In the American Revolution our revolutionaries did pretty well, but the American Revolution is unique in Man’s history. Ours was the first revolution of it’s kind and may well still be totally unique, in that I know of no other that turned out as this one did.
The French had a revolution like the type I am highlighting. Theirs was over class, money and power. After the Bastille fell and the leaders of the revolution became the leaders of a nation, what happened? The revolution turned on itself and the leaders were fallen upon by lesser revolutionaries. The revolution then got so cannibalistic it ate the revolutionaries. There was all that upheaval, Napoleon, Russian winters, Waterloo and all that. A rather upsetting 25 years or so, no?
The Bolsheviks had a blast! They sold their bill of goods to a starving population who bought it hook, line and sinker. After they threw out the old boss, they had another fight to decide if the White Russians or the Red Russians would lead, and the Reds won. Of course many White Russians “disappeared,” so there’s that to look forward too. Then the winners of the conflict, the Red Russians, promptly began an orgy of death. Stalin isolated a sick Lenin and then began to kill off many of the powerful Reds. After Lenin croaked in 1924 Stalin chased the other major Bolshevik power player, Trotsky, out of Russia and revenge best served cold, Trotsky had an ice pick run through his head and neck in 1940 while hiding out in Mexico.
Then began the many series of purges good old paranoid Uncle Joe so enjoyed. By the end of Stalin’s 30 year reign he’d killed most of the Bolshevik leaders as well as tens of millions of rank and file Russians. In fact, if one reads about Stalin one finds that almost every Stalinist would meet the same end…a period of favor and power followed by a bullet or a Gulag. Stalin was consistent.
How about the Nazi revolution in Germany? Now this one’s for the record books. Hitler and the boys got power legally, then immediately proceeded to do many illegal things to consolidate and hold power. Who was it who made the Nazi’s “electable” as it were? That would be the “Brown Shirts” or the “SA” who accomplished that. They were a millions strong paramilitary political army who used thuggery to secure Nazi’s a win in the election of 1933. Long story short, a month after the election the German Parliament burns down, the “Enabling Laws” come into being and martial law is the law of the land. The SA helped all this come about.
Now we leap way off into the future…16 months later, when in June, 1934 an event known as the “Night of the Long Knives” takes place. That’s where the Nazi’s rounded up and killed the leaders of the “SA.” Ya know…the revolutionaries turning on each other? This is the classic example of my point. Most SA leaders and many of their minions were shot, etc, in an orgy of violence that would make Roman’s in the Colosseum proud.
When revolutions end, what becomes of the rank and file, water-carrying revolutionary? They become dangerous to the leaders. Leaders want power, whereas revolutionaries want ideology. When the new leader gets the power the ideology often becomes second place and such incites the revolutionary. They experience regret, etc., as to the purity and meaning of their struggle. It basically boils down to power brokers seeking that alone, whereas revolutionaries seek the ideological change that rarely accompanies the shift in who holds the power now. They become dangerous to the leadership who often abandon the ideological struggle for attempts at governing.
After revolution the new leaders need to secure themselves so they often turn on the cadre and eliminate the threat to the new regime. The “true believer” is a danger to the leadership. Hitler had the SA purged because they wanted even more revolution. They felt Hitler and leading Nazi’s got power and settled for that. The SA became a real danger to the regime.
In Russia, did the rank and file Russian suddenly become better off after the revolution? Hungry before, hungry afterward. Landless peasants before, landless peasants after. It would seem history’s lessons are rather clear. The rank and file revolutionary is only useful to the leadership to do the dirty work in the trenches, but when the new boss gets cemented into power the rank and file must be neutered. Happens every time…well almost…the US is the clear example of the exception and not the rule.
Would the progressive, “Oh, it’s just so miserable” type enjoy some exalted and special status as a revolutionary? Not in most cases. They would be lumped in with the masses who were for or against the revolution, but that former status is no longer one that grants special dispensation or privilege. The former revolutionary cadre become another in the sea of faces; the unwashed masses who suffer at the bottom rung of the ladder. But for a tiny few apparatchiks needed to administer and oversee, the former cadre are hungry, cold and standing in the same bread line as all the other “beneficiaries” of revolution.
They become nothing more than another nameless mouth to feed that may or may not be of value to the state. If valuable and obvious, maybe they do okay, but far and away most are soon shown the revolution was not of benefit to them as they were told it would be. The huge majority of those in favor of the change do not benefit and are thrown into the mire with all the rest. Look back at history…the lessons are clear, demonstrable, plentiful and frightening to those who know their history. Problem is revolutionaries don’t know their history…if they did they would not have bought the false promises to begin with.
In the end they are unable to look themselves in the mirror without knowing they were idiots who allowed base level appeals and pie in the sky promises to sway them. Now they stand mired in the detritus of hope and change that turns to more of the same, just different dudes doing the directing. And we non-revolutionaries are the idiots for not jumping on board the bandwagon? Yeah…keep telling yourselves that.