I am neither a historian nor an avid student of history. But I do pay attention to those who have knowledge of historical facts and can teach or expound on them. If they can show an application of past events to our present day situation and give me food for thought that might enable me to make the world a better place, then their words will not fall on deaf ears.
A few decades ago, I recall an educational program on television and the history teacher posited that there were only four (4) countries that changed the political and economic landscape of the entire world and as such, the path these nations take steers the entire world. Those countries were America, France, Russia, and China. The historian said it was because each one of these countries had a revolution!
In the dictionary, a revolution is defined as “a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favor of a new system”.
4 Countries Changed the World?
- The American Revolution (also known as the War of American Independence) began in 1775 and the Thirteen Colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The colonists fought the Red Coats and won! In 1789, George Washington was elected as the first president of the United States.
- Inspired by the success of America, the French Revolution began in 1789. French citizens stormed the Bastille on July 14, 1789. This country’s independence was not gained as quickly as America’s independence. But the ideals of liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity or brotherhood) would not die. The French Revolutionary Wars started in 1792. A republican constitution was adopted in 1875. Fast forward. The current French government is based on the Constitution of the Fifth Republic which was enacted in October 1958. It took the establishment of several republics but they did it!
- In the 1900s, in Russia, Marxist doctrine started spreading among the proletariat (the working-class people). Marxism pointed a finger of blame at capitalism as being the reason for the class struggle and held that communism would result in a classless society. The promise of Communism is that a classless society will exist where wealth is shared based on the defining principle that everyone received “according to his need”, “according to his ability”. Vladmir Lenin, a Marxist revolutionary and leader of the Bolshevik Party launched the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. 5 years later (1922), the Bolshevik Party also called the Communist Party formed the U.S.S.R. However, the end result was not socioeconomic equality for the citizens. In the 1990s, a “new” Russian government was structured which is supposed to be headed in the direction of democratic and economic reform, and a “new” constitution is supposed to ensure that the needs of the people are provided. Promises. Promises.
- It was the the Xinhai Revolution in 1911 that overthrew the last Chinese imperial dynasty and established the Republic of China. But it was the Chinese Revolution of 1949 that resulted in the creation of the People’s Republic of China. Communist Party leader Mao Zedong led this revolution. In the beginning, the traditions of Marx and Lenin were followed. But Mao Zedong disagreed with the direction the Soviet Leader Khrushchev had taken the U.S.S.R. Khrushchev had decided that communism and capitalism could peacefully coexist. Mao Zedong disagreed and developed his own “brand” of communism noted in historical records as Maoism. Many of the reforms undertaken by him did not succeed. After his death (1976), his successor Deng Xioping instituted “market socialism” under a plan named “Four Modernizations”. He was the leader from 1978 to 1989. Because he opened up China to the rest of the world and successfully implemented industrial measures and other reforms, he is credited with making China an economic world power. As for the current government of China? Nobody cares. It’s 2020 and the world is too angry with them for causing the coronavirus pandemic.
Summary, Contrast and Compare
American and France changed the course of mankind’s history and led people toward freedom and equality for all in the form of a democratic-republic with a capitalist economy.
~ Russia and China changed the course and promised people fairness and equality through a communist form of government.
America and France believed in ideals that all people should be free to pursue their life and liberty. One could say they believed these were not just ideals but God-given rights to all humans.
~ Russia and China, on the other hand, made all citizens “equal” by forcing the citizens to accept whatever their government said was all that they needed to live their daily life “sort of” freely.
Agree or disagree?
As an American, I say that’s certainly one way of looking at the past with an eye toward the future. Perhaps at one time in the course of human events, all eyes may have been on these four (4) nations but it’s 2020 and several major events have changed the history timeline of humanity.
- Latin America also engaged in numerous wars for independence.
- Two world wars happened and ever since there has been a constant brew ha ha about the possibility of World War 3.
- The European Union was established, it was comprised of 27 member states and the United Kingdom was the first member state to exit the EU in 2020.
- Apartheid was abolished in South Africa and also several African nations seceded from their European colonial rulers.
- India succeeded in breaking free from the British however, in the end, the citizenship was divided. The Partition created India and Pakistan. Bangladesh gained its independence from Pakistan and to this day India and Pakistan are still fighting over Kashmir.
- Uprisings and rebellions labeled as the Arab Spring occurred in the parts of the Arab world.
- Nine countries have developed nuclear weapons and they know how to use them too!
The world stage has become very crowded and America, France, Russia, and China would be foolish to believe that they can dominate. They need to work diligently to maintain good relations with these various countries who also have a prominent role to play in shaping the history of humankind.