Adventures in CyberspaceWe constantly hear people calling for “revolution!” But history has shown us that revolutions are tricky things.

Some revolutions successfully tear down obsolete institutions no longer beneficial to the masses. Whenever minds are broadened and eyes are opened, when honest individuals earnestly attempt to define for themselves what is fair and right, or when one human being extends a willing hand to raise another from the dust of needless oppression, it is a good thing. But don’t destroy part of a necessary system unless you have a better replacement waiting in the wings. The battle-cry of the revolutionary is “together we can change the world!” But when the smoke clears and the dust settles, some new system must serve the function of the deposed one. And be careful… the 1917 communist revolution which gave birth to the former Soviet Union pulled down the entrenched bureaucracy of the old regime for being too brutal and oppressive… but replaced it with Stalinism, at the cost of MILLIONS of lives.

Mass broadcast media has expanded its role as an incredibly powerful revolutionary mechanism by allowing people to gather and express their unified disdain en masse. Mass media gives formerly-silent majorities a voice, and arms them with the most powerful weapon of any capitalistic society… the weapon of commercial economics. If you don’t support my beliefs, I will not buy your product. If you support my beliefs, I will buy your product. If you do not give voice to my beliefs, I will not tune in. If you give voice to my beliefs, I will tune in.

The developmental stages of revolutions are interesting. It goes like this: new “radical” concepts are espoused “for the good of the people.” Enough people embrace them to gain the support of the media. The more support one has from the media, the more people come to support them. Things begin to change, as the circle grows exponentially and the new “radical” concepts take root to become the new common view. And so on.

At the end, the “radical” concepts are no longer perceived by some of the most radical to be radical enough anymore; after all, they are now part of the popular culture, and lose their counter-cultural allure. The battle can’t be winding down! We can’t be winning! That would mean the battle will no longer fuel us and keep us going!

The most radical go further. “If we have come this far, why stop now?” The original purpose of the movement is forgotten. The attempt to destroy the whip of oppression is perverted into an attempt to TAKE CONTROL of the whip of oppression and use it to oppress anyone the new power elite decrees should be oppressed.

At some point the revolution ceases to revolve at all. Public interest declines, the media responds by backing off, and the whole thing slides in a silent spiral towards business as usual. The counter culture becomes the popular culture and the revolution ends. Only the most vehement radicals remain active, revolutionaries who refuse to put down their weapons, and so become terrorists. Then the common people who the terrorists claim to be defending become victims of those terrorists, just so the newly-minted terrorists can earn fifteen seconds on the nightly news in a bid for media support, to start the whole cycle again.

These days it’s not hard for a mob of dedicated protestors to choose something they don’t like and manipulate the rampant commercialism of the media industry to club it to death. The media allows them to bring force to bear against the present system, and alter it. But when they do so, they should be responsible enough to replace it with something better, or at least have some sort of plan. Sure… protesting is noble and romantic and all that; but only a complete idiot demands revolution without knowing who or what he’s protesting for or against.