Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy which pertains to the nature of existence and comparative reality. It is considered a natural philosophy or science which is a universal relative of the branch of modern science known as physics. The difference between these two branches of theory is described by sixteenth century philosopher Francis Bacon in one of his most famous works, the Advancement of Learning: "physics should contemplate that which is inherent in matter, and therefore transitory; and metaphysics that which is abstracted and fixed" (qtd. in Gilson and Langan 28). Bacon thus sets up the existence of dynamic reality or physics, and static reality, or metaphysics.
Essentially, metaphysics is an attempt to define immediate reality; the two divisions of metaphysics, ontology and metaphysics proper create this definition through the use of different levels of perception. Metaphysics proper concerns the ultimate reality of any universe of thought or existence while ontology is much more closely intertwined with the human experience ("Metaphysics"). This branch of philosophy is able to be distinguished from others insofar as it is highly general in nature and intends to include all forms of reality, both those of the inner mind and outer body.
One of the major concepts which are the foci of metaphysics is the study of time and space relativity. Both philosophers (including Kant and Leibniz) and scientists (including Albert Einstein) have debated this question deep into the abstract depths of thought and theory. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, a seventeenth century philosopher, expresses his opinion that time and space, although valuable on the practical level of day to day existence, have no significance in the ultimate nature of the universe because they are "due only to limitations of a finite point of view" (Gilson and Langan 155).
Another concept central to an understanding of metaphysics is the theory of mind and body. This has been a fiercely debated issue since the very beginnings of the study of metaphysics. There are those who hold to dualism, the belief that mind and body are separate and unrelated entities and those who argue monism, the belief that the two are unable to be distinguished at high levels of reality (Jesseph 430). Materialistic monists argue that all reality stems from matter, contrary to the idealistic belief that this reality is created by the mind (Jesseph 430). Many Christian philosophers, such as Nicolas Malebranche, suggest that the link between mind and body can be found only through God (Gilson and Langan 93). There is no singular set of beliefs which can be defined as a metaphysical view, but rather an entire series of controversies such as that of the dualists and monists which creates this branch of philosophy.
Where metaphysics is a philosophical, in many ways impractical definition of the static, revolution is a very real phenomenon of the dynamic. A revolution is a significant change in the course of historical events brought about through the specific efforts of either man or mankind. Socio-economic revolutions have taken place throughout history, perhaps the most significant being prehistoric linguistic and tool-oriented developments which have henceforth been highly effectual on the human course of events. One of the best known American thinkers of the twentieth century, R. Buckminster Fuller, points out the importance of these early events in his Critical Path, writing: "in order for humans to get to the Moon and safely back, a very large number of technological developments had to be accomplished. None of them would have been accomplished had not there been previous artifact developments of all human history" (347). Thus the importance of understanding socio-economic revolution as a progression of interconnected events is clear. The development of the world Industrial Revolution as well as that of twentieth century women's revolution is a very integral part of the development of man.
Spiritual and political revolutions are slightly different from socio-economic revolutions because of their connection with the development of human thoughts rather than human works. The teachings of a relatively obscure Jewish carpenter named Jesus of Nazareth and a Indian ascetic named Siddhartha Gautama Have been transformed into entire revolutions of thought and creed which have had significant impacts on the history of man. Political revolutions are also revolutions of thought and also have lasting effects on history. A political revolution can be distinguished from a coup d'etat, which is the seizure of power by a small faction, to the extent that coups do not involve entire changes in the social structure of a country to the same degree as revolutions ("Revolution" 1). Coups, revolts, and rebellions are often unsuccessful or merely involve a change of hands in power with no significant underlying change in the function of society and government.
Political revolution is a high Quality event. A political revolution is any successful attempt at change in method or condition of a country's political system. A political revolution begins with the desperate needs of a minority and often ends with the following of a majority. Political revolutions are the brainchildren of intellectual leaders, individuals who are of the mindset that instantaneous change is needed.
