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+2 votes
Does the word "revolution" have a significance for anarchists, or is it deceptive and spookish, or both or neither?
i don't like the word because of associations/assumptions, but it's true that as a shorthand term for "dramatic social/political/economic/cultural/personal change" it probably is as good as any of the other options.

3 Answers

+1 vote
i think that historically, and (possibly to a lesser extent) currently, the word and concept of revolution is significant for a good number of anarchists. though not always in support, for sure.

i personally have very little interest in either the word or the concept, these days. i guess there was a time when a "revolution of the mind" was somewhat interesting to me. but as i got in touch with my own anarchistic tendencies, i came to see the whole idea as hugely coercive, highly politicized, and dependent on a mass movement requiring a level of unity i could never see as realistic, much less desirable.

i could definitely see revolution as spookish, and i've known some folks i'd probably pin that on.
by (13.4k points)
+1 vote
I think an insurrection is something that a history book would mention only to note that so and so "put it down", which means that he shot everyone and that he shot all of their friends. Isn't this almost definitional? That something called an insurrection after the fact is therefore something that ended in mass executions?

Most of my ancestors on one side were west point men who became generals and some of them made their career on putting down an insurrection in this or that US colony. I think about that a lot. I think about the way these insurrections ended and I think about how their work didn't.

What would it mean on purpose to call something an insurrection? I suppose that you don't know what it would be like, were it to succeed. Even that you don't expect it to, at all. I like and don't like that about the word.

On the other hand I think a revolution is over, which is a way of saying that instead of being ended by men with guns, it chose to end itself. To me that is significant, but not in any way that I could simply affirm as being good.

I am affirming insurrection instead of revolution as the word that I would like to think about, but only in a provisional way. There is not yet a word for the situation where people neither have their attempt ended for them nor choose to end it themselves, since I don' think this has never happened and it's unclear what it would be like.

Insurrection is a word for those attempts that understand this. Attempts, I mean, where people do not intend to end it themselves and also do not pretend to know what it would be like or how it would feel or what they would do, if no one were to stop them. It means acknowledging that their success would only bring more, and worse problems, ones so far unthought by them.
by (8.0k points)
edited by
+1 vote
Others have answered to the 'spookiness' of the rev, but from an etymological reading, and seeing this spook bear its fruit each time, I'd like to cease repeating, rolling back, and returning to the same shitty piece of world-theater only to see the tired role of 'Revolutionary: Believer in the Wheel' acted by rote yet again.
by (7.5k points)
your answer caused me to think of how the two current definitions of revolution differ, almost completely in opposition to each other.

on one hand, it means a dramatic and fundamental change...

on the other, it means to move in a circular motion, around and around.

ba@, in a world where nearly all speech becomes so general, such words are utilized only to strike some vague emotion perhaps 'hardwired' into our kind of monkey, then retroactively justified through logical gaming when challenged, making the conditions of usage seem so inevitable, so 'natural.' morality in nutshell.

whereas 'revolution,' as you note, can mean two contradictory trajectories, so does 'freedom' within very constrained 'economic' parameters, made 'secure' by way of life-annihilating 'technology,' no longer considered 'craft' or 'art,' but almost self-replicating 'commodity' and most definitely no longer 'producing' anything close to 'verdant' as our 'progressives' would have us believe is possible if only managed by them...and so on. don't get me started on 'family' and the 'it takes a village' crap!

so goes my etymological rant!

:) and :(

see, aristotle was mistaken...or taken in by his own bullshit. one can hold contradictory views about the 'same' set 'things' in the 'same' conditions. it's just that 'right' is reserved for the more powerful leisurely classes. they've been doing it all along.

edit for added thoughts.