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In October 1917, Vladimir Lenin was almost alone in calling for the Bolsheviks to take over Russia. Even after they succeeded, the arguments raged on, Menshevik against Bolshevik, revolutionary against liberal, and Social Democrat against Communist.

Lenin Statue in Seattle

Millions joined the revolutionary movement because the Bolsheviks succeeded. Millions left because of the Stalin-Hitler Pact. Millions joined because the Red Army defeated the fascists. Millions left because of the Khruschev revelations. Millions joined because of Cuba. Millions left when the Soviet Union imploded. All of them were misguided, and all of their arguments are irrelevant.

The Mensheviks and Social Democrats since 1917 have argued that the Bolshevik Revolution was bound to fail because they should have waited, no matter how long it might take, until they could be elected. Generations passed with the Social Democrats making the same arguments. When capitalism finally did bring down the Soviet Union in 1991, they changed to “I told you so!”

They weren’t really arguing history. The importance of the argument lies in the basic question of whether or not people, Americans for example, should engage in revolutionary struggle. Lenin and the Russian revolution are just metaphors in this fundamental disagreement. If one believes that the only proper way to change the world is by being elected, then Lenin is evil, Lenin is opportunist, and, most important, Lenin is wrong!

The metaphor may be gone, but the argument is still going on. If people want a better world, should they look for a revolutionary program or just a very good election campaign? It’s irrelevant.

It’s irrelevant, for one reason, because a revolutionary program would include a very good election campaign. Lenin knew that, and the Bolsheviks ran election campaigns every time it was permitted.

But it’s even more irrelevant because the situation in America today is far different from Russia in 1917. They didn’t have an almost completely educated populace. They didn’t have cell phones. They didn’t have the internet. They didn’t have worldwide information and communications.

We are misguided if we think that the tide of history is conclusively changed because of an individual or a passing event. The entire history of the human race shows that we get smarter and more capable of self-governance. Individuals don’t change that. Incidents don’t change it.

Even if revolutionaries conceded, because the Soviet Union lasted “only” 74 years, and said that the Bolsheviks should never have sought to break the power of the capitalists in Russia in 1917, so what? They weren’t us and we aren’t them! Today, each of us has an obligation to ourselves and to our species to think through what is needed and what we can do about it. Lenin can’t do it for us, and he couldn’t stop us if he wanted to. It’s up to us, now.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s “Workers Beat” program every Saturday at 9 Central Time. We podcast the radio show and other “Workers Beat Extra” commentaries on Soundcloud.com. If you are interested in what I really think, check out my personal web site

TV Review

“Stateless” streaming on Netflix. The first three episodes are directed by Emma Freeman; the other three by Jocelyn Moorhouse.

Please don’t miss this great Australian series.

STATELESS (L to R) FAYSSAL BAZZI as AMEER and SORAYA HEIDARI as MINA in episode 102 of STATELESS Cr. BEN KING/NETFLIX © 2020

The series examines what happens to the lives of those associated with an immigrant detention center that is operated for profit. This one is in Australia, where they unfailingly make great dramas, but the ones in the Rio Grande Valley are also run for profit.

Two of the main characters are inmates: an Afghani trying to save his daughters from the Taliban and an Australian citizen who is trying to hide her identity. The other two administrate the place: an immigration specialist and an ordinary working dude trying out a new job as a prison guard. The place works its wonders on them. Even more, the world system that creates 70 million dislocated asylum seekers and then mistreats them miserably works its wonders on us, the audience.

Part of the story, Wikipedia says, is directly true. All of it sounds true, seems true, hurts truly.

A word about the quality of the presentation: the penetrating insight into every character could only have been revealed by women. Both directors and both writers were women. Their sensitivity is a marvel.

