There is a persistent danger in attempting to apply universal ‘one size fits all’ solutions to every political crisis across the globe.
This is the primary reason why solutions based on broad, sweeping ideological dogmas tend to produce inferior results to those based on specific problem solving endeavours.
A clear example of this is the age old ‘right versus left’/’conservative versus socialist’ debate. There is no universal answer, it merely depends what is the best specific situation to any given crisis.
Case in point: conservative or gradualist solutions are generally better for solving internal crises in long established states, whilst leftist or radical solutions are often more effective during colonial struggles against a foreign occupier in young states, or states about to be born/re-born.
Both the Revolutions in France in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as well as the October Revolution and subsequent Civil War(s) in Russia led to bloodshed, upheaval and chaos. Each was begun as an attempt to radically alter the nature of government and society in two long established and powerful, independent states.
In both cases, some measure of fault is to be laid at the feet of each major party, but the lion’s share of the blame is of course on the radicals in both situations.
France in 1789 and Russia in 1917 were both healthy states; they had a measure of self-inflicted injuries, but the states would not have readily fallen to external force in either case. Indeed, contrary to leftist propaganda, Russia was winning the war against the German and Austrian Empires in 1917 and would have been winning even more vigorously if Russia had the strong leadership it did in the 1870s and 1880s, during the 1910s.
Likewise, by the end of the 18th century, France had emptied the state treasury after centuries of generally ill-fought wars, but France would have and could have survived without the upheavals of 1789.
In both cases, radicals were motivated by a sectarian agenda rather than a national agenda. The October Revolution was about creating a Russia for Bolshevik power, not about a better Russia for the Russian people. Lenin openly expressed his contempt for the Russian people, Russian patriotism, Russian history and Russian culture. Like the liberal radical Russians of today, often living opulent lives in Europe, Lenin was the archetypal, self-loathing Russian. Had Lenin been born in Berlin in 1960, no one would have ever known his name outside of a small circle of comrades.
Likewise, Revolutionary France was by and for the Revolutionaries. This explains why many of the peasants in the south of France were totally aloof from and opposed to the Revolution.
Ultimately both states survived by becoming conservative, in spite of a stated ideology.
The French Third Republic resolved many of the crises that had arrested the development of a cohesive French state between 1789 and 1871. Even so, some wounds remained open.
Likewise, by the 1960s, the USSR had become increasingly conservative. Brezhnev’s era, one still beloved by many contemporary Russians said farewell to the bloodshed of Lenin, the vengeful nature of Stalin, the radical insanity of Khrushchev and embraced a culture of prosperity and balance. At the same time, the Soviet Union became the strongest of the global super-powers by the 1970s. The Helsinki Accords of 1975 are a testament to the Soviet state receiving a historically noteworthy maximum portion of respect from its western enemies.
By contrast, for countries engaged in a struggle against a foreign overlord, leftist revolutions are often the only tangible solution available in order to gain or re-gain independence.
The Syrian struggle for independence in 1946 was recently celebrated by a Ba’athist government whose central platform is moderate socialist struggle for Arab nationalism against a tide of ancien religious extremism (like ISIS) and western imperialism.
Vietnam and Algeria are other noted examples of socialism being the only force powerful enough to resist both the medievalism of local extremists as well as the oppression of foreign powers.
An important question remains, however. How does one living in an independent country bring about meaningful solutions to a crisis without turning to radical leftist revolution?
The easiest solution is by working within the existing system. On the flip side of this coin, it often behoves the ruling factions to co-opt rather than resist would-be radical opposition forces. In the long term, it is often easier to give a radical opponent a meaningless seat at the tables of power than to throw him in a dungeon. It is often even more dangerous to make martyrs of such individuals.
That way, the radical man or woman’s views will be listened to and some of them may even be gradually implemented, thus taking the wind out of the sails of a would be insurrection in the making.
If this is not possible, it is best to try and co-opt a faction of the established political system to work for one’s cause. Successive successful examples of this can be found in Turkey.
Throughout the 20th century, Turkey experienced military coups. But these coups were generally not coups born out of aggression, but born out of the Army’s legal duty to uphold the Kemalist Constitution. In this sense, the Army became both the defenders of Kemalist Turkish statehood, defenders of normalcy and a bulwark against revolution while at the same time, acting to prevent people from getting overly dissatisfied with both corrupt civilian governments or military rule.
Once a coup was over, Turkey’s Army rapidly and peacefully would transition power back to civilian rule. This was a regular pattern in recent Turkish history.
This is why President Vladimir Putin’s modern Russia, while a moderately conservative country, still has allies among former western-colonial states who used left-wing revolutions to throw off a foreign regime. Russia respects sovereignty first and foremost, both its own and those of others who have struggled after centuries of western imperialist rule; often by the same historic enemies of the Russian state.
Internal change in sovereign states is best executed in the way that a self-inflicted wound would be on the body. If one jumps and lands improperly on one’s leg, fracturing a bone; one does not amputate, one applies casts and medicines until the bone is back to normal.
Inversely, when a foreign disease has infected the body, one often uses powerful drugs in order to literally kill the infection until it has dissipated.
The same is true of men and nations. This is why revolutions are useful against a foreign enemy, but dangerous when used to destroy a functional independent state from within.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.