesurveillance
With few exceptions
timeshavehistorianstried to look beyondthe formalrevolutionaryinstitutions,
parties,to discernhow ordinarypeople,and particularlythe anonymousmiliin their own self-organization.
IN TR OD U C TION
It is these subterraneanpopular movements,their various forms of
and their oftenlittleknown or neglectedleadersthat I explorein the pagesthat follow. My own
limited,sincethis hiddenareaof activityis
in this endeavoris necessarily
on the basisof what I havebeenableto gather,I havefound that
the processof popularself-organization
in the villagesof underIn the poorerneighborhoods-andin the countryside,
privilegedpeasants-peopleinitially gatherin localtaverns,caf6s,squares,
in industrial areasthey gatherin factory"hangouts,"in union
halls,or in casasdelpueblo(literally,"housesof the people,"or neighborhood
and the like.
centers).There they haveaccess
rise to a distinctive
political culture,with educational,debating,evenchoral and literary groups.
Such little-noticedand poorly exploredculturesthen undergoa processof
structuration,influencedby an articulate,militant grassroots
an organizedpopular movementbeginsto emerge.This occursquite often
without the help of any political parties.Thereis a very real sense,in fact,in
which all the greatrevolutionsof the pastwerecivicor municipalrevolutionsat
their base,whether it was a village,town, neighborhood,or city where the
complexprocessof community structurationtook place.Hencewhat often
appearsto the police,to higherauthorities,and evento sympathetic
and historiansasa "mob" in a periodof socialupheavalis frequentlya remarkablyarticulated,communallydefinable,andwell-ledpopularupsurge.
of structurationnot only nourishrevolutions,
with well-armedtroops.Thesepopular political culturesand their networks
sustainthe revolutionarypeopleand its leadersduring periodsof temporary
defeat,which are often followedby vigorousand evenmore decisiveupsurges.
In February 1917,when ever-largercrowdsfrom the working-classVyborg
districtof Petrogradinvadedthe centerof the city,theywereablerepeatedly
de$' the clubsand pistolsof police,the sabersof dragoons,and the gunfireof
infantry regiments,until finally eventhe military garrisonitself mutinied and
helpedto pull down the tsaristmonarchy.In a veryrealsense,
of oppressedstrata and classeswere clearlycivic movements,rooted in the
communallife of villages,towns,cities,and neighborhoods,
not only landed
smallshops,and factories-a fact that hasnot receivedthe recognitionit
from historiansofthe greatrevolutions.
Initially,no politicalparty led thesepeople,leastof all the principalpartiesof
the RussianLeft:the Mensheviks,
In fact,shortlybeforethe Petrogradworkersbegantheir uprising,tsaristpolice
arrestedthe city committeesof the revolutionaryparties-perhaps fortunately,