Dagens citat: Revolutionens vildveje

Peter Kropotkin om, hvordan det alt for ofte går umiddelbart efter en “revolution” – fra hans bog The Conquest of Bread:

In several large towns the Commune is proclaimed. In the streets wander scores of thousands of men, and in the evening they crowd into improvised clubs, asking: “What shall we do?” and ardently discuss public affairs. All take an interest in them; those who yesterday were quite indifferent are perhaps the most zealous. Everywhere there is plenty of good-will and a keen desire to make victory certain. It is a time when acts of supreme devotion are occurring. The masses of the people are full of the desire of going forward.

All this is splendid, sublime; but still, it is not a revolution. Nay, it is only now that the work of the revolutionist begins.

Doubtless there will be acts of vengeance. The Watrins and the Thomases will pay the penalty of their unpopularity; but these are mere incidents of the struggle—not the revolution.

Socialist politicians, radicals, neglected geniuses of journalism, stump orators—both middle-class people and workmen—will hurry to the Town Hall, to the Government offices, to take possession of the vacant seats. Some will decorate themselves with gold and silver lace to their hearts’ content, admire themselves in ministerial mirrors, and study to give orders with an air of importance appropriate to their new position. How could they impress their comrades of the office or the workshop without having a red sash, an embroidered cap, and magisterial gestures! Others will bury themselves in official[Pg 19] papers, trying, with the best of wills, to make head or tail of them. They will indite laws and issue high-flown worded decrees that nobody will take the trouble to carry out—because revolution has come.

To give themselves an authority which they have not they will seek the sanction of old forms of Government. They will take the names of “Provisional Government,” “Committee of Public Safety,” “Mayor,” “Governor of the Town Hall,” “Commissioner of Public Safety,” and what not. Elected or acclaimed, they will assemble in Boards or in Communal Councils, where men of ten or twenty different schools will come together, representing—not as many “private chapels,” as it is often said, but as many different conceptions regarding the scope, the bearing, and the goal of the revolution. Possibilists, Collectivists, Radicals, Jacobins, Blanquists, will be thrust together, and waste time in wordy warfare. Honest men will be huddled together with the ambitious ones, whose only dream is power and who spurn the crowd whence they are sprung. All coming together with diametrically opposed views, all—forced to enter into ephemeral alliances, in order to create majorities that can but last a day. Wrangling, calling each other reactionaries, authoritarians, and rascals, incapable of coming to an understanding on any serious measure, dragged into discussions about trifles, producing nothing better than bombastic proclamations; all giving themselves an awful importance while the real strength of the movement is in the streets.

All this may please those who like the stage, but it is not revolution. Nothing has been accomplished as yet.

And meanwhile the people suffer. The factories are idle, the workshops closed; trade is at a standstill. The worker does not even earn the meagre wage which was his before. Food goes up in price. With that heroic devotion which has always characterized them, and which in great crises reaches the sublime, the people will wait patiently. “We place these three months of want at the service of the Republic,” they said in 1848, while “their representatives” and the gentlemen of the new Government, down to the meanest Jack-in-office received their salary regularly.

Tænk blot på komissærernes magtovertagelse efter den russiske revolution i 1917, og et tilsvarende forløb i alle andre revolutioner, som jeg kan komme i tanker om. Løsningen er, mener Kropotkin, at revolutionens “ledere”, hvis der er nogen, må tage ansvar for hele folkets velbefindende frem for at fokusere på deres egen betydning:

We must recognize, and loudly proclaim, that every one, whatever his grade in the old society, whether strong or weak, capable or incapable, has, before everything, THE RIGHT TO LIVE, and that society is bound to share amongst all, without exception, the means of existence it has at its disposal. We must acknowledge this, and proclaim it aloud, and act up to it.Affairs must be managed in such a way that from the first[Pg 21] day of the revolution the worker shall know that a new era is opening before him; that henceforward none need crouch under the bridges, while palaces are hard by, none need fast in the midst of plenty, none need perish with cold near shops full of furs; that all is for all, in practice as well as in theory, and that at last, for the first time in history, a revolution has been accomplished which considers the NEEDS of the people before schooling them in their DUTIES.

Hvorfor avisers iPad-udgaver flopper og altid vil floppe

Som Felix Salmon skriver på Reuters.com i anledning af Murdoch-imperiets store iPad-satsning The Daily og dens tidlige død:

When the iPad was first announced, there were lots of dreams about what it could achieve, and how rich its content could be. But in hindsight, it’s notable how many of the dreamers came from the world of print. Web people tended to be much less excited about the iPad than print people were, maybe because they knew they already had something better. The web, for instance, doesn’t need to traffic in discrete “issues” — if you subscribe to the New York Times, you can read any story you like, going back decades. Whereas if you subscribe to a publication on a tablet, you can read only one issue at a time.

