The Life Cycle of A Revolution

Any socio-political structure, after a long period of firm rule and hence political stability, will at some point relax its hold and consequently weaken.  This weakening is mostly involuntary, though the Government and its people will not be fully aware.   This weakening will attract rebellion and dissent, and sow the seeds for a Revolution.   If the Government tries to resist—as it naturally will against forces that would seek to destroy it—it could and would be overthrown by Revolution.

 

NAPOLEON ASCENDANT

The life cycle of a revolution

Let us first turn to the problem of the practicability of the Anarchist dream.   A world without governments will not lead to a popular movement towards coexistence and harmony.    Men, interacting with each other, will exchange ideas; some ideas will be irreconcilable with others, and the act of overpowering one with the other will lead to conflict.   If there are enough individuals sharing an idea, they will form a group.   They will eventually come into conflict with rival groups, until finally one or a coalition of groups will overpower the rest and take power.   This rests on the fundamental principle that nature abhors a vacuum.    This is also why a monarchy is the first and the most natural form of government.

 

The first kings must have risen to the top via personal and political struggles, personal in the sense of one-on-one combat with others challenging his authority, and political in the sense of him subduing or converting factions to his leadership.   These first years were hard, as the idea of a strong State has not yet been fully realized; the story of Damocles sums it perfectly—a king’s power still rested on shaky ground, and he maintained it only by force of will and prowess.   Eventually, the office of the king began to stabilize; it acquired religion by way of divine anointment.   The dynastic system ensured that there would be a peaceful transfer of power from father to son.

And under a firm and enlightened rule and a stable religious basis he cannot fall victim to any revolutionary movement.  But not all kings are just, and certainly not all kings have a firm grasp on their power.   The State cannot long maintain a constant state of tension. Only by force of will can a king keep his subjects pliant, more so when ideologies begin to evolve.   By force of will Stalin kept the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites subject to his power.  It was only after he died that the conflicts of different political factions reemerged, and Hungarian revolutionists took up arms against their conquerors.    In the later Roman Empire, the rule of powerful succession of emperors was eventually punctuated by sharp decline and a short state of anarchy.   The Julio-Claudian line ended with the assassination of Nero and civil war; the rule of the Antonine Emperors ended with the rise of the Praetorian Guard and more civil war.

 

Any socio-political structure, after a long period of firm rule and hence political stability, will at some point relax its hold and consequently weaken.  This weakening is mostly involuntary, though the Government and its people will not be fully aware.   This weakening will attract rebellion and dissent, and sow the seeds for a Revolution.   If the Government tries to resist—as it naturally will against forces that would seek to destroy it—it could and would be overthrown by Revolution.

Unfortunately, the “democratic” state caused by a Revolution cannot long endure. Democracies make for very poor governments in the wake of a successful uprising.   As we already noted, factions will squabble with each other, and by necessity, a stronger, more centralized government—sometimes a new monarchy—will evolve.  That is why though the modern times eschew the existence of a divinely anointed monarch it reinvented the office of dictator.

We cannot say simply that democracies are governments in transition.   Monarchies are also not permanent states, as we have already discussed.   If we examine the life cycle of a nation, we shall see that governments alternate between democracy and monarchy. For example, in Rome, the line of Etruscan kings was overthrown in favor of the freer Republican government.   The Republic, devolving into a conflict of various political factions, was overthrown by the military leader Julius Caesar.    His rule was ended by assassination and followed by civil war.   In the wake of civil war the Roman Empire emerged, its imperial government constantly erupted by “democratic rising” and civil war.

 

Is this cycle of a country alternating between a democratic system and a monarchic system healthy?  Yes, of course.  In fact, it is as natural as the pumping of a heart.   A healthy life cycle of a country involves a long period of contraction—the centralization of control, the taking in of power, and the emergence of monarchy—and then a short period of release, which is the exercise of democracy.    Like a heart, a country cannot long stay in a state of contraction: a long period of monarchy is oppressive, tyrannical, suffocating.   Power is like air.   Even when one takes it, in order to fully exercises it one has to release it.   When one has money, one has the potentiality of power; but to fully realize its power it has to be used, exercised.    Neither can a country, also like a heart, stay in a state of release.   The vacuum of power will become too much and the country will be forced to take in power like a pair of lungs taking in air.   To deny either the contraction or the release, will result in a violent response towards it.

Revolution is the violent exhale.   Monarchic rule is the intaking of breath, of consolidation, and of stabilizing the country.   But like air, freedom cannot long be contained.  There must be a release, either slow or violent, of liberties.   And like inertia, once air begins to escape, momentum builds.   More air escapes, and the monarchy becomes more democratic, freer.    If one tries to stop or struggle to keep air, the body reacts painfully.

This is the sad truth behind Revolutions: far from being a novel idea, it is a natural part of the cycle of a nation.   One will try to rise against an established institution, but will be forced to replace it by necessity.   Relaxation and contraction.  We can actually anticipate revolution by observing its tell-tale signs: the slow release of air, characterized by concessions of liberties or freedoms slowly being granted to the citizens.  If it is resisted, as was the case with the hard-line Communists in a last ditch effort to undo all of Gorbachev’s legacy in 1991, there will be popular rising.  If it is not, then the nation will enter a relaxed, democratic state.

 

First written from Walking the Earth, Jan. 30, 2012