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View Diary: Elites Are Attempting a Controlled Demolition of the Old Social and Economic Order (285 comments)

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  •  history suggests otherwise (11+ / 0-)

    First of all, most revolutions have been led not by real peasants, but by members of the educated middle classes.  Robespierre was a lawyer - a provincial lawyer perhaps, but he was no peasant.  So was Gandhi.  So were most of the Founding Fathers, along with other professionals, as well as some of the richest men in the Colonies (Washington, Jefferson, etc.).  Lenin came from a middle-class background and his father was even elevated to the junior nobility as reward for government service.  Trotsky was the son of a kulak - a landowning commoner who hired landless Russians to work his farm - and went to school in cosmopolitan Odessa.  Castro was also born to a wealthy farmer and was radicalized in law school.  MLK came from a long line of preachers: usually well-to-do and high-status members of their communities.

    These upwardly mobile groups are usually content to assume power themselves and institute limited reforms to address minor defects of a system that's generally worked well for them.  When the peasants they'd fired up with utopian rhetoric take them at their word and - confused and betrayed that the state has not been abolished, the the land has not been redistributed equally, and so on - start pressing for a far more ambitious program, the former revolutionaries turn reactionary with alarming speed.

    Peasant revolts have also usually met bloody ends.  With few weapons and no training, if the Establishment chooses to repress them, there would be little to stop them.  The English Peasant's Revolt of 1381 ended with a wholesale massacre of the peasant "army", as did the Peasant Wars of 16th Century Germany.  Revolutionary France ended up at war with most of Europe; Napoleon didn't come out of nowhere.  The Russian Revolution succeeded, and while the "socialist" state it built was in many respects better than the Tsardom, no-one would hold it up as something to imitate.

    The American Revolution was historically abnormal.  It took place in a stable and generally prosperous society; it was not utopian in its inspiration or its execution, at least not compared to what was already there; it succeeded even when military conflict ensued; and peaceful relations with the British Empire followed.

    Do you know why they call it the American Dream? Because it only happens when you're asleep.

    by Visceral on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 12:04:58 PM PST

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    •  British Empire made one more try with War of 1812, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NYFM, divineorder, James Kresnik

      … which I hear is referred to in British schoolbooks as the Second War of American Independence — before settling down to those peaceful relations.

      48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

      by lotlizard on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 12:46:06 PM PST

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    •  ECONOMIC revolutions are messy - (3+ / 0-)

      The American Revolution was POLITICAL, all about local control and rule in the Colonies vs. distant control from Britain - were the Colonies to grow and benefit themselves or the mother country?

      Nobody was starving - in deed the colonies were relatively prosperous compared to the mother country.

      ECONOMIC revolutions - where people are jobless and hungry - get messy and violent fast.  People have nothing left to lose.   Think France, Russia and countless peasant revolts throughout history.

      Life isn't fair but you should try to leave it fairer than you found it.

      by xrepub on Sun Nov 27, 2011 at 01:39:33 PM PST

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    •  American Revolution in part Elite Power Struggle (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder, James Kresnik, melo, Randtntx

      The big winners of freeing themselves from the crown were all of the wealthy land owners and industrialist who were freed from trying to maneuver within the existing power structure that was centered across an ocean and were instead able to seize the reins in a brand new nation. The really incredible thing is that the idealist segment of the movement managed to catch hold of the popular imagination so thoroughly that generations of ordinary Americans have fought tireless to make those lofty promises in the Bill of Rights a reality.

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