From the very beginning of this course I have continuously struggled with my personal definition of revolution. Jack A. Goldstone defines revolution as “The process by which visionary leaders draw on the power of the masses to forcibly bring into existence a new political theory.” The aspect of this conventional definition of revolution which troubles me the most is the portion that characterizes it as something that “forcibly brings into existence a new political theory.”
I believe revolution is something that manifests itself in varying forms. The word revolution usually carries connotations of revolt, rebellion, and uprising. Although these terms are not incorrect, I do not believe they are synonymous, simply because they are not representative of revolution in its entirety.
Revolution is change. Revolution is progress. Revolution is moving forward.
I believe that in order for revolution to manifest itself in the first place there must be something that warrants it. A sort of catalyst, if you will. Revolution takes place on a supply and demand basis either out of the desire to fulfill a need of a constituency that is not being fulfilled, or out of a desire to oust a restricting entity of a constituency. When you place revolution in this context it becomes a sort of social construct as society deems what it will “necessary” or “restricting”—which brings the concept of Democratic Objection into the conversation.
I am using Democratic Objection in this context to characterize the incitement of change within a higher societal system i.e. government. Democratic Objection would not be considered a revolution under the lens of Lapham due to the fact that no rebellion for the sake of overthrow occurs. Lewis H. Lapham equates revolution with rebellion with such being seen as a “recovery or restoration of natural order.” This is an argument that I do not completely align with. Although a revolution does at times entail an all-encompassing upheaval, there are just as well instances of revolution taking placing within a greater system. I look to the Civil Rights Movement as a stark example of this. There was no overthrow of the American government, but there was a revolution of thought as the movement reformed society as a whole.
I explored this idea of revolution in my revolutionary artifact for the year which was a copy of a mural painted by Dmitri Vrubel that I saw in the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Russia entitled, Brotherly Kiss.
The mural was originally painted on the Berlin Wall as a protest piece entitled, “My God, Help Me To Survive This Deadly Love. I wrote about the revolutionary qualities of this piece in my research paper (see “research paper” tab) and how they manifest through reproduction. This was inspired by Dr. Munger’s unit this semester on the subjectivity of art. Beyond this, central to the theme of my portfolio, I wished to analyze just how much the artist bleeds into their work—surveying the role of the self in the greater movements which the work informs and contributes to.
Revolution can be conceptualized as circular motion. Change will inevitably occur over the course of human events but will remain within the circular plane. All change is inspired by what came before it, and what is desired to come after. This interconnectivity is what undermines the notion of a “total upheaval” from the definition of revolution for me.
Ultimately, at this point in time I would define revolution as “A drastic change of attitude or convention which ushers in an era of notable change and deviation from what is perceived as a faulted precedent.”
Put simply, the humanities is the study of human culture. It is a survey and analysis of what makes us who we are. In an academic regard, the humanities are considered to be the products of human imagination.
Cicero esteemed the humanities as “all the arts which concern the civilizing and humanizing of men.”
The humanities revolves around presence. It is about feeling and experiencing. To feel and experience alongside others is what makes us human.
I have always been simultaneously fascinated and conflicted by the human condition. No matter how different each of us may be, we can all empathize with one another upon the essentials of human existence. These essentials are composed of our emotions, aspirations, internal/external conflicts, and realization of mortality.
These are some notes taken at the very beginning of the year which originally spurred my interest in the role of “man” and how our education and enlightenment on a personal level informs our culture and societal norms in higher systems such as government.
Take pride in what is sure to die.– Tyler Joseph