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!

Revolution is the overthrowing of an establishment to pave grounds for a new political 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! The new constitution was ratified in 1788. In 1789, the Electoral College unanimously elected George Washington as the president.
  • The French people had helped the Americans during the War of Independence. They were so enamored that on July 14, 1789, they marched towards Bastille and started the French Revolution. However, Freedom did not come easily to the French as was with the case of the Americans. Still, they clung to the ideas like freedom and liberty and started the French Revolutionary Wars in 1792. A republican constitution was adopted in 1875. However, the constitution did not last long. In 1958, under De Gaulle, the Fifth Republic was established. The French had to fight five times to establish a free society.
  • 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.
  • The Republic of China was established in 1911 after the overthrow of the Chinese imperial dynasty. This event is remembered as 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 are undertaken by him did not succeed. After his death (1976), his successor Deng Xiaoping 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.

5 thoughts on “Does It Always Take a Revolution to Change the World?

  1. ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY: According to a PBS NewHour report (Aired on July 1, 2020), Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to see to it that he will be president until 2036. Of course there are those who praise that under his leadership Russia has a much better economy. There are others who indicate that he has decided he will be president and nobody can oppose it!

  2. I am not a historian or a student of political science either, however, I take interest on what’s going around. When you know about history and politics, you will know about your society better. You have mentioned some of the great revolutions that changed the world entirely. However, I would like to add one more revolution that also changed the world completely. While the 4 revolutions you mentioned were armed struggle, where a lot of people died, the freedom movement in India was rather peaceful. Gandhi changed the perception of how revolution should be done.

    1. Indeed. Thank you so much for your enlightening comment. It provides a very different point of view and proves that armed struggle is NOT always the way to achieve change for the good. I would like to also add that the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said that he admired the method used by Gandhi and was inspired and motivated to pursue a nonviolent movement to accomplish change.

  3. Well India is not fighting over Kashmir, it is the Pakistanis who are fighting in Kashmir. India is just protecting its territory. Buy the way, Pakistan occupied some parts of Kashmir in1947 and the world does not talk much about this.

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