So You Say You Want A Revolution?
A Discussion Of Change
Alexander Gordon Jahans
Part 1 - The Research
I do not believe in fate and destiny and karma. I cannot plan for toffee and I assure you I am not smart enough to have foreseen these events. As a fan of quantum physics though I know the improbable can happen and a lot of coincidences have happened.
First off after a friend recommended I try out the Discworld and I binge listened to it and while searching for podcasts on the subject stumbled across the Dissecting Worlds podcast and became a massive fan which meant I was there to hear their series on Revolutions in Genre Fiction. That is research point number 1.
Then the Dissecting Worlds podcast led me to Mike Duncan's History of Rome Podcast and I naturally followed Mike over to his new podcast on revolutions and listened to the history of the English Revolution, the American Revolution and now the French Revolution. That is research point number 2.
When I had caught up on the backlog of Mike Duncan's podcast episodes I naturally tried out different history podcasts but the one that really caught my attention was the British History Podcast and how it is chronicling the history of Britain from before the time of the Romans that is research point number 3.
This is not strict chronological order you understand, the podcasts are long and the relevant bits happened at different times, it is mostly an appropriate history of the order in which I discovered the podcasts. Now though we need to take a side step to 2013 and my second year at university. I had an optional module to pick so I chose to study the Enlightenment because it seemed interesting and I was not aware of how out of my depth I would be. I was a student in the school of social sciences studying a humanities module, I failed so hard that I didn't bother turning up to the last exam. It did however introduce me to the ideological revolution that happened in tandem with the political revolutions and I still retain the research material so that is research point number 4.
The next element of research is not the most on topic of revolution but it is important for having a wider perspective on the impact of revolution and I place it here on the basis of when the last piece of accidental research occurred. So lets start with the most obviously pertinent pieces of information. I watched the boxset of Hornblower and listened to Temeriere by Naomi Novak, this is important because of the filtered insight into the aftermath and impact of the botched French Revolution. I watched the first 4 seasons of Babylon 5 and the 4 seasons of Farscape. Babylon 5 delves into issues like striking, secret police and civil war. Farscape delves into the issue of a corrupt and dangerous government that is preferable to the insane one waiting for a chance to seize power. Finally I listened to the first Culture 9 books by Iain M Banks and saw the glorious post scarcity society I believe we should aim for. This is research point number 5.
Lastly I have not been blind to current events. The rising strength of Feminism, the growing social justice movement, the advances in technology and information delivery, the voter apathy the corruption in government and Russell Brand's movement for Revolution. I have been watching and learning, this is research point number 6.
Part 2 - Why Might A Revolution Happen?
Basically it's all Blair's fault. If he had not gone to war with Iraq, if he had been honest about his mistakes and nobly paid the price Labour might still stand. But no Labour went to war over inaccurate information then when Blair was no longer fit to be Prime minister instead of calling a General Election the Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown became Prime Minister and the banks promptly caused a recession leading to a large amount of resentment for the Labour party. Not only did they go to war for unjust reasons, not only did Tony Blair escape justice for his crimes, not only were the British people denied a say in leader but the Prime Minister that was chosen for us was then seen as responsible for the banks fucking up the country when managing the banks was supposed to have been his job for the last 2 terms. That is a monumental clusterfuck.
Then the election happened, one I was too young to take part in and with Labour still loathed by many Nick Clegg promised lefties everywhere hope and good left wing policies then promptly shacked up with the Conservatives, a party last remembered for the Falklands War and the council housing disaster that was Right To Buy. Nick Clegg then served as David Cameron's shield against any hatred as right wing voters naturally blamed the leftie and left wing voters raged against the great traitor. This also meant that for the second time in a row we had a prime minister that the public did not vote for.
So the Tories are in power and people are dying as the economy is fucked over in the name of screwing the poor, surely that means Labour have to get in next election, regardless of their past clusterfuck? Well no because Labour decides to King-make a loser nobody who is literally related to the Labour cabinet that caused the clusterfuck then they proceed to have a number of PR disasters. Shaming people who are proud to fly the English flag, getting into bed with the Tories to convince the Scots to remain part of the United Kingdom, promising to make many of the same economy harming sadistic cuts as the Tories, showing shocking cluelessness with regards to gender politics and deciding that the best way to win back UKIP voters is validate their opinions and not go as far as them. Then just to really ram it in they decide to let someone crying for revolution who is declaring that the political system is corrupt, support them in their campaign. That may sound like good PR getting nonvoters to vote for you but these are people disillusioned with the corruption of politics and you have come into their safe space and corrupted the only person representing their world view so they now hate you and the right wing voters think you've signed up as a communist revolutionary so there is no way they are voting for you.
Then the final nail in the coffin, the election itself in which the Conservatives had a sweeping victory, eliminating all opposition, while only representing the will of less than a quarter of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. And now we face the sadistic policies of an economy screwing, poor hating, climate destroying government and if we get the victory of encouraging them to stop their more ridiculously sadistic policies the Conservatives will have voted in a party that then broke its policies.
We have all lost under this corrupt and broken British politics and now with cuts to benefits, mental health and a screwed over economy there is a surplus of hungry mentally ill people with a lot of time on their hands.
