Thought Piece

When reviewing the subject of the course I am reminded of when I started to research something a while back. I started writing and entry for my blog on whether the “Digital Revolution” was really or not a revolution that lead to a bigger philosophical question of other revolutions throughout history. Then, I started to ponder the question about revolutions in general. What does it take to make enough people to take the big jump to start the revolution?

The larger question that also I keep asking myself if it was considered before a revolution begins: “Will the king end up dead, and do we really care?” I then proceeded to start an introduction that was never finished. It is suited to be used here since these are some of the questions that I am hoping to be able to answer by taking this course.

Over the course of recorded history, revolutions have changed the course of the future to countless Peoples. To these ends certain questions would be asked, and answers pondered. The first question is why would people change the comfort of the things as they are to instate change. How bad do things have to get for revolution to happen? What is required to meet that turning point? Does success or failure matter at the turning point of the situation? Is an end game plan necessary to avoid a splintering of the effort? How far can it be taken before it becomes a “bad” regime? What justifies a revolution?

Out of curiosity some of the situations that fascinate me include the French Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, the military coupe in places like Uganda. I am also extremely curious about events like the “5 October 1910 revolution” in Portugal and others the ended eras monarchies, more to ask of what caused to people to flip and change to the conventions of centuries of orders.

I think that a revolutionary is a person that wants or needs change. Perhaps it could be a forward seer or one that sees the winding path up the steep rocky mountain to the peak of hope. Whereas, a radical would be someone who wants change and does not need the slimmer of success. I think of a radical as one that antagonizes others or one that will do anything for their cause without thinking the situation through.

From my experiences during a Student Debt rally during budget day in 2002 outside the Legislative Assembly in Fredericton I think the “Big angry shouting mob” as the revolutionaries where especially the 150 or so that sat in the Member of Parliaments office for an hour, where the radicals were the 20-30 that started to shake Minister Margaret-Ann Blainey’s truck as she was drive to the Legislature as we were parading. Or the guy that climbed the flagpole and cut part of the flag off to symbolize getting our fair share.

Radical seems to defiantly be negative term, mostly since it gets intertwined often with a fanatical or terrorist, or freedom fighter. Whereas, revolutionary does not seem to be as bad. Revolutionary is a good person in my perception as they are looking for the change. The revolutionary does not even have to really believe in the cause they just have to believe that doing something is better than doing nothing. Some examples of revolutionaries that I feel made a large difference would be Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the United States of America, Mahatma Gandhi in India, and Nelson Mandela’s movement in South Africa. A radical, is more of having nothing to lose, or not really caring about what they would lose by a fanatical belief that their God told them it was a good idea.

From my past being in University during the aftermath of September 11th and over analyzing what a terrorist is, I would say that a Radial could be a terrorist, but does not have to be a terrorist. The persons living in fear may be limited to those in the highest power. Do you think the common people during the French Revolution lived in fear, no! They were part of the angry mob.

Then again, it seems that the revolutionaries could not be terrorists if the “Angry Mob” is the majority of the population. Using the terms as extremists would seem to fit more of the radicals, but the King or those in power could also be the extremist resulting in the cause of the average person of the population becoming a revolutionary, or depending on haw bad the conditions were a radical.

I think revolutions are very good and necessary. It interests me when governments do whatever it takes to keep power and how far they will go. Some prominent recent examples would be Adolph Hitler in Germany, Ide Amin in Uganda, or Vladimir Lenin in the Soviet Union. The necessity or desirability depends on what the majority of the population feels on the status of the current government, regime, or system. Including those that don’t care or don’t take sides. If the government is doing well, the population is doing well, and the economy is doing well then there is no reason to change. Change for the sake of change cannot be guaranteed to be good or bad in the end.

I think it is when peoples’ lives become so intolerable are usually because external forces be it an oppressive or uncaring overlord or natural condition and offered no help there is nothing else to lose. It is like backing a wild animal into a corner, it has nowhere to run but to attack. Sure they may lose everything, even their lives they feel it is more productive for the whole then to find a corner and kill themselves to make the emotional pain go away.

