What Are the Characteristics of a Revolution?

In my book, “On the Ropes,” many of the members of the Black Panther Party mentioned the sacrifices they will undoubtedly face. Whether it involves being thrown in jail or sacrificing their life, one must remain steadfast in the face of danger and uncertainty.

As long as there has been recorded history, there have been moments of friction, including revolutions. With 2022’s
 numerous global protests, it’s safe to say that many people seek to challenge and eventually change the status quo.

What Makes a Revolution?

But what makes a revolution? According to research, social revolutions involve the following characteristics:

1. They are fast-moving.

Many revolutions seek to make radical socioeconomic changes. However, it’s important to note that many of them are fast-moving. A revolution can bring significant change with lasting impact within a short time (give or take a few years). They also come in waves of phases that introduce new concepts, perspectives, and ideals.

2. They are driven by people and groups inspired by hope.

People do not risk their futures or lives without hope. When push comes to shove, the hope for a brighter future can inspire many to make drastic changes. Many people in such groups are also idealistic (although many may claim themselves as realists or pessimists) because they believe such changes are worth dying for.

3. It comes with sacrifices.

A revolution involves several sacrifices—personal, economic, and even societal. Many of the outcomes of such groups often result in conflict, eventual confrontation, division, and even disruption. When left ignored for too long, the risks of war, violence, and suffering also appear. However, there have been successful peaceful revolutions, like the  Philippine People Power Revolution in 1986.

4. They are unique in their times, locations, and conditions.

The Chinese revolution is not like the American revolution. However, they do share some traits in common. Nevertheless, the history behind such movements is unique. They also tend to develop in various stages unique to their heritage and environment.

The Bottom Line:

Revolutions result from a population seeking to change the trajectory of the future. Throughout history, revolutions have become synonymous with societal changes, although their success levels vary.

With technology becoming ubiquitous in everyday life, potential revolutions could emerge. It is also important to note that a revolution is not the end-all-be-all of societal issues. When the dust and smoke dissipate, we can only expect sudden acceptance of change once both sides are ready to see things eye-to-eye.

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