Social Question

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Do you think that revolution is natural?

Asked by JeanPaulSartre (5779points) August 23rd, 2010

I think most people agree that there’s no system of government that is perfect. Since this is the case, there is always a part of any society that is unhappy in some way. Over time, do you think this “remainder populace” swells into revolution naturally, or do you think that revolution is induced by extremists or sudden unwelcome changes to a society?

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28 Answers

jfos's avatar

I could see revolution being a natural occurance, in a general sense. Passivism doesn’t seem to stand out as a beneficial trait for survival, whereas challenging something/someone powerful (with success) strikes me as an attractive or beneficial trait…

So maybe there is an instinctive root from which revolution flowers.

mowens's avatar

John Dickinson:
Mr. Jefferson, are you seriously suggesting that we publish a paper declaring to all the world that an illegal rebellion is, in reality, a legal one?

Ben Franklin:
Why, Mr. Dickinson, I’m surprised at you! You should know that rebellion is always legal in the first person—such as “our” rebellion. It is only in the third person—“their” rebellion—that it is illegal.

jfos's avatar

Extremists do help to facilitate revolution, and sudden unwelcome changes to a society could certainly be labeled as catalysts.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Ah the relativity of laws, eh @mowens and @jfos?

ucme's avatar

I think it’s a natural response to an unnatural set of circumstances.The last true revolution in Britain can be traced back to the days of Cromwell & co.It would take something approaching those levels of social unrest to see it occur again.

jfos's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Do you think that revolution is natural?

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@jfos Sort of. I don’t think government as it is is natural per-se, so I think revolution is more natural than government, or a natural reaction to it.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I think the spirit of a revolt comes naturally to members of a free society, but for a revolution to occur, I think leadership is needed, and that doesn’t always come naturally. Yes, there are a few “natural” leaders, but I’m not sure it always just comes naturally.

Austinlad's avatar

I think it’s natural and inevitable. The problem is that leaders too often subvert to their own purpose the needs and will of the larger group. The plot of the movie “Viva Zapata” centers on this..

jfos's avatar

Imagine a premodern society in which some members are deligated to hunt for the rest of the group. These hunters, upon their return, are given tiny portions of the food compared to the “leaders” of the group.

I think it would be natural, especially in a strictly instinctive drive for survival, for the hunters to eat some meat before returning home, or to use their weapons to demand more food. This basic example could be applied to a more complex, modern scenario. Perhaps what deems revolution natural or unnatural is what is being demanded/requested by the rebels.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

@jfos But of course, if this was modern scenario we’d label those hunters “terrorists”... get some nationalistic (BS) pride going against them.

jfos's avatar

@JeanPaulSartre Yeah, either terrorists or socialists…

marinelife's avatar

I don’t think that revolution is a natural outcome. Otherwise, it would be popping up all the time all over the world.

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Isn’t it/hasn’t it @marinelife?

jfos's avatar

@marinelife Don’t you think that fear of violent suppression could be dissuading people? Or indefinite fines/imprisonment? I’m sure if there were no consequences for revolution, it would be popping up all the time all over the world.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Societies reach a point of imbalance where a sufficient stimulus will throw things over the edge. Reformation can delay that process by pulling people away from the pool of malcontents. Revolution usually appeals to those who have nothing to lose. As long as people have something to lose, however little, they side with the status quo.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think so. There seems to be something in humans that’s never satisfied with the status quo, which on the one hand is great, because, wow, stone tablets—-> teh interwebz!Yay! But on the other hand, you get political upheavals, deaths of millions and firecrackers——-> nuclear weapons!Booo!

JeanPaulSartre's avatar

Well nuclear weapons and mass deaths are more or less status quo these days. Certainly “WMDs” have been used more as a reason to expand wars than to reduce them.

Trillian's avatar

I think that the feelings behind revolution lie dormant in many repressive societies, but other key elements are needed. Organization for one. A clear statement of goals and a map laid out to attain those goals. I am woefully ignorant about the French and Russian revolutions but it seems as if a spontaneous uprising by the people of France was the beginning of a long term of bad times. Yes, they got rid of the King but what form of government did they have to take its place? Structure is a necessary thing and from the little I know, what folowed the revolution in France was frightening for the individuals who lived through it.
So determination to throw off the yoke of the oppressor is not enough. One must be ready to answer the question; “Then what?”
And as someone else stated, a key element is; The breaking point. The american colonies put up with quite a bit before we finally said “enough”. And even then, there were those who did not want to rebel against England. Had we lost the war, all the signers of the Declaration of Independence would have been hanged as traitors. But you see that they had answered the “then what?” question before it could even be asked.
This bottom line is why we as a nation cannot go into other countries and hand them democracy. They cannot appreciate it, they do not all want it. It is something that must be earned and paid for in blood. Each nation must decide for itself that it has had enough and go through its own purging process. We understand this with our children when we teach them to think for themselves and give them the skills to stand on their own in society. I don’t know why people think it is any different in dealing with another country.

Coloma's avatar

Change is what’s natural, and sometimes revolution is what spurs the change needed.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I think revolution is inherent to man’s struggle for perfection,albeit at times misguided.

mammal's avatar

i actually think the American revolution was bad in that it was completely pointless, the French revolution and the English similarly, Wat Tyler nearly pulled of the coup d’etat of the millennium but he bottled it…never-mind

Anyways, what generally followed all these momentous events was less oppression for the revolutionaries and the citizenship, but more of the same for the rest of the world. i wouldn’t say revolution was natural, people aren’t naturally revolutionary, they tend to tolerate misery and humiliation and are too, timid and self serving, but when they do revolt they tend to go all psycho, for some strange reason. i would say successful revolutions of recent times have been more politically meaningful, i would include, Cuba of course, Libya, South Africa and Iran. Libya was particularly painless. Columbia far less so, that has been a festering mess for too long now.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Revolution is due to both stifled aspirations, and to the presence in any society of would-be alpha males seeking what they feel to be “their rightful place” as leaders. The first is purely human, while the second is primarily natural.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

As natural as manifesto writing…which is to say, it depends…I think there is a spirit of rebellion, so to speak, in some individuals given certain cultures but it’s not something that can be borne out of every society…though the global flow of information is changing that landscape quite a bit.

zophu's avatar

Revolution is natural, but it doesn’t have to happen all at once like many of them have; and even when they do happen all at once, they don’t have to be violent or even include upheaval of a government. That doesn’t mean the governments and associated powers wont try to prevent any revolution that they themselves don’t plan. But I think the more “progressive” powers are more tolerant of big changes, because they are more understanding. That’s nothing for a revolutionary to count on, though.

perspicacious's avatar

Yes, it’s natural for humans to revolt against that which they feel harms them. There are many ways to carry out a revolution.

mammal's avatar

To a revolutionary and like minds, revolution is the most natural sentiment in the world, to the ruling power, it is something perverse and seems to conflict with the cosmic order of things. i guess everyone else, is pretty indifferent.

bob_'s avatar

Cycles, in general, seem to be natural.

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