THE REALITY BEHIND REVOLUTIONS

Currier, The Boston Tea Party, 1846

Eren Isiktas

All revolutions are, in fact, a result of an evolutionary process. Before examining the historical examples according to this statement, take a look at your life. Can you give an example of a life-changing, revolutionary moment? Your acceptance of university, a piece of life-changing advice from your friend or mentor… All these are at the end of a long process of hard-work. Therefore, we can say that the decisions and changes that occurred in our lives are a result of a process. They emanate from passion, dedication and following the true models. They evolve throughout our destiny and develop into a more effective phase at some points of our life which we call Revolutionary moments. The very same course is seen in history as well.

Two Opposed Powers Rising from Evolutionary Revolutions

Nowadays, the conflict between the United States and Iran is rising by posing a threat to the Middle East and the rest of the world. These countries are seen as the results of the “American Revolution” in the 18th century and the “Islamic Revolution” in the 20th century.

Before the Revolution, Iran was a monarchy ruled under the autocratic regime of Shah Reza Pahlavi. Even though the despotic regime of the Pahlavi dynasty has started in 1925, there was not an apparent opposition until 1978. Therefore, it is seen as the Islamic Revolution has happened in only one year. However, the evolutionary process that actually caused the Revolution started far beyond. The rapid economic growth of the Imperial State of Iran in the 1960s resulted in high expectations which have not been met. The dissatisfaction of the people tried to be suppressed by the monarch with the usage of violence which is the foremost factor of the evolutionary revolution. All these and many more steps turned the wheels of transformation which resulted in the today’s Islamic Republic of Iran.

A similar process is applicable to the American Revolution case. Many steps evolved the unrest of the people to a Revolution. One of the primary examples of these steps is the Stamp Act. In 1765, the Parliament of Great Britain imposed an intolerable tax on the British colonies in North America, so-called Stamp Act which requires a special stamp on printed products such as newspapers, legal documents, playing cards, and many other documents used all over the colonies. These kinds of heavy economic burdens were dictated to the colonial population to compensate for dramatically increasing military expenditure of Britain as a result of wars such as the Seven Years’ War between 1756 and 1763. The Acts and Wars evolved the discomfort of the people to a devastating level which led to a severe Revolution. The Boston Tea Party was a vigorous reflection of the colonists against unjust and unbearable taxation. In December 1773, the members of the “Sons of Liberty” which is an organization protesting the violation of the rights of American colonies, disguised as Native Americans and dumped a massive amount
of tea brought by Brtish merchants into the ocean. The evolutionary revolution took place following these steps and also by being a precedent for the French Revolution that will be explained in the following part.

The French Evolution

Now, let’s look at the famous example of the French Revolution. We all know by heart the origins and legacy of it. But, did it just happen? Of course not! The ancien regime has ruled the country cruelly and unequally just like in the first two examples. The privileged social position of first and second estates who are exempted from paying major taxes, but on the contrary the wealthiest part of the French community, ruined the proper functioning of the country. This fact and the endless desires of the monarchy resulted in an economic freefall that brought the French Revolution and the end of old rule. The ideas of the Enlightenment philosophers also supported the Revolution ideologically and enlightened the revolutionary path for the third estate via their literature work. The developing process of the Revolution can be observed throughout history: the involvement of France in Seven Years Wars between 1756 – 1763 and American War of Independence between 1775 – 1783 which worsen the economy, the publication of Social Contract by Jean Jacques Rousseau in 1762 which opened a way for the revolutionaries,
and the conclusion can be seen as the Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789.

As we can see in all these examples from the pressure to economics, philosophy to wars, many different factors play a role in the process of a Revolution. These elements evolve, grow and compose the various origins and impacts of the Revolution. At the end of their evolution, the incidents create undeniable changes in the course of history which we call “Revolution”.

This article is part of the special edition in partnership with Agora

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