In defense of thought, however, as opposed to “pure” action, let me fall back on an example or two. Lenin’s speeches, for instance, have certainly gone a long way to mobilize the Russian masses. And it was no different with Marx’s Communist Manifesto which, more so than Das Kapital, his more authoritative work, made the communist ideal alive to this very day.
This is not to defend the intellectual, don't get me wrong, only the power of the idea. Each of us has his or her work cut out for us and it’s our responsibility to do what we do best. So no, I’m not going to become a philistine all of a sudden or someone I’m simply not just because the revolution is on. That’s not my idea of revolutionary purity or staying true to the cause. Besides, how could I stay true to the cause if I can’t stay true to myself?
Now, more than ever, after OWS has suffered its first symbolic defeat – the Zuchotti Park eviction, I mean – at the hands of an increasingly militaristic state, it’s time to take five, to regroup and to reflect. The future is always uncertain, full of all manner of unexpected obstacles, detours, surprises and whatnot. But none of this really matters, no more than a walk in the woods matters, unless you’re without a compass or a clear sense of direction. So yes, it all comes down to this vision thing, where we are and whither we’re going.
Say what you will, but education and thinking do matter. Self-education first, for how can we expect to speak the truth unless we be convinced first in our heart of hearts it is the truth? The second component, the communication aspect, is a bit more tricky, but I think a case can still be made. Not so much when it concerns the oppressed folk, those who are being dominated and have suffered all manner of indignity since day one. They know the truth intuitively, instinctively, because suffering and injustice sharpen your consciousness: it makes you see. Whom then?
This is the tricky part, for I suppose we also must reach the “movers and the shakers,” the presumed though unacknowledged and self-effacing “leaders” of the people’s movement; and marginally, to the extent possible, even the backsliders, those who're still on the fence.