Thoughts of Revolution

Writing in National Review, Dalrymple draws some conclusions on a subject of eternal interest. He finds that revolutions, while difficult to evaluate objectively, are usually fueled by a quest for power rather than freedom and have “mainly brought about disaster”. He is skeptical even of the potential for an Iranian revolution to install a regime that would promote freedom. His favorite kinds of revolutions are those like Mobutu Sese Seko’s in Zaire:

His “revolution” consisted of forbidding neckties and making everyone abandon his European first name in the cause of African authenticity. It otherwise largely left people untouched: It had no choice in the matter, for it was so inefficient that the transport network virtually ceased to exist. Where it did exist, the revolution set up military checkpoints, but these were not much to be feared. I remember going through one in a truck without stopping, sending the soldiers flying in all directions. I asked the driver whether this was not dangerous; would the soldiers not fire at us?

“Oh no, monsieur, they’ve sold all their bullets long ago.”

That’s the kind of African revolution I learned to like (relatively speaking), the bogus one that sells its bullets.
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