Get Access to Print and Digital for $23.99 per year..
Subscribe for Full Access

The Revolution’s Elusive Messiah


A plea to the left to reconsider efforts focused on “the greater good”

At the end of the day, the person whom I call “Radical Zero” determines everything. Every social reform in American history was won when liberals were urged on by an insurgent left. This progressive majority was pushed forward by a militant minority. Yet, what pushed the militant minority? It was a leading minority within the minority, the conscious vanguard that could see high from the mountaintop. And who could see farther than Radical Zero? The longevity of the system comes down to a single white male somewhere on the periphery of society. The task of every good activist is to seek out Radical Zero and influence his opinions. The right argument, made at the right time, could change the course of history.

Radical Zero does not identify himself. He could be sitting beside you on the bus, testing you with confusing questions about ideology. His interests align with socialism, but he is moved by malice to decline the revolution. If this fickle man finally decides social change should happen, the militant minority will be activated, forcing liberals into action and liberating the people.

An old debate on the left is whether identity politics or economic structure is the Archimedean lever for revolutionary change. Yet both deal in values that have already been assigned. If classes have interests but have not yet overthrown capitalism, then something must change for this balance of forces to shift. Identities may have characteristics with progressive or regressive political implications, but none have led to the destruction of capitalism. Similarly, despite making up half of the population, women alone have not resolved the plague of sexism. Only Radical Zero can solve these dilemmas.

Every day you read headlines or hear stand-up comedians who say “the left must do this” and “the left must do that.” It can feel like grinding repetition that goes nowhere. The abstract, enormous group these messages are pitched to could never make decisions as a unit, even if they gathered together for a conference. Instead, these suggestions wash over our feeds, generating more confusion, anger, and division. The reason to have hope is Radical Zero. One day, even if by chance, he might come across one of these missives. He could read the argument, agree with it, and make the decision to endorse revolution.

It is now clear that we must direct all our efforts toward Radical Zero. Leave the community organizing and mutual aid to one side. Pull out of electoral work and street protest. End the reading groups and self-study. Every activist must focus instead on him. The sheer volume of attempts creates the statistical certainty that Radical Zero will see one of these messages and end our stalemate with capitalism. With Radical Zero at our side, our tasks will become obvious, giving us an unbreakable unity and the final confidence to overthrow the system.

More from

“An unexpectedly excellent magazine that stands out amid a homogenized media landscape.” —the New York Times
Subscribe now