There is, of course, an important distinction to be aware of. Social revolutionaries believe the current system, current culture is too sick (too corrupt/rotten, fundamentally flawed, institutionally racist, etc.) to be fixed and must be destroyed so that a new system can replace it. (This is classical Marxist-Leninist thinking.) Social reformers seek to remedy the injustices within the current social system without completely destroying it. Whereas revolutionaries desire to tear down the existing social system because it cannot be repaired or reformed, reformers seek to remedy the societal flaws from within the current system.
a cautionary note for revolutionaries (“progressives” and social justice warriors)
But, we must bear in mind that it is always easier to destroy than to build up in this world. Destruction can be accomplished quickly and violently. Construction is not so easy to accomplish as it requires much more time and effort. This is true of constructing a building, or building up a society. Revolution can be and is a more costly approach to fixing society’s ills.
We observe and take note of the youthful idealism that motivates many young adults to want to get involved in bringing about change in society. Just be aware that many of the individuals you accept as leaders of your favorite activist groups or movements may not be persons of integrity and decency. Many such leaders have been – how shall we say it – Machiavellian. Enthusiastic and idealistic, yet naïve young people have been used by such cynical and power-hungry individuals in the past. Beware of being played as useful idiots.
The revolutionary spirit, which can be and is contagious and is driven by emotions, accepts and adopts an “ends justifies the means” approach. It is thus not surprising that anarchists and revolutionaries commit such gruesome atrocities in pursuit of their idealistic and ideological goals. (For examples of such outrages and horrific crimes, study the unpleasant details of the French Revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, and Mao’s China in the first 20 years of Communist rule, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia of the late 1970s.) When their revolutionary goals are not achieved because these were not workable to begin with, ideologically driven revolutionaries do not question the efficacy of their ideological dogma. Instead, they look for scapegoats to blame. Violence tends to beget more and continued violence. The revolution has failed and it is because of the actions of “counter-revolutionaries”. Mass liquidations of such counter-revolutionaries have killed tens of millions in the 20th century, and yet the revolutionary promise or goal has remained a chimera.
Oddly enough, ironically, the only states or systems that really needed to be completely torn down and eradicated were the revolutionary tyrannies of the 20th century, the failed utopias. Revolutionary movements have often increased human suffering, not lessened it.
We recall the old Beatles song, Revolution, from the 1960s that had a line that went like this:
But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow
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