Letter: Revolution betrayed

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Contrary to Peter Cadogan's letter (1 January), there is no reason to celebrate the anniversary of the replacement of one dictatorship by another one three and a half centuries ago.

The changes from the Stuart monarchy to the Presbyterian parliament, to the puritan Rump and the republican Commonwealth, and then to the Cromwellian Protectorate, however exciting for the media of the time, did almost nothing for political democracy, as was pointed out by the Levellers, or for economic democracy, as was pointed out by the Diggers - both of whom are far better candidates for commemoration - and nothing at all for the mass of the people. No wonder most of them welcomed the Restoration of the Stuarts a few years later.

Unfortunately the pattern of revolution against an aristocratic bunch of armed gangsters being betrayed by another religious or bureaucratic, militaristic or racist bunch of armed gangsters was followed in America and France, and later in Mexico and Russia, Spain and Argentina, China and Cuba. What price revolution now? Instead of wasting time on a meaningless anniversary of the first modern revolution, we should try to learn from these examples how it was betrayed and why it became a dirty word.


Freedom Press, London E1