In this significant and very timely book, the author of The Technological Society, The Political Illusion, and Propaganda asks a tremendous question and shows that the answer we give it is decisive for the future of our society: Can we learn from history what revolution really is necessary for our survival? That is, can we distinguish between ...
In this significant and very timely book, the author of The Technological Society, The Political Illusion, and Propaganda asks a tremendous question and shows that the answer we give it is decisive for the future of our society: Can we learn from history what revolution really is necessary for our survival? That is, can we distinguish between senseless, ineffectual revolt or rebellion and a genuine revolution that can alter fundamentals? In his basic, closely reasoned way, Jacques Ellul examines past and recent history in light of the current overwhelming preoccupation with revolution, which seems to have become the daily bread of Western man's thoughts and actions, the immediate explanation for every historical movement. Ellul insists on examining the possibility that today we are projecting onto past events a fairly recent and distorted image of revolution. The new image was created by Marx in the nineteenth century, and Ellul questions how long we can continue to live on his legacy. More important, he suggests that Marx may have brought about an abrupt deviation of the necessary revolutionary current and given a false meaning to the word revolution. Is all our talk about Marxian revolution talk about reality, or a way of filling a void with words? Finally, among so many social eddies and agitations, are we today caught up in a really revolutionary movement--or are we being led into blind combat by false lights that in reality are reflections in distorting mirrors? Are we capable of discerning the real Revolution, the needed Revolution? Ellul does not map out a route in detail: he clears paths into the future, making it possible for a route to be found. His masterly book should help to change our thinking, and therefore our future.
Ellul writes what starts out as an interesting analysis of revolutions, rebellions, and insurrections throughout history. However, after defining the terms well, and providing a wealth of examples, he changes direction and shifts into a criticism of Marx's concept of revolution. That would be interesting enough, but he laces the discussion with confusing terminology and dated examples. Ultimately, the book loses its focus as he shifts from analysis of Marxian revolution versus the historical pattern to the chaos of the sixties. By the end, the book bears no relevance to its theme.
I think that this book might be good for checking the footnotes, but nothing else. A person would be better off checking out "Fire in the Minds of Men", "Revolutionary Apocalypse", and "The Rise of Radicalism" for clear analyses of the phenomenon of revolution.
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