Reconceiving Revolution: Towards Micro-‐‑Revolutions of Becoming, T Murphy

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Content: CJR: Volume 2, Issue 2

Reconceiving Revolution: Towards Micro--Revolutions of Becoming

Timothy Murphy
Ph.D. student, Claremont Lincoln University

Abstract: What does revolution mean, and is it still possible today? For Max
Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno, philosophical critique opens space for future
revolution but it is not currently available. For Herbert Marcuse, revolution remains
a greater possibility through marginalized communities and the dissemination of
revolutionary potential into non--proletariat classes. Michel Foucault alternatively
relativizes revolution by reframing it through the notion of micro--powers. By
interpreting micro--revolutions as providing potential for macro--
ongoing emergence, and by reading Foucault through Alfred North Whitehead,
Catherine Keller, and Jung Mo Sung, revolution becomes possible, even as it is never--
ending in duration and non--totalizing in effect.

Keywords: become, network, possible, power, revolution

For many theorists and activists on the political Left, the vision and promise

However, what is meant by revolution and to what extent is revolution possible
today? To explore these questions, I will first describe the answers of the Frankfurt
School of Critical Theory, namely Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno, as well as
the related position of Herbert Marcuse. This first section summarizes what the
Frankfurt School and Marcuse meant by revolution and how their position

Horkheimer and Adorno, philosophical critique opens up the necessary though
insufficient space for future revolution, which is an indescribable potential that is
not currently available. For Marcuse, revolution remains a greater possibility
through the actions of marginalized communities and the dissemination of
revolutionary potential into classes beyond the proletariat. While these Marxist
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thinkers provide great insights on revolution, they overly fetishize a once--and--for--
all revolutionary event, which impinges upon theIR analysis. The third section

through his notion of micro--powers. By doing so, he avoids a totalizing approach to
revolution, but it is unclear how social structures can in fact change. The final
constructive section defends a conception of revolution as a series of ongoing micro--
revolutions in --powers, but this
conception of revolution is interpreted through the processive lenses of Alfred
North Whitehead, Catherine Keller and Jung Mo Sung. These last thinkers offer a
trajectory of thought that indicates a viable and compelling alternative to the
previous approaches. By reading micro--revolutions as offering up the potential for
the emergence of macro--revolutions, one can assert that revolution is indeed
possible, even as it is never--ending in duration and non--totalizing in effect.
Revolution of the Proletariat

what one means by that very term. When thinking of a socialist revolution, the
classic articulation comes from Karl Marx. At its most basic level, revolution means
that the proletariat casts off its chains and takes over the means of production from
the bourgeoisie. Class antagonisms become the necessary motor for historical
change. The clash between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is necessary to arrive
at a new stage of society: socialism. Summarizing the forthcoming process, Marx
identifies revolution with the development of the proletariat, where eventually what
was once a hidden conflict becomes open violence and revolt, resulting in the
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overthrow of the bourgeoisie and the rule of the proletariat.1 For him, the seeds of
the new society were already present in the conditions of the present one,
he most radical
2 With the proletariat in place as the ruling class,
its control of the means of production end the condition of class antagonism once
and for all.3 The revolution would be complete and total.
According t
liberating historical force only as revolutionary force; the determinate negation of
capitalism occurs if and when the proletariat has become conscious of itself and of
the conditions and process 4 However, a socialization
of the means of production will not automatically liberate people. If this new control
--fulfillment and actualization, it will
become simply another way to subsume the individual into an overwhelming
collectivity.5 This is a fair reading of Marx, who himself describes the goal thusly:

6 Previous revolutions have not been as utterly
transformative as the one Marx predicts. He refers to changes in industrial
production as revolutionary innovations, like the introduction of steam and
1 2 3 4-- 5 6
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machinery.7 Past groups and events were revolutionary in a provisional way, such
as parties that strove for the revolution and the revolts in Europe in 1848. Yet the
revolution to come would be the final revolution realized as socialism and