A high Quality event is described in the Metaphysics of Quality, a theory set forth by contemporary philosopher Robert Pirsig in his books Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. The conclusion of Lila is also a fitting way to begin the discussion of Quality:
Good as a noun rather than as an adjective is all the Metaphysics of Quality is about. Of course, the ultimate Quality isn't a noun or an adjective or anything else definable, but if you had to reduce the whole Metaphysics of Quality to a single sentence, that would be it (468).Further discussion is needed for a more precise understanding of this theory. In his writings Pirsig rejects the subject-object (mind and body) dualism of many metaphysicists, saying that at a certain level the subject and the object are the same. Phaedrus, the fictional character in his books, based on Pirsig himself, is faced with the question of whether this ultimate good, this Quality which he has devised is subjective or objective. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Pirsig writes: "Phaedrus...was aware that every dilemma affords not two but three classic refutations. He could take the left horn...or he could take the right horn...or he could go between the horns and deny that subjectivity and objectivity are the only choices" (229). At this point Phaedrus realizes that this Quality, this excellence or worth, is not a certain measurable property that can be given an exact figure like a weight or price. In this way he knows that Quality cannot be objective; one cannot, for example, determine that Beethoven's ninth symphony is ten percent better than his eighth. Phaedrus also realizes that Quality is not simply "whatever you like." If this were the case, following the same example, listening to Beethoven would be no better than hearing nothing at all. Eventually Pirsig comes to the conclusion, through Phaedrus' thought process, that Quality "is an event at which the subject becomes aware of the object" (239). He now comes to see that the subject and the object were created by Quality, rather than the cause of Quality. The subject and object are similar to the Taoist yin yang, without objects there would be no subject: in fact the object causes the subject to be aware of itself.
In his second book, Lila, Pirsig uses the character Phaedrus to form a solution to the problem of duality. Rather than splitting the universe into subjects and objects, Phaedrus attempts to split it into static and Dynamic reality. Static reality involves the patterns of value and morality which exist in a certain society or during a certain time period. Dynamic reality, on the other hand, is as Pirsig describes it: "the pre-intellectual cutting edge of reality, the source of all things, completely simple and always new" (133). To Pirsig the progression of humanity seems to be much like the tacking of a sailboat; society leaps forward to a new level of understanding, then drifts laterally, creating an entire network of beliefs and morals on the basis of this understanding before moving forward once more.
Within the static pattern of the universe Phaedrus sets up a system of layered morality: inorganic, biological, social, and intellectual. The levels are progressively more important, meaning that each has the moral right to "devour" the level below it. Life, for example has the biological right to survive over the inorganic death which the physical universe threatens. A doctor has the social right to destroy the biological germ for the betterment of humanity. The final level, the right of intellectual dominance over societal patterns, is a more complex issue. Bodvar Skutvik, a Norwegian scholar and expert on the Metaphysics of Quality writes: "I called [the intellectual] value level 'culture'...and Pirsig names a few intellectual values [which have precedence over social values]: human rights, free speech, and trial be jury" (1). Skutvik also points out that intellectual values have in the past few centuries begun to overtake social values with such events as the fighting of wars for democracy (2).
Political revolution, the aforementioned dynamic event, has caused massive change throughout the history of the world on all parts of the globe and in all levels of Pirsig's static universe. Whether good or bad, it can be concluded that without a doubt they have been integral in the speed and direction of the progression of human activity on "Spaceship Earth." Examples of political revolutions as high Quality events include The American Revolution, The French Revolution, The Russian October Revolution, The Cuban-Castro Revolution, and the Eastern European anti-Communist revolutions.
Robert M. Pirsig was born in 1928 in Minneapolis, Minnesota where he lived for much of his life (Gent 1). His first book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was not published until he was 46 years old, in 1974, but it deals specifically with the patterns of thought which had run through his mind for years before. Pirsig taught philosophy and rhetoric at Bozeman State College in Montana at one time and spent two years in mental hospitals during which time "they taught me to get along with other people, to compromise, and I agreed" (qtd. in Gent 1). Phaedrus, the haunting "ghost" of a character at the center of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is representative of Pirsig before his mental breakdown. The surface level of the book tells of a motorcycle trip across the United States with his young son Chris and two friends while deeper levels express the basics of his Metaphysics of Quality, a theory which was originally developed by that mysterious Phaedrus of his past.
On November 17, 1979, Christopher Pirsig was stabbed to death as he was leaving the Zen Center in San Francisco and Robert and his wife later moved to Gothenburg, Sweden (Pirsig, ZAMM 415). Pirsig has written only one other book, Lila, which was published in 1991 and goes much more thoroughly into the Metaphysics of Quality.
