Raouf Rasool

Revolution and the law of change

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Unfortunate it is, but true nevertheless that Kashmiri society has, in general, permitted and patronized a suicidal situation here wherein ‘revolution’ has been confused with ‘sure-loser confrontations’. A good mass of society, in fact the most vibrant and productive chunk (the young) has somehow been led into believing that the panacea of the political uncertainty plaguing them and their society lies in throwing stones. So this is what they do, almost religiously — throw stones not only at the ‘government forces’ that represent and protect the ‘political status quo’, but also at the fellow Kashmiris. However, the real cure of this faulty belief lies in splitting the ‘political atom’ so as to separate this exclusive identification of violent physical altercations with ‘revolution’. In fact, the biggest revolution will undoubtedly be people recognizing and accepting the idea that revolution does not inevitably mean hate and war and cannot be brought about by attracting ‘avoidable’ harms to them, certainly not by crowding the graveyards by countless martyrs!

It also needs to be understood that revolutionary ideology is not confined to any specific limited formula and certainly no single individual could claim to possess that formula. Therefore, no individual or a group has a right to put people in the harm’s way by making them believe that a certain self-inflicting behavior is going to yield them salvation, when even the hindsight has it that it is not that simple. Provoking someone else’s children for suicidal defiance because of faulty belief in a particular means or tactics is outrageous!

“Radicals must be resilient, adaptable to shifting political circumstances, and sensitive enough to the process of action and reaction to avoid being trapped by their own tactics and forced to travel a road not of their choosing,” says Saul Alinsky. This means that those who are, or claim to be the leaders of a ‘revolutionary movement’, must have certain degree of control over the flow of events. If they have it, their role as leaders is justified; if they don’t, then they are simply not there. No leader is worth his/her salt if he/she simply follows the waves of public rage without actually being able to regulate and channel it towards some ‘desired outcome’, which more than anything else has to be good for the general welfare of the people who are the basic source and hence intended beneficiaries of that revolution.

Leaders have to be able to gauge public moods well in advance as much as they have to anticipate and foresee the reactions of the adversary so as to minimize the costs for the recipient population and maximize their benefits.

It’s true that revolutions usually have ideologies that spur them on. But it is also important to understand that in the heat of conflict “ideologies tend to get smelted into rigid dogmas claiming exclusive possession of the truth, and keys to the paradise”. This is dangerous because dogma is enemy of human freedom and must, as such, be watched carefully at every twist and turn of the revolutionary movement. And certainly no movement that revolves around the promise of greater political freedoms can be expected to reach the “logical conclusion” because certain dogmatists are leading from the front and the population is constantly fed unrealistic assertions about their ‘rigidity’ being the single greatest virtue that would deliver them from the clutches of the status quo. Real revolutions are brought about not by the hot, emotional and impulsive passions; they are possible on the basis of calculated and purposeful action drawn on the basis of an awareness of the realistic relationship between means and ends and how each determines the other. “The greatest hope for mankind lies in acceptance of the great law of change, for the clues to the rational action lie there in understanding of the principles of change.”

Rigidity is no virtue in politics, flexibility is. And flexibility does not necessarily mean sell-out, because, after all, different people, in different places, in different situations and in different times, think differently. This is how human brains are programmed to be. So, different people’s solutions and symbols of salvation have a tendency to be different. No one has a right to claim absolute copyright of truth, or revolution for that matter. This is where the political consensus becomes necessary. But no consensus is possible unless dogmas are done away with – ‘it’s my way or the highway’ kind of thinking is discouraged and the worthwhile suggestions on how to fertilize social change are heeded, irrespective of which group or individual is putting them forth.


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