By Mike Smith
10th of September 2015
There are many myths about revolutions, how they start and who and what drives them. For instance you will often hear people in South Africa say that “The whites must first lose everything, then they will wake up, then they will unite...then you will have a revolution.”
However when you study revolutions you will see that the contrary is true. Extreme poverty is NOT a spark for a revolution. Look at Zimbabwe where the people have lost everything and still they do not revolt. Somalia and Ethiopia were the same during the 80’s and 90’s. Extreme poverty, yet nobody revolted against the government. In the Ukraine during the Holodomor of 1932-33, millions of people were starving and even turned to widespread cannibalism, yet nobody revolted. In Germany during WWII the Jews lost everything and only in Poland did a small group fight back. In the concentration camps they were dying of hunger and disease en masse, yet nobody revolted.
In fact Russian history is filled with famine, plague, bad harvests, sporadic rioting but only one resulted in revolution.
In the worst famine in modern western history, the “Irish potato famine” of the 1840’s, people lost everything and were dying in their hundreds of thousands. Eventually a million died and another million emigrated, yet there was no revolution.
Dr. Crane Brinton studied hundreds of revolutions including the industrial revolution and fashion revolutions and chose four to illustrate his scientific findings, namely, the English revolution (1642-1651), the American revolution (1765-1783), the French revolution (1789-1799) and the Russian revolution (1917).
In every single case he found that the people revolted during a time of a general economic upswing. Even in Russia which was, compared to the West, backwards in 1917, the Tsar made a lot of economic reforms and the country was doing very well and economically in an upswing.
Therefore the sub marginal group of poor that we find in every society is not very important in the start of revolutions and we don’t need to dwell too much on the economic distress of the underprivileged.
Signs and symptoms of a revolution
Crane Brinton compared a country catching a revolution to that of a person catching a fever. There are certain preliminary signs and symptoms that one can spot before an outbreak occurs. As we will see, for us in South Africa, this is very important.
Disorder and conflict are in all societies and this, on its own, is not a sign of revolution. Pitirim Sorokin in “Social and cultural dynamics” found that on average every country experiences one major civil disorder every 8 years.
Revolutions happen in societies with economic and political structural weaknesses, not when the people are poor, but when the government is bankrupt , cannot fulfil the needs of the people and raises unfair taxes to do so.
Prof. James C. Davies who was a political scientist at the University of Oregon spoke about the “intolerable gap” between what people WANT and what people GET in the “American sociological review”, Vol. XXVII.
Davies asserts that revolutions are a subjective response to a sudden reversal in fortunes after a long period of economic growth. Of course this view is totally subjective and may or may not represent reality. It might even be just a perception of a sudden reversal of fortune.
To quote Davies: "Revolutions are most likely to occur when a prolonged period of objective economic and social development is followed by a short period of sharp reversal. People then subjectively fear that ground gained with great effort will be quite lost; their mood becomes revolutionary.”
To illustrate this phenomenon, Davies plotted his theory in an upside down “J” curve in 1962.
When we study the J-Curve then we see that revolutions occur when the government raises expectations amongst the people and cannot fulfill it.
This is exactly what happened in 1985 after South African President P.W. Botha’s now infamous Rubicon speech. In 1983 he created the tri-cameral parliament giving Indians and Cape Coloureds limited representation in a white run government. The blacks expected to get the same or similar, but his Rubicon speech was the relapse that kicked the revolution into top gear. Several states of emergency had to be declared after that as the violence escalated.
The state of government prior to revolution
We have established that revolution does not occur during declining or retrograde economies, but in societies economically progressive and during a depression after economic upswing.
However, you find that prior to a revolution there is an increasingly inefficient and incompetent government and it becomes hard to get any action from government.
There is corruption and nepotism. There is a monopoly of high offices in the military, police, civil service, etc. Government is blocking the rise of men of ability from the lower and middle classes. Public careers are increasingly closed to men of talent, and the middle class deeply resents their lack of political power.
