By Kole Omotoso
Revolution and Rebellion boil on the same length of memory but the preparation for them is never enough and, in the case of Rebellion, never adequate. Rebellion should be getting ready for a Revolution, it mistakes itself for the real thing. In the long run, the Rebellion peters out, and the leaders are shot. A particular group of people convinced that they were not themselves ready for it lost their careers for what they could have been better prepared. Rebellion could have been a rehearsal for a Revolution but its presumptions are overbearing. Only those who study them afterwards make the difference by which time it is too late. Take the Irish Rebellion of Easter 1916 and the Russian Revolution 1917.
Ireland is the oldest colony of England and Ireland had been fighting for independence forever. At some time while Irish people were dying in Ireland, potatoes were being imported to the American colonies. It was only logical that the Irish began to migrate to North America in a big way.
This is a generalised essay on the nature of revolutions and rebellions. Rebellions begin when the rebels have had enough of the insults and indignities of discrimination. So much time is spent describing their bitterness that not enough time is spent preparing their fight back. Also, there is the feeling that the fightback is in revenge rather than as an act of war provoking another.
Yet, what one is trying to say is that in the long run, things return to normal. The more things change the more they remain the same. That would mean that it took from 1917 to 1989 for things to remain the same. On the other hand, it took a few months to a couple of years for things to return to normal.
Perhaps, it would be useful to take the 1905 attempted rebellion in Russia along the same lines as the Irish Rebellion. The years from 1905 to1917, 12 years were devoted to getting ready to ensure the rebellion succeed this time. Yet, the years of initial rebellion, the following years of all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others are the years of going the way of the normal.
There is no doubt that there is something hurry-hurry in a rebellion from its beginning to its end. The undecidedness, the uncertainty of those who should be told, those who should not be involved. Then, when the rebellion has been betrayed and arrests have begun. There is a frenzy at this point. There is the frenzy of the accusers. They have to make sure they have all their criminals and all their witnesses. Some times they don’t know who is criminal and who is witness. Those who operate on these borders trade-in on the slippery ground. The difference in these places is thin and dangerous. It is true that very often the personal gets mixed up with the public. In the process, those who have nothing to do with either side get pulled in and there is plenty of trouble.
Revolution is when everything changes. Social justice has not been well served. There are those who get their comeuppance at the temple of reckoning. When we have answered every one and swept them off the stage, then the records open: the day you put a needle into my knee, the night you did not know that I knew and you kicked my child in the shin, many such occasions are the revelations of a revolution. By the time had come for the revolution to be nobody recognises themselves as any man anymore. Yet, the division must be clear. Anyone who could be on either side must be capable of playing either side.
There are revolutions you can trace to the beginning of time. There are those whose origin is in yesterday. Perhaps those who know no longer know. Here the story becomes impossible. And the origins of the revolution will never be known. The world of the spy is the world of the spy floating in a void.
The self-deceit that Revolution involves is to be condemned. Change after change of government is followed with speech after speech of the same analysis of the politics of the country that warranted another Revolution until the same leader of the Revolution read the same revolutionary speech three different times with little changes here and there.
The violence that justified the Revolution has never been properly accounted for. Each circumstance has been described but nobody seems to have done a sum total of the violence involved.
The final judgment of the violence on itself was the stage at which the violence began to consume its own children. This is the point where the Revolution was scared of itself and turned back.
These days, Revolutionary takeovers are few and far between except the one that took place in Burma a week or so ago. Apart from the announcement and the question as to the whereabouts of the arrested leaders. The reason for the revolutionary change is that the civilians rigged the last year elections that brought them to power. So, what will happen?
Nothing has played better than the soldier go soldier come of revolutions than the coup in Burma. The military have declared one-year emergency while soldiers take over ministries and civilian organisations.
It is not that the military is going to re-run the election and ensure that is fair, providing a clear, level playing field. They are not referees but participants, only their party would make it position known once the results have been announced. Which is what has happened now.
There have been some protests against the coup. The military has come down heavily on the protests. Western powers have threatened to impose sanctions on Burma unless it goes ahead and restore power to civilians and let the country go back to its life. Will the soldiers listen to the people of Burma? Or will they listen to the outsiders who have not been able to uphold their own Democracy?
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