From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Oh no, they're talking about
Icon politics.svg
As usual
Country sections
United States politics British politics Canadian politics Chinese politics French politics Indian politics Iranian politics Israeli politics Japanese politics South Korean politics
plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose — the more things change, the more they stay the same[1]

A revolution is a change which is either sudden, profound, or both. Evolution is more gradual or transitional changes.

Revolutions can include national revolutions and regime-changes such as the French Revolution, American Revolution, and Russian Revolution, as well as societal shifts in practices or attitudes, such as the Industrial Revolution or the sexual revolution.

National revolutions[edit]

Revolutions usually refer to the overthrow and replacement of a government. This can occur violently (like most of the ones we usually talk about) or non-violently (like the many "color" revolutions in the early 21st century[2]).

Revolutions are usually swift. When they aren't, they can degenerate into civil war (one exception is when colonies try to throw off their colonial masters; those are still called revolutions, even when the fighting goes on for decades).

The French (1789 – 1799) and Russian (1917) revolutions are among the most noteworthy of modern revolutions, although there was a minor altercation on the eastern coast of North America (1775 – 1783) which has some claim to notoriety. A more contemporary example would be the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, which replaced the incredibly corrupt pro-Russia government with a less corrupt parliamentary democracy.

A counterrevolution occurs whenever someone tries to undo the revolution. It is an odd thing, though, when powers that have been in place for fifty years call people fighting against them "counterrevolutionaries" (as Communist Party of China propaganda still does). At that point, you'd think they'd be regular revolutionaries again.

Economic revolutions[edit]

A revolution can also refer to when social and economic dynamics are fundamentally transformed. For example, the Industrial Revolution led to mass production and urbanization, the Green Revolution spread advanced agricultural techniques to parts of the developing world, and the Information Revolution placed much of human knowledge at the fingertips of every well-off man, woman, and child on Earth.

Scientific revolutions[edit]

See main article: Scientific revolution

Also known as "paradigm shifts", scientific revolutions are periods when our understanding of the world around us is radically altered or improved. Some examples include:


  2. This refers to the "Orange Revolution" (Ukraine 2004), the "Rose Revolution" (Georgia 2003), the "Blue Revolution" (Kuwait 2005), and the "Purple Revolution" (Iraq 2005). Belarus had a "Denim Revolution" and Burma a "Saffron Revolution." Of course, the "rose" revolution may have been about the flower, as there was a "Tulip Revolution" in Kyrgyzstan (2005) (also called "Pink Revolution") — and a "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon. If we say that denim is indigo, then we pretty much have an entire rainbow of revolutions.