The 3 Rs in a nutshell: Repression, Revolution, Reform

Cleaning the Augean Stables

Some basics that commonsense objective observers of human history should know by now:

Chaos is at the natural state of things. Entropy decrees it.
Mankind imposes order and structure on chaos which is how civilizations arise. Energy, which in politics translates to power, is needed to maintain this order.

In a stable system, there is a balance of structure (order) and freedom (chaos). However, a stable system also needs to be able adapt to outside and inside change. This is usually the tricky part. One common failure is that instead of focusing on the system adapting, the power-holders, being human, accrete power.

Repression is what happens when power accretes unchecked. More and more power is spent maintaining the power structure. The power structure becomes rigid and top-heavy and a burden. People start to chafe. They want more freedom.

At this point there are two options: Revolution or Reform.

Revolution is violent, and therefore exciting, “glorious”, and adrenaline-packed. It is black & white – us against them, and triggers our tribal instincts for war. It has the element of revenge, always an excellent motivator. Once it has been initiated, it doesn’t require much higher thinking. It is all or nothing, which means it excuses glorifies, any action for the cause.

The ultimate problem with revolution is that when it succeeds, it usually fails. Revolution tries to sweep away the existing structure, thereby creating extreme chaos. The revolutionaries, having won, then scramble to impose order on this chaos. To be effective, the order imposed must be likewise extreme. The revolutionary government quickly becomes as, if not more, rigid and authoritarian than the government it replaced.

Revolution returns you to your original problem. It’s a vicious cycle.

Reform, on the other hand, is boring. It requires analysis, attention to detail, projections about future effects of current actions. It is also uncomfortable for all side because it requires self-examination and demands accountability. More than that it frequently requires allowing other points of view to co-exist. It requires dogged persistence and unfailing optimism in the face of deeply entrenched obstacles and inevitable setbacks. It’s damned hard to do.

Given all that, Reform is actually the only thing that can break the Repression-Revolution cycle.

If you want excitement, aux les barricades. But if you want to actually fix what’s wrong and improve lives, choose reform.

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27 Responses to The 3 Rs in a nutshell: Repression, Revolution, Reform

  1. votermom says:

    Maybe I should have used this graphic …


  2. yttik says:

    Yes, good post. The problem with declaring yourself the majority and deciding to over throw the power structure is that you really aren’t the majority. Once you’re in power, you then have to suppress all the dissent. At that point you become just like the old boss.

    Democracy can be pretty messy and unpleasant and you don’t always get your way, but it really is one of the best systems for making sure everybody has a voice. Unfortunately, sometimes those you disagree with have the loudest voices and get their way, but with frequent elections and the right to organize and speak freely, you always have the power to change it again.

    • votermom says:

      The problem with declaring yourself the majority and deciding to over throw the power structure is that you really aren’t the majority. Once you’re in power, you then have to suppress all the dissent. At that point you become just like the old boss.

      Be careful – logic might make the 99’ers disappear in a puff of smoke. 😛

  3. WMCB says:

    Thank you, votermom. I see a lot of the aux les barricades attitude around, and it’s troubling for just the reasons you outlined. And I’m getting really really tired of, if I’m not willing to jump on the revolutionary bandwagon, being viewed as if I a) don’t see the injustice of the problems, or b) don’t think they are all that serious.

    I do and I do. But tearing down what is with no clear idea of what’s to replace it, and how that’s to be accomplished, is insanity. And it seems to me that the cheerleaders for “democratic!!!! uprisings!!!!” have shown a real dearth of interest in what comes after. Any of the starry-eyed who called the Egypt uprisings an unreserved good have much to say these days about what is happening there? Nope. On to a shiny new !!!democratic!!! cause.

    It’s dangerous, and it’s childish. And ripe for exploitation for those who are not in the least childish or disorganized.

  4. DeniseVB says:

    Some countries who are seriously repressed have no choice but revolution.

    We the People do have the power to reform and we’re looking at you Obama and your spineless Senate and House critters. 2012 will be historic 😉

    • votermom says:

      It’s true. Until the 11th hour Hillary was calling on Mubarak to make drastic reforms, but he would not listen. There’s a point at which reform becomes too late.
      We are very far from that point.

    • yttik says:

      That is really true. It’s one thing to have a revolution when people are starving and being shot in the street. It’s an entirely different thing to call for revolution when you live in a free country that already has a system in place for you to use to express your displeasure. If you don’t like your leadership, vote them all out.

      In a democracy, you can vote, protest, try to win over hearts and minds to your cause, but first you have to know what you’re trying to accomplish.

  5. foxyladi14 says:

    they want that cookie.and MOM said no. 😆

  6. I believe that the choice is determined by the needs. Just how much is F*ed up? The lipstick on the pig comes to mind here.
    Anyway, one of my favorite OWS signs is “NOT ANTI CAPITAL. JUST ANTI THEFT”

  7. HELENK says:

    bill ayers conducts teach-in at Chicago ows.
    What was he teaching them, how to build bombs and kill cops?

  8. HELENK says:

    if you are judged by the company you keep, this bunch is in deep shit

    the american nazi party, american communist party, iran, china, the democratic party , backtrack and now the kkk

  9. HELENK says:

    this is the best idea i have heard since the ows thing started,
    it will open up NASA again as the will need transportation and create government jobs

  10. Some good points that apply to america right now, but some places and some causes do demand revolution. We exist as a country today because of a necessary revolution. I do believe reform is the answer in the US today, and that can’t happen with the cooties games both sides play, or the fuzzy math ows is pushing.

  11. DandyTiger says:

    Awesome post.

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