Patrick Deneen and the Russian Revolution of the 1890s

Here’s an interesting connection that came into my world today as I researched a book I’m writing on wokeism.
I listened to Patrick Deneen on a podcast called The Ezra Klein Show today. They were discussing liberal vs progressive politics, and Patrick’s thesis was that change doesn’t come from the proletariat alone; it has to be coupled with whistleblowers in the elite before revolution is fomented.

Patrick says:

But I also think that it’s not unlikely — and I guess I would place myself in this category — it’s not unlikely we will see something of a rebellion from within the elites. And this is always the case in revolutionary moments. Revolutions aren’t just the people picking up pitchforks and overthrowing the elites. It’s someone like a Lenin, who grew up as an elite, who becomes a kind of class traitor and calls out the deficiencies of his own class.
And I do think that there are growing number of voices from the managerial elite who are deeply concerned about the corruptions that we’re seeing in our own institutions, and are calling for and demanding and amplifying, I think, the charges that you’re seeing coming from the populist direction. So I think, in some ways — again, I can’t say what the mechanism will be, but I think if there is going to be some kind of improvement rather than a kind of devolution, it’s probably going to come — it would have to come from both directions.

Meanwhile, I got an email from my local library to say that the two books I had requested on interlibrary loan had come on. One of them was Revolutionary Russia, 1891–1991, by Orlando Figes. In the first chapter, it says:

When does a ‘revolutionary crisis’ start? Trotsky answered this by distinguishing between the objective factors (human misery) that make a revolution possible and the subjective factors (human agency) that bring one about. In the Russian case, the famine by itself was not enough. There were no peasant uprisings as a consequence of it, and even if there had been, by themselves they would not have been a major threat to the tsarist state. It was the expectations of the upper classes — and the Tsar’s refusal to compromise with them — that made the famine crisis revolutionary.

I love it when connections like this are made. On any other day, this wouldn’t have happened. Is it time for me to learn how to use the graph or canvas in Obsidian? I wonder … Maybe there’s something to this Zettlekasten idea after all!