The upper-class of the regime itself is divided and squabbling. Government itself develops a sense of its own unworthiness, but seems unable to do anything about it and rather have an attitude of, “There is in any case no-one else better than us, so we will stay in power forever or “apres moi, la deluge”, (After me, the flood).”
Although you find discontent in all societies, prior to a revolution, you find a feeling amongst ambitious people that prevailing conditions limit or hinder their economic activity and growth.
The government passes laws and policies that are generally in the way or holding people back from reaching their successes, dreams and happiness. For instance during the American revolution you had the Stamp Act, the Molasses Act, the Tea Act, etc.
People start to feel that their opportunities of getting on in the world are being hindered by stupid politics. They start to feel cramped and wronged and start experiencing an intense need for “Justice”.
There is a feeling that there is something in all men better than their present fate and a conviction that what is, not only ought not, but need not, be and , one must add, a gut-deep hatred for the way the things are. This feeling is then raised by propaganda, pressure groups, public meetings and a few good dramatic riots. The regime is often subjectively painted more and more as if from the Devil and the future good to come as from God. Therefore, in revolution, Satan is as necessary as God.
Taxation in itself is not a spark for revolution. However, R. B. Merriman , in his study “Six Contemporaneous Revolutions” stated that all revolutions start with protests against some sort of “Bad” Tax.
Discontent also rises after defeat or failure in war (Russia 1905 against Japan. USA during the 60’s against Vietnam).
Transfer of the allegiance of the intellectuals
One of the clearest signs of the start of a revolution is the so called “Transfer of the allegiance of the intellectuals”.
During normal times of stability the academics and journalists normally praise the government. They even do so when they see that the regime is becoming more and more totalitarian, hoping that the regime would change their ways, but in vain.
Reverend Lyford P. Edwards’s in his “Natural history of revolution” mentions these intellectuals as writers, journalists , artists, musicians, actors, teachers and preachers who would normally support the de jure government, but then changes their opinion, start to criticize the regime and question its qualification to rule. They turn 180 degrees against the regime and start to urge for reform or replacing those in power. During this time, Dr. Brinton says, people will start talking about “sitting on a volcano about to erupt”.
You also find that these intellectuals are normally in strong disagreement with themselves and the non-intellectuals, the philistines, the babbits, the booboisie. The only thing they have in common is their dislike of the old regime. To what did these successful revolutionary intellectuals transfer their allegiance in the past? To another and better world than that of the corrupt and inefficient old regimes.
Crane Brinton calls these intellectuals the “White corpuscles”, the guardians of the bloodstream; but there can be an excess of white corpuscles in which case you have a pathological condition.
However, when these intellectuals bitterly start to attack existing institutions in numbers and quality and become desirous of a considerable alteration of society, business and government, it is never a good sign for the regime in power.
French historian Augustin Cochin mentions that these intellectuals start forming groups or altering groups. Philosophers discussing the great works of the Enlightenment in “Sociétés de pensée (think tanks) would change to discussing political agitation and revolution.
Such groups we find in every society, and their mere presence is not a sign of revolution. The difference is in the quality, number and intensity of action of such groups and their discussions.
In the American revolution you had various groups of intellectuals gathering. There was intense Masonic activity prior to the revolution. American Merchant committees were holding gatherings discussing revolution. In Russia you had Nihilists, anarchists and socialists of all stripes.
Some of these groups would never have admitted that they were working for a revolution at the time, but they were doing so unwittingly. The sign of revolution is when these groups go beyond mere discontented discussions and start to plan and organize direct action.
What happens then is the supplanting of the government and the beginnings of what is called the “illegal government”.
What is witnessed is a clear formation of structure and organisation amongst the opposition forming pressure groups. As the government becomes more disorganized the opposition becomes more organized. There is active and organised defiance, lobbying, propaganda and even terrorism.
Different classes exist in all societies. There is the political or ruling class, the middle class, the working class, the proletarians, the Lumpenproletarians, etc. but the mere existence of classes is not a catalyst for revolution. Neither is the existence of antagonisms between these classes that we also find in all societies.