Unlike Marx, Max Horkheimer and Theodore Adorno of the Frankfurt School
do not frequently or explicitly write about the hoped--for--and--necessary revolution.
And, the way they name the problem indicates they have added elements that were

structures that will result in changes to the cultural superstructure. The latter
superstructure is not utterly dependent on the former economic structures, but
rather has a life and logic of its own. Therefore, it also needs to be directly
confronted. Horkheimer and Adorno believe revolution must be cultural as well as
material. One of their frequent targets is instrumental rationality, meaning the
logical organization of ideas for purposes that serve illogical ends. What was
originally used out of the desire to liberate the oppressed has actually resulted in
destruction, with the use of Enlightenment abstraction resulting in the liquidation of
quality or meaning.8 The idea of progress becomes a logic of domination even as it
pretends to be neutral. With the
stripped down to knowledge, is neutralized, harnessed merely to qualifying its
7 8
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practitioner for specific labor markets and heightening the commodity value of the
he market.9

objectifying nature, humans became its masters, but in doing so they also made it
possible for humans to treat other humans as mere objects to be mastered. In the
process of objectifying nature, both the external world and internal human nature,
what was thought to be a path to salvation has lead to the enslavement of
humanity to
dominate nature resulted in the knowledge of how to dominate humans as well.10
The entire Enlightenment project, including technological development, logical
positivism and the destruction of nature, needs fundamentalindeed
revolutionaryreworking. The whole of Western civilization has culminated into
Revolution for Marx was the overthrow of capitalism with all its secondary cultural
effects, but for the Frankfurt School it becomes the overthrow of the Enlightenment

which Horkheimer and Adorno believed it could be achieved.

Herbert Marcuse sees the revolution--to--come as an earth--shaking, utterly
transformative eve
radical of all historical revolutions. It would be the first truly world--historical
9 10-- 11
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12 In this, Marcuse follows Marx in noting its qualitative difference from
past revolutions. It is the revolution that ends the need for future revolution; the
cycle would be complete. This would be possible because the revolution would not
simply usher in a change in material conditions, but also a moral and aesthetic
change. Not only would needs be met in order to abolish poverty, but there would
13 Marcuse contrasts
quantitative changes for a truly qualitative change. Everyone would escape from
material poverty, but the perpetual desire to acquire more would also be
extinguished, replaced by a non--exploitative relationship with the earth and a sense

socialist revolution is not merely the extension of satisfaction within the existing
universe of needs, nor the shift of satisfaction from one (lower) level to a higher one,
but the rupture with this universe, the qualitative leap14

Marcuse recognized that even if the working classes took over the means of
production in his day, there would not be a necessary change in society because of
their internalized oppressive needs. Thus, in order for the flourishing of human self--
determination, basic necessities must be produced and distributed through some
fundamentally social mechanism.15 This may require a limited form of centralized

rational if it establishes the preconditions for meaningful self--16 In
12 13 14 15-- 16
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such instances where laboring classes have internalized bourgeois life--patterns,
they cannot immediately direct productive control, as this would prolong the
prevention of qualitative change.17

who see socialism as promoting minimum goals to achieve improvements on an
incremental basis through parliamentary participation. He notes that the revisionist
Marxists who abandoned revolution r
capitalism to socialism, [and] attempted to change socialism from a theoretical and
practical antithesis to the capitalism system into a parliamentary movement within
18 In that approach, changes happen in a gradual way through the
existing system without major struggle. Such changes would not constitute
revolution at all for Marcuse, for revolution must be a radical break with current
On the Feasibility of the Revolution

With their methodology of negative dialectics, the possibility of revolution
was highly suspect for Horkheimer and Adorno. As they understood it, there was a
moment after World War I when revolution was realistically available. However,
that historical moment had passed and would not return anytime soon. Instead of
liberation, they found themselves in the 1930s and 40s surrounded by the
barbarism of both Fascism and mass commodity culture. Horkheimer and Adorno
offered the tool of negative dialectics to deny what is without knowing what will 17 18
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happen. They are Marxists not expecting the revolution.19 As there is no obvious
class capable of challenging either the economic structures or the cultural industry,
Odyssey to

