The recent upsurge of revolutionary sentiments both in the general public as well as the intellectual elite are byproducts of a state that has taken desperate measures in the to sustain its survival. While no amount of desperation can justify radical measures, a revolt against such desperations is not an alternative either. On closer inspection, these sentiments reveal many more problems than just its pathological hatred for the status quo.
One such problem is exclusive to the intellectual elite, apparently tired and frustrated, who both enjoy and resent the privileges of the status quo. This irony in their stance—of wanting the fruits and resenting the tree—is all but lost on them. These are the ones who want it all. Their failure to either fully adopt the tenants of their revolutionary ideologies or propose a solution other than a revolution indicates a fundamental conflict within themselves. While the problem of an identity crisis is as old as humanity, a denial of it is a serious problem. The myth of identity prevails in these circles, but what they fail to recognize is that the only thing keeping them glued together is pathological hate for the other, not a shared set of values and principles.
The reason behind this issue of identity is the cocktail of ideologies prevalent in these revolutionary circles. If put in the same room, the conflicts among their own meaning of revolution would be enough to inspire sizeable amounts of violence. While the intellectual elite seeks the fantasy of a society based primarily on reason (and more sophisticated forms of nationalism and ethnicism), the general public’s revolutionary sentiments have more to do with traditional nationalism, ethnicism, and religionism. Considering such a wide array of conflicting sentiments present in the current revolutionary masses, no amount of revolutions would be enough to satiate their drives for a change that suits them. The end result would be small groups of like-minded people hateful of everyone else.
In The Road to Wigen Pier, the 20th-century English novelist George Orwell points out that ”every revolutionary opinion draws part of its strength from a secret conviction that nothing can be changed.” (1937) What he means is that most revolutionaries only fantasize and dream of change but believe in its fundamental impossibility. Their fantasies act as fetishes that stop them from thinking about the immediate and real problems they are facing. Their solutions to these real problems are fantastical dreams. In The Courage of Hopelessness, Slavoj Zizek expands on this idea that it is similar to “leftists criticizing capitalist cultural imperialism but are horrified of the idea that their field of study might become redundant” upon the fall of capitalism (2017). They enjoy the thought of an imaginary wonderland, one they know is never coming to life.
Even when these sentiments don’t take the forms of fetishes, their lack of self-definition makes it hard for them to replace the status quo. For Zizek, the real challenge is not eradicating the current system but constructing a new one. In the movie V for Vendetta, based on Allan Moore’s comic of the same name, the main protagonist blows up the parliament and ends a tyrannical government. The protesters come together in a moment of ecstatic union, forgetting their identities only temporarily. That’s where the movie ends. The question is, what happens next? How do they replace tyranny? When the protesters realize that they are all different the next day, that everyone wants their version of a new government, anarchy will inevitably break out. when that happens, some might even dream of the previous tyranny in fondness.
Another problem that is often overlooked is the question of morality in collectivist actions. Hannah Arendt’s comment on the holocaust organizer Adolf Eichmann provides an almost conclusive account to the matter: “In refusing to be a person, Eichmann utterly surrendered the single most defining human quality of being able to think and, consequently, he was no longer able to make moral judgments.” The renunciation of personal identity and the adoption of ideology (revolutionary or otherwise) gives the individual the choice of not thinking for themselves. In fact, the very dream of an alternate to escape the responsibility of thinking for yourself is an act of ‘theoretical cowardice’ (Zizek, 2017). Realizing the truth about the promise of such false hopes requires real courage. It was this courage that Giorgio Agamben describes when he says, “thought is the courage of hopelessness.”
In Was ist Aufklarung, Kant replaces the idea of revolution with enlightenment. “Enlightenment is man’s release from indoctrination” (Kant, 1784). Indocrination is a conscious act of surrendering one’s thinking capabilities and letting others decide for them. Why should I take responsibility if someone else is doing it for me? The problem isn’t an inability to think but the lack of courage to think, something Kant, Girogio Agamben, and Zizek also allude to on various occasions. For Kant, the very idea of revolution is based upon the premise of collective action (which is devoid of morality.) Change has to be slow for it to last. Revolutions will never bring consistent change; violence is its only strong suit. The only solution we have is to think freely and morally. We must have the courage to act responsibly, independent from any group or doctrine. Such a moral virtue is the only solution to promoting individual and social well-being (Kukura, 2019).
Revolutions and revolutionary tendencies are riddled with contradictions and inefficiencies. The end result is always hatred and violence. Surrender to a doctrine eradicates personal agency and individuality, which form the basis for healthy and prosperous societies. Balochistan does not need a revolution. It needs a morally responsible youth, a youth free from doctrines and revolutions; a youth courageous enough to think for itself. Everything else must come later.
Kant, I. (1784). What is Enlightenment?
Kukura, M. (2019). Jordan Peterson, Slavoj Zizek, and V for Vendetta.
Orwell, G. (1937). The Road to Wigen Pier.
Zizek, S. (2017). The Courage of Hopelessness.