Lately I've been encountering articles and news stories touting the need for revolution in the wake of a gansterized U.S. financial system and a government that has itself become a criminal enterprise. I sense that many bloggers and their readers are salivating with anticipation that someone or something will light the fuse of a revolutionary cannon that will eviscerate the present system and replace it with something more just and humane.
I share their enthusiasm for profound, bone-marrow transformation of the status quo. Jefferson really was right when he proclaimed that the United States needed a revolution every twenty years. Many of us who were activists during the Vietnam War era were determined to pull off a revolution that would destroy the military industrial complex, institutionalized racism, and the entire capitalist agenda.
Today's visionaries and activists cherish similar hopes, yet I fear that they do not yet grasp the kind of revolution that the planet seems to be asking for. And unlike the revolution we envisioned four decades ago, this one must be in response to the planet and the earth community. From this perspective, I believe there are two kinds of revolution in front of us: The kind that is inappropriate and the kind that is both useful and critical for planetary survival.
The most truly inappropriate revolution would be one based on false assumptions, principally, the notion that political change on a grand scale is meaningful. Pundits of this kind of revolution include all cheerleaders for the Democratic Party and all others who champion the Progressive, left-liberal landscape. These folks are currently obsessing about the November election and agonizing over Tea Party cacophonies. From this perspective, if the far-right were resoundingly defeated by the election of liberal candidates, the nation might be spared from spiraling downward into fascism.
Other well-meaning but naïve proponents of revolution argue that social upheaval and more people in the streets will signal enough distress among the population to provide fertile ground for a political and cultural revolution. While not directly advocating the overthrow of the federal government, these individuals are poised to organize and assume positions of leadership should sufficient unrest unfold.
Inappropriate revolutions tend to focus on widespread global (whether literal or symbolic) measures that will result in mass consciousness raising, mass movements, and mass political and cultural change. This philosophy mirrors "bigger is better" and assumes that significant change only happens when society at large is involved. Models of this kind of revolution in the modern era would be ones such as the Russian Revolution, the Maoist revolution in China, and the Cuban Revolution.
Such revolutions rarely address the emotional and spiritual aspects of social change because for the most part, the possibility that any force greater than the human mind and ego exists is rejected out of hand. A revolution operating from this assumption is by definition, human-centric. Whereas political revolutions may include individuals who care deeply about the ecosystems and argue passionately for stewardship of the earth, their agenda is not fundamentally informed by the earth. Man is still the measure of all things and therefore, given the desired political context, humans can reverse their species' destruction of the planet and engineer something approximating utopia.
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