In political science, the quickest way to create change is, by definition, a revolution. The details surrounding how political revolutions in our history have unfolded are largely glossed over. It’s often easier to view revolutions as suddenly occurring events perpetrated by a few radicals who were able to sway the populous into taking arms against a governing faction with a charismatic call to action and a promise of emancipation. History demonstrates a different reality. A perpetual cycle of perceived democracy crumbling into tyranny. A revolving door of actors performing the same play.
The American War of Independence provides a great example. It was a war waged in reaction to the imposition of British control and a King who made decisions based on his whims and personal gain. During the birth of the new nation, documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were purportedly created based on the principle that, as Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “… All men are created equal, and they are endowed… with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and happiness”. The irony of this? The intentions of the Founding Fathers guaranteed that the United States of America would never be a true democracy. Thomas Jefferson, along with many other founding fathers, owned and abused slaves. The sheer existence of a system like the Electoral College proves that true representation of the people’s will was never important, but rather the opinion of a select elite who deemed that they knew far better than the people beneath them. Their opinion on who was the Head of State was merely a suggestion.
In this, the United States takes the form of an aristocracy, in the Platonic sense, rather than the democracy it markets itself to be. When our current democratic systems were built, they never intended to represent people of colour, women, LGBTQI+ people, equality, liberty and happiness, they established a regime to consolidate the power of the ruling class of the time – wealthy white men who owned property. This was, and is, not a matter of systemic immaturity. Rather, it demonstrates the architecture of supremacy and oppression synonymous with oligarchy and, ultimately, tyranny. The citizens of the United States gave their power to a system that ultimately had the same fundamental shortcomings that they fought against. The evening performance of the matinee play.
Both of these systems are underpinned by two beliefs: Firstly, that someone has an inherent and divine right to rule over others, and secondly that every person who is anointed or seeks out this power has the collective’s best interest at heart. Addressing the first principle, governing with a belief that you are free, entitled and justified to act however you choose because you have a divine right to do so is a complete disregard of the responsibility the collective has to the true principle of liberty and fraternity – that we must act upon our free will responsibly, without impeding on others freedoms and lives. When we give away our power to others because of this impractical ideal, we fundamentally betray the ideals of true liberty and free will. Secondly, it’s impossible to guarantee the integrity of those who sit in positions of divine rule. The architecture of the systems that they are manipulating has no true foundation of fraternity to support accountability.
A true revolution is the oligarch’s biggest threat. Our current perception of revolution is that it’s the consequence of a cycle of greed, oppression and mistrust created by the agency of supremacy, festering until we are driven to find relief from the discomfort of our failing society. We revolt against a lack of vision that prevents society from valuing every member’s contribution, and against those who are more concerned with the illusion of power and how to maintain it. History shows us that no matter how many times we enter the phase of democracy, there is clear evidence that the architecture still contains a tyrannical platform that can be reactivated.
And so, thousands of years of this cycle has given rise to an ingrained mindset, submitting to the architecture of divine rule. The architects cleverly design the structure to continually feed a narrative that any form of revolution is a bad thing. By maintaining this negative focus on revolution, it’s easy to distract us from the existential threat we pose to the cycle of tyranny. We are taught to hyper-fixate on the gruesome, often state-sponsored violence of some revolutions and blame the oppressed for the suffering they endured. Our media and other corrupted systems constantly keep our focus on the fear/comfort paradigm, discouraging contemplation and a challenging of higher authority. Our current world events afford us another opportunity to break the cycle.
So, what could a true revolution look and feel like? Is a true revolution a step in the evolution of humanity? Is it completely deconstructing systems that enforce tyranny and unequivocally renouncing them? Once we have dismantled these corrupted systems, we must address our complicity and acceptance of them. We need to take time to conduct an in-depth post-mortem to understand exactly why it failed us. Only then can we start to rebuild with integrity, empowering a diverse group of people that truly represent us, and equally empowering all citizens to embrace a new movement that embodies liberty and fraternity. We can break the cycle and evolve if we choose to. In fact, we must.