For a more precise understanding of a revolution, one must be aware of the historical events which preceded it. We will begin with the American Revolution. It was not long after Christopher Columbus landed in the New World that colonization of the Americas began. At first it was just a trickle, small groups of explorers and missionaries establishing forts and villages with the intent of capturing land and converting the natives. In 1565 Commander Menndez built St. Augustine, a tiny stronghold along the Atlantic Coast of Florida (Downey, Giese, & Metcalf 41). The French and Dutch soon began explorations and settlements of their own. By 1607 the English had successfully settled the Americas with the construction of the Jamestown Colony in Virginia (Downey, Giese, & Metcalf 55). By the late 1600's England was the most dominant European influence on the East Coast, spreading its reaches from Georgia to Maine and a century later the thirteen colonies had been clearly formed and were governed in a somewhat independent manner from Great Britain (Downey, Giese, & Metcalf 77).
Although nearly half of the inhabitants of the thirteen colonies were of English descent, it was clear from the onset of settlement that they were a different people. Most were descended from, or were themselves either dissidents from the homeland or those who had a craving for adventure in their blood which could not be satisfied by the British Isles. These colonists were Americans, wild and free, building their lives from the squalor and desolation of the American coastline into something rough and beautiful. This beauty was something different, unable to be captured by the proper language and proceedings of the old country; thus it was not surprising that differences arose between London and New London, York and New York. The build-up of these differences led to the American Revolution, or Revolutionary War.
The American Revolution was a high Quality event because it was a natural and spontaneous event, because it was a struggle by intellectual reality to overcome social reality, and because there was no subject-object split. A high Quality event is one which is universally moral, as set forth by Robert M. Pirsig in his Metaphysics of Quality.
Robert Pirsig writes in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance that "even within a single civilization old trails are constantly closed and new ones opened up" (128). He continues to explain that these are not necessarily the most obvious trails or the most expected trails, they are simply the trails which arise spontaneously pointing in the most natural direction at the given moment they are needed. During the mid-1700's the American colonists felt as if they were not being treated fairly; they were angered by the taxation laws, and when these were repealed in 1766 were further enraged and insulted by the pompous attitude of the British parliament in the Declaratory Act, which stated that "the said colonies...in America have been, are, and of right ought to be, subordinate unto, and dependent upon the imperial crown" (qtd. in Dudley 67). The immediate, reactionary response of the colonists was to fight back.
Despite the eventual formation of armies and development of battle strategies, this revolution was at its heart simply a spontaneous anger on the part of oppressed individuals. In Boston on December 16, 1773, a group of these individuals, so angered by the Tea Act of 1773, which gave the British East India Company a monopoly in the Americas, risked their professions and lives and raided three ships, throwing 342 tea chests into the Boston Harbor (Downey, Giese, & Metcalf 125).
The same Quality derived from spontaneity can be seen in the battles at Lexington and Concord, considered to be the official beginning of the American Revolution. Here 70 militia men gathered upon hearing of British plans to march on the two towns and fighting broke out (Downey, Giese, & Metcalf 127). What Emerson later called "the shot heard round the world" has become a famous symbol for the turning point in American history, but, in reality, all of the static governmental and social patterns had not yet been formed. These brave men were not fighting for systems of government or economics; they were fighting because at that given moment it was the most moral thing to do. High Quality can be seen in the spontaneity of this sense of morality.
The American Revolution was a high Quality event because of the moral right of intellectual patterns to dominate social patterns. Bodvar Skutvik, scholar of the Metaphysics of Quality, writes that "the American Revolution must be regarded as a milestone. It was about the individual's rights and value above social submission" (4). The British dominance of America was highly absolutist in form. The Coercive Acts of 1774, for example, sent all military trials to England and restricted the local Massachusetts government, each creating another way for Great Britain to control all aspects of colonial life (Downey, Giese, & Metcalf 118). These patterns are at the social level and distinctly fascist in form insofar as they promote social order at the cost of personal freedom. The ideals of the American Revolution, on the other hand, were based on the intellectual patterns of democracy and freedom. A New Hampshire pamphlet published in 1776 titled "The People the Best Governors" stated the intellectual base of democracy: "The people best know their own wants and necessities, and therefore are best able to rule themselves" (qtd. in Dudley 235). The successful dominance of intellectual patterns over social patterns at the conclusion of the American revolution is clearly a sign of the high Quality event which had taken place.
