The Flavors of Revolution

Photo by Spenser H on Unsplash

How have people, Americans in particular, become so accustomed to misery and inequality that we have essentially accepted all economic and social ills as ‘normal’? Have we become that lazy as a nation? Have we become so comfortable with the myth that opportunities abound that we have become impotent? Have we become so fearful of any interruption in our daily lives that we will torment our minds and punish our bodies for the better part of our lives to serve an indifferent Economy? Are we so anxious about any decline in our ‘quality of life’ that we willfully ignore all the damage being done to the quality of our actual lives?

What has happened since the time of the American and French revolutions? Have we, in the West, lost our desire for radical changes? I suppose revolutionaries are born out of a sense of national desperation we think we know in the United States of the 21st century but, if we are honest with ourselves, we really can’t imagine. Despite what we might tell ourselves, we do not live under the same kind of tyranny or oppression as past generations. We at least enjoy the possibility of social mobility and the appearance of political enfranchisement to temper our fury. It is an entirely different situation when those alternatives are unavailable.

But who are today’s revolutionaries? They appear to be less obvious, possibly because their views are less radical and seem less disruptive than during the height of the Enlightenment or the 19th century when the empires of Europe were under constant assault from socialists, anarchists and other groups, less militant, but no less hungry for change. Maybe we don’t need the bomb throwing and the assassination attempts nowadays. Maybe it is enough to act revolutionary in our everyday lives, to give voice to the silenced and organize the disparate groups of marginalized and mistreated. Perhaps we need revolutionaries among our artists and writers more than armed groups in the forest striking out with explosives and gunfire. Maybe, instead of a highly bureaucratic network of associations, committees and unions that seek to organize the 99%, we would find more success in enforcing, funding and supporting existing systems aimed at protecting the rights and interests of The People. Perhaps we can all, in a multiplicity of ways, be revolutionaries by refusing to succumb to wanton consumption, industrial governments, corporate religions and the artificial boundaries created by those entities to profit and empoe


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