Will They Serve Frozen Yogurt at the Next Revolution

By | Oct 30, 2011

Will They Serve Frozen Yogurt at the Next Revolution

By Gordon Basichis

All rhetoric aside, revolutions are not started by the poor. The poor may contribute later on, or pile in and take the revolution to certain extremes, but they are not the ones who start it. I realize it is romantic to think of the poor rising up to break the yoke of poverty, but it is simply not the case. It could be argued that if the poor were that well organized, then they would get it together enough not to be poor.

It’s the disaffected bourgeoisie, the merchant class, the middle class, that always always gets the ball rolling. If at first it is not the middle class directly then it is their progeny, their erstwhile sons and daughters who grow restive in the coffee houses or on the job, in the schools, where discussion leads to protests, and protests leads to violence, or the series of incidents that set it all off. Robespierre, one of the leaders of the French Revolution, was from a family of lawyers. Castro, in Cuba, was from a wealthy middle class family and also a lawyer.

Lenin was also an attorney; his father a director/inspector of the public school system. Trotsky was raised in a family of wealthy farmers. Che Guevera was from an upper middle class family and was himself a doctor. Mao Zedong’s father may have started life as a peasant, but by the time Mao was still a young boy the old man was doing just fine as a farmer and grain merchant.

The American forefathers were largely merchants or gentrified farmers. Those frocked coats and powdered wigs cost a few bucks, and none of them have been cited as showing up in a peasant rags. In the case of most revolutions, the leading intellectuals and rabble rousers took their cues from principles and doctrines in the literature of choice. The French and the Americans cited passages from the Age of Reason, while the Russians and Chinese took their cue from Karl Marx. Most peasants weren’t reading Marx at the time, and the literature found in Age of Reason or the Enlightenment was mainly accessible to those that had money, and certainly those who could read.

Another misnomer is that revolutions occur out of principle. That they are driven by the abstracts of ideology and their anticipated application. Revolutions, at least successful ones, are based in economics and not the more higher minded principles as some would believe. Most successful revolutions emanate from self-interest and economic necessity before being disseminated to a greater mass through rhetorical ideology. Even in today’s world where even the most complex strategic considerations are boiled down to simple jargon and sound bites, embedded at the root core there is short and long range self-interest and its related economics. The higher minded rhetoric, all that stuff about liberty, equality…whatever…comes after when you need more bodies to sacrifice themselves for the greater cause.

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