The American revolution lacked a subject-object split, as discussed by Robert Pirsig. There was no power structure dividing individuals from the revolution. Individuals, formed into groups by the nature of their cause, led the revolution. The subject (the personal goals of the revolutionaries) was synonymous with the object (the revolution itself). When Adolf Hitler devised the logistics of taking over Poland, he did so through the knowledge of military strategists and the power of trained troops. The soldiers were therefore detached from their cause being mere puppets in the hands of a higher power. This was not the case with the Minute Men, who were men of any profession that wished to act upon their beliefs. The men fighting had direct personal interest in the revolution; they were not mercenaries fighting someone else's war. This demonstration of personal interest and subject-object immediacy is evidence of the high Quality of the American Revolution.
A revolution highly influenced by the American Revolution was the French Revolution. The roots of the long-standing French monarchy can be seen in the Capetian dynasty, whose first king was Hugh Capet, a duke who was chosen in 987 AD by a group of nobles (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 234). The monarchy continued through the darkest of the Medieval times and the resurgence of the arts during the Renaissance; it was at times weak and at others strong, but always lingering at the very top of French society. The 1700's were a time of great change for France, a time of >enlightenment in areas of philosophy, science, and economics. Social gatherings known as salons became popular; at these meetings philosophy was discussed and poetry and music critiqued (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 463). Denis Diderot, a philosophe, or thinker of that time, planned to publish an encyclopedia which would be a compilation of knowledge in all areas of study (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 464).
Clearly the French had become much more sophisticated than the colonists struggling to survive in the Americas. While the Americans were concerned with function, the French labored over aesthetics; but, France was not without its problems. The gap between the rich and the poor was growing ever more steadily. These advancements in reasoning and science were, for the most, part limited to the upper class while the vast majority of the peasants and city workers had not yet learned to read. It was clear by the mid-eighteenth century that civil unrest was inevitable. The French Revolution was the result.
The French Revolution was a high Quality event because it was a natural and spontaneous event, because it was a struggle of intellectual patterns to overcome social patterns, and because there was no subject-object split.
Like the American Revolution, the French Revolution arose spontaneously as the most moral choice at the time, given the situation. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Pirsig writes: "Instead of extending the branches of what you already know, you have to stop and drift laterally for a while until you come across something that allows you to expand the roots of what you already know...the same thing occurs with whole civilizations when expansion's needed at the roots" (170). The French Revolution was a result of the fact that individuals among French people, having drifted laterally through the grips of absolute power, now saw the sudden emergence of their opportunity to expand France at its roots. When this opportunity arose, there was a spontaneous reaction of enormous proportions most visible in the events of July 14, 1789. On this date thousands of Parisians stormed the Bastille, an ancient fortress which contained the artillery of the monarchy as well as several political prisoners (Paxton 27). Massive riots broke out in the streets, symbolic of a spontaneous combustion of individual anger toward the oppressive government. This natural following of a path opened spontaneously indicates the high Quality of the French Revolution.
With the scent of freedom in the air, the French revolutionaries surged onward. The next ten years consisted of a series of battles between intellectual patterns and social patterns. The dictatorship of the monarchy was a social pattern based on desires for power and control. French Society was formed into three sectors divided completely in social terms. The First Estate was the Catholic Church, which owned about ten percent of the land in France and whose highest officials were among the wealthiest in France (Downey, Giese, & Metcalf 483). The Second Estate consisted of nobles, who were less than two percent of the French population, but owned more than twenty percent of the land; the third estate, on the other hand, made up about ninety-eight percent of the population, had no political voice, and lost about half of its income to taxation (Downey, Giese, & Metcalf 484). In the past century this social pattern had been threatened by the onset of an intellectual pattern based on many of the same principles of freedom and democracy that had dominated the American intellectual scene. As early as 1748 French philosopher Charles-Louis de Montesquieu had written in his Spirit of the Laws: "When the body of the people in a republic are possessed of the supreme power, this is called a democracy. In a democracy people are in some respects the sovereign, and in others the subject" (qtd. in Dudley 33). This sense of freedom, empowerment of the intellect over the society, did not leave the core of the revolution. Just as the King of France, Louis XVI had been eliminated, other leaders such as Robespierre, who attempted through his Republic of Virtue to gain power of his own, were executed in a movement toward democracy and freedom in France (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 490). High Quality was demonstrated through the victory of intellect over society.
