Nine years ago I fell in love with Camus’ book, Man in Revolt, in which he comes to the conclusion that all attempts to abolish injustice through revolutions are bound to fail. Rather, he says, the only way is to create justice through living it.
Is Camus’ revolt just another expression of what you were calling rebellion?
Camus’ book, Man In Revolt has many great insights in it, but he still remains a philosopher. He preaches, but he does not practice. You are asking me that in this book, Man In Revolt, “…he comes to the conclusion that all attempts to abolish injustice through revolutions are bound to fail.” That’s a great insight.
It seems there is something intrinsic in the very mechanism of revolution that makes it bound to fail. First, the revolutionary is created by the old society against which he is revolting; his values, his ideals are not much different from the old. The only difference for him is that the right people are not in power; otherwise, everything is right. Only the right people have to be in power, the wrong people have to be removed, and the revolution will be accomplished in all dimensions of life.
This is a basic fallacy. It is not a question of right or wrong people. The whole society has been conditioned to live in a reactionary way, not in a revolutionary way; it has been conditioned to be slaves not masters. Hence, when a few people revolt against the powers – to change the power structure, and replace the old establishment with themselves – only then do they find that what the old establishment was doing, they, too, have to do; otherwise, there will be immense chaos.
But then it is too late to understand. And slowly slowly, they themselves turn into the same kind of people that they have thrown out – in fact, worse, because now they know the taste of power, and they also know how they have thrown out the people who were in power before them. Soon there will be a new generation coming, which will start talking about revolution – because nothing has been changed. They are more alert to repress any possibility of revolution because they know how they threw out the old power structure; they are not going to be thrown out in the same way. They will not allow freedom of speech, which is a basis for any revolution to happen, and they will crush every individual who does not follow their structure.
For sixty years in the Soviet Union, the communist regime has proved far worse than the regime of the czars that it had revolted against. At least in the regime of czars, it was possible to create a revolution; but under a communist regime it is almost impossible. They don’t allow it from the very beginning. All publications are government owned, radio is government owned, television is government owned. In fact, now, in the name of communism, private property has been taken over by the state. So to call the Soviet Union a communist country is not right – it is state capitalism.