Workers' Voice mailing list
August 10, 2016
RE: Lila, the Revolutionary
William T. Hathaway's Lila, the Revolutionary is a possible scenario of what could happen if people with fresh eyes began taking an interest in socialism, and older burned-out activists paid attention to their insights. The author’s message is that explosions would ensue, and the socialist revolution would happen almost overnight.
Lila is an eight-year-old girl who takes it seriously when her parents say they’re being robbed by the rich. The parents don’t expect anything to change by complaining, but Lila listens and gets the idea, “Why don’t we take back what’s been stolen from us?” She persists in this idea despite jail, persecution, her father’s murder and her brother’s incarceration. The workers she talks to, even soldiers and police, listen carefully, and many of them take up the cause. Eventually they overthrow their Third World government, and a new socialist regime is installed. But the rich have ransacked the country and squirreled away their assets in the U.S. No problem; Lila goes there and inspires a similar revolution.
Something of a fantasy, Lila is nonetheless interesting and even inspiring. The author shows his familiarity with political events, how reaction maneuvers to suppress mass movements. Some of it is even funny as he shows how this little girl is portrayed by the U.S. media. When she first comes, she’s lauded as a new phenom. But when she persists in her politics and builds a movement dangerous to the status quo, the media turn on her and carry stories about her thuggish father, her lesbian mother, and that she’s actually a robot controlled by the Illuminati. The author shows that persistence by the masses can overcome media lies and other obstacles with simple, practical actions.
"Lila" doesn’t detail what is actually a long and difficult struggle to clarify theory and build revolutionary organization. As depicted in the book, in Lila’s home country and the U.S. socialist parties already exist, lead strikes and are poised to win national elections. Opportunism in the movement is seen as a temporary personal failing rather than a structural problem. But the book does show that recognizing and promoting basic Marxist truths can be a powerful force for change. Unlike the older generation who felt it necessary to compromise their beliefs and accept exploitation, Lila was confident things could change. And she was right.
by Pete Brown, Detroit Workers' Voice
(William T. Hathaway is a left-wing writer whose website can be
found at www.peacewriter.org. Several of his articles have appeared as
correspondence or guest writings in Communist Voice.) <>
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