As in the American Revolution, there was no differentiation between subject and object in the French Revolution. Although attempts were made to organize a national assembly and legislative assembly, there was no real power structure in France during the revolution. Despite the fact that it would not be healthy for this anarchic chaos to continue indefinitely, and the fact that organized government did follow the revolution, this brief period of anarchy is a sign of Dynamic Quality. Dynamic Quality is the sense of betterment which comes about because of vast changes in structure; it is a movement from one level of static pattern to a higher level of static pattern. In the case of the French Revolution there was a Dynamic movement from monarchy to democracy. At the time many people (especially those of the upper class) may have felt that all of the chaos and rioting were evil, or at the least a lot of needless trouble; but, as Robert Pirsig writes in Lila: "It's not the 'nice' guys who bring about real social change. 'Nice' guys look nice because they're conforming. It's the 'bad' guys, who only look nice a hundred years later, that are the real Dynamic force..." (185).
All of this ties in with the subject-object connection insofar as these "bad guys" of the French Revolution were fighting for something real, something directly desired. The subject of their desires was the object of the revolution. The men who raided the Bastille, for example, were not soldiers but common people, many of them workers and their families from the Faubourg St. Antoine (Paxton 27). Another prime example of the correlation between subject and object in the French Revolution is the underlying fight for women's rights. In 1791, a female revolutionary named Olympe de Gouges wrote a "Declaration of the Rights of Women" in which she demanded that women gain the same rights for which their male counterparts were fighting (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 488). It was this strong personal interest in all aspects which was the driving force of the French Revolution. The deep connection between individuals and that for which they were fighting denotes the fact that the French Revolution was a high Quality event.
The vast expanses of Russia were experiencing many of the same cultural and artistic advancements as other parts of Europe around the time of the French enlightenment. In 1682 Peter Romanov became the Czar of Russia, soon earning the title of Peter the Great (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 448). Peter the Great magically transformed Russia from a wild land mainly disconnected from the rest of the world into a civilized, western nation. He ordered the construction of an entirely new city which was eventually named St. Petersburg in honor of his patron Saint. This city became the cultural center of Russia as well as a powerful influence in economics and politics. The rule of the Czars continued through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and into the beginning of the twentieth century.
In 1895, Czar Nicholas II inherited the throne, and despite hopes that he would be the radical reformer to lead Russia into a new century, little changed (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 645). By 1905, anger had risen to the point that 200,000 workers marched on the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg; to the horror of reformers everywhere they were fired upon by the Czar's soldiers and as many as 1,000 protesters were killed (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 647). Nine months after this infamous day known as Bloody Sunday, however, the Czar gave in to demands for a democratic parliament; the new parliament became known as the Duma (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 647). In reality the Duma had little ability to control the Czar or his decisions and absolutism lived on in Russia. The rift between the ruling and working classes did not seem to be getting any smaller. As a remedy to the problem at hand, several opposition parties arose including the Russian Social Democratic Party which had begun its rapid growth at the turn of the century under the leadership of Julius Martov and Vladimir Ilich Ulianov, known as Lenin (Curtiss 13). The first serious signs of revolution in Russia began to show in 1917.
The Russian Revolution was a high Quality event because it was a natural and spontaneous event, because it was a struggle of intellectual patterns to overcome social patterns, and because there was no subject-object split. The Russian Revolution is defined more specifically as the October Revolution of 1917.
Robert Pirsig writes at the beginning of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: "I would like to be concerned with the question 'What is best?,' a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream" (16). Seeking what was best is a perfect way to describe the spontaneity of the Russian Revolutions of 1917. Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, and Josef Stalin, leaders of the Bolsheviks, a group of Marxist revolutionaries, knew that what was best was not the lines of starving women and children awaiting bread in St. Petersburg or the unfair treatment of workers in the huge industrial plants (Curtiss 29). As in the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution was the result of a massive build-up of anger which, at that time in history coincided with a weakness in the totalitarian regime ruling the country. On March 15, 1917 Alexander Kerensky and his provisional government took control of Russia, but Dynamic patterns being as they are, the government lasted only six months until the Bolsheviks began their successful October Revolution (Harvey 77).
