The overwhelming process of nations that once were stable, turning to a state of revolution and turnover of government is going on today.
From the most misunderstood of relationships between tea and revolution in America; cake and revolution in France; and happy workers and revolution in the Eastern Bloc, each revolution had symbolic references that were unique and special, but the common factors that are profound and fundamental enough to tear a country apart; to kill a great number of the population (or the government) and to reform whole nations can be far more similar than we may think.
In any stable nation, there is a majority of the population that is satisfied with their lot in life. Taxes are at levels that allow workers to put their money into home ownership, good retirement, good medical care, and educating their children. The infrastructure supports their needs, with good roads, hospitals, law enforcement and fire control. Minorities are not oppressed in ways that cause them to uprise. The economy is sound.
Anyone who has played “Sim City” knows that such satisfaction requires the perfect balance of structure, jobs, social services, taxation, national security, and infrastructure. When these aspects are greatly out of balance and the element of corruption is added in, then the affection for government is lost.
When complete loss of affection and trust of government occurs, the conditions are ripe for a revolution of some sort.
1. One common factor in transition from stability to revolution is in the fates of the workforce that fuels the economy. As the European nations engaged in the industrial revolution, which gave choices to the working, feudal and servant classes; or in wars that zapped their treasuries, and thus their abilities to enforce their control of the colonies, many of the colonies were abandoned and revolutions were relatively easy to conduct. Before the French Revolution, the treasury was depeleted by the excesses of the elites, and the people were starving from lack of work.
In America, the Southern, slave based economy was at stake. As a result, there was first, economic dependency on slavery, and second, racist social values that were being challenged. But the West was opening up to settlement and was creating opportunities that did not require slavery in order to function.
In Mid century America, there was a workforce revolution to end segregation, to provide equal opportunity for women and people of color, to change the ways that colleges did business in educating the workforce, to enhance union power, and to generally protest the Vietnam war and the drafting of the poor and disenfranchised.
Currenty, Arab nations have been, for decades, sending Muslims to convert the oppressed and poor of nations all over the world, then fomenting revolution that is seemingly based on imposing religion, but which is actually political and economic hegenomy.
2. The second common factor is political and social polarization of groups in both diverse and homogenous societies. There are political issues related to race, ethnicity, immigrant status, or national origin, there are extremes of liberal political orientation and conservative political orientation. There are extremes of racism and xenophobia, economic and class standing, being pro or anti government, and in the desire to allow all to come into a country or to interact with other countries.
There is political polarization, with certain elements attempting to force their way to national control through disruptive, extreme and charismatic means. There is religious, economic, and educational polarization. Currently, many nations are undergoing polarization of political thought that was once spread across a continuum between extremist liberal and extremist conservative political forces.
3. Economics is the third common factor. Scarcity of resources, introduction of debt based living where debt becomes impossible to repay, depletion of national treasuries, using a generation to fight wars for corporate gain, diversion of wealth, cutting taxes that are needed, raising taxes only on the poor and middle class, and engaging in government policies that only favor the corporations and elites, serve to create intolerance for the existing government.
4. The ability to spread information and to communicate to diverse populations is the fourth common factor. When large segments of the population can get information, whether the information is good or bad in quality, large segments of the population will react in more diverse ways and for differing reasons.
The final factor in going from stability and revolution is widespread and common access to weaponry that is of the most destructive and advanced in the history of mankind. This weaponry, combined with well organized and refined guerrilla techniques can fuel either revolution or resistance to revolution, creating new forms of turmoil that have not been experienced before.
As a result, it is not easy to foment and to enact whole scale revolution in a polarized and highly diverse population, such as in America. But there are all of the common factors going on in America right now: general dissatisfaction with government, economic disaster, workforce turbulence, political polarization, information technology, and well armed and extremist civilian populations who have charismatic leadership and national organizations.