Punchinello’s Chronicles

September 28, 2008

How to be a Revolutionary!

Filed under: Butterfly Wings — Punchinello @ 3:00 am
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One of the more fascinating aspects of history is revolution, the overthrow of an establishment for a variety of reasons. In some ways, it’s almost a natural characteristic of youth to want to revolt against older established authorities. But there’s a difference between a revolution and simply a criminal gang of thugs. That difference is an ideological or philosophic premise of some sort.

For most of written history we’ve seen revolutions based on religious premises. The Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist developments, shifts and changes, have been where a lot of revolutionary activity has taken place. We remember the Crusades, and certainly the Catholic-Protestant violence of Ireland. Whomever became a leader of a revolution had to convince their followers to go into war and violence.

Then came the introduction of capitalism. For the first time an economic principle began to develop as a philosophy. Capitalism, the accumulation of wealth based on private ownership, naturally includes inequalities. Wealthy people have more than poor people, and the gap is quite large. As capitalism began to grow back in the 18th century, people began to see this inequality.

The industrial revolution accelerated both capital investment and ownership, and the growing inequality between the rich and the poor. Marx proposed an alternate concept as a solution, introducing Marxism and it’s relatives of communism and socialism. Which is more important to everyday life, money or God?

It turns out that by the 19th century, moving through the 20th century, revolutions more often were convincing and organized around capitalism versus socialism. Think of Cuba, Viet Nam, Korea, and everywhere that socialists gathered arms and followers to lead the “people” toward equality. And then socialism failed.

Around the world, socialism and communism have collapsed or are in the final process of dying. Who can start a socialist revolution when nobody cares anymore about socialism? What’s today’s revolutionary do if he or she wants a career path in revolution?

Revolutions really do need a higher ideal than just mundane life and troubles. There has to be a romantic aspect to the revolution, where the followers feel or think that they’re part of a historic imperative. They have to believe that what they’re doing is for the good of mankind, and for that vague conglomerate of “the people.” It can’t just be plain old assault by a band of thugs.

Without an economic argument based on the fundamental philosophy of capitalism versus socialism, we really only have the religions left. And by golly, that’s what we’re seeing more and more. Religious fanaticism or fundamentalism have entered the news again. Terrorism is basically criminal violence disguised with a religious ideology to elevate the terrorist with a moral authority.

But is that all we have if we want a revolution? Aren’t there any other useful philosophies or ideologies? Well, what about the fundamental conflict between romanticism and science? Romanticism holds that the whole world is equal, including both animate and inanimate entities. Animals, minerals, vegetables, all are equal under a Mother Earth with a consciousness. This is the Gaia hypothesis.

Science or structuralism with intellect being the center of reason and analysis, counters romanticism and introduces inequality again. Smart people have more success than stupid people, and it isn’t fair. What’s also interesting is that science doesn’t much consider a religious deity. Yes, there’s a growing move toward the so-called intelligent design principle, but not as a religion.

So on the one hand, if you’re a budding revolutionary, you’ve got the world religions to mess with. Convince people there’s only one way to get to Heaven or prevent spiritual damnation, and you’ve got that “larger than each of us” premise necessary.

On the other hand, you’ve got romanticism or secularism. Romanticism offers the ideological ideal of a totally equal environment. Global warming, enviromentalism, political correctness, all are examples of the less equal being squashed by the evil rich, wealthy, accumulators. The only remaining problem is how to deal with the scientists.

If you play your cards well, you can leave the religious fundamentalists to deal with the scientists. Introduce the argument that “God” wants us all to live in a natural state and anything involving reason and analysis becomes the enemy.

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