The questions about revolution, of how and why it happens; have been on my mind constantly, on different periods of my life. And of course, recently, with all that has happened everywhere, they have become a much stronger voice in my mind (along with that other voice in the back of my head that keeps saying “You’re hot!” to my housemate, whenever he come out of his room shirtless, which is very often!*).
Now, I thought about writing this post a lot. It took forever to write it, since my analogy seemed confusing to even me: Too many variables. As a matter of fact, I wrote a post almost a month ago, and then tore it (in a digital sense), and started writing this just on 12th of December.
Since I believe revolution is a product of a lot of things, I decided to act like I am writing a recipe for a not so much tasty food. Actually, this would taste like blood, and smells like death.
- One weak minded dictator,
- Ideological dictatorship,
- One none-democratic system of governance,
- One military force not under complete control of the dictator,
- One economic crisis (Preferably with unemployment),
- Cities, with the ability of generating crowds of people,
Now, the above “ingredients” seem trivial, and they are. Of course whoever reads history knows that for example Tsar Nicholas II, Louis XVI, Shah of Iran, Mubarak, etc. were weak dictators; nor anybody doubts this as a fact that most revolutions happened while there was an economic crisis going on.
The ingredients are important, as later on we will try to develop an explanation for why they end up in a blood bath. But first we need to try and define what is a revolution? If the political regime of a country is overthrown by masses (big crowds) of people, and a completely new regime has taken its place, a revolution has happened. In here we see that a revolution differs from a coup d’état, which is when a regime is overthrown without the masses of people having anything to do with it.
Now we come to the important question: How do revolutions happen?
I believe it to be a game of power between people and the dictator, that unfortunately is in a form of a very bloody vicious circle. The dictatorship in a normal mode is in a sense in “equilibrium”. That is, people know there is dictatorship, and feel it both in bureaucratic system of governance and specially the ideological dictatorship (dictator’s belief is law, and others cannot object). But at the time there are equal forces on each side: A military force that backs the dictator, and a secret police force that can handle the opposition (as individuals).
Then something happens that break the equilibrium: Most likely an economical crisis of the recession sort, with unemployment. There would be a certain percentage of dissatisfied crowd of people, that becomes the core of the bigger revolutionary mass. It is a crowds tendency to grow, and this growth will continue much more rapidly with the incentive of the existence of such core. That unemployed crowd is like a Catalysis for this process, and as the recession continues, this core becomes more and more persistent.
A weak dictator at this point will use brute force and violence to silence people. But this answer will only add to the peoples incentive to gather more, to organise strikes, and to chose more violent methods of their own. Also, people individually are different from each other, but as a part of a crowd, their opposition with the ideological dictatorship becomes their slogan, and under that slogan they will gather, and chose leaders.
The process will go on, as a brutal game of life and death, with the dictator using more force, and people gathering in bigger masses and becoming more hysteric. This continues, until the military forces start joining the people, which triggers the final stage of the battle, that usually ends up with the execution of the dictator, if he (or maybe she) is caught of course.
The results of such analogy are as follows:
- I’m afraid that revolutions are somehow inevitable. Such combination will most likely end in a bloody battle, and the more unfortunate thing is, after the revolution things will most likely be much worse: Look at Iran, Russia, France. The exception is Romania and other USSR “satellite” countries. Also the results of recent Middle Eastern revolutions are to be seen.
- If a dictator wants to stop a revolution from happening, there are two ways: One is, in the beginning he (or she) should come down from power, or at least avoid using brute force. This seems unlikely since as said our dictator is a weak minded one, and using brute force is what they may not be able to avoid.
The other way is quite the reverse: Make your dictatorship a complete totalitarianism. Shut down every social media, every communication that the people (masses) can have, in order to stop them from gathering. This is hard and frankly impossible without a huge bureaucratic system of governance. But if the dictator can make it happen (like Stalin or Hitler did), no revolution can ever begin.
So, overall, the dictatorship should either be as soft as a democracy, or as hard as the totalitarianism to survive a revolution.
* He is hot, and straight!