The Rough Men Revolutions

This article in the NY Times on the Ukrainian revote highlights one of the ugly truths about politics and political change. As Mao said, all political power flows from the barrel of a gun. When political power shifts, it does so because the power to kill shifts before hand.

Peaceful protest are not the true revolutions. The true revolution occurs when the people with guns decide whether to back or to oppose the revolution. The peaceful protest can only occur in a security bubble created by Orwell’s “rough men” who stand quietly off camera threatening to due violence to those who attack the protesters. Without that protection, the Kiev protesters would have faced the same fate as those of Tiananmen Square.

In the Ukrainian revolution, the protest and legal maneuverings were in the end just the capstone of the true revolution that occurred when the military and intelligence services chose the rule of law and the consent of the people.

Too many people believe that revolutions can and do occur without somebody making a decision to use force if necessary. It is a dangerous delusion.

5 thoughts on “The Rough Men Revolutions”

  1. For some reason, I didn’t like the outcome of the Ukrainian revote. The liberal press loves it, so off the bat that makes me a little suspicious. With so much foreign activists engaged, it almost feels like a soft coup. With guys like Soros backing the ultimate winner Yushchenko, it didn’t feel right. Too much money flowing to the guy. It feels like does the Ukraine.

  2. Just because Soros takes positions I don’t agree with WRT US politics, it doesn’t follow that everything he does is misguided.

  3. Great post, and my quote for the day.

    What do you think led the rough men to choose as they did in this case? Bright sunlight of the press? Family ties? Desire to be something other than lackeys of a Russian lackey state?

  4. Fûz,

    “What do you think led the rough men to choose as they did in this case?”

    In the era of mass armies, the regular Army often reflects the will of the people. If the Ukraine followed the usual Eastern European pattern, the troops of the Interior ministry would be chosen on the basis of political reliability whereas the regular army would be draftees with a largely apolitical officer cadre. They would avoid politics except in extreme circumstances.

    So I would say that the regular army supported the people because they ARE the people (and more ethnically Ukrainian) whereas the Interior ministry are probably a bunch of goons and quit possibly disproportionately ethnically Russian.

  5. Just FYI, George Orwell probably never said that thing about “rough men.” I belong to a community of serious Orwell fans who used to post on Several of us have read the entire 20-volume Complete Works. And none of us can find a source for the “rough men” quote that is commonly attributed to him. He did, however, say something dimly similar in an essay on Kipling. See .

    Incidentally, none of us has ever found a source for the other favorite Orwell bumpersticker — the one saying that “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

    Best regards

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