Equality is the fundamental demand of
the rebellion of the poor: it should be the ideological force behind
the new society. How this egalitarian demand is understood is crucial
to the distinction between the Democratic Revolution and the
The Marxist answer to the egalitarian
demand is the dictatorship of the proletariat, which Maurice Duverger
shrewdly describes as an accurate continuation of the Jacobin theory
“. . .Man is born but capitalism
corrupts him: In order to destroy the system of oppression,
exploitation and alienation development by capitalism, violence must
be used. Violence against the state, in the first palace, so long as
it is in the hands of the exploiting classes: This means revolution.
Next, when the working class has taken power, the force of the state
is directed against the exploiters and used to destroy every trace of
exploitation: this stage is the dictatorship of the proletariat.”
In a society such as ours, in which
the rich are too few and the poor too many, the Marxist-Jacobinist
approach has a ringing appeal. With the term proletariat, one simply
substitutes the poor. By “expropriating the expropriators,” or
eradicating the rich, equality is achieved with one bold stroke.
The trouble with this formulation,
however, is that the dictator-proletariat is itself dictated upon by
an all-powerful Party, while even among the poor there is a hierarchy
of classes, beginning with the “advanced” proletariat, followed
by the peasantry, the intellectuals and the petite bourgeoise.
Moreover, there is a contemptible class, the lumpenproletariat, a
term reserved for “the scum of the earth.”
Stated, therefore, in
Marxist-Jacobinist terms, the rebellion of the poor is
self-contradictory: it is unable to approximate the egalitarian idea.
The reason for this lies in the heart
of Marxism itself equality is exclusively regarded as a relation
between social classes, hence, the solution to bourgeoise domination
is proletarian dictatorship. In sum, while the domination is
proletarian dictatorship. In sum, while the domination of one class
is oppressive, the domination of another is not. But the egalitarian
principle states that all men are equal, however their class, color,
or creed; it is thus a condition of each and every individual in
society. A man is not just a worker, a farmer, a teacher, or a
capitalist: he deserves to be treated justly and equally as the rest
not because of these social functions but because and simply because
he is an individual human being. But the Marxist-Jacobinist equality
depends on class, on status, which is contrary to the human concept
of equality. It is for the reason that man in a totalitarian state is
defined arbitrarily and persecuted arbitrarily by assigning him to a
How could this logical practical
contradiction gain so much power and appeal? Partly because of
coercion and pertly because of the fascistic tendencies of capitalism
in underdeveloped societies. Communism was the only honest
alternative in Tsarist Russia and feudal-warlord-colonial China. The
democratic revolutionaries in these countries were neither sufficient
nor strong enough; there was no sense of democratic revolution.
Democratic institutions, no matter
how weak or corrupted by the social system, are a pre-condition for a
democratic revolution, or what is called, “revolution from the
center.” Its central problem, like that of the rebellion of the
poor, is equality. Equality, moreover, that is necessary initiated in
the political realm.
Obviously, then, the fundamental task
of drastic political reform it to democratize the entire political
system. The high cost of election, for example, works against the
egalitarian principle, for the rich man or the instrument of the
oligarchic rich, have an edge against the poor. The literacy test
discriminates against the illiterate, who, in the present-day state
of mass communications, need not necessarily be less qualified than
the literate. The minimum voting age is 21 discriminates against the
18-years olds, who are considered old enough to fight and die for
their country. The oligarchic clutch on the political authority makes
democratic rights the exclusive benefits of a controlling class.
The Marxist-Jacobinist claims that
political reconstruction is impossible without social revolution. On
the contrary, political reconstruction can change society, as we are
now changing society through a reorientation of our political
Political structure forms is by no
means minor: it is, in the context of our experience, quite
revolutionary. The gap between the humble citizen and the center of
national power is considerably narrowed down. But what is of
paramount importance is the advent of participatory democracy. The
masses will no longer wait until controversies and issues of the day
are crystallized for them by the debates of vested groups in the
media; they crystallized the issues themselves, their opinions and
sentiments are directly felt by the political authority.
The old political system divided our
people between the influential, principally on the basis of social
and economic status. The new political system unites them into a
citizenry with equal individual rights.
Politics in the old society were
essential a politics of conflict, the composition among individuals
and groups for social domination. It was not a surprise therefore
that the poor, the wretched, and the frustrated, got what they could
out of the politics of conflict, since they never looked upon them as
a force for authentic integration. If behaved indifferently towards
government, only “coming alive” during elections, or whenever
they sought favors rather than their due from it, it was because they
believed that for the most part government was entirely at the
service of the oligarchic and influential few. Their feeder roads,
their schools, their bridges, were to remain unbuilt for one reason
or another, while the private roads, schools, and mansions of the
rich were easily constructed. There was no controversy about
responding to the needs of the influential, there was always
controversy about satisfying the needs of the many. All these came to
be simple because the influential could disguise private greed with
This state affair prevailed
principally because of the dishonesty, intellectual and otherwise, in
the public forums. The national interest, the common good, were daily
betrayed in the same of “principles.” But for the masses, the
test of principles was the condition of their lives; all the rhetoric
did not give them the sense of equality that they have now.
This is something that cannot be
taken away from them in the name of the civil liberties of the old
establishment. Having known political equality, all the freedoms, let
alone the freedom of expression, which were distorted in the old
society, our people henceforth demand that all freedoms be considered
under one supreme criterion: how will they serve the cause of the
rebellion of the poor.
Evidently, the egalitarian principle
requires a reconstruction of our political values.
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