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Revolutionary Parliamentarism

by G. Edward Griffin

Revolutionary Parliamentarism is the strategy used by collectivists to convince the majority they are hopelessly outnumbered and that the loss of their freedom is of their own choosing.

Through most of history, totalitarians have maintained their power primarily by force of arms. People were ruled by whatever warlord fielded the mightiest army and the most deadly weapons. But, as the concept of representative government spread across Europe in the 18th century, the world was introduced to the notion of people controlling their own government. At last, ruthless tyranny had been vanquished by the ballot box.

Or so it seemed. Would-be totalitarians did not vanish. They merely adapted to the new reality and found other ways to impose their rule. Instead of following military careers, they became con artists, mastering the art of convincing free men to willingly accept a totalitarian agenda. How? By making it appear that almost everyone supports that agenda, from public officials to the masses in the streets. In an age of engineered consensus, it is the tendency for men to go along with whatever they believe the majority has decreed. That this may be a mirage is not important. Public perception is all that matters.


That strategy is called "Revolutionary Parliamentarianism" and is well known in modern totalitarian circles on both the Left and the Right. William Z. Foster, national chairman of the American Communist Party from 1933 to 1957, identified this strategy by name in his 1932 book, Toward a Soviet America: “In carrying out its class-struggle program, the Communist party practices revolutionary parliamentarianism,” Foster stated.

A detailed explanation of this strategy appeared in the 1950s as two chapters in a textbook used by the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia. Written by Communist Party "theoretician" Jan Kozak, this textbook was used in a training program on how to seize power in countries that have representative governments. The strategy involves a political "pincers" movement – and these are the terms Kozak uses to describe it – a "pincers" movement applying political pressure "from above" and "from below."

Pressure from above is created when agents inside the targeted government bring forward recommendations for new big government/police state legislation. This will be promoted as a solution to some kind of national or international problem, but that will be a ruse. The hidden objective will be to expand the power of the bureaucracy and to move the country closer to the ultimate goal of total government.

Pressure from below is created when agents working in the media and inside grassroots organizations cooperate to create the appearance of popular demand for the proposed legislation. Naturally, the rank-and-file members of those organizations must be kept focused on the pretended humanitarian objectives. They must not be allowed to see the totalitarian objective.


The majority of the population knows nothing of this and is caught in the middle. They look "above" and see government spokesmen calling for legislation for some new expansion of their power. They look "below" and, with the help of the mass media, see angry demonstrators shouting for the same thing. They say to themselves, "Has everyone gone crazy? Or have I?" They may still be in the majority by far, but they don't know it. They think they are hopelessly outnumbered, and they bow to what they believe is the democratic will of the majority.

This process affects legislators as well. Since many of them have no higher goal than to stay in office, it is easy for them to bend to the artificially created pressures. They willingly pass the legislation while claiming – and sometimes actually believing – that they are merely responding to the will of the people.

With that, the process starts over again with recommendations for new legislation from above, new demands from below, and new capitulation by the legislature.
Through this strategy, the nation gradually becomes totalitarian, and the masses are convinced it is of their own choosing.

Because the new rulers claim to be public servants, not conquers, they seldom are despised and usually are admired; sometimes even revered. For that reason, Revolutionary Parliamentarianism is a far more effective path to totalitarian control in the modern age than conquest by the sword.” [End quote.]

Add to this the Hegelian Dialectic of offering a thesis, an anti-thesis and a synthesis, which are all bad, but during which people feel there is a real negotiation and are satisfied with the synthesis, a compromise, a lesser of two evils.

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