In effect, industrial society dominates workers to such an extent that simply
awakening the latter will not lead to the revolution. Instead of workers, can
intellectuals bring about the revolution? No, for while they develop critical theory as
philosophers, Horkheimer and Adorno do not claim that theory will lead to
revolutionary change. Such grand claims would be a mistake, and it would be wrong
to merely instrumentalize the value of philosophy in its application.21
While Horkheimer and Adorno do not say that revolution is perpetually
impossible, they do believe a critique of the present configuration and
understandings of society is a more modest and therefore realistic goal. One can
appropriately describe what they are promoting as an apophatic revolution. They
cannot speak concretely or positively about what revolution is or what it will look
like in the context of the present society because it is not currently possible. As
Martin Jay interprets them, maintaining and expanding the remnants of negation
against the culture industry was the only option left when they concluded that there
was not a clear mandate for change.22 Horkheimer and Adorno were convinced that
19 20 21 -- 22
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revolution was impossible in their time, but the role for philosophers like
themselves was to critique their situation so that it may yet become possible again
in some indeterminate future.
For Horkheimer and Adorno, the agent of revolution is weaker, yet the
problem has become grander. Philosophy on its own will not lead to revolution, and
the proletariat has been co--opted into the culture industry. There is no longer an
historical subject available to lead the revolution when the problem becomes the
relationship of man and nature, both internally and externally. Praxis suffers a death
praxis still open to honest 23
Philosophy is the only option left, but it will not be enough. Nevertheless, even
though the Frankfurt School recognizes that utopian hopes can never be fully
actualized, they must still be held onto.24 As they see it, the revolution is not possible
now, but it may become available again in an unspoken future. The result is that
Horkheimer and Adorno focus more on avoiding being dominated by the prevailing
system than on offering marching orders for constructive action.25 With revolution
not currently possible for them, they attempt to leave space for future openings for
revolution. They do this by maintaining critical understandings of what is so that
society does not collapse into an absolute affirmation of Fascism, Stalinism or the
Western culture industry.

Rather than the apophatic critical stance of the Frankfurt School, Marcuse
remains more optimistic regarding certain possibilities. He maintains a greater
23 24 25
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emphasis on praxis than Horkheimer and Adorno, and so one is not surprised to find
that he is more willing to affirm an actualizable revolution. Marcuse does not view
the system as solely having internalized resistance so that it is domesticated for the

the pattern of revolution: far from reducing, it extends the
potential mass base for revolution, and it necessitates the revival of the radical
26 Rather than reducing the sources for
revolutionary action through worker co--option into the system, the potential for
revolutionary praxis has counter--intuitively spread like a virus beyond the
traditional laboring class.

Marcuse acknowledges that there are significant barriers to revolution. He
does not see any revolution as immanent even as counterrevolution preempts it.

teleology. Mixed--systems of redistributionist welfare and capitalism improve the
situation of the working classes, making them less eager to seek liberation.27

than its chains.28 Instead of opposites producing a clash as Marx expected, they have
an the administered
individualswho have made their mutilation into their own liberties and
26 27 28
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satisfactions, and thus reproduce it on an enlarged scaleliberate themselves from

Unavoidably, one must break the unity of opposites in order for the
revolution to occur. Extending the movement and raising awareness among the

30 Rather than causing the revolution, the material conditions provide space
for ideas to push the revolution into high gear. Seeing oneself in a new way can
connect the disparate groups in a non--hierarchical organization. Aligning the
education of these groups to their situation is mandatory for large--scale social
movements to be born.31 That said, the liberating potential of the New Left is not
unambiguously positive. For example, they hold onto a misplaced anti--
intellectualism as part of their cultural revolution.32 Marcuse laments this anti--
intellectualism, for there must remain a place for critical thinking. In spite of this
drawback, the

centralized and hierarchically structured revolutionary mass party
[and now] all radical opposition becomes extra-- 34 This
means that the revolution will be more decentralized; there will be no vanguard
party. The coming revolution will look different from the Russian Revolution in its
29---- 30 31 32 33 34
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membership and tactics.35 Specifically, unlike past revolutions, it will have neither

Marcuse offers the option of the Great Refusal, where one rejects the system
as a whole. There are groups for whom this is possible, for not everyone has become
one--dimensional or internalized the values and benefits of the cultural and liberal

and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other races and other colors, the
olutionary opposition that

