Ken Megill was born in Kansas in 1939 and earned a PhD from Yale in 1966. His involvement in Leftist organizations and political currents, in both the United States and Europe, dates to the 1960s. He presently lives in Washington, D.C. He writes:
You call yourself a revolutionary. I wish I could...but being a revolutionary requires a unity of theory and practice that is not, at this time, possible in the United States -- or not possible in any way I can identify. . . . Your description to calling yourself a revolutionary is a journey of theory, not of practice. It is a journey of observing. . . . We don't have that unity of theory and practice in our country. You found it in Cuba and other countries South of us. . . . Without revolutionary practice we cannot have revolutionary theory. Without an understanding of society, we cannot have revolutionary practice. I see no place to be a revolutionary in our society.
It was in Cuba that I became more connected to practice, and I came to define myself as a revolutionary. As a result of the triumph of the Revolution, the entire Cuban society is a manifestation of revolutionary practice, so anyone with revolutionary ideas is immersed in revolutionary practice. Those Cubans who were aware of the intellectual work that I was doing (reading, teaching, and writing oriented to the people of the United States) referred to me as a revolutionary before I myself did. Subsequently, I recognized the revolutionary character of my work. I observed that revolutionaries in Cuba carry out a variety of tasks necessary for revolutionary transformation, and one of them is intellectual work, which involves deepening one’s own understanding and seeking to raise the political, historical, and social consciousness of the people. For a number of years now, I have been working with Cuban academics and intellectuals as we seek to fulfill our revolutionary duties through our intellectual work.
So my revolutionary self-consciousness, in which I see myself as a revolutionary, has emerged in the context of revolutionary Cuba. But my work remains oriented to the people of the United States (and other English-speaking peoples of the North). Although I have published in Cuban journals and I engage in dialogue with Cuban intellectuals and the Cuban people, thereby contributing to the formation of Cubans, my principal work is the intellectual and political formation of the people of the USA and the North. For this reason, I write principally in English, and my most recent contributions have been my new book on Cuba and the world-system and my blog posts.
However, intellectual work, although a necessary part of revolutionary processes, cannot alone accomplish revolutionary transformation. It must be integrated with political practice.
Is revolutionary practice possible in the United States? Given the present mobilization of forces of the Right and the confusions and divisions of the Left, it appears to be impossible. But when one looks at the political and ideological conditions in nations shortly before popular revolutions emerged, one sees that similar conditions tended to exist, giving the appearance of impossibility. The cases of Russia in the early 20th century, China and Indochina in the 1930s, Cuba in the early 1890s and again in the 1950s, and Latin America in the 1990s, to mention a few. The Cuban revolutionary José Martí wrote that our task is to make the impossible possible. So I have arrived to believe that we do not have permission to conclude that a popular revolution in the United States is not possible. Our duty is to possess that revolutionary faith that nurtures a committed analysis, which can identify the ideological and political steps necessary for forging the needed changes in the current constellation of political and ideological forces.
What must be done to forge a popular revolutionary process in the United States? If we observe the steps taken by triumphant revolutionary processes in other lands, we see that they formed alternative political structures (political parties or social movement organizations) that were dedicated to the taking of power as delegates of the people. To this end, they called on the people for support, through the dissemination of manifestos and platforms. The manifestos were characterized by scientific analysis of the structures of domination and exploitation, explaining them in a way that the people could understand; and they were characterized by projections of transformation through the taking of power by the people. The platforms were full of political intelligence, making specific proposals that were connected to the concerns and sentiments of the people, never alienating them with self-righteousness. These experiences in other lands point the way for us: an alternative political party that transforms what a political party does, in that it educates the people as it calls them to the taking of political power, constantly demonstrating mastery of the art of politics.
So this is the basic idea concerning what needs to be done. But I do not (yet) understand how to implement it. I would guess that it is a question of putting together a group of people with sufficient consensual theoretical understanding and practical organizational experience, which would collectively understand how to proceed forward.