Evolution or revolution?

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Pablo Edronkin

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Disadvantages of revolutions within the framework of leadership.

There is a lot of talk about social and political revolutions, and how useful they are to change things. But are they? Can global warming, mass extinctions, poverty and famine be solved in such a way? Can life on earth survive just on revolutions? Are revolutions the path to survival and progress of our species or just a form of self-delusion?

The fact is that life on earth has survived thanks to evolution for about four thousand and a half million years while revolutions are a human invention of the last five or six thousand years. Revolutions have been proved, to say the least, for a fraction equivalent to one millionth of the time during which evolution has been tested and improved. Can we now say that revolutions are what the world needs?

Have we ever seen a mammut becoming suddenly and revolutionarily an elephant in order to escape merciless hunt by primitive men? Did whales become sharks to defend themselves from whalers and whaling ships? Did mice start something like the French revolution against cats?

Nothing of the sort ever happened, but that doesn't mean that nature is unable to provide solutions for survival: mammuts, over time, could have evolved in order to become faster and more agile and so, to be able to flee away from human hunters. Whales could develop adaptations to swim deeper or faster to escape from whalers. Mice could develop by evolution some sort of armour or group dynamics that would eventually enable them to counter cats.

These changes do not occur in one year, or in a hundred or a thousand. Adaptation and evolution requires time and sometimes, sudden changes, like in the case of mammuts and other species, might impede adaptation. Climate change, for example, could be too fast for evolution to provide answers.

Those sudden changes are usually the causes of mass extinctions. Up to now, such events were natural, like the fall of a giant meteorite, "snowball Earth" type glacial periods, super volcanoes erupting, etc. but now humans are causing those events, and then, thinking that problems on the planet might be solved by means of revolutionary acts.

Planetary crises never required revolutions

The P-T event, the massive extinctions at the end of the Triassic, the eruptions of mega volcanoes, the impact of asteroids and comets, changes in sea currents, the collision of continents and glacial periods took place and ended without any revolution. Life survived thorough adaptation and evolution in every single period of crisis. Extremophiles are simple living things adapted to survive in extreme conditions: they are not revolutionaries.

Thus, even if global warming ends up being a disaster for humans, Earth will still find its way. The problem will remain with us, during the time scale of our species. Earth doesn't really needs us: the planet can do pretty well without humans: the question is whether we can survive doing what we do and trying to outsmart nature. Without a doubt, our revolutions, no matter how epic and grandiose they might seem from our point of view, are really no more to Earth than water drops in an ocean.

What does it mean to make a revolution?

Revolutions are violent changes. In environmental terms, violent changes are catastrophes. Thus, attempting to quell a catastrophe by means of a revolution would be like attempting to put off a fire by throwing fuel at it.

Why do revolutions take place then? Independently from ideological o r historical causes, a revolution is a process of sudden change of a given status quo. Revolutions are based on ideology and feelings, in anger and in the primitive side of man.

The fact that a revolution takes place means that for a while, evolution couldn't work in a certain environment, and that has caused sever anger among some people affected by that. But that doesn't happen, as far as we know, within nature. Natural evolution as determinant for the survival of species never stops. Nature doesn't care about weekends or holidays.

And since revolutions are made by humans and for humans, since they do not exist in nature - they are synthetic and as bad as the worse non-biodegradable plastic - it is us that cause the imbalances in the natural evolution of things that precludes normally any sort of imbalance. And then, when everything is topsy-turvy, we begin to thing that something called "revolution" might put things straight again. Entropy simply precludes that.

We should also take into account that essentially, the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, is whether the events that happen and originate such questions are natural or not.

So, the causes of a revolution are anti-natural because revolutions do not take place whenever the individuals that make them are feeling that things are right, but because things are wrong. Revolutions cannot take place by definition within a natural environment, which is good. They are the result of an ill scheme of things and as such, they are only part, an extension, of the illness that appeared in the first place. As such, they can hardly provide sustainable solutions for the same reasons for which the answer of some evil is not necessarily good, but can become a much bigger evil that the one that existed in the first place.

We study the history of our societies by defining moments in which revolutions took place these are epic moments in the life of most nations. We value those that made revolutions because they dared. The results of such revolutions are often less understood. But the point is that constructing heroes is just praising their entrepreneurship and not necessarily the value of their deeds. We are missing the point by wrongly believing what we are attempting to emulate when trying to imitate them.

The revolutions heroes rarely provide the adequate answers to their problems. It is only the hard, continuous work that takes place when conditions are right - sometimes following revolutions, but more often than not, after common sense has settled in for a while.

Revolutions are historically and politically attractive; they are reminiscent of adventure and people that dream about super heroes feel or perceive that during a revolution they might just become one. The necessity of a revolution at any given time might become a matter of profound discussion, but at any rate, revolutions are periods of instability during which good things, or very bad ones, might occur. And while that state of things lasts it is very hard for anyone to keep a cool head and think about solutions to common problems. Revolutions are not the kind of environment that is necessary for serious thinking.

The main problem of revolutionaries is that they believe that the revolutions they make are able to solve their woes, while in reality, revolutions can only attempt to change things and if they do, there is no guarantee - not even in the ideals of the revolution - that changes will be for good. Revolutions do not allow for fine-tuning and detailed corrections, any rectifications possible are coarse at best and thus, small, granular problems might remain hidden until they become big enough to cause serious trouble, and when they do, reality clashes with the interests of the new power scheme, already settled.