37 As they initiate the revolution, middle--class groups
can join too, especially radicalized students who feel disaffected from the dominant

radical refusal.
Foucault and Power

May 1968, a critical point in the history of French social movements, involved
protests and massive general strikes that included a huge cross--section of the
population. Nonetheless, this unrest ultimately strengthened
government. Following the disillusionment of many activists on the political Left, a
number of people began searching for alternative perspectives, including Michel

35 36 37----
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Marcuse, even as important similarities remain. I will use
of power to ground an eventual affirmation of micro--revolutions.
Foucault defines power in such a way that it deconstructs the traditional

those structures of the state that ensure compliance from its citizenry.38 Power is
not a thing that one group possesses and another group lacks, nor
that is 39
Instead of being unicausal, or descending down upon reality as a single thing, power

40 Simply put, power is the ability to
actan ability all subject possess. Better yet, power is the means by which subjects
become who they are.
According to Foucault, there are many micro--powers or centers of activity
and agency. This means that resistance does not come from one location or pure
group. Rather, a multiplicity of points of resistance act as adversaries to, or targets
for, larger power dynamics. The result is that there is no single Marcusean Great
Refusal or source for revolutionary action.41 Struggles against power have more

Nor do the42 Such points
of resistance do not remain an enduring network but are in a fluctuating process, 38 39 40-- 41-- 42 --
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each with different concerns and motivations that may impact enduring solidarity.
In this plurali
improbable; others that are spontaneous, savage, solitary, concerted, rampant, or
Coalitions are unstable. As situations change, groups fall out or join in. However,
Foucault does not deny that there are moments when a shifting constellation of
power networks can solidify into what may be experienced as a binary opposition.
However, most of the time one faces a fluid, shifting network of resistance such that
divisions and regroupings are a constant fact.44 In other words, greater power
networks are not stable, but rather are prone to persistent reconfigurations.
This localization of struggles poses risks of which Foucault is well aware.
Larger organizing networks may manipulate more limited, local struggles, and there
is the danger of local struggles failing because of the absence of a larger strategy or
support from outside groups.45 If power is expressed as a network of points, an
isolated micro--politics can be overpowered and eventually subsumed into that

collapse of opposites into a unity. Instead of resisting the system, the anomalies are

there are multiple and separate radical groups that do not originate from a single
43 44 45
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exploitation a
46 By this, Foucault means that formation of the
subject is not merely deterministic, but that becoming subjects retain a mode of
agency in their subjectification. People have not just internalized an oppressive
structure that is delivered top--down; they produce within themselves in their
partially self--constituted subjectivity those very elements that when mutually
reinforced over a multiplicity of the microcosm, emerge as a larger system. Yet this
system is easily objectified as the thing that controls as if it is from above. This is
also partially the error of most conspiracy theories: they take the network of
decisions that produce a larger pattern and see a unifying source that controls or
initiates the pattern itself. Foucault indicates his agreement here when he invites us
to not search for a hidden yet centralized leadership apparatus governing from afar,
s without any single group having
concocted them.47
Foucault is often criticized for claiming that he makes it difficult to affirm
ultiple power
relationships construct what human beings are and how they relate to their
environment, then how can these products change their producers? Or, if power
does not come from one source but from everywhere, how can its destructive
organization in the form of marginalization or exploitation be resisted? How can one
fight something that is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere? The final section 46 47
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will seek to address some of these issues from a process thought perspective
utilizing the work of Alfred North Whitehead, Catherine Keller and Jung Mo Sung.
Perpetual Micro--Revolutions of Novelty
Alfred North Whitehead was not a critical theorist, nor did he analyze in any
explicit way like Foucault the role of power in social structures and individuals.
However, Whitehead can be understood as making a proto--Foucaultian move
through his analysis of the relationship between an environment and its individuals.
By environment, one should not be confused to think he means simply the outdoors.
For Whitehead, environment constitutes the total context in which an individual
finds itself (an individual need not be human). Reading Whitehead with Foucault,
one encounters a similar insight into the multifariousness of power understood as
influencing relationships. These relationships themselves constitute what subjects
are in great part because they constrain the possibilities of what an agent of power
can become. Note the dialectical relationship between the micro and macro here:
The world is a community of organisms; these organisms in the mass determine the environmental influence on any one of them; there can only be a persistent community of persistent organisms when the environmental influence in the shape of instinct is favourable to the survival of the individuals. Thus the community as an environment is responsible for the survival of the separate individuals which compose it; and these separate individuals are responsible for their contributions to the environment.48 Both the environment as the amalgamation of power organisms and those
individual organisms that constitute the environment are in a relationship that
enables the endurance of the greater network and the presence of new relational
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powers. This is only possible if the singular organisms or centers of power are not
utterly determined by their environment. In effect, there remains a space from
which power relationships converge but then are responded to outside of efficient
causality. There remains an element of indeterminacy; one can call it freedom or
decision, even self--transcendence.
As mentioned earlier, Marcuse asserts that revolution will allow for the