By way of explaining how good the acting is, let me ask you if you’ve ever seen a Cate Blanchett picture where her acting didn’t overshadow everybody else? Cate Blanchett is very good in “Stateless,” but her role is limited. She is listed as one of several Executive Directors. If you’re a fan of Australian TV, let me ask if you’ve ever seen Marta Dusseldorp in anything in which her skill didn’t dominate everybody else? In this series, Ms Dusseldorp and Ms Blanchett are just part of a wonderful ensemble of players. Everybody is excellent. The actors for the four main characters are beyond excellent.

Top acting kudos has to go to Yvonne Strahovski. Her role is the most demanding, and she pushes each of her emotional portrayals beyond limits. After the first few scenes, you may recognize her as the cold hearted Commander’s wife in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” or maybe you won’t recognize her, but you won’t forget her again after you see her in “Stateless!”

Yvonne Strahovski

The Australian immigration/detention system takes a beating in “Stateless,” but several characters, including some administrators, give the impression that they are doing the best that they can in a rotten situation. At least they are trying. My movie buddy and I agreed, several times as we watched the series over a few nights, that the worst of the miseries “Stateless” encountered must be far worse here at home in the United States, where what they are trying to do with the immigration situation isn’t just rotten.

–Gene Lantz

I’m still on KNON’s “Workers Beat” radio talk show at 9AM Central Time every Saturday. We podcast the program and “Workers Beat Extra” on Soundcloud. If you are interested in what I really think, check out my personal web site

I don’t see a lot of effort being put into winning over the 40% of Americans who support Donald Trump. Mostly, I see them being called names like “moron,” “idiot,” “fascist,” and “white supremacist.” And yet, people who are working to make a better world have to have them.

Why make enemies?
Making enemies is not a good stratgegy

The last evaluation of Trump’s levels of support that I saw was on “The Hill:” https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/506076-the-hills-campaign-report-trumps-job-approval-erodes-among-groups-that

It says his overall approval rating has dropped to 38%, but it’s still 57% when they consider Anglos only. It’s a comment on the state of the nation that political polarity is almost total: 91% of Republicans and 2% of Democrats approve of Trump. That’s a serious divide!

If anyone is serious about making a better world, they surely recognize that allowing 40% of America to become bitter enemies of progress is not a pathway to progress. They need to be won over, not demonized!

Why Do People Love Trump?

I see a lot of speculation, but it’s not seriously thought out. The reason that millions love Donald Trump is not that they are somehow defective or purposefully evil. What they are is afraid. The Trump strategy is to make them just as afraid as possible, and it’s working. Unfortunately, those of us on the side of progress, by vilifying them, are cooperating with Trump’s plan.

What Are They Afraid Of?

Trump plays on basic fears. One of them is that “minorities” are a growing demographic that should exceed 50% in the near future. Anglos are very conscious that “minorities” are have historically been mistreated, and they fear the same for themselves when they lose their majority.

Another basic fear is that America is losing its economic, military, and cultural dominance of the rest of the world. Xenophobia is a real feeling, and it can be heightened through demagoguery. China’s economic success threatens Anglos.

How Do You Deal With Frightened People?

Certainly not by scaring them even more. Certainly not by calling them names. Progressives have to stop exacerbating Trump’s scare tactics. What we have to do is patiently explain that life can go on, even after Anglos stop dominating minorities and the rest of the world. We should patiently explain, too, that demagoguery will not stop the changing of demographics nor world economics.

Our explanations should show that Trump’s policies are directly benefiting the richest people, not the rest of us. Right now, Trump’s political coalition is dominated by the super-rich who know very well what they’re doing; but it is supported by millions who aren’t benefiting, aren’t likely to benefit ever, and really don’t know what they are doing.

It doesn’t hurt, either, to point out how much Mr. Trump is making things worse. Our employment hopes, our hopes for our health, and the very existence of our planet are threatened by Trump policies. But we have to point out Trump’s flaws without pinning them on his supporters. We can do without Trump, certainly, but we can’t make a better world without our other 40%.

–Gene Lantz

I’m on KNON’s Workers Beat radio talk show every Saturday at 9 AM Central Time. They podcast it along with other material on Soundcloud.com. If you are curious about what I really think, check out my personal web site