“Revolution is a permanent historical possibility.
Revolution does not have causes, but occasions it takes advantage of.”
— Nicolás Gómez Dávila
The revolution is an evil for the people, because it destroys its everyday life and the stability and sanity that comes from it, and its traditions and prevents a return to normal life. According to historical experience, every revolution causes at least one of these scenarios:
- A perpetual revolutionary terror, like in the case of Robespierre and Stalin. In this case, a totalitarian regime is established in the name of the revolutionary cause and the preserving of the emancipation of whoever was emancipated. And since the purpose of every revolution is to emancipate man from his condition, a constant use of social engineering will condition the people into a new way of life until the utopian ideal of the revolution is not realize (which means it won’t stop).
- A perpetual revolution, like in the thought of Jefferson and Trotsky. Here, “the people” itself is sovereign in the purest sense, and it has to frequently leave its everyday life in order to interfere politically in stopping the growth of an establishment or a hierarchy. This view is not realistic because the ordinary man feels the need to govern only that with which he has direct contact in his life – his family and his local community, not the entire nation.
- A perpetual reactionary terror, like in the cases of Franco and Pinochet. Under such a terror, the fight for a return to the normal (the family, the village, political and social hierarchy and obedience to them) is constantly prevented by insurrections caused by the imperfect prevention of the spreading of the revolution. This necessary militarism goes itself against the normal way of life that peoples used to have.
Joseph de Maistre was right to compare the revolution to the original sin – man now knows that he is naked (capable to revolt against authorities) and simply cannot forget this so that he can regain his innocence. He can now very painfully regain trust in legitimate authorities, and since we talk about the masses, we could look at it as an impossibility. This is the knowledge of good and evil that the revolutionaries brought to society, wanting to organize it in a scientific and idealistic way.
But still, the revolutionaries wanted to change human nature (not believing in such), and they failed. Whether we live under a monarchy, a democracy or an anarchy, the ordinary man will continue to believe and do what he is told by authorities. He conforms to social expectations and keeps the typical prejudices of his culture. He can hardly be “enlightened” even if given independence or education, because he will remain simple and believe true or false things, stupidity or intelligence, simply because they are the established authorities. In this, he is a simple man, capable of little good and little evil by himself, and a true monument of the nature of humanity around the globe.
If we try to examine the current situation, many people would cite it as a proof that there are other scenarios. While it is true that the current state of politics in the West doesn’t fit perfectly into neither of these three, we can see elements of the first two as basic in our society.
- We have political correctness against people who don’t believe in liberalism, and more particularly people who don’t hold the view of individual autonomy and consent as basis for all binding (to a nation, to a gender, to a social role). This can count for revolutionary terror, though in a more soft and polite way.
- Furthermore, children are thought in schools to look at things from the establishment’s individualistic and nominalistic viewpoint. In some countries, parents have to teach their children the beliefs of the revolution – that it’s OK for gays to “marry” and have sex, that protecting one’s own country against outsiders is a mental illness (xenophobia), etc. Again, this is revolutionary terror.
- We have the establishment often pressured and even sometimes ruled by different minority groups smaller than “the people” – like protesters (the radicals of the sixties, the gay-rights activists, etc.) or other establishments like the media who always expose society when the imperfections of its (inherent) structure are imposed. Thus when an individual is not accommodated in society, there is a need to overthrow this (necessary) discrimination by a perpetual revolution. The State is often accountable to these informally established groups.