When the iPad launched, it allowed people to do things they could never do with a print publication: watch videos, say. But at the same time the experience was still inferior to what you could get on the web, which iterates and improves incrementally every day. The iPad then stayed still — the technology behind iPad publications is basically the same as it was two years ago — even as the web, in its manner, predictably got better and better.

One of the things that confused me, when The Daily launched, was the way in which it failed to leverage the wealth of rich and valuable content available within News Corp. You couldn’t watch episodes of The Simpsons, you couldn’t get access to amazing footage from Avatar, you couldn’t read exclusive extracts from HarperCollins books. Murdoch was happy to spend a large eight-figure sum on building custom-made content for the new publication; he even shelled out for a Superbowl ad. But he never managed to use The Daily as a means of bringing his company’s already-existing content to life in new ways for a new platform, and I suspect that iPad constraints are part of the reason.

Fordi en låst, “kureret” platform i sidste ende aldrig vil kunne konkurrere med et helt åbent system, hvor  alle kan lave mere eller mindre, hvad de har lyst til. Folk har ingen grund til at vælge den lukkede og begrænsede iPad-avis, når avisernes almindelige hjemmesider allerede har langt bedre tilbud.

Via Boing Boing.

Juletræet i Kokkedal – i den store verden

Sagen dækkes nu på hjemmesiden opendemocracy.net. Det er ikke ligefrem gavnligt for Danmarks i forvejen flossede omdømme:

The rich repertoire of exclusionist politics, cultural homogeneity, anti-immigration and anti-Islam stances [in Denmark] are only temporarily silenced under the effects of the crisis.

Unsurprisingly the story was soon co-opted and amplified by most of the populist right wing voices in the country. The Muslim members of the housing association board became the living evidence of what they, the ignored whistle-blowers, had predicted a long time ago. This version of events duly legitimized a new round of debate on value politics and cultural differences, the incompatibility of Islam with western, Christian values and Muslims’ undemocratic and intolerant ‘nature’. The story was also used as proof of how Muslims in the west misuse democratic rules when they finally get involved in democratic organs – and operate to replace Christian traditions with Islamic ones.

This logic was clearly and immediately underscored by the Danish People’s Party (DPP), whose spokesman on immigration and integration, MP Martin Henriksen, declared that ’this is the sign of a cultural clash between the Danish and the Muslim culture that has been there a long time – and if we do not fight back, we will lose even more of our own culture’, warning that this is what happens when ‘they [Muslims] get the majority’. To tackle the case itself, the DPP suggested passing a law regulating how housing associations decide on matters of Danish values and traditions. The party also bought the residents a free Christmas tree and organized a public meeting with Danish Christmas cookies and gløgg.

On his blog, another DPP MP, Søren Espersen, criticised the people who were ‘trying to minimize the event’ – the same who denied the worrying ‘problems’ of ‘the Ramadan dinner, the Muslim veil […] and the halal meat debate’. For Espersen, the build-up of these situations must be an indication of the gravity of the situation – a problem of which, of course, only the DPP had grasped the full importance.


Revealing in this respect was an article published by the tabloid Ekstra Bladet only a few days after the Christmas tree incident. The story reported the follow finding: ‘90 percent of those applying for Christmas help are Muslims’. The piece reported that 20 out of 22 applications for Christmas help in a Church Salvation Army district in Northern Jutland came from persons with clear Muslim names. The link with the Christmas tree story was explicit and the underlying assumptions very clear: why should these people get our Christmas help, when they refuse to celebrate the holiday and attempt to abolish it? Shouldn’t we rather help our Danish Christians?

Why doesn’t anybody stand up to these discourses?

The most worrying aspect of this controversy was the total lack of response from the other side. This national debate, triggered by a minor local decision, shows how difficult it is for voices that oppose culturalist logics to generate any significant counter-debate on these issues. Concerned about the negative reactions that this would produce among the public opinion and their potential voters, the people’s representatives prefer to silence these concerns, hoping to contain the echo and keep away from discussing value politics for as long as possible. Those who violently oppose non-western immigration could make their point – extensively. And the voices that should have contradicted them were nowhere to be heard.

Suk, og hvor har de ret.