On Appreciating the Difference between a Revolution and a Coup D’état. The perspectives brought to you by Prof. Lang Nubuor.
We once heard of the January 13 Revolution of 1972. We then heard of the December 31 Revolution of 1981. Similar events across Africa were also seen as Revolutions.
All had the singular feature of being undertaken within a few hours by sections of the existing inherited colonial military force of the country in question.
They were also referred to as military coups. As such the concepts of Revolution and Coup D’état were and continue to be conflated – i.e. used to mean the same thing.
Our history books, on the other hand, refer to the 1688 English Revolution and the 1789 French Revolution. Such have not been nor are referred to as coups d’état therein.
They were carried out in a process of a long period of changes by forces outside the existing military and the socio-economic system that it served to maintain.
In the course of the historical development of the French Revolution an event, led by the soldier Napoleon Bonaparte, occurred. It is known as a coup d’état.
Never has that event ever been referred to as a Revolution; neither have the wars that Napoleon fought across Europe ever been seen as revolutionary wars.
It is hence instructive to observe that in the science of history the concept of Revolution, often spelt with a capital R, has a specific meaning in application.
That meaning refers to a change of a socio-economic system whereby out of the old or dominant system an emergent one within it comes to dominate and replace it.
This suggests that the emergent System begins and develops within the womb of the existing or prevailing System over years or decades before it replaces this latter.
That is unlike a coup d’état which maintains the existing system and at best tries to reform it or at worse manages it as usual – with all of its fundamental principles being intact.
In the instructive Letter of Resignation by Chris B. Atim in December 1982 we read about the problematics of trying to convert a coup d’état into a Revolution.
That is to say that we read about an insistence on a revolutionary programme that did not reflect a developing process of a Revolution. It was to initiate it from above.
The revolutionary orientation was certainly there to effect a Revolution but with the mentality of a coup d’état – a process from above. Hence, December 31 remained a coup.
Of course, references are made to the Cuban Revolution as an example of a Revolution being initiated after the seizure of political power. That requires a scientific evaluation.
For, what passes as the Cuban Revolution was initiated by forces outside the regular military or armed forces even in the absence of an emergent new System.
To see that prolonged military effort as a coup d’état might not be correct. Yet its occurring prior to a new socio-economic build-up qualifies it not as a Revolution either.
This places the Cuban Revolution in a unique category where it is neither a coup d’état nor a Revolution but obviously bearing a revolutionary orientation.
Current developments in Cuba pertaining to tendencies towards legislation that allows a trend of private capital development require our studious attention.
Meanwhile, it is clear that a Revolution is not a coup d’état as it suggests issues of fundamental concern with principles bearing on system options.
In addressing ourselves to the difference between the concepts of Revolution and Coup d’état we are anxious to call attention to strategic and fatal errors in conception.
Where one is concerned with the mere management or reform of the System coup d’état and/or systemic election is the way. Revolution, however, means System change.
And this latter involves locating an emergent System within the current one and developing it to simultaneously burst asunder and replace that dominant system.
It takes time and resources to achieve that by generations involved in building the new socio-economic system under the slogan Study, Service, Sacrifice.
Remain Focused, Determined and Bold!
Onward to the African Socialist Revolution!
Lang T. K. A. Nubuor
December 21 2021