This is a repost but the subject and ramifications of “revolution” are something I’ve come to realize are imperative for my students to understand. However, it’s not just my students who need to understand it…every American ought to understand it.
Thus, without further ado…Have you ever thought about what “revolution” truly means? It seems to be a popular word today for both conservatives and liberals, republicans and democrats. But do we even know what we’re talking about?
It means to “revolve”, which ultimately means “a circular motion of a body on its axis” or a “motion of any thing which brings it to the same point or state”. It comes from the Latin revolvere “turn, roll back”.
In other words, revolution is indicative of a circular, repetitive motion; of returning to the starting place again, and again, and again.
I find this fascinating when related to political revolution. Why is this word, “revolution; to revolve” attributed to the political definition “a material or entire change in the constitution of government”? Why attach this word to a change in political order?
Think about it. “Revolving” is the opposite of “evolving” or presumably moving forward, growing and improving one’s lot in life. One could argue that a term like “evolving” should be applied to a change in political leadership. Isn’t the goal of a “revolution” to improve and better the country and government? And yet, a dramatic change in political order is not called an “evolution” but a “revolution“—indicating that such a change in political leadership is nothing more than a circular, repetitive motion, returning to the same starting place again, and again, and again.
And is that not exactly what a revolution truly is, at its core? Is it not simply a constant state of revolutionary chaos and anarchy, followed by an abusive new government, followed by more revolutionary chaos and anarchy as a result of the newly established abusive government, followed by yet another abusive government—and the endless cycle continues?
The more I think about it, the more I realize just how perfectly the word revolution captures the essence of political revolution. It is the endless chaotic cycle of anarchy and tyranny, constantly revolving and never evolving, constantly ending up at the same starting point, again and again and again. History and modern day politics are the shining examples (think France, Germany, Russia, England, and the innumerable list of other countries who, today, continue to suffer the collapse and overhaul of one abusive, flawed government after another).
Truly. Revolutions are driven by emotion not reason. Hence, the goal is to overthrow the current government with little thought about what happens next. Hence, most revolutions in world history have only resulted in worse governments than the ones previously in power (need I mention Robespierre and and the Reign of Terror?).
There is one rare exception to the rule in world history: the United States of America.
So much so, that I don’t even think “revolution” can be accurately applied to the happenings of 1776, for the United States did not revolve back to the point it started, but rather evolved into something better than it was before. And she has continued to evolve and grow in ways few countries ever have.
I don’t believe Americans today truly grasp how rare the outcome of the American War for Independence truly was. We’re spoiled by living with the fruits of its outcome without really grasping the magnitude and gravity of its occurrence. The fact that the government created in 1787 is the same government we have today is staggeringly remarkable—considering that the citizenry was a simmering well of angst ready to explode.
This quote from the Declaration of Independence summarizes the gravity with which the Americans entered into a war with England: “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed”.
Today, both the left and the right are throwing around the term “revolution” with a staggering flippancy—when it demands to be reverenced and feared.
Revolutions do not progress or grow a nation. Revolutions trigger the endless revolving cycle of chaos and tyranny. Revolutions are the product of uncontrolled emotional rage that leads to unthinking emotional control which then produces a new bout of uncontrolled emotional rage. To think that America today would be any different is foolish.
Americans today are not operating with the same gravity and intellectual foresight with which our founders operated. No, we’re responding with emotion and fear and for many, unsuppressed fury.
I’ve seen many calls over the past few years calling for revolution and insurrection, and yet, few making these calls know what they’re talking about, nor do they have a solution or new way of operating should their revolution succeed. What they don’t realize is that America narrowly escaped the jaws of the revolving door of revolution in 1787 and that starting a new revolution will only catapult this country into a revolving door of revolution from which it is nigh impossible to escape. A revolving door that would all but destroy them and their families.
We must realize that both parties are suffering from the consequences of a government unconfined by her Constitution. Restoring the Constitution, a standard by which to confine government, is the solution. We would spurn the irrational and revolutionary trend of history should we face down an abusive government through logic, reason and foresight (fueled, naturally, by controlled emotion, a shared love of liberty and fear of arbitrary power).
Friends, revolutions and war are ugly and despicable. We’ve lived in so much luxury that we don’t really comprehend what such a war could look like or what it could cost us. We must work to avoid the revolving door of revolution and fight for the restoration of the law and order our founders gifted us with years ago. We’ve been given all the necessary tools, theories, documents, education and the like to restore the country should the Constitution be completely abandoned. Perhaps, our best tool is self-control. Irrational and emotional reactions only lead to more of the same. But reasoned and willful steps to restore the Constitution to its former pre-eminence, that is something for which to fight.
The Constitution, a standard, solves the problems with which Americans who lean more left and Americans who lean more right are grappling. We’re not living under a Communist regime (just yet) and we still have the skeletal remains of the brilliant government and Constitution our founders bequeathed to us. Let’s fight to restore and maintain such a precious commodity, to right the ship and evolve, rather than revolve back to the animalistic state of war most countries throughout history have always had. All the while, we must work to educate emotional Americans that their desperate calls for revolution would merely seal their doom.
To revolve is not to evolve.
We must never confuse the two.
The Liberty Belle