Everybody Wants a Revolution

Hi Folks, I drafted this piece partly prompted by Jeff’s post and Ronnie’s response on the topic of climate change scientists calling for political revolution. I was prompted to publish it this morning after seeing Rob Webb’s response to Russell Brand’s call for “revolution” in British politics.


Hope you find it a useful contribution.
(Read the link to Rob Webb’s piece, even if you don’t read all of mine.)

One thought on “Everybody Wants a Revolution

  1. Dear Ian,

    Thanks for this. I read your piece, but not any of the links, because time doesn’t allow for that right now.

    I enjoyed your piece and find it helpful that you’ve noticed the many calls for “revolution”, whatever that means.

    It’s funny how words mean somewhat different things to different people, sometimes.

    The word ‘radical’ is, by some, often associated with violence and with someone who simply wants to disrupt. But ‘radical’ also, or more fundamentally, means “from the roots”. So, if some of the deep-root assumptions on which our present mainstream approaches are based are incorrect and harmful assumptions, then it will only be helpful (and eventually be necessary in any case) to reform them somehow and make sure society(ies) are based on sound and healthy and true roots. For example, let’s make sure that — or move toward the day that — our social institutions are consistent with the real world and, as one example, the fact that the Earth is a finite planet. Let’s get that part of it right. To do that, some reforming and paradigm shifts having to do with our deep-root assumptions will be necessary. The smoother the better, of course, but the actual paradigm shifts and real-world changes will become increasingly necessary, if ‘wisdom’ is to mean anything at all.

    “Revolution” is change that is faster than “evolution” — at least that’s one of the differences between them. In terms of waiting for (cultural) “evolution” to take place, slowly, in order for us to find the will and the way to address our very real and worsening problems, well, there’s a problem with that …. a dilemma … because at present the most powerful selective mechanism in society has to do with the narrow, self-focused, financialized “values” and commodification of everything that is a big part of the problem. In other words, the “problem” has become so large that it has become the prevailing “selective mechanism” by which new ideas and paradigms are judged and often discarded. If the “selective mechanism” or “selective screen” or “basis of selection” is defined and ruled by the very social constructions and related institutions that have to be reformed by better new ideas, and by healthy paradigm shifts, it and they will screen out and discard the very ideas and shifts that would challenge and reform them. In such a case, “evolution” gets nowhere, or gets there far too slow, so “revolution” (don’t interpret this as necessarily violent) becomes necessary AND wise.

    Put another way, what do you suggest, concretely, if it is the case that the screening-out mechanism for new ideas and potential paradigm shifts — the very mechanism that chooses, in effect, which new ideas and paradigms to throw out, and which to adopt — is shaped and ruled by the powerful poor ideas, false paradigms, harmful habits, bad assumptions, and entrenched interests that are the very things that need to be reformed? Think about it. I don’t have the solution, but I’m understanding the problem better and better every day.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post. If time allows, I’ll try to read some of the links.



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