Arnold Williams (notebuyer) wrote,
Arnold Williams
notebuyer

One too many times.

The most recent was at Liberty's Torch:

let’s presume that people don’t listen (and given just how much influence I don’t have–thank all the gods I’m not the only voice crying out about that–I would not be surprised). Suppose we get the violent insurrection that grew into civil war. And suppose one side finally won.

Now what?

Indeed. Have a few quotes from persons more widely respected than David and I:

Every revolutionary ends by becoming either an oppressor or a heretic. – Albert Camus
Revolutions have never lightened the burden of tyranny; they have only shifted it to another shoulder. – George Bernard Shaw

Revolutions, as long and bitter experience reveals, are apt to take their color from the regime they overthrow. – Richard Tawney

Those who have seized power, even for the noblest of motives soon persuade themselves that there are good reasons for not relinquishing it. This is particularly likely to happen if they believe themselves to represent some immensely important cause. They will feel that their opponents are ignorant and perverse; before long they will come to hate them...The important thing is to keep their power, not to use it as a means to an eventual paradise. And so what were means become ends, and the original ends are forgotten except on Sundays. – Bertrand Russell


Now, I seem to recall that George Washington, a highly respected revolutionary leader (and a man who kept an army of volunteers going) served as president twice -- and then didn't take another government position. He could have. He didn't have to stop at two. But he did.

If you want a more modern example, take General Augusto Pinochet, of Chile, who, in a considerably more dangerous move, nonetheless devolved power from himself after assuring himself that the Communists could not come back, despite the example from Communists and socialists throughout the third world that giving up power was, at minimum, a requirement for exile. Admittedly, Spain caused him some regret on that when they decided to arrest him in the hopes of a legally dubious revenge being theirs: but he nonetheless died in his beloved Chile, despite the effort.

You don't even need to be a successful revolutionary to accept that continuing the revolution you are in charge of is a mistake: General Robert E. Lee had the option of waging a guerrilla war against the Union after Appomattox, but did not.

While you can make the case that these were men of character (and the headwinds of that argument are such, now, that I doubt you would convince a seminar), they all had a point where they stopped, and gave up power. The quotes presented are, therefore, only a partial view of history, not an inevitability.
Tags: cynicism, revolution
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