have their basic needs met. This approach affirms neither the radical autonomy of
Robert Nthe totalizing statism of Stalinism. The same can
be said with Whitehead read in light of Foucault. As Whitehead puts it, the two

individuals composing it, and the other is the subordination of the individuals to the
49 This is only possible if there remains a space for decision, of micro--
power and micro--revolution.

includes cultural assumptions and attitudes residing therein. He writes,
successful adaptation of old symbols to changes of social structure is the final mark
of wisdom in sociological statesmanship. Also an occasional revolution in symbolism
50 Whitehead thus makes space for proposing a revolution in the

us connect across time and space, in their very abstractness they run the risk of
49 50
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including problematic elements.51 A symbol that improperly objectifies what should
not be objectified, will likely issue forth negative consequences in attempts at its
especially in its totalizing conceptualization understood as a once--and--for--all event.
Revolution as a final overturning of society is not possible because

be micro--revolutions. One can identify numerous injustices, structural and cultural,
in the United States alone: lack of decision--making in workplaces, ownership of the
means of production, instrumentalization of planetary life, racism in its varied
forms, sexism, heteronormativity, the absolutizing of economic value in
consumption, neo--liberal multinational globalization, the military industrial
complex, the sensationalism and corporatization of the mass media, and many other
areas of exploitation and oppression. Each of these injustices is an interlocking
network of power; each and all need radical changes to them. Is it possible to
qualitatively change them all more or less at once? Perhaps. But this does not mean
that the only meaningful change is a once--and--for--all thoroughgoing transformation
of them. It is appropriate to have a (not the) revolutionary vision of where society
needs to go, grounded in a comprehensive critique of the problems that are present
in society without demanding a wholesale rejection of everything at once. As
changes happen, they never achieve an ideal perfection but are always pen--ultimate,
yet we are urged ever onward by new critiques that arise from our new context.
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It is certainly the case that if one of these dynamics were structurally altered,
the remaining interlocking network would compromise its transformed framework.
If all power relations are interconnected, the change of one will be minimalized by
the persistence of the remaining networks. On the other hand, a change in one will
impact the others. Whitehead recommends that may be
impossible to conceive a reorganization of society adequate for the removal of some
admitted evil without destroying the Social Organization and the civilization which
52 This is not to say that radical reorganization is not worth doing, but

53 In order to address
the multiplicity of injustices in some final way, they would all need to be replaced at
once. But if all structures, however unjust, are destroyed simultaneously, society
will collapse. Is this what revolution should strive to accomplish?
Whitehead seeks to maintain enough stability to prevent the total collapse of
a structure. He concludes his book Symbolism with a reminder that:
the major advances in civilization are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occurlike unto an arrow in the hand of a child. The art of free society consists first in the maintenance of the societies which cannot combine reverence to their symbols with freedom of revision, must ultimately decay either from anarchy, or from the slow atrophy of a life stifled by useless shadows.54 Accordingly, there must be vigorous, even radical, changes, but they must be made
in such a way that other aspects of life remain stable in order to prevent these 52 53 54
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changes from being fleeting. Change without endurance is nothing but the flux of
occasions arising and perishing without a trace of continuity, like outer space. The
change of everything at once is akin to nothing.

