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Why I do not believe in revolution

By Daniel G. Jennings
web posted January 6, 2003

I'm a strong believer in the concept of liberty and the rights of the individual who doesn't believe in revolution. I don't believe in revolution for the simple reason that history has proven that revolution is the road to tyranny.

The social revolution in Ancient Rome led to the end of the Republic, the dictatorships of Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Caesar and Augustus, and eventually absolute monarchy. The English Civil War, which was a revolution, led to the dictatorship of Oliver Cromwell and a regime of religious fanaticism. The French Revolution led to the absolute dictatorship of Napoleon. The Russian Revolution led to the dictatorships of Lenin and Stalin. The Chinese Revolution ushered in the dictatorship of Mao, the Cuban Revolution brought Castro to power, the Iranian Revolution resulted in the tyranny of the ayatollahs, and so on.

Virtually every revolution in human history has made things worse for the average person and led to a vicious and destructive dictatorship. Generally, these dictatorships have ruthlessly crushed dissent, deprived the average person of his freedom, and engaged in gross violations of basic human rights. Many of these dictatorships launched destructive and useless wars against their neighbors as soon as they seized power.

Mao...no friend of the Chinese
Mao...no friend of the Chinese

It must also be added that in China, Cuba and Russia, conditions for the average person actually became worse after the revolutions carried out in their name. Late Tsarist Russia was no paradise but at least the people had a few rights, there was some free enterprise and freedom of dissent, and serious attempts had been made at creating a constitutional democracy. Furthermore, Russian society had experienced a great deal of material progress. All of that was basically gone by the late 1920s, a normal civil society was not reestablished in Russia until the 1950s and Russia saw nothing like the freedoms enjoyed under Nicholas II until after the collapse of Communism. China before Mao was taking rudimentary steps toward democracy, capitalism and modernization.

Within ten years of the Chinese Revolution, the Chinese people were starving to death because of Mao's agricultural policies. The famine in the early 1960s under Mao was actually worse than the one that the Chinese experienced in World War II when half the country had been occupied by the brutal and barbaric Imperial Japanese Army. Vast material progress has been made in China in the last twenty years because Deng Xiaoping essentially returned to the social and economic policies of the pre-revolutionary Nationalist regime. In Cuba, what was once a rich agricultural country is now importing food. Cuba is actually importing sugar from the United States forty years after the revolution allowed Fidel Castro to seize power.

At the same time those nations that have not undergone "revolution" have experienced far more progress than those that underwent "revolution." For example, Western Europe where there hasn't been a revolution since 1936, now has democracies and welfare states that are the envy of the world. The United States, where there hasn't been a revolution since the 18th century, is the world's richest and most advanced nation. In Asia, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, all of which had not experienced revolution, became peaceful and prosperous democracies. Compare them to China, North Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Burma, which all underwent Revolution.

Let's face it folks, revolution does not work. History has proven it again and again. Far from benefiting the average person, revolution is often the worst thing that can happen because it destroys the one thing needed to make life better: freedom. For when the average person is given freedom, even limited freedom, he will work to improve his life and those of his neighbors without coercion or force. Therefore, I don't believe in revolution because I believe in people and their capacity to improve their lives without the need to create a blood bath or build a tyranny.

Daniel G. Jennings is a freelance writer and journalist who lives and works in Denver, CO. He has worked as a reporter and editor for daily and weekly newspapers in five states.

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