As, I was writing this it seems that losing everything may go beyond religion. Religion is what people turn to during the bad times, to make them feel better. Losing everything must also mean losing sight of the beliefs that keep you warm at night turning one into a radical, where a revolutionary changes their belief to better their situation. Perhaps a revolutionary has not lost their beliefs and morals then, they just decide that the hope of better is greater than the cost of what would be lost.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi was born on October 2nd, 1869, in the Kathiawar Peninsula. He was born into the second lowest Hindu caste, the Vaisya. Gandhi’s father and grandfather had prime ministers of their principalities, which made their family although lower in class very prominent and well-respected. He was expected to follow his family tradition of public service; so, he went to London, UK, in 1888 to study law.

 

When arrived back in India he failed as a barrister in both Bombay and Rajkot.  Gandhi was an extremely shy person. He later gained work as a legal advisor for the ruling prince of Pomander. He decided that public service was not for him and received a job to look after the legal affaires of the Dada Abdulla & Co. in South Africa.

 

He stayed in South Africa from 1893 until 1914. While in South Africa Gandhi he had faced much embarrassment. One of these times was while he was on a train to Durban he was asked to leave his seat in first class and move to the baggage compartment, he did not comply and instead left the train. Gandhi was opposed to this treatment and got the South African Indians together to offer more resistance. Gandhi was the founder of modern Satyagraha, which he put together with trial and error and his Hindu teachings. Gandhi was upset over various issues such as registration, prohibition of moving to other provinces, unfair taxes, and recognition of only Christian marriages.

 

In 1908, Gandhi got together over two thousand Indians living in South Africa to march to Johannesburg and burn their registration papers. He again in 1913 led a group of several thousand Indians to move into another province. These protests led to the Indian Relief Act of July 1914.

 

In January 1915, Gandhi decided to return to India and apply his methods in British India. Gandhi did not want to simply oust the British but keep up the sense of justice enforced by the British, by the means of peaceful liberation from England. Gandhi was a conditional nationalist that believed in independence but only under certain conditions. He was at times not well liked because he for instance recruited Indian Soldiers for the British during the Great War. Gandhi believed that non-violence is preferred to violence only to prove moral strength and inner conviction not as a sign of moral weakness. He had done the recruiting because he felt his fellow citizens agreed with him because they were morally weak, and he felt that surrender was worst than the violence.

 

Gandhi had set up religious retreats throughout India to help prepare his followers for their major task, the transition into non-violence. One of these in Sabarmati, called Satyagraha Ashram, was Mahatma Gandhi’s home for over sixteen years. During those years, he gained support of the locals, leaders, and many others by campaigning for education, sanitation, and injustices. This led for a public out call for independence.

 

Gandhi in 1929 called Lord Irwin for the independence of India within one year. Gandhi then decided to speed up emancipation by opposing the Salt Act. It had led to the largest display of non-violence demonstrations known to date. This was followed by massive displays of civil disobedience and non-cooperation. The most notable was a march of over 200 miles from Ahmedabad to Dandi in May 1930, to try to take over the government salt depot at Dharasana. Gandhi was arrested before this incident.

 

From 1934 until 1939 Gandhi, spend most of his time supporting issues such as basic education, language reform, and natural remedies. In 1939, Gandhi requested that Britain to leave India out of their war in Europe and allow India to protect themselves against the oncoming of the Japanese from the east. He felt that this would not affect the outcome of the war in Europe, and he threatened them with more civil disobedience. Britain’s response was to have him and other leaders arrested. This led to massive violent riots throughout India. He was finally released in May of 1944, three months after his wife’s death.

 

In his efforts, he tried uniting the Moslems and the Hindu people to help gain independence. In August 15, 1947, India finally gained independence although it was divided into two countries India and Pakistan.

 

He then spent the rest of his life traveling, trying to unite the Moslem and Hindu peoples, and spread the word on Satyagraha. This had caused people to conspire to kill Gandhi. Finally on January 30, 1948, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated at age 78, on has way to prayers.

During his times he referred to himself as a soldier of peace as in this famous speech he gave, “I regard myself as a soldier, though a soldier of peace. I know the value of discipline and truth. I must ask you to believe me when I say, that I have never made a statement of this description. That the merit of India, if it became necessary, would resort to violence.” During the same time the most brilliant man in the worlds modern history, Albert Einstein supported Gandhi’s views by saying, “I believe, that Gandhi’s views were the most enlightened of all the political mind of our time. We should strive to do things in his spirit, not to use violence in fighting for all cause. But by non-participation in anything, you believe is evil.”