The actual change of hands between Kerensky's government and Lenin's Bolsheviks took place quickly within a few days time; Leon Trotsky literally walked into the fortress of St. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg and gained the support of the surprised soldiers he found there (Curtiss 75). The following day, November 7, the Bolsheviks seized control of the banks, telephone company, government buildings, and the Winter Palace (Curtiss 77). Lenin and his Red Army of Bolsheviks followed the natural sense of Quality which directed "what felt right." In mid-October of 1917 Lenin had written in an appeal to the masses: "No, not for one more day are the people willing to suffer postponement, not for a single day longer can we suffer the peasants to be quelled by armed force, thousands upon thousands to perish in war, when a just peace can and must be offered at once" (Lenin 60). The description of an anger on the verge of spontaneous explosion demonstrates the high Quality of the Russian Revolution.
Although slightly different than the American and French Revolutions, the October Revolution of 1917 can be described as a victory of intellectual patterns over social patterns. Bodvar Skutvik writes of this: "The October Revolution is seemingly not of the intellect-vs-society mold, but I think it was. The Tsar regime was typically elitist: the nobility and the common people" (5). He goes on to explain his belief that although the Marxist theory is flawed in its economic definition of the Proletariat the "freedom aspect [of the revolution] ...was an ideology - an idea of betterness" (5). In this way the social pattern of control under Czar Nicholas II and later under Kerensky was dominated by the intellectual pattern of Lenin's sense of freedom which was set at a level of higher importance than the underlying Marxist ideology. On November 8, 1917, Lenin proposed his "Decree of Peace" in which he declared that Russia would not participate in any further European conflicts, saying: "The government considers it the greatest of crime against humanity to continue this war for the purpose of dividing up among the strong and rich nations the feeble nationalities they have conquered...[furthermore] the government abolishes secret diplomacy...[and will] conduct all negotiations...under the eyes of the whole people" (qtd. in Curtiss 173). Putting prejudices aside, it can be seen that at this point the intellectual pattern of the individual rights to life and knowledge had overcome the social pattern of czarist control as a result of the Russian October Revolution, thus marking it as a high Quality event.
The deep connection between subject and object can be seen in the Russian Revolution in a similar capacity to that of the American and French Revolutions. The Bolsheviks and their followers had very personal interests in the revolution at hand. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Pirsig describes the difference in the Quality of work when self-interest is involved. He describes motorcycle mechanics at a garage who were so uninterested in the job, so careless, that they managed to cause more problems than they fixed: "They were like spectators...there was no identification with the job...whenever their eight hours were in you knew they would cut it off and not have another thought about their work" (34). The Russian Revolution was just the opposite; it was more like a mechanic working on his own motorcycle which he has had for the past twenty years. A hungry crowd, angry at the rising prices of bread and flour in Rostov-on-Don, for example, broke into the city's food department on October 10, 1917, demanding the prices to be lowered; similar outbursts of anger at food monopolies occurred across the country around this time (Curtiss 151). In all cases the people who were hungry were the ones in the streets fighting. There was no power structure leading the revolution; those who needed the revolution were those who fought for it. With this view of the Russian Revolution it can clearly be defined as a high Quality event.
Thousands of miles away, Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean Sea had been freed from the grips of Spain during the Spanish-American War of 1898 (Harvey 310). By 1934 Fulgencio Batista had become a dictator, ruling without elections or a Congress and remaining in power through the use of his secret police forces (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 814). Meanwhile there was growing popular unhappiness in Cuba and thousands of individuals like Fidel Castro and Ernesto "Che" Guevara began to formulate great hatred for the Fulgencio regime. By the mid-1950's the country was in the midst of a revolution.
The Cuban Revolution was a high Quality event because it was a natural and spontaneous event, because it was a struggle of intellectual patterns to overcome social patterns, and because there was no subject-object split.
The Cuban Revolution was one of the most spontaneous and natural revolutions which have ever occurred. Despite his great leadership, Fidel Castro would not have been successful in his freedom fight for Cuba, which lasted from 1953 to 1959, without a spontaneous and natural alignment of events and attitudes. The atmosphere in Cuba was right for revolution. Castro himself said, "no alternative remains for the country but revolution" (qtd. in Szulc 344). Tad Szulc, an acquaintance of Fidel Castro and author of the biography Fidel feels as though the Cuban Revolution could never have occurred without the cruelty of the Batista coup d'tat and the hatred of the majority of the Cuban people toward him (Szulc 213). On his only trip to the United States in the 1960's Fidel Castro, who himself had been a lawyer in Cuba, reminisced about the events of the previous decade to a young lawyer in Washington, DC, saying: "It was easier being a revolutionary than a lawyer" (qtd. to author by anonymous passenger on the Northeast Express train). Certainly Fidel Castro and his revolutionary followers were simply following the path of betterment which had revealed itself before them. Fidel Castro was concerned with the spontaneous, the Dynamic cutting edge of reality described by Robert Pirsig. His dedication to the immediate was so intense that when on trial in 1953 for leading the famed July 26 uprising against the government he did not back down to save himself in the future, but stated exactly what he believed, ending with: "Condemn me! It does not matter! History will absolve me!" (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 813). These truthful and natural words of anger were typical of Fidel Castro and of the revolution in general, demonstrating its great spontaneity and place in history as a high Quality event.
