Revolution over Reform

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.



Looking at the world today with all its war, poverty, and disease it would be an understatement to say that we need a serious change in the world. This without a doubt, regardless of how far left or far right you may be in your political views, is something that we can all agree on. The unfortunate divide happens when we begin talking about what kinds of changes are necessary in order to change the world for the better. Ultimately, all ideologies aside, it boils down to one question. Do we want reform or revolution? I for one am for revolution, but what does that actually mean?

Throughout the centuries when one speaks of a revolution it is commonly associated with the violent overthrow of the current established government. But revolution is not an action; it is a process towards a tangible change whether it is in your personal life, community, society or world. That’s all revolution is, change. It is not to say that the associations with violent overthrow of governments are not true but it is important to understand the circumstances which produce the violent overthrow. It has been argued whether or not nonviolent revolution is possible and over all it is. We currently live in a top down hierarchical society in which we are all subject to the will of those higher up on the food chain of human life (C.E.O.’s, managers, politicians, etc.) where decisions are continuously made without the consent of those that will be the most affected by them.

In the case of a nonviolent revolution if people were no longer satisfied with living under this society they could began organizing themselves by pulling their resources together to create institutions that reflect their new found values. People could create institutions that are operated in a cooperative fashion in which a store, for example, is cooperatively owned and democratically managed by its workers. This form of organization would inevitably bring an end to the top down hierarchical model of institutions.  As this form of organization begins to spread amongst the people one of two things will happen. Either the proponents of the current established order will recognize the movement of the people and accept this new form of organization or the current established order will use whatever means necessary to preserve its self. Historically the latter prevails and it is at this junction that the violent overthrow begins.  It is not violence for the sake of violence on behalf of the revolutionary. Almost every “violent revolution” in human history was provoked by the established orders inability to recognize and accept the new found wave of values that was approaching them. Revolution is not inherently violent neither are so called revolutionaries. As stated earlier those who call for revolution are simply calling for a complete change in how society is operated.

On the other hand as opposed to revolution there is reform. Those who are for reform do recognize the faults in the current social structure but believe that these faults can be resolved without a complete removal of the current social structure. In the case of reform the current established order remains intact with only a few minnow alterations in regards to how it operates. The issue with reform is that typically it only benefits those of the generation that is currently seeking the reform. But has no tangible effect on the generations preceding it because by that time the established order has already figured out a way around the reform. If not completely removing it all together on that grounds that the reform has done its job in straitening up society and is no longer necessary. In essence reform is merely the same old thing in a different way.

In the case of the United States,  since 1776 we have had thousands of reforms yet here you are reading this blog trying to figure out why life and society is so flawed and what you can do about. Malcolm X summed up reform the best in the case of the desegregation reforms that were put into law in the 1950’s. He stated, “It’s a victory with no victory. It’s a victory that you can talk about but a victory that you can’t show me.” The truth is that more people then are willing to admit are for revolution but are afraid to admit it publicly because of the association of violence that is attached to it. I for one am not afraid to admit to that I am for a revolution in society. How about you?


2 responses to “Revolution over Reform

  1. Well done dissociating revolution from violence Philippe. If we say that revolution=change, we can also say that anarchism is the means. As Chomsky teaches, revolution is challenging established authority and acting for removal if this authority is found to be useless and/or harmful.
    However I am concerned that many people are still more afraid about revolution because it would attack all forms of privileges rather because of its association with violence. People are scared shitless of change, and they sometimes prefer to be submitted rather than to face change.
    Although one can argue that change is a form of violence (not necessarily a physical one), unless it occurs by choice. This is the key I think: choice.

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