Constructive theologian Catherine Keller recognizes that the tendency to

55 This corresponds closely with the
recognition that a totalizing revolution equals total collapse: apocalypse now. In
contrast, Keller supports a perspective affirming multiple perspectives or visions of
what can be instead of an ultimate unified vision.56 She proposes that we should not
strive for the independently new world, pure and cleanwhat we have seen

absorb [our own] impurities as the very building blocks of a New Jerusalem worth
your becoming now is potential for the future
of becoming, it is possible to view
micro--revolutions, cumulatively, as a revolution of becoming. By replacing the term

principle, then a [revolution] of becoming is not a process of voiding, of answer--
55 -- 56 57 58
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avoidance, but of gathering our relations and our resources into fresh and flowing
59 60 Revolution is
therefore the ever--flowing series of micro--revolutions, for by taking in the complex
web of micro--powers, there emerges the open space for the novel act.
Micro--revolutions and their synthesis into macro--movements are indeed
evolutionary, but not evolutionary in a gradualist sense. This does not mean the
incremental working out of small changes over time, which itself is a narrow
understanding of evolution. In recent years, there has been a growing shift in how
many biologists understand evolution. Before, evolution was considered a slow,
gradual process, akin to how wind wears away a mountain over eons. However,
more recently evolutionary history has come to be understood as long periods of
relative stability punctuated by near--sudden shifts in the composition of species.61
Therefore, evolution looks more like a revolutionary shift than a reformist crawl,
more emergent than linear.
One may be tempted to dismiss this perspective as overly dependent on
Eurocentric resources: Foucault, Whitehead and Keller. However, this vision also
mirrors the position of Jung Mo Sung, a contemporary Brazilian liberation
theologian. Sung is part of the leading edge of Latin American theologians currently
reformulating liberation theology in light of some of the weaknesses of past
liberationist configurations on themes like revolution. He cautions people that it is
59 60 61 ----------
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not possible to model the world off of our most passionate desires for full justice.62
Many see revolution as an all--or--
construct the utopia of a perfect world or it is not worth thinking about social
63 Sung offers a complementary alternative not
unlike a processive micro--revolution of becoming.
Sung sees the value of utopian horizons as offering horizons of meaning, but
that does not mean these horizons can be historically actualized.64 Following Hugo

going to be totally in solidarity, nor will they be free of the desires that are beyond
65 Sung critiques the modernist assumption about the
historical subject as the secularization of God as subject in premodern worldviews.
Sung affirms the possibility of building a more equitable and compassionate world.
He warns, however, that far from a once--and--for--all utopian revolution, the
revolution will inevitably involve new mistakes and imperfections that will need
It is important to acknowledge that there are some differences in the way
terms are used for Sung. Most strikingly, Sung rejects the notion that struggles
should only occur at the microsocial level, which he defines as local, face--to--face
encounters. His rationale is that new properties emerge as one moves to the
62 Jung Mo Sung, The Subject, Capitalism, and Religion: Horizons of Hope in Complex Societies (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011), 2 63 64 65 66
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macrosocial level, so changes cannot happen simply through the linear extension of
local justice expressions to greater entities. At first, one might be inclined to think
that this contradicts a processive reading of revolution. However, Sung uses a
different conception of the micro than Foucault. While Sung equates the micro with
the local, which is consistent with his affirmation of complexity theory, they define
the micro as that which is partial and non--totalizing.
Why is Sung against realizing utopias historically? Because he is against any
theoretical justifications for sacrifice for the sake of the system, and the best way to
subvert the ideology of necessary sacrifices is to deny the reality of any final
historical utopia.67 If the revolution is guaranteed or total, then any number of
sacrifices can be justified for that eschatological end, whether it is the radically free
market of neo--liberalism or the total abolition of the market through full
communism. According to Sung, it is not out of certainty of victory that we should
perform acts of solidarity; rather, acts of solidarity should be our primary response
in our face--to--face encounters with others. 68 When society has not been
transformed with our projections, Sung notes that it is very easy to become
disappointed and scapegoat:
Today one of the favorite scapegoats is neoliberalism and its representatives. It seems that neoliberalism is the cause of everything bad that exists in the world, even those things that had existed before neoliberalism and that will continue to exist following the end of the neoliberal hegemony.69
67 68 69
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However, to make them
reverse and reproduce the same logic. If there is no single culprit, then there can be
no single solution. In light of this, we can make strides towards a more just,
harmonious and human society, but we can never say that it will be fully just.70 Even
if and when what initially seems to be a complete revolution occurs, the struggle for
more just relations will not end. Whether one likes it or not, successful struggles for
changing economic systems will produce side--effects that result in a novel tension
between dynamic economic structures and justice commitments.71 Complexity
intentions.72 Solutions to past problems will lead to the emergence of new
challenges that require their own novel struggles. Revolution will always be in the
making, or becoming.

