Revolution is in the Eyes of the Beholder

As the old saying goes, love is in the eye of the beholder. Well, so is revolution. Through the course of history, revolution has been shaped in the perspective of the historians and their biases. The American Revolution could easily be remembered as the American Revolt by English historians. The French Revolution could be named the French Resistance. The point is that revolution is not a black and white element of society because it creates rapid change through force that creates upheaval and disorganization in hopes of settling into a better reality.

Social change is primarily a gradual, evolutionary process, but when social change is forced there is the possibility of grave danger to the individuals of the society that can result in an unhealthy and disharmonious reality (Fraser & Campolo, 2013). Marx would argue that it is only through conflicts, even conflicts as extreme as revolution, that change really occurs (Vago, 2013). One difference revolution creates from other conflict is the intertwined nature of the conflict as opposed to different entities in conflict with one another. Revolution involves factions from within a singular social group, and the revolution threatens to divide that social group.

In the case of the American Revolution, citizens of the United States view this historical event with triumph, pride, and encouragement. The revolutionary ideals of the founding fathers are romantically embraced by generations that have followed, while a closer look at the tactics and ideals could be seen as barbaric. There is little doubt that was the perspective of the English at the time and, on some level, even today. Which is right? Were the Founding Fathers of the US barbaric in their revolutionary ideas, or were they heroic?

Revolution is, indeed, in the eyes of the beholder.


Fraser, D. A., & Campolo, A. (1992). Sociology through the eyes of faith (1st ed). San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.

Vago, S. (2003). Social change (5th ed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.