Throughout this course my definition of revolution has continually changed and evolved, and will continue to do so. In a way, my own definition of revolution has had several “revolutions.” My own definition of revolution is one that is probably a bit different from most. What I’ve read and heard for the most part is that a revolution involved a system or government being overthrown or radically changed in some sort of way by a set of given means. Goldstone’s definition of revolution includes “forcible overthrow of the government, mass mobilization, the pursuit of a vision of social justice, and the creation of new political institutions” as part of its strict criteria. While this does fit into my definition of revolution, that is only one small part of it, and that’s just the surface as well. A particular passage from Lapham’s Crowd Control by Simone Weil emphasizes the importance of reviewing and considering exactly what revolution means, no matter how important or sacred history has made it.
“One magic word today seems capable of compensating for all sufferings, resolving all anxieties, avenging the past, curing present ills, summing up all future possibilities: that word is revolution. This word has aroused such pure acts of devotion, has repeatedly caused such generous blood to be shed, has continued for so many unfortunates the only source of courage for living, that it is almost sacrilege to investigate it; all this, however, does not prevent it from possibly being meaningless.”
To me, evolution is the most fundamental part of revolution, and once there is a fundamental change in the evolution of something, whether that be an individual or an entire society, then a revolution has occurred. That being said, it starts with the individual, because the entire group that causes revolution is made up of individuals. If there isn’t meaningful evolution within each individual, then the evolution of the entire group, or revolution, will not reach its potential. Also, from a logical standpoint, how can radical change (a revolution) be initiated if there is no change within the individual? The most important aspect of any revolution is that there must be an evolution within each individual.
My last criteria for revolution (except for revolution of an individual) is that there is usually a leader or prominent figure(s) in each revolution. Whether it be Da Vinci in Renaissance art, Copernicus in the Copernican Revolution, MLK or Malcom X in the Civil Rights Movement (which I do consider a revolution by the way), there is a leading figure who is largely responsible for the shift in thinking and ideology. The key word however is “usually,” as not all revolutions have a pin point leader. While one may look to George Washington or Napoleon as leaders of the American and French Revolution respectively, there is no one figure to look at for say the Industrial Revolution. Altogether though, these examples show how that while some revolutions are more obvious or celebrated than others, they exist everywhere and change the world around us.