I found the discussion on the differences between historical and modern revolutions to be especially fascinating. Historical revolutions, such as the American Revolution focused on completely over throwing the government and creating a new government. Modern revolutions often focus on social reorganization, improving the existing government or gaining independence from foreign powers. The comparison between the French Revolution and the Tiananmen Square Protest exemplifies the differences. The French Revolution is described as the first modern revolution because the destruction of the monarchy was followed by the reorganization of society and class structure. The Tiananmen Square Protest differs in that it was a non-violent movement that called for political change, instead of a bloody and violent struggle for power. Both the French Revolution and Tiananmen Square can both be called “revolutions” in that they are the actions of an unhappy populace, but they took very different forms.
The comparison of these two events leads me to consider what makes a revolution successful. In class we mentioned that violent revolutions, often descend into chaos and infighting within the revolutionaries, unless the revolution is carefully organized from the beginning. In comparison, nonviolent revolutions are often seen as more respectable by outside observers, as revolutionaries calmly present their demands, and work towards a peaceful agreement, instead of outright destruction and warfare. Non-violent revolutions are also far easier to recover from, as no one was wounded and no infrastructure was destroyed. And while both methods of revolution can be successful, I would far prefer a non-violent revolt.