a better world
is probable

Seizing the next link in the chain

April 18, 2014

“Every question “runs in a vicious circle” because political life as a whole is an endless chain consisting of an infinite number of links. The whole art of politics lies in finding and taking as firm a grip as we can of the link that is least likely to be struck from our hands, the one that is most important at the given moment, the one that most of all guarantees its possessor the possession of the whole chain.” – Lenin, What Is To Be Done?

In a world where that can so often feel defined by suffering, misery, oppression, and violence, those of us who want to win a better world can often feel a moral pressure to do everything at once. This is almost especially true when our movement is particularly weak, or when it feels like things are progressing too slowly. There is so much to be done!

I find this quote from Lenin to be such a powerful, sober reminder to maintain a long term perspective on the kind of movement we want to build, i.e. it is ineffective to try to respond to all the various needs of our movement at once, regardless of our limited resources and capacities, e.g., members, time, money, skills, etc. Instead we have to ask: what can be done right now to put us in a better position to accomplish our goals tomorrow?

This patient, long-term perspective shouldn’t replace a sense of urgency in our work. On the contrary, it should inform us in how we constructively go about preparing ourselves and our organizations to meet the urgent tasks we face. Without that kind of patient perspective, we can often waste our limited resources, e.g., burn out our membership, exhaust limited funds, etc., as if we were rubbing together two dry sticks into nubs as we try to spark a fire.