However the intense feeling that the ruling class somehow obtained their positions not through hard work and studying, but unfairly when God was taking a break, is.
Further and far more important is that the lower classes feel blocked from ever reaching the upper classes, despite all their efforts and hard work. They do not get recognition or reward for their hard work and feel that they never will, because of social, political or economic restrictions imposed on them by the regime. Careers are not open to talent, but to those politically connected to the regime.
There is no circulation of the elites. This breeds a sense of unfairness and injustice that grows like a cancer ever stronger and bigger the more inept, corrupt and inefficient the ruling class becomes and appears.
The middle class, some members of the lower class and also the intellectuals start to feel morally superior to the ruling class.
The parallels to the modern South Africa
By now it should be clear to the reader that there are many parallels to the current ANC regime and the coming revolution/s they will face in South Africa. All the signs are there.
The ANC is grossly inefficient and incompetent. People are frustrated to get the most basic documents such as birth certificates and ID books from them. Daily there are reports of corruption and nepotism in the media. People feel held back by unjust and discriminatory laws and policies such as Black Economic Empowerment, Affirmative Action and quotas in sport and university entry.
The economy is in decline , the shift in the polarity of the intellectuals is in full swing and evident in the daily media.
Opposition groups are forming and becoming more and more organized.
The armed forces are in such a state of disarray that they are for all intents and purposes defeated.
The ANC is bankrupt. There is nothing more to steal. They are introducing “Bad” tax such as E-Toll, want to raise VAT and want to tax rich people, companies and mines more and more. People feel that they pay and pay and get nothing back and they have no say in how their tax money is being spent. It is called “taxation without representation”.
There is extreme discontent everywhere. Strikes and protests are the order of the day. In by elections in former ANC strongholds, ANC supporters are deserting them for moderates like the UDM and DA or extremist like the EFF
That South Africa is on the brink of revolution, if not in one already, is an undeniable fact.
Three years ago I wrote an article where I mentioned the coming revolution inside a revolution heading for South Africa
For a long time now, to hide their own ineptness and corruption, the ANC politicians have stoked the fires of violent black revolution against whites. They have tried to portray whites as the enemies of blacks.
Daily, with their lies and propaganda they try to tell the blacks that whites are the ruling class and that whites stole their land, that whites are settlers who have no right to even be in South Africa, that there is one bullet for one settler, etc. They tell the blacks that whites are undeservedly successful and rich, that whites were born into “white privilege”, that no white person has ever achieved anything through ingenuity, hard work and studying, but only by stepping on and stealing from blacks did they become successful.
Actually the ones who believe this rubbish are a few ignorant and fringe extremists, mostly congregating in the EFF.
The elephant in the room has become too big to ignore for prol and intellectual alike. The blacks have noticed that the ANC is indeed the ruling class, the real thieves, the real ones who unfairly, through BEE, Affirmative Action and nepotism, reached the front row at the feeding trough. They have noticed the theft, corruption and inefficiency of the ANC regime. They have noticed the decay of infrastructure and the destruction of schools and hospitals. Many are openly proclaiming that Apartheid was better than the ANC. Most can see the homeless whites and white beggars at traffic lights that were never there during Apartheid and as the blacks start losing their jobs and falling on hard times, they have come to realize that whites and blacks are victims of the same corrupt and thieving ANC regime.
Further, the ANC have promised the blacks things they can never deliver. They have raised unrealistic expectations, and are failing to produce. No jobs, no houses, no education...everything is going backwards, not upwards. They have reached Davies' "Intolerable Gap".
As I have said three years ago, South Africans are currently building up to two simultaneous revolutions. On the one hand you have the discontented blacks who are waging a revolution against their own useless and incompetent ANC government through so called “service delivery protests”…and at the same time a different revolution by the whites (left and right) against the racist and Afro-Nazi ANC is brewing away. The general feeling in the country amongst all classes of society is that “The ANC must go”.
If I was an ANC member of the NEC right now, I would be shitting myself.