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Robert Pirsig writes, "It is sometimes argued that there's no real progress...[but] this argument does not hold up...[for] modern life can be soberly described only as [progressive], and the sole agent for this progress is quite clearly reason itself" (128). The value of intellectual patterns over social patterns through the use of reason is quite visible in the Cuban Revolution. Fulgencio Batista, like the totalitarian leaders in the previously discussed times of revolution, allowed few personal freedoms and denied the right of the individuals to make decisions within their government. Fidel Castro and his intellectual colleague Ernesto "Che" Guevara, on the other hand, were empowered with intellectual ideals to dominate Batista's social patterns. On that famous day in court in 1953, Fidel Castro had proudly proclaimed that "Cuba should be the bulwark of liberty" (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 813). Castro, like so many revolutionaries before him emphasized the intellectual ideals of freedom of speech and the installment of a popular vote in local elections. In some ways it is ironic that accusations that Fidel Castro has breached these exact rights have been made in more recent times, but as Bodvar Skutvik says of this situation: "The fact that many political upheavals have resulted in (a period of) terror has no connection with the initial impetus" (4). The immediate intellectual patterns of the Cuban Revolution were certainly dominant over the social patterns of Batista's regime, thus characterizing it as a high Quality event.
The Cuban Revolution is one of the purist examples of the unity of subject and object. The ideals for which the revolution was fought were held by those who were fighting. Castro's dedication to the ideals of the revolution was so strong that, contrary to popular belief, he refused to join the communist movement in Cuba during the revolution (Szulc 219). It is obvious that he was influenced by communism, but as his colleague Alfredo Guevara stated: "While the [Communist] Party had in mind 'a struggle of the masses' Fidel had the idea of direct action, that is of popular insurrection" (Szulc 219). Castro and his colleagues were in a personal war against Batista, not wanting to be separated from the revolution in any capacity by political or economic structure. This is evidenced by the December, 1956, return to Cuba by Fidel Castro and 82 men who had been exiled in Mexico; Batista's forces killed and captured most of the men and only Castro and eleven others survived and fled into the Sierra Maestra Mountains (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 815). The men had made brave personal sacrifices for the ideals in which they believed. In this moment of immediate defeat, but ultimate triumph, there was an absolute lack of a power structure. The revolutionaries were the revolution; subject was equal to object. The high Quality of the Cuban Revolution is manifest.
During this period of time Eastern European countries were also quickly becoming dictatorships. By the 1960's the countries of Poland, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania were ruled by Communist dictators, most of them controlled by the whims of the Soviet Union, the Communist powerhouse of the world. Despite the promises of liberty and equality proclaimed by V.I. Lenin, there was little freedom in these countries and by the 1980's it was clear that the gap between the government and the individual was becoming increasingly larger. As has been evidenced by previous examples of revolution, an uprising was not far off, but no one knew when, where, or to what extent it would change the world.
The Eastern European anti-Communist revolutions were high Quality events because they were natural and spontaneous events, because they were struggles of intellectual patterns to overcome social patterns, and because there were no subject-object splits. All of the Eastern European anti-Communist revolutions took place in 1989 and by 1991 the Soviet Union, too, fell. Some of the revolutions were peaceful and bloodless, while others were hard-fought battles for freedom.
