Before hearing Marcos Perez’s lecture, I don’t think that I had ever considered why someone would become a revolutionary, other than because of the default answer “to create change”. While anyone can aspire to be a revolutionary, it is an extremely temperamental and dangerous title to hold. Many revolutionaries, such as Martin Luther King, were lost too young, becoming martyrs for their revolution. So, why would anyone do it?
One reason that someone might take on the role of a revolutionary, stems for the very essence of what a revolution is. Revolutions are complicated, but also crucial and nebulous to our society. There needs to be someone to act as a shepherd to the sheep in order to maintain order within the group. Also, while the amount of change a revolution brings about can always be up for debate, it is clear that certain revolutions affects some more than others. For example, the Civil Right Movement was meant to guarantee the freedoms and rights of People of Color in America. If there were no revolutionaries leading this movement, this group would have continued to be ignored and stepped on by the law.
While being a revolutionary entails high cost (literal, physical, mental, and spiritual) and considerable collective action dilemmas, many keep on their path because their is to mobilize other towards their goal. Everyone knows that working with a large group of different types of people can be extremely difficult, however revolutionaries navigate the boundary of group desire and selfish want in order to galvanize a group toward rapid social change. After inciting change, the group will move towards understanding social norms (and possibly fighting to change them), while moving towards mobilizing people to take control and become revolutionaries of their own.
People also become revolutionaries because there are so many issues in the world that need someone to address them; there is no shortage. Issues can range from cultural, to emotional dynamics, to identity politics. However, even though is a never-ending list of issues to tackle, there is another issue with revolutions. A revolution in the 1800s might have had a profound then, but cease to have much importance at a later date. Revolutions are in some case time-sensitive, and this is a key factor to what revolutionaries are involved at that time. For example, in the 1920’s suffragettes such as Emily Davis fought for women to have the right to vote; this was a major development for the time, with millions of women exercising their right to vote. However now, almost 100 years later, many women now voluntarily choose not to vote, possibly because they have lost sight of how important the right is, or that they might have forgotten how many people fought and died for this right, or even simply voting may not be considered that most important thing that women are fighting for. Either way, it can be seen that many revolutions lose their following and importance after a certain amount of time.
From the example that I’ve laid out, it is clear to see why someone would want to become a revolutionary, despite that possible and danger and diffuculty involved. I don’t know if I have the stamina to become a large-scale revolutionary, but I definitely respect that people that choose to do so.