The vital need of criticism

I am currently reading the new edition of Victor Serge’s Memoirs of a Revolutionary recently published by New York Review Books. On page 133 Serge, when considering the state of the Russian revolution in 1920 as an active worker within it, states the following:

“A revolution seems monolithic only from a distance; close up it can be compared to a torrent that violently sweeps along both the best and the worst at the same time, and necessarily carries along some real counterrevolutionary currents. It is constrained to pick up the worn weapons of the old regime, and these arms are double-edged. In order to be properly served, it has to be put on guard against its own abuses, its own excesses, its own crimes, its own moments of reaction. It has a vital need of criticism, therefore, of an opposition and of the civic courage of those who are carrying it out.

This acceptance of active criticism and opposition so contrary to the Bolshevik Party and such similar regimes is in some ways surprising given that the revolution in Russia was defending itself on many sides from the rest of the world, but that was Serge. In the same way Socrates went about challenging Greek authority as the social gadfly many years before. Being able to accept criticism and opposition, and deal with it constructively is what differentiates democrats from those politicians claiming to be and those standing themselves on ideological plinths need to be ready for the fall that will inevitably come, when their ideas are proved flawed.

As this blog approaches its fifth anniversary I am contemplating reducing the frequency of posts here and broadening my blogging to a new one including more posts and pictures about environmental and other matters. In the years I have been actively involved in electronic service delivery I have seen some improvements, perhaps not as fast or dynamic, as I would have desired. At the same time the neoliberal management that has been in place remains probably strangling any opportunity to really develop new governance. Having watched from the sideline for six months after hanging up my spurs as a local government IT manager, I am quite enjoying taking a more active role as a volunteer in aspects of the community that appeal to me – assisting people with disabilities, doing more practcal environmental work, along with studying change from a sociological, philosophical and psychotherapeutic view. Hence at some stage in the near future this blog may wither gracefully and a new one be added with that broader vision.

Please stay for the moment, but watch out for an additional but more varied blog that may slowly replace it…


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