You say you want a revolution? I’ve been reading a handful of books about various revolutions, and something that emerged in my thinking is how many of them are based in political and cultural revolution primarily, and how suspect I find them to often be. I also just read Karl Popper, and maybe he’s influencing my thinking there.
Separate from that, I read a book like this one, which details the history of the San Domingo Revolution in Haiti in the 1790s and 1800s, where former slaves won their independence, and my thinking gets thrown out again. I think what happens is that when I think of violent revolution I think who didn’t ask for it, and who is killed ancillary to those revolting.
But then when something involves the overthrow of a slave state, especially one where working until death is common, as was in San Domingo, or when you have a colonial power exploiting labor and capital through violence and violent oppression, I don’t worry so much about those question because the inherent state of violence has already reached the level of justification.
In this book, you get both, both a slave revolt and colonial revolution. And because James is a Marxist, and because he’s thinking a lot about African independence from European colonialism, you get the enthusiasm and the energy, and the taut analysis throughout that explain and justify something so horrifying and violent as the overthrow of a regime. This feels as close to the “they have only their chain to lose” as it gets.