Reformists Vs. Revolutionaries; the irreconcilable debate?


The Reformist vs. Revolution debate I am referring to in my essay question is the one which dominates modern socialist thought and acts as a hindrance to both tangents of the greater socialist movement. In my opinion, the two strands are definitively reconcilable, and pose merely as a difference in opinion among comrades. This essay, therefore, is in answer to both arguments, and hopefully forms a basic outline for action which can heal this rift which hinders modern socialists across the globe.

What I believe to be the flash solution to the two schools of thought/action is to, rather than focus on the differences between the two, that we should focus on the similarities, mainly the ends which both aspire to inevitably occur. The majority of socialists with reformist tendancies, whilst openly advocating a system of action to enact socialist policies within the current systems in place within the particular nation state, will often inwardly be in support of a revolution, or of a similar scenario. Simply, the reformists are pacified revolutionaries, which, for whatever reasons, have come to believe that the most realistic approach to attain socialism is to work within the current political systems in place. Whilst I do not denounce this approach as false I will state that this approach has many flaws, mainly being that reformist socialists, such as those of a Social Democratic ideology can often ‘go native’ and be seduced by the individual wiles and advantages that capitalism can bring for the particular person.

The Revolutionaries on the other hand hold staunch to Marx’s citation for ‘Workers of the world’ to ‘unite’, advocating a socialist revolution to overthrow the current power systems and relationships in place, starting completely from scratch and installing their system in place. Similarly, there are many criticisms, among these notable is the loophole which Lenin took advantage of-the paradox that to put such a new system in place it would require a powerful central government, however would it be realistic to imagine that once a new system of power relationships were in place the new ruling class would simple cede their power to the people?In this way the Reformist approach of working within the system would seem a more rational and thought out solution. What both these approaches essentially have in common is the end state, they simply differ on the approach, through the system vs. complete overhaul. Therefore, the solution appears to me starkly obvious. We need to formulate a step by step pathway to socialism which takes into account both sides, quite simply, a compromise. This compromise, would more mediate between different ideologues of socialism, rather than simply adding to the mass of different theories on the way to achieve reform/revolution. In this way, I implore the great minds of uprising and modern socialist thought to focus their minds on this question. By all means, read Marx, Trotsky, Lenin, Luxemburg, but do not simply become assimilated into their personal views of attaining the socialist solution. We must not squander the gifts which modernity has bestowed upon us; namely, rationality and an extremely high level of education and intellectual thought.

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