When you invoke”revolution” in the American psyche what comes to mind is clearly the American Revolution between 1765 and 1783. The American Revolution, to us, was the cleanest, universally ordained, and most just revolution this world has ever seen. Through historical teachings and our nationalist paradigm, our founding fathers were just in their actions and clean in their revolution. However, to me, this is misleading. All revolutions are, at its basic core, the violent overthrow of political authority in charge. Whether violence is seen as a means to an end or seen as illegitimate as means, true revolution changes structure and in order to change structure violence need to be dealt. This is the basic requirement when facing military force or police force. With this in mind we should start to look at our revolution as a violent period in American history where people were killed for the overthrow of the political authority in charge. Further, in this violent period Revolutions inherently produce categories of experience and separation for those enacting revolution, having revolution enacted upon them, and the difference in resulting conditions following a revolution.
In the essence of this thinking, Professor Peterson uses revolution and the basic results of revolution as a large part of his argument. To him the categories of experience and separation that result from a revolution are important in understanding what constitutes something as wholly revolutionary because for some even in the process of revolutions the effects of revolution are not general. To this end, when thinking about the American revolution or the revolutions of our modern era, we must think about the ways political upheaval is really revolutionary or not in the ways they actually changed condition for the majority or shifted power from one minority to another.
We must look at revolutions in this critical light for various reasons, but one in particular-the power of modernity and the clean record of historical generalizations. Specifically, the power of nationalism in talking about these revolutions shouldn’t be understated. When nations discuss revolutions they create fallacies of universal cooperation, true democracy, and egalitarian political desire. However, when looking at the American revolution in particular you must analyze WHO creates this type of history and for what reason. Because when looking at political fact, we must not forget the ways that poor farmers, slaves, and Native Americans were kept out of the “revolutionary” acts and the negotiating table following the “revolution”. So all of these ideals and historical generalizations that are made can only be seen as false, but to what end? The power of memory cannot be understated, in modern times revolutions are written off and started through the evocation of history. Looking to the American Revolution, looking to the French Revolution, etc. Revolutions are never as pure or universal as stated, they have underlying categories of separation and exclusivity.