This week’s readings and discussions covered the incorporation of science into Western thought in addition to the differences in past and present revolution. As education became more widespread, science also came to the forefront, radically changing the way people thought through the shift away from religion. With increased technology and globalization came greater power of observation, and with it, the rise of scientific principles, contrasting the religious doctrines based on faith. Europe, not far removed from passionate religious warfare, saw itself drifting away from that religion. Today, secularism is much more widespread in Europe than it is in the United States, so much so that a politician running for office may not be elected if he or she identifies with a specific religion.
Just as people were dissatisfied with religion and sought more answers, people were dissatisfied with economic and social equality, leading to several frequently violent revolutions. For example, the American Revolution was marked by eight years of war while an identifiable characteristic of the French Revolution was the guillotine. These violent uprisings often resulted in removal of the current government and its replacement with a new governmental and social class structure. More recently, there have still been examples of groups of people unhappy with government and social inequality. For instance, the protest in Tiananmen Square was very large in terms of participation but did not take on the violent tones that previous revolutions had. Instead, the call for political change was non-violent, so while all these instances provide evidence of severely frustrated groups of people, the methods of resistance took on very different natures.
These different forms of resistance may have different end results. I feel like it is often easier for peaceful protests to gain support of otherwise disinterested public. Violent protest may create just as many enemies as friends. Friendly protest, on the other hand, demonstrates desire for improvement while avoiding totally disregarding the current system, which may in fact have several benefits. Both violent and peaceful revolutions have achieved successes and experienced failures. Once again, violent protests may not gain as much public support at a national or even international level, as it is easier to accept suppression if the oppressed group is made to look like they would prefer to fight. Non-violent protests, on the other hand, can be very successful in obtaining the public support necessary, perhaps even creating enough outside pressure on the domestic government to implement desired change. What are some further advantages and disadvantages of violent and nonviolent revolts?