Why?

Why “How to Make a Revolution?” Because we need a revolution. If you are not already convinced we need one, then this blog is not for you. If you want to be convinced read Naked Capitalism or Glen Greenwald. I intend this blog to be about the “how to?” more than the “why?” But it will be impossible not to talk about specifics and so we will surely get into what’s wrong with our present systems. Besides we can’t talk about changing our present political and economic systems if we don’t talk about what’s wrong with them so we know what a new system must do that the present does not do. I also intend this blog to be general purpose, not tied to any specific revolution. But again we will need to talk about specific methods and techniques that work together to make a revolution. We will surely look at some historical examples. But historical examples were based on the thoughts of the past historical periods, and much of that thought is counter productive today. For example many historical revolutions depended on war and other violence. That idea has got to go. A revolution that today succeeded by using violence would not be a revolution at all because it would just lead to more of the same as we have now.

A revolution occurs when enough people change their minds in fundamental ways. Force and violence can change some people’s minds, but they will still believe in the efficacy of force and violence, and they likely still feel fear, anger, and hatred towards those people (or their ideology) who forced them to change their beliefs. People who have been forced to change their beliefs will most likely never completely accept the new beliefs.

A complete revolution can only occur when enough people have peacefully and by their own efforts changed some of their fundamental beliefs. Consider the women’s liberation movement, the anti-slavery movement, and the environmental movements. It is fair to call each of these a revolution although each still needs more work — each of these revolutions is not yet complete. The women’s liberation movement from say 1820 to 1920 in the US provided dramatic freedoms for women. They got the right to vote by constitutional amendment in 1919 and many of them thought the struggle was over. It was not. Women were allowed to work in new jobs during WWII but in the 1950’s and 60’s most women did not have anything like the professional opportunities that men had in the US. Slavery in the US was abolished by Lincoln, but the economic and political opportunities of black US citizens were severely restricted for another hundred years. Environmental laws have been passed, but the system now prevents any further progress and ignores threats like global warming and resource depletion. In all three cases some progress has been made but none of the three have gone all the way. You can change laws to say women and blacks have the same rights as white men, but until you actually see enough people change their own minds, we don’t have complete change. Similarly with environmentalism: We were able to change some laws, but not enough people have changed their minds as of now to make further progress.

There is no real change without meme change in enough people’s minds.

A meme is a chunk of information. The word “meme” is a kind of shorthand for things like ideas, beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, feelings, etc.  I intend to be as specific as possible so I will talk about memes in general only when that abstraction seems to help the discussion.

So this blog will be about how to help people to change their own minds about our systems, how they work, how individuals actually interact with one another and our systems, how people can change, how our systems can change. We will look at the ecology of ideas and beliefs, that is, how and why particular ideas spread to other people quickly or slowly or not at all. And we will look at the interactions of ideas and dependencies of one idea on another.

Of course we will look at particular ideas and beliefs that people have that must be changed if we are to get the non-violent revolution I assume most of us want. And there are progressions of ideas that must be changed. Some things can’t be changed unless other things have been changed. We will have to talk about laws, politics (but not day-to-day political nonsense at present), economics, individual psychology, how people learn, how people communicate, group behaviors, organizations (especially corporations and governments), modern non-coercive management within organizations, etc.

Sometimes when I don’t have any other ideas I will analyze one of Gene Sharp’s 198 methods of non-violent action from his book  “From Democracy to Dictatorship”.

I invite you to comment on the ideas presented. Please no name calling. Don’t get personal. Don’t think with anger, fear, and hatred. That’s one way propaganda works. And each of these feelings degrade your thinking (we will have much to say about these later). Let’s have dialogs where we can all learn how to make a revolution.

Joe Rebholz

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