It is now possible to imagine a global revolution that is inevitable.
It is possible because it has become so easy to organize globally. We have at our fingertips all the telecommunications infrastructure and the organizing tools that are needed.
And what is more, we are engaged with them constantly, interspersing politics with cat memes, socializing with pleas for justice. Since social media are so integral to our lives, the social and political change work in which we engage on a medium like Facebook can touch us more deeply.
It is always there, sweeping us along, there in our pockets, next to the messages of close friends. The movement to end the occupation of Palestine has taught me that when a global movement is organized through Facebook it can be more communal than even college hippies protesting a war. The solidarity is constant, the presence of fellow activists omnipresent. And this communalism allows us to forge the kind of ties that will carry over into future movements.
It is now possible to imagine a global revolutionary movement because it is a movement that is already in motion. While we may disagree about the goodness of this or that leader, most of us expect a people to be free from oppression and to determine their own fates. And unlike in the late-twentieth century, we get immediate feedback through videos and on-the-ground reporting when they are not. It is no longer possible for a revolutionary movement to commit genocide—as in Mao’s Great Famine, in which roughly 30 million Chinese died, or the 1931 Soviet starvation of Ukraine—without the whole world watching. This knowledge purifies our movements for change and makes us freer from the stain of indiscriminate revolutionary violence.
We now see what is happening and we share it from the grassroots up. This makes the global movement that is now occurring fundamentally democratic in the broadest sense. We all shape and share it, with the leaders merely organizing, commenting and offering strategic words of advice. The most successful revolutionaries do not tend to fight the river of history. Rather, they deepen the fissures in the dam that might allow the pent-up energy to be released. In previous ages, it was much easier for leaders to control their followers; not so in this age of instant feedback. The emperor now always stands naked.
It is now possible to organize a truly global revolutionary movement because there is so much agreement about where we need to go. While some may question the readiness for democracy in some places, at some times, few want to live under an autocrat. Few are willing to justify substantial human rights abuses. Few argue for the exclusion of women in public institutions or for greater ignorance. And democratic freedoms, along with literacy and the rights of women, are increasing in all regions of the world. What is more extraordinary, many of the global elites support these developments. There is no need to fight the river of history, only to open the dam and let the waters flow.
Successful revolutionaries do not bemoan the impossibility of change but rather see it as inevitable. Instead of being drowned in the deluge, they sail it to victory. It is time we see ourselves as part of a global revolutionary movement that must win; that we build an infrastructure for change and develop flexible networks that can support each new protest movement in each new country when it breaks out. We have in the unemployed college educated youths, which are growing in all parts of the world, an intellectual revolutionary force. It is a quiet and inclusive force, comprised of women and men who have been left out and simply want a better life. Their networks, intelligence and dissatisfaction can be explosive. We need but give direction to these energies to create the world we want.
We have in the infrastructure of the Internet a new mode of production that is fundamentally global in orientation. We need to begin to see ourselves as a global force, to forge connections across national and religious boundaries. Making these connections can now occur organically through a medium like Facebook. We need but reach out our arms just a little to touch a heart on the other side of the world. The connections can happen faster than through travel; they are cheaper and more accessible—and they are often more intimate.
And we now have the data on which revolutionary movements succeed and which fail. The field of strategic nonviolence has systematized the works of thinkers like Gandhi, and studied the movements that were most successful. Erika Chenowith of the University of Denver studied every major social movement going back to 1900 and found that nonviolent movements are roughly twice as successful in attaining their goals and four times as large as violent movements. As the know-how of nonviolent movements grows, they are also increasingly successful. That is why we saw little violence as Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia democratized.
It is now possible to forge a united global movement for democracy, human rights, women’s rights and children’s rights, that is anti-corruption, anti-genocide and seeks to diminish disparities in wealth. It is time we begin conceiving of these movements as indivisible and building the networks and organizations needed for mutual support. It is now time we ride the wave of history.
Author: Theo Horesh
Editor: Travis May