Revolution is never finished, nor can it end. As soon as one thing becomes a
final fact, a new process of decision, appropriation, power relation and resistance
begins. And begins. And begins. Does this mean that nothing new can emerge, that
we are forced into an eternal return of the same? By no means! The return of
novelty prevents the eternal perpetuation of even the most seemingly static
structures. Networks of powerwhat could also be described as a grassroots
organization of divergent communities, individuals, and interestscan emerge to
construct a novel environmental structure that produces less marginalizing
70 71 72
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patterns. Sometimes networks emerge that express a set of influences that are
insufficient to overthrow established recurring patterns. Sometimes those networks
lose certain elements: one group gets co--opted or bribed into the hegemonic

Thus we see labor unions collaborate with the CEOs of Detroit car co mpanies. Still,
nothing can be absorbed without altering the pattern of power; the negative is
brought into the positive in an unstable relationship. What looks like a gradual
evolution can explode into a rapid revolt against dominant patterns only to enter a
new stabilizing moment with its incremental alterations.

Revolution is possible, but it happens regularly as a non--linear series of
micro--revolutions (these are not primarily driven by a parliamentary or
Congressional process). Indeed, the latter tend to be reactive responses to
revolutionary movements. Those who expect radical change to issue from this arena
are waiting in the wrong direction. An example was the aftermath of the 2008
presidential election: once Barack Obama was elected president, too many people
and groups went into hibernation as if the eschaton had arrived. As it is said
revolutions that actualize new power relationships and set up coordinating systems
that can shift power flows in more egalitarian directions.

Sometimes one may wish that revolution in some pure and absolute sense
was possible. However, as a descriptive analysis into how relationships form,
nothing is ever pure; nothing comes ex nihilo from a vacuum. A new heaven and
earth do not simply replace a shoddy product for a static Platonic ideal. While this
CJR: Volume 2, Issue 2

may feel insufficient given the presumed urgent and critical need for an overthrow
of dominant structures, that feeling emanates from a fundamental lack of hope. Like
Horkheimer and Adorno, it may be useful to hesitate in naming what a radically
different world will look like. Even as this position touches on the apophatic and
remains clear in its critiques, like Sung one can still point to a horizon of hope
beyond what currently is. This position differs from the Frankfurt School the most in
its recognition of the pluralization of power networks; even the most colonized
communities retain power in their very becoming and are never totalized by
influential macro--systems. The affirmation of micro--revolutions is consistent with
how the world becomes. When those networks of relations sync together, rapid
idealizing those expressions of novelty, for there is always more to come.

CJR: Volume 2, Issue 2

Bibliography A ccessed May 17, 2013. Foucault, Michel. The Essential Foucault: Selections from The Essential Works of Foucault, 1954--1984. Edited by Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose. New York: New Press, 2003. . The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction. Translated by Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage Books, 1980. Horkheimer, Max and Theodor W. Adorno. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments. Edited by Gunzelin Schmid Noerr. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002. Jay, Martin. The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923--1950. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Keller, Catherine. God and Power: Counter--Apocalyptic Journeys. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005. Marcuse, Herbert. Counterrevolution and Revolt. Boston: Beacon Press, 1972. . One--Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Industrial Society. Boston: Beacon Press, 1966. . Reason and Revolution: Hegel and the Rise of Social Theory. Boston: Beacon Press, 1960. The Portable Karl Marx. Edited and translated by Eugene Kamenka. New York: Penguin Books, 1983. discussion. Claremont Lincoln University, Claremont, CA, January 26, 2012. Sung, Jung Mo. The Subject, Capitalism, and Religion: Horizons of Hope in Complex Societies. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2011. Whitehead, Alfred North. Adventure of Ideas. 1933. Reprint. New York: Free Press, 1967. . Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect. 1927. Reprint. New York: Fordham University Press, 1985

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