Yesterday, I was thinking about Revolution in general terms: what it means, what might be the goal of a modern revolution, what tools we have to hand. Today I am thinking we need to break it down a little smaller. Recently, I was arguing with a friend about whether ideology or action are more important in implementing change. His contention was that it is always an event which galvanizes the people and sets them in motion. My point was that while there is always a particular event to spark things off, those events could come and go unnoticed if there were not already an ideology in place which has a significant portion of the people at a mental tipping point. As I said to him, Rosa Parks did not just get on a bus one day and start the civil rights movement. Enough people were already caught up in the idea that classifying people according to the color of their skin is unjust that her simple action touched off massive change.
I am thinking a lot about the concept of revolution, these days. At this point, most people in the United States can agree that something has gone terribly wrong. We may disagree about when it started to go that way (my personal contention being “with Teddy Roosevelt”), or how far away from our original promise we have come (I would contend “a long, long frickin’ way”), but we all know that something’s amiss. In spite of the assurances we keep getting that the economy is fine, in spite of the assurances that people are happy, in spite of the assurances that things are going to get better…we all know that none of this is the case. Our government is a trainwreck happening in interminable slow motion, and most of us feel powerless to stop it. The tool we were given to change the system was voting, and the powers that be have effectively neutralized that. So now what?
Well, the only other option is revolution.