10 Radical Manifestos Whose Revolutions Never Came

 

Because every revolution, movement, or uprising needs its manifesto, many figures outlined their visions in artistic or political texts. These radical movements caused a stir, others a howl, and eventually became nothing but fading sounds. Here are ten incendiary manifestos whose revolutionary claims never actually came into being.

10 The Revolutionary Catechism

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The most radical document of its age, The Revolutionary Catechism was crafted by Russian anarchist and nihilist Sergey Nechayev in 1869. One member of Nechayev’s group of radicals once described him as a

real revolutionist, a peasant who had preserved all the serf’s hatred against his masters.

The manifesto, co-written with Mikhail Bakunin, reveals Nechayev’s radical politics, demanding the total destruction of the Tsarist regime, the old autocratic hierarchy, and, extensively, of the whole society at large.

The text portrays the revolutionary man as a defector from society, with the only goal of bringing about revolution at any cost. In his obsessive pursuit of total demolition, he must not have “any sympathy for this world” and “must hate everyone and everything in it with an equal hatred”, except, of course, for those as fanatically rampant as himself.

Although Nechayev was convicted for the murder of a student and ended up as the Tsar’s special prisoner, he continued his political career until his death in 1882. While the demands of the revolutionary program never materialized, they provided the inspiration for Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s political novel Demons published in 1872, which depicts the political chaos of the 19th century Russia.

9 THE QUEER NATION MANIFESTO

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Queer Nation is an LGBT organization founded in March 1990 in New York by HIV/AIDS activists. One of its accomplishments was reclaiming the term queer which has come to define many things. Queer also sneaked from the streets into the academia and mopped the floor with identity politics and the “normal” – or at least tried to.

In June 1990, inflammatory leaflets which embodied the radical political stance of the Queer Nation were being distributed at the New York Pride March. In an angry, in-your-face tone, the manifesto pinpoints the revolution that queers are about to bring:

How can I tell you. How can I convince you, brother, sister that your life is in danger: that everyday you wake up alive, relatively happy, and a functioning human being, you are committing a rebellious act. You as an alive and functioning queer are a revolutionary.

Throughout the anonymous queer confessions, the “I hate straights” line is almost everywhere. In its plea against straight conduct, the text indicates that the “main diving line” between queers and straights is “procreation … and that magic word – Family”. In terms of child rearing, the queer community feels “punished, insulted, cut off, both damned if we try and damned if we abstain”. And here’s one other thing they have to say about reproduction:

It’s as if the propagation of the species is such a fragile directive that without enforcing it as if it were an agenda, humankind would melt back into the primeval ooze.

Could then queer  be the perfect antidote for overpopulation?

8 RIOT GRRRL MANIFESTO

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The in-your-face politics that queers adopted extend to the Riot Grrrl Movement, which demanded “riots, not diets”. Riot Grrrl is an underground feminist hardcore punk movement that started in the 1990s by Bikini Kill lead singer Kathleen Hanna. In her youth, she had to work as a stripper in order to pay for her education, which led to her future feminist quests. Continue reading

In (Rainbow) Light of Recent Events

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No, this is not a coming-out post. Amidst church bells ringing and waving rainbow flags, I would like to address the issue that has made almost everyone gay over the last couple of days (including the White House, the last place you would think of as queer): marriage equality. This is how I started the first chapter of my dissertation which I wrote last year:

With the majority of the American population now endorsing same-sex marriage, it is highly expected that in a few years time, marriage equality will be nationwide.

In a few years time. There is a rather long journey of my involvement in the gay rights movement and I have evolved on the issue, much like President Obama has over the course of his presidency, but in different, if not almost opposite directions. How so? Not long ago, I shed tears of joy and waved all of my spiritual rainbow flags in bliss as I celebrated the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York, in the summer of 2011 while wishing upon a star that I get to see marriage equality in all 50 states during my lifetime. Two questions now come to mind: what makes the gay rights movement the fastest growing social movement in the US and why did I not shed one tear at the news?

A few years ago I argued in favor of same-sex marriage in front of a committee, using arguments from the other civil rights movement, when interracial marriages were illegal. It was a turning point in my life, both personally and academically, which curved itself to yet another turning point (which marked my departure, however temporary, from the academia), when I argued, again in front of a committee, against marriage equality and against a discourse centered on marriage rights. And this brings us to the kernel of my brief political rambling.

What is so sacred about marriage if you have to get married in order to get this and that benefit (specifically health care benefits that are countless)? What is so sacred about marriage if while your partner places a diamond ring on your finger as you recite your heartfelt vows a boy in a dress is harassed and beaten to death mid afternoon in a nearby neighborhood? Where is the sanctity in rejoicing over wedding cakes and rainbow glamor while the abandoned gay son is roaming the streets or while children roam the streets in search for food and shelter? LOVE WINS. LOVE HAS WON. JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED. Whose love for whom? Whose justice? Continue reading