“Revolutions are a thing of the past”


“There are decades where nothing happens, and there are weeks where decades happen.”
― Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

The first time I sat to pen down this essay was when I realized that I did not know precisely what a historic revolution entailed. What elements must a moment contain to be described as a “revolutionary” one in the uncountable pages of human history? After a bit of research, I was able to narrow down the definition of a historical revolution to – a political movement by the public against their regime in an attempt to overthrow them. Keeping this definition in mind, we must realize that revolutions essentialy shape the world, revolutions are the present, past, and future. Be it the American Revolution (1765–1783), or the Indian War for Independence (1916–1947), revolutions have been a medium for the public to express their views, exercise their democracy in every corner of the world.

Revolutions, in my opinion, are not a thing of the past simply due to the fact that the reasons for which revolutions happen, still exist in today’s society. Let’s look at the American Revolution for context. Laws like the “Sugar Act”, “Stamp Act” and heavy unjust taxation by the British regime resulted in the 12 american colonies standing up for themselves and eventually overthrowing the British government. Does this sort of oppression exist in today’s society? Undoubtedly so. In countries like North Korea (Long existing dictatorship), and Afghanistan (post the Taliban takeover) numerous harsh and unjust laws repeatedly threaten fundamental human rights. The presence of such oppressive regimes in today’s modern society shows that the citizens of some governments are still evidently unpleased with their regime’s governance and therefore a revolution could very likely be a thing that stems from this displeasure in the future.

Armenia, in 2018, underwent a “Velvet Revolution” against the former president Serzh Sargsyan. This revolution fell in the favour of the public as Sargsyan was forced to step down as the Prime Minister of Armenia. The fact that we can see a revolution succeeding in a year as recent as 2018, further highlights the fact that revolutions cannot be ruled out in the present or the future.

A concession must be made that revolutions today donot possess the same commitment and dedication as they did in the past. The primary cause for this is the drastically changed lifestyles of the modern human. There is now no collaborative, networked multitude capable of mobilising a worldwide mass of protest and revolt. Instead, lone and solitary self-entrepreneurs, who are likewise divorced from themselves, are the dominant form of production. This causes a lack of unity amongst the public and therefore prevents the formation of a single united front which could challenge the prevailing regime in today’s day and age.

Here we bring the Indian War for Independence into the picture. India was a largely divided nation when the British made it one of its colonies. Even during the later stages of the fight for independence, India was divided into extremists, moderates as well as loyalists. Despite sharing these different beliefs and perspectives, when the time came, the entirety of the nation (well except the loyalists) joined hands to demand their liberation. This example proves that, if need be, all solidarity can be converted into uniformity and a revolution can succeed even in the most adverse conditions.

With the words of Fidel Castro, “A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.” I would like to conclude by saying that unless mankind somehow achieves utopia, revolutions are very likely to observed in the fickle future.