Saturday, 1 November 2014

Revolution for Beginners

Revolution thrills the downtrodden with its promise of radical changes. When prevailing conditions are so oppressive and seemingly unalterable, people are desperate for something altogether different.

But like any explosive device, poorly handled revolutions can cause more problems than they solve.

So let us run through a few revolutionary options to give those entranced by the prospect of a brand new world a clearer understanding of how things really work when the bang goes off.

First up, the vanguard revolution that will violently overthrow existing institutions and impose a new regime to sweep aside all oppression and inequality. Always attractive to trigger-happy volatile type as well as to dreamers with a dictator-complex. Tends to be fairly indifferent to innocent people being sacrificed along the way, and intolerant of dissidents, for whom an unpleasant end is usually reserved.

Next in line, we have the anarchic revolution that displaces oppressive ruling power, not by another form of power, but by the complete absence of rule. Every structure for collective decision-making, every system for common endeavours, is disrupted or even dismantled. In the ensuing chaos of everyone-for-oneself, free-riders and exploiters take advantage of radical lawlessness and they alone gain.

Thirdly, brown shirts, black shirts, and Armani shirts all share a fondness for the dressed-up revolution. Always put on the appearance of the purest dedication to serve the nation, ruthlessly target those victimised as scapegoats (mostly minorities), and dramatically alter government policies and structures – but only to serve the commercial, military, and ideological cravings of the string-pulling elite.

Fourth in line, but ever popular, is the quiet revolution. Instead of direct confrontation, this route leads its followers to lots of small-scale alternative enterprises. These show how business can operate in a radically different way. Though they are confined to pockets here and there, they are celebrated as heralds of a new future – which will arrive, some day, somehow.

If the options so far don’t look as though they would deliver the improvements needed any time soon, then at least there is still the ultimate political weapon – the democratic revolution. If those in power deny you a vote in deciding who should be in control of national policies, then the vote is what you press for. If you have the vote, then use it get those you trust to represent your interests elected. If there is no prospect of a party with policies that best enhance the common good getting elected, then work with others to build a party or an alliance that merits your vote.

Plutocrats have for decades encroached on the common good and rewritten the rules at every level to boost their own aggrandisement. It will take a revolution to end their iniquitous reign. But as we have seen, people who talk a good talk about revolutions may be the last people to turn to if we really want to change the world for the better.

Forget about installing another dictatorship, see endless disruption for the nihilistic trip it is, avoid the con-merchants who will invoke God and the Flag to exploit you even more, and put aside idle dreams that a good society can blossom when government stays in the hands of oppressors. Only a large-scale democratic revolution will secure the necessary changes. So start building a wide progressive alliance, engage with citizens in all walks of life, and rally support for policy changes that no party wanting to hold public office can afford to reject.

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