REVOLUTION: the supposedly superior displacing the supposedly deficient

In any context, when an 'improvement' is made to a system by replacing one of its elements by a supposedly superior element, it may be significant enough to be deemed a revolution. Thus steam power replacing horse power was an industrial revolution, because the former appeared to give more power, reliability and endurance than the latter. Conics replacing cycloids in astronomical modelling was seen as an intellectual revolution, because the mathematics was simpler and the predictions more reliable and accurate. The replacement of slave-labour with paid-labour was a social revolution, because many of the most blatant abuses and gross inequities of life were thereby diminished. Driven by polarizing issues, a political revolution is the acquisition of social control by an organized grouping that is able to impose its own polarized law enforcement system to enhance its aspirations.

Revolution is engendered by both biological and technological evolution, which does not ever start afresh but only modifies what already exists. Revolutions are rarely... if ever... sudden and precipitous changes in system organization but rather an evolutionary series of events that finally culminate in a significant change. They are a conflict between the forces of change and those of the status quo which may oscillate in dominance for several cycles. The revolution of flying was not an instantaneous phenomenon, but the final result of a long series of evolutionary changes to structures called wings. The revolution of human social structure from nomadic to urban was the result of an evolution in agricultural methods. The steam engines that powered the industrial revolution did not suddenly spontaneously appear, but were the incremental consequences of innumerable improvements in materials, design, and construction skills. A human political revolution is not a single governmental upheaval event. Most, if not all of them, have been the result of a series of bloody conflicts, uprisings and extended social turmoil, that gradually evolves one administrative control structure into another.

When one system is subject to a revolution, much of the higher level system to which it belongs may not be immediately effected. Not everything is changed. It is existentially impossible to 'wipe the slate clean'. The invention of the combustion engine caused a revolution in how vehicles were powered, but did not immediately change everything about those vehicles. The first 'cars' were in fact horseless-carriages. Further revolutions in braking systems, steering and suspension etc came about as a consequence of subsequent evolution. Similarly when a political revolution has taken place, other elements of the society may not be influenced much immediately at all. Religious, cultural, agricultural and industrial systems may or may not continue as before. There will always be some residual elements of the old system.

Human socio-political revolutions are restructurings of the social hierarchy. The success of aggression and dominance in the evolution of human societies has ensured the transmission of a significant gene pool of individuals with those behavioural traits. For the foreseeable future, there will be a continuous supply of such individuals attempting to accumulate resources, spread their genes, and manipulate themselves up to a position of domination. It will often require a revolution to disintegrate the established hierarchical social structure established by these individuals and initiate another attempt at redeployment of wealth and abilities.

The distinction between civil war and revolutionary conflict may be well be blurred beyond resolution. Firstly, a revolt is usually a localized uprising and has to succeed in order for there to be any significant consequences. The individuals of a failed revolt will probably be persecuted and eliminated and may not have achieved much in the short term... even though the seeds of a revolution may well have been sown. A civil war, on the other hand, tends to be a more widespread distributed conflict between two or more opposing allegiance, ideology, or ethnic groupings. Each side tends to involve individuals from thruout the social hierarchy rather than to be dominated by members of a particular class.

Revolutions are not events which change circumstances forever. What goes round comes round. There always will be revolutions. The universe and nature and humans and social systems will all continue to evolve. Old orders will continue to be swept away by supposed improvements, which in their turn become the next old order.