31. Mass actions are revolts and not (yet) revolutions. Even millions of 99% on the streets gives us no lasting power

A Humane World is not ruled by the idea that money dominates all decisions but by the idea that all people have the same status. Such a new world can only come into being after a revolution, a fundamental change of the basic rules that determine society. Not only society but also the 99% change during revolutionary times. They become self-conscious because they have developed an own independent power.

In the last fifty years there have been many spontaneous mass uprisings, The Philippines, Portugal, the Ukraine, Thailand, the Arab Spring or the Turkish revolt. The result was at the most the replacement of some old leaders by new leaders who mostly came from the same circles as the old ones. The 1% remained in power. Sometimes they ousted a few of their kind who had been too greedy and damaged the power and money of the rest of the 1%. The improvement of the life of the 99% was generally disappointing.

Revolts and revolutions are often inspired by economic factors, the deteriorating life of the 99%, the increasing greed of the top or the growing contradiction between life at the bottom and at the top. Most mass revolts occur in developing countries where influence of The People is even less than in rich Western countries. The severe austerity measures initiated by the 1% were the prime reason for Greek and Spanish masses to take to the streets, mostly without success. Mass actions on streets in town centres are not revolutions. Activity of common citizens is a prime condition but without inspiring basic ideas it remains a revolt. Mass actions that do not penetrate in the separated privileged world of the 1% are short-lived and do not result in lasting changes. Actions become a revolution when the power basis of the rulers is attacked and destroyed, when the basic rules on which society is built are changed in rules that benefit all people.

Mass actions are an expression of the wide-spread idea that something is terribly wrong. In rich Western countries there are hardly mass actions. Big demonstrations are generally initiated and organised by leaders of organisations that belong to the existing power structure. Spontaneity of the masses is far away and the results of actions that count hundreds of thousands of participants are disappointing. Such actions keep the masses quiet and under control of lower leaders in the country’s power structure.

It is less easy to control masses in developing countries. Contradictions and differences between lower and higher layers of society are much greater and the dissatisfaction of the 99% can grow fast. Some reasons are the lack of belief in future improvement or the fear to lose even the most basic means of existence. Mass actions are more probable when top leaders are a long time in power and contradictions inside the 1% are increasing. Mass revolts are an expression of the wish of The People for another society but mostly they are contained by the sitting powers.

Some justified demands of the 99% can be realised without changing the power structure and the wealth distribution. Better housing, higher wages, better education or health care are realised in richer countries. But the basic structure of these societies is the same as in poorer countries, the powerful and wealthy are on top and on the bottom are the 99%. In richer countries the 1% also caused a lot of misery by their financial-economic crisis.

When mass actions have not the expected result many 99% withdraw in their own circles to make the best of it. Mass actions are mostly short-lived and the 1% can afford to wait some time, then activate their power and return at the top of society. That happened in Egypt after the Arab Spring. Actions did not disturb the private life of the 1%. When the situation of the masses does not improve after a revolt it will last some time before The People again take to the streets to fight for a better life. The heavy toll in wounded, arrested, tortured and killed members of the 99% and the scanty results undermine the wish to fight again. “Nothing seems to help”, you do not continue participating enthusiastically in mass actions when there are hardly positive results.

A prime example is the Ukraine where a corrupt president was chased away in the Orange Revolution of 2005 at the cost of great damage to protesters. A new president was elected who was as corrupt and cruel as the chased one. In 2010 new elections were held and the ousted corrupt president won without any revolt in the streets. The Ukraine people had learned their lesson, street demonstrations were harmful for the own people, people at the top were not disturbed and hardly anything changed. Why should you again risk your life.

In 2013 new mass revolt happened. This time about the association of the country to Russia or the EU. The power structure was again not attacked and this revolt will again increase disappointment. To be under the Russian top of under the European top does not make much difference. Because the economic reasons for the revolt were obscured by differences in language and origin the 99% became divided and leaders could continue to rule.

One of the leaders of the revolt (as was the case in the Orange Revolution) want to become the new president. He will be as corrupt as past presidents. A revolt in which leaders negotiate with sitting powers does not change the basic inequality in power and money. It brings no progress. Ataturk said once: “Those who are inclined to compromise can never make revolution”.

Revolts without lasting change only increase the dissatisfaction of the 99% who realise they are powerless against the greedy top. For a revolution more is needed then a few hundred thousand people in the streets in town centres. A revolution needs great ideas about a promising future.

The transition from revolt to revolution, from possible minor improvements to a completely different Humane World is difficult. A revolt activates people by using partial political demands. During the revolt it is nearly impossible to change these targets into revolutionary ones, the destruction of the existing power structure.
A revolution needs a prime target and new action methods. It challenges the sitting powers. The new leading and inspiring ideas for a revolution can be summarised in one simple sentence: We must take the money and the power away from the 1%.

Joost van Steenis

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About Joost van Steenis

My latest book "How to make Revolution, developing the Fourth People's Power", can be downloaded for free from my site http://members.chello.nl/jsteenis. It contains new ideas how to take the money and power away from the most powerful people, the elite. It strives to get a new society in which not money is the pivotal point of all discussions but the idea that all people have the same status. New action means are introduced to reach this paradigm shift (a revolution) that concentrate on direct actions in the living sphere of the elite.
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