Part 3 - If A Revolution Happens, How Do We Mitigate The Negative Effects?
Revolutions are scary. Revolutions are really fucking scary. Revolutions are caused by people rising up against their government out of fear and anger. These are not the people you want in charge of an online forum, let alone a country and France shows us just how badly a revolution can go. Do you want to see a guillotine in Westminster? I know I don't. I still have nightmares about two fish I killed as a kid. Plus, you know, the universal sanctity of human life.
So how are we to deal with a Revolution?
Step 1 is obviously prevention. We need the government to push through a discussion on political reform. I doubt it will happen but it needs to be tried and should buy time.
Step 2. Show how we are not in fact powerless. We can think and we have agency and we can act. We can ensure tax dodgers face justice. We can organise support for those with mental health problems. We can help councils feed band house the homeless. If you can donate your time and mind to helping those being shat upon by the government, do it. If you can save so much a penny regularly then in time together you can change the world.
Step 3. Organise revolution. This is not the same as advocating revolution. This is controlling how the energy is directed to do least harm. Provide a safe space for revolutionaries to talk and give them the research and information to avoid going off half cocked and hurting people. The American Revolution resolved peacefully because it was not just an angry mob but a bunch of enlighted people united by an ideology of political reform that was written down for all to see. The French Revolution failed because there were too many contradictory ideas and too much anger. You do not prevent a dangerous revolution by clamping down on rebels and letting their anger overwhelm you later, you prevent a dangerous revolution by ensuring that the revolution happens calmly with thought and care.
Step 4. End the revolution peacefully. Once the Revolution has gotten its results. The leaders of the Revolution need to transition peacefully into the new architecture of power. What this means is that once you're in power you treat the people who got you in power with respect and defend their human rights. If you can't do that your revolution has failed and you should accept it nobly. This is what English did in their revolution, they could have become a military dictatorship to impose republican rule but instead they realised the dangers of trying to force radical change on a people that just wanted rid of a bad egg. Contrast that with the French Revolution where trying to protect the revolution with capital punishment led to the revolution eating itself.
Step 5. Do not become the enemy you overthrew. Governing is hard and pragmatic immorality is easy. This is a trap, do not fall into it. You can't always pick the moral option but always remember that you got into power because the people revolted, if you can't do any better perhaps it's best that you admit your mistakes and stand down to let someone democratically elected make the mistakes.
Step 6. Accept the possibility that despite how glorious your revolution might have been the public may democratically decide to return to the system you overthrew. This is their choice, if you cannot respect it you did not deserve to succeed at your revolution.
Part 4 - What Would I Want Out of A Revolution?
This is probably the most dangerous part of this blog as here I am not merely analysing why a revolutions might happen and suggesting how to minimize harm, I am actually implicitly and I suppose now I'm saying it explicitly endorsing revolution. I'm not going to hide that. I will note however that one pacifist writing shit on the internet does not make a revolution.
So anyway here is what I would want listed in order of importance:
1. Political reform - I would suggest that the Green party has the right idea but what's important is ensuring that A. All voters are counted equally, B. The government is representative. C. Voters can democratically elect a local MP. I would achieve this by having two voting slips. Slip 1 would contain all parties running in the election, including independents. Slip 2 would contain the candidates standing in your local area and there would also be a 'none of the above' option to express your interest and engagement with politics but also your dissatisfaction with the available parties in your local area. The results from slip 1 would then decide which party got to run the country with the various parties each able to be represented in parliament by order of the most votes. In this way a small party has the opportunity to influence politics if they prove persuasive enough. The results from slip 2 will decide the local representative. The local representative will manage the day to day running of the constituency and get to discuss any concerns or issues their constituencies have raised but not be able to vote in parliament. This way they have local control and can represent local issues by the party elected by proportional representation can still enforce their national policies.
2. Fight Climate Change and the Tyranny of fossil fuel megacorps - Saving humanity from Environmental apocalypse and democratizing Energy generation has to be a big issue. With the invention of the tesla battery there is no longer any excuse not to put solar panels on every roof and discreet stylish wind turbines in every windy garden or outside every windy flat. Even climate Denialists won't complain to being free of expensive oil.
3. A vote on Universal Basic Income - I won't force it on a populace that isn't ready but I really believe Universal Basic Income is the way forward and putting that to genersal public has to be sa good thing if only to know where we stand.
4. Safeguard the NHS - The NHS is so terribly vital and important that we need to stop desperate capitalists selling it off to commercialise and corrupt medical treatments.
5. A mandate on education reform that would then be put to the public vote - We need to improve how our kids are educated, we need to teach them about politics, issues affecting the various genders races and developmentally different. I understand however that unless the public has seen what is planned and approves of it education being reformed amid revolution will seem like brainwashing.
6. A vote on Trident - Let the people decide whether we should keep our weapons of mass destruction. I have no strong views one way or another but I recognise its importance as an issue.
Part 5 - What If There Is Not A Revolution And Things Do Not Improve?
Everyone even thinking about the possibility of revolution needs to answer this question for themselves. Myself, I intend to move abroad to somewhere not too fundamentally different from Britain with a left wing government and try my best to live a good life and inspire positive change in Britain.
Now I bid adieu, so long and good luck.