2006 Abstracts Stage 2

Change in the Revolutionary Vanguard

Adam Potts, 2006, Stage 2

The conception of the revolutionary vanguard has been pertinent in political thought since Plato’s Philosopher Kings. Indeed this notion has informed the superstructure of political and revolutionary theory and practice ever since its genesis. That is to say that there are a minority of elite, the ‘vanguard’, whom harbour superior sociological insight and who thus possess the intellectual capabilities to lead others to overcome their contextual peril. My central intention was thus to investigate the change in this very notion of the revolutionary vanguard. There have been a number of post-ideological reformulations regarding such a conception. However, placing such an exploration within the theoretical studies of my second year, I decided to examine several philosophers and protagonists of the vanguard, whom belong to the Marxist tradition, these being: Marx, Lenin and Gramsci. I then juxtaposed such theoretical assertions parallel to the post-ideological views of Zapatismo, which are the revolutionary views of the Mexican resistance movement known as the Zapatistas/EZLN. Territory & Change. My project thus traced the development of my central concept, being that of the vanguard, in revolutionary thought. Marx himself spoke little of the notion, yet the necessity of examining his thought derived from the work of Lenin and Gramsci whom pertain to the Marxist tradition. Both Lenin and Gramsci spoke of the notion of the Party, in which the dichotomy of the elite and the masses is both inherent and necessary for the revolution. Although Gramsci attempted to overcome its inherent elitism, he still necessitated the need of the leaders. However, within the contemporary thought of the Zapatistas, one can document an absolute abolition of the vanguard. One in which necessitates a ‘non-philosophy’ of listening-Zapatismo. These masked revolutionaries show that revolution does not have a face, but is a mirror in which greed is forced to see itself. They show us that we do not need a leader, but that we all may put on the mask of revolution and pertain with all those who dare say YA BASTA! (ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!)

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