On Revolution and Counter-Revolution
First Wave 1910-1936
Mexico, Russia, Germany, Hungary, Spain, potential revolution in Italy, serious unrest in Argentina, Brazil. General strikes throughout the world.
Second Wave 1958-1980
Cuba, France, Portugal, Nicaragua. Serious revolt in Italy, Argentina, Chile. General strikes in Belgium, Canada.
Third Wave 2000 -
Venezuela, Bolivia, revolt in Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Iceland. Serious unrest in Greece, France.
Each wave, up till the present one, terminated in a period of reaction
1. 1922 – 1957 Fascism and Stalinism, then domination by US imperialism and counter-revolution.
2. 1973 – 1999 US-sponsored military coups in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, terrorism in Central America, neoliberal attacks on workers living standards and rights throughout the world.
Dates are approximate and much overlapping occurs. Furthermore, a revolutionary period can contain reactionary triumphs and a period of reaction can see the occurrence of progressive change or revolution. In spite of these limitations, there is a definite cycle of revolution and counter-revolutionary reaction. The failure to understand the existence of these long waves leads both to pessimism on the part of progressive forces (chatter about the cooptation of working class) and triumphalism on the part of reactionaries. (the "end of history", obsolescence of socialism.)
There are also differences between the revolutionary waves. In the past, revolutionary regimes were installed, or counter-revolution triumphed, in a matter of months. Today, the revolutionary process is much more protracted, as we see in Venezuela and Bolivia where a revolutionary situation has existed for years. In Argentina, though much of the militant working class struggle since 2001 has been recuperated by populism, the class as a whole has not been defeated as it was in 1976. In certain ways there has been a merging of reform and revolution.
The second difference is the weakness of US imperialism. Being tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan, it suffers from imperial overstretch and the hostility of the population of its supposed allies. It is unable to terrorize Latin America "back into the fold", as it did only 20 years ago. This allows the revolutionary process time and space to develop autonomously.
The third difference is the severity of the economic crisis and the fact that it is in reality a triple crisis – economic-energy and environmental. Capitalism has never faced a crisis of this magnitude before. This limits its ability to intervene and brings unrest into the imperial heartlands.
The chances of success have never been greater. The stakes have never been higher. What will happen?