Often accompanied by great violence and suffering but justified in the name of a glorious future, revolution is the paradoxical emergence of a new order from the chaotic disintegration of an older one. Notwithstanding the many philosophical musings on the subject, the simplest and most ostensible trigger behind revolution is the intense desire of the masses for a change.
While necessary, this desire for radical change in society is not a sufficient condition for revolution. Indeed, a failure to see this distinction opens the field to the shenanigans of political charlatans and pseudo-visionaries, trivialising the notion of revolution for the sake of political expediency. Recent events in our country are a case in point.
In fact, it is widely observed that revolutions – in the classical sense of the ‘great revolutions’ of the past – are no longer tenable. The world as it stands today is a product of revolutionary changes in information technology and its lethal use as a tool to wield ruthless power.
This ‘grand digital narrative’ has given rise to unprecedented forms of ‘hypercolonialism’ — a new management of global space and time, and a remodelling of the dialectics of ‘us’ and ‘them’.
What sort of ‘revolutionary change’ should Pakistan aspire to at this juncture, when, like most other Muslim countries, it has failed to evolve a creative and productive relationship with Western modernity?
The establishment of a renewed relationship – not emotively charged with revolutionary cadence but profoundly transformative still – is the regeneration Pakistan currently requires.
For this to happen, however, the very concept of revolution will have to be revolutionised by liberating society’s creative and cognitive potential and by evolving the indigenous production of knowledge and rewiring our relation between the ‘word and the world.’