And after this problem comes yet another one: Revolutionaries tend to see themselves as intellectuals because they are trying to rationalize, to justify their behaviour. This only deepens their self-delusion. Truly great intellects come up with solutions less violent and costly than revolutions - think of Jesus and Gandhi.

That means for the revolutionary leadership that they suddenly must begin to accept or ignore forcibly some critics from the revolutionaries that were in total agreement with them so far. And for those revolutionaries that begin to see the shortcomings, that means to start to think independently, and to question, But that poses a whole new problem.

The alleged intellectuality of revolutionary leaders is then used not to solve problems or work out disagreement, but to deny, blacklist and ultimately censor dissent. And when that ultimately fails, either the path to ridicule or physical violence opens, or both at the same time.

Thinking independently during a revolution sometimes proves deadly because revolutionaries are either idealists - the same as fools - or people with ill intentions. Idealists - fools - seldom listen to reasons, and evil people hardly respect others. So thinking and questioning things during revolutionary times is contrary to the dynamics of the revolution, which is not necessarily the same as supporting the former status quo but at any rate, is easily depicted as "counter revolutionary" and earns for the free thinker a place on the gallows side buy side with the representatives of the falling order. Even the most sincere of critics becomes inedible for a mix of fools and goons as soon as they understand that there is even a minimal dissent with their position.

In other words, evolution is not for the impatient, but improving the conditions in our world isn't either. Thus, reckless revolutionaries and people that base their thoughts on ideologies shouldn't be in charge of running our affairs anymore because there are only two options to define them: foolish or evil characters.

Corporations: The fabricated enemies of revolutionaries

There are indeed, groups that yield or seek power and vested interests, but revolutionaries tend to exaggerate their importance with the goal of exaggerating their own. Naturally, with a distorted reality it is hard to build up anything coherent.

In the past people came up with stories about dragons: then, they decorated their stories suitable so as to enhance their prowess fighting against the dragons in order to impress others. Today, "struggles" are invented in which would-be revolutionaries "fight" in order to obtain a similar result, if only because Beofulf is no longer fashinable.

Simple or evil minds do not admit self-critic as much as they don't admit questioning coming from "reactionaries". Thus, such people will never admit that they might have some quota of responsibility in the creation of the environmental conditions that caused the imbalance that in turn, became the cause for the revolutionary reflex and its crude attempts at correcting things perceived as bad.

That level of mistake is only attained by complicity or indifference, but since it is not pleasant to look upon a mirror and see an accessory to crime or a bum, making a revolution often needs the fabrication of conceptual, abstract or concrete enemies to vent all hatred, frustration and hypocrisy without guilt.

A good raw material to invent enemies is to pick up on people or entities that of course, might have some questionable aspects - but who doesn't since we are not perfect? -, amplify their sins, inventor others and portray them as the worse scum on Earth. It is really not necessary that such people or organizations really be bad: it is only necessary to make them look like that, often taking advantage of existing prejudices like racism, envy and so on.

These enemies should, at least in the beginning, be impersonal. That is how revolutionaries begin by telling their entourages that enemies are to be found in "corporations", "the establishment", "the oligarchs", "the financial system" and so on. Abstraction is important at such a stage because it is easier to teach how to hate if the object of hate is not a flesh and bone person. Later on, that feeling will develop and revolutionaries will be able to attack individuals.

In some cases it is indeed clear whom or what should be the target of a revolution - dictators, for example. But in other cases in which a revolution "must be done", like when freakish groups or people begin to suggest a revolution against a democratic society it becomes really hard for them to justify why a legitimate system "must" be overthrown. In such societies, would -be revolutionaries are - according to their own definition of things- bad citizens because they let things get to a no return point.

Had they been good at citizenry, they would have been able to prevent things from getting so bad as they perceive, and if nobody listened to them before, it is because they were inept to transmit their message or what they had to say was senseless and nobody really cared to pay attention.

So, what path should we choose?

Global scale problems neither appear nor disappear in just one day. Life did not evolve in such a way and despite our lack of patience there are good reasons for things being like that.

We cannot pretend that our invented solutions, tested for a puny six thousand years when compared with the aeons during which life perfected itself, can yield better solutions than evolution. Hence, common sense dictates that when faced with the choice of making a revolution or waiting for evolution, we should go for the latter.

There are no revolutions in nature and thus, revolutions are not natural and cannot offer the kind of solutions that evolution provides. As beings aware of their own existence, our evolution doesn't need to be now just a biological issue. We have intelligence and thus, evolution should also be considered in its intellectual aspects. So, we have to let go our revolutionary spirit in order to pay more attention to our intellect in order to solve the problems that we create and those that chance or nature throw upon our road. That's the way to survive and thrive, not by turning up things just by the pleasure of doing so.

And since our evolution is broader than just physical or biological aspects of our existence but now includes our intellectual capabilities, we have to pay attention to what are we doing with our minds, for it is what we put in our heads what will determine our survival as a species and probably our whole planet as an environment, considering that for one reason or another we have become dominant here. Thus, the best that we can do for our world is not to make revolutions, shout, scream or spill bloods for whatever cause perceived as good, but to simply cultivate our minds and do the utmost for our own education and that of other human beings.


Simply nature; dawn in early fall, Patagonia.





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