the origins of this definition
As we have moved through each unit, I have noticed a consistent pattern that resides in every conversation we have about revolution, regardless of what type of revolution it is.
In every mention of revolution, we talk about brilliant formulation, unique development, and the connotation of superiority and triumph attached to the word. However, we do not mention the fact that every revolution has inherent suffering after the goals are achieved. According to Lapham, after the Berlin Wall came down and East and West Berlin was once again reunited, the crime rate skyrocketed and mistrust between the two sides increased amidst the assumption that Berlin would return to the way it was pre-Berlin Wall. When Abraham Lincoln freed African American slaves after more than 200 years in captivity solely to preserve the Union, the “freedmen” struggled to find jobs and gain rights that would allow them to be fully fledged members of American society.
Revolution is a planned, deliberate change initiated by those beholden to a higher authority that transforms, for better or for worse, specific conceptual schemes that all members under this authority understand to be true. Revolution accepts suffering, be it of ideas or of people, as an integral part of the process of change, and leaves room for further improvement while refusing to return to the previous way of life.
Once a new idea is introduced, the perception of the old ideas are never the same. This is true for very fundamental human activities; according to John Locke, we have a right to private property, because our labor took an aspect of nature and transformed it. Once nature around man is interfered with by man, it can never return to its original state. As a result, the members of the community must suffer through the pains of transition that revolution brings, even if the change is beneficial. In Plato’s allegory of the cave, when the freed prisoner sees the light and goes back down to where he was with the trapped prisoners “would he not find in that case, coming suddenly out of the sunlight, that his eyes ere filled with darkness?” (page 6 Allegory of the Cave) Because of his interaction with the sunlight, the prisoner now recognizes the darkness as darkness. His idea of darkness is transformed through the interaction with the sunlight. He cannot un-know sunlight and therefore must suffer with this new information.
The Civil Rights movement in the US to desegregate public and private spheres serves as one of the closest real revolution. Although equal treatment of African Americans and police brutality is still a huge problem today, the leaders of the Civil Rights movement understood sacrifice would be involved and even needed if they wanted to completely transform the conceptual schemes that white people held about African Americans. Their goals were specific and deliberate, deconstructing the smallest type of desegregation in neighborhood swimming pools to the national desegregation of schools and gaining the African American right to vote.
In music, there is a style called a canon. There are several types of canons, but these types of pieces are characterized by the establishment of a root melody and then another voice copies the melody, transforms it, and continues on. Revolution is similar to a musical canon; each idea in a revolution builds upon the old way of life, transforming and elaborating on already established ideas. Each line is deliberate, planned, establishing its place as a musical melody in relation with the other lines.
Revolution is like a canon. Taking the head authority, be it government, ideas, or culture, learning its strengths and weaknesses, and implementing a new way of life inspired by the findings on the old authority. In some cases, there are several stages of revolution, each stage slightly different than the last; the terrorist activity of the German terrorist group the RAF in the 1970’s occurred in three different “generations” of groups, as the first group killed themselves while in prison for their crimes against the German state. Each generation was more violent than the last, indicating slight changes in the RAF mission and doctrine each time a new group formed.