The Eastern European revolutions were highly spontaneous. Anger had been building within individuals whose rights had been restricted for years by their totalitarian governments. Once more windows for change appeared and it was clear that this was the best path to follow given the situation. The windows for change were the glasnost and perestroika, programs of massive reform set up by Russian president Mikhail Gorbachev who had unwittingly written the death warrant for communism across Eastern Europe. In 1988, Polish workers went on strike, demanding immediate economic and political reforms; in East Germany huge demonstrations against the government took place in many major cities (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 854). After a Communist crackdown against a student protest in Prague, Czechoslovakia in November of 1989, thousands of people crowded Wencelas Square in protest (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 856). One journalist wrote, "Every door of every home seemed to open up, pouring 40 years of frustration into the streets" (qtd. in Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 856). On November 24 more than 500,000 people rallied in downtown Prague, showing the complete spontaneous combustion of these frustrations (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 857). By December of 1989 only Romania remained under the rule of hard-line communists, president Nicolae Ceaußescu and his wife. After ordering troops to fire on demonstrators in Timisoara on December 17, however, a spontaneous popular explosion of protest took place and by Christmas Day Ceaußescu and his wife had been tried, convicted of genocide, and executed by firing squad (Harvey 422). It was a stunning reminder that only a year before all of Eastern Europe had been hidden behind an iron curtain, many citizens restricted in their celebrations of Christmas. The rapid turns in the path toward betterment were amazing signs of the high Quality of these revolutions.
Although the communist revolution of V.I. Lenin had been a definite victory of intellectual patterns over societal patterns, the static reality which followed in the Soviet Union had been simply another social pattern of military and mind control. With the onset of the Eastern European anti-Communist revolutions it was clear that an intellectual pattern was once more en route to its moral place of domination over the social patterns. Alexander Dubcek, a Czech reformer who had been kept from the public eye for twenty-one years due to his attempts at a revolt in 1968, reappeared on the changing political scene preaching the same ideals of revolutionaries around the world, freedom and democracy, saying: "An old wise man said, 'If there once was light, why should there be darkness again?' Let us act to bring the light back again" (qtd. in Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 856). Vaclav Havel, and intellectual and writer who had preached the need for change for years suddenly became the center of attention and was elected head of state in Czechoslovakia (Harvey 422). This was a clear sign that intellect had finally found its moral place of dominance over the social patterns of Eastern Europe. The high Quality of these events could be seen shining through all of the economic hardship and social chaos.
In his book Lila Robert Pirsig writes: "People, like everything else, work better in parallel than they do in series...when things are organized socialistically in a bureaucratic series, any increase in complexity increases the probability of failure" (254). This could be seen with the subject-object split of the Eastern European governments. The government and the individuals which it was supposed to represent were two separate bodies. The Soviet-style central planning board, for example, made economic decisions for the individuals in society rather than allowing the price system to take charge of economic activity. During the anti-Communist revolutions the exact opposite occurred. Suddenly people were working on a parallel; there was no power structure between the people and the revolutions themselves. The 500,000 protesters who gathered in downtown Prague on that cold November afternoon were the heart of the revolution. Their suffering was the cause of the revolution, their freedom the result.
In August of 1991, the events came to a sudden climax in Moscow, USSR when, in a final attempt to maintain social order, the Red Army and special KGB (Soviet Secret Police) units formed a coup d'tat to prevent uprisings (Harvey 423). The coup was unsuccessful, however, when the tanks came to a halt and the soldiers refused to fire on demonstrators (Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 850). As the new independence leader Boris Yeltsin climbed atop one of the tanks and proclaimed his defiance to the Soviet government, the subject-object bridge was completed and a new era in world history was formed. Individuals had fought a personal war for themselves in the streets of Moscow and the army against which they fought had essentially capitulated and joined forces with them in celebration of a Dynamic shift to a new and higher static pattern. As Gorbachev returned to Moscow he, too, came to accept the changes which had taken place, saying as the plane approached the capital: "We are flying into a new era" (qtd. in Krieger, Neill, & Jantzen 850). It was clear at this moment that all of the Eastern European anti-Communist revolutions had been high Quality events - fights for individuals by individuals.
The issues presented in this paper answer a question which has lingered in my mind for the past year and was undoubtedly developing in some hidden form long before that. I have had for several years a fascination with communism which seemed hardly explainable, growing up in a middle-class white town under the influence of a Catholic father and Episcopal mother. "Communism is bad," they said. "The Communists persecuted the Christians." My parents had good reason to believe this, as they had visited Yugoslavia and Romania during the Cold War era of the 1960's and had supported many Vietnamese refugees fleeing the grips of communism during the war, but still I did not want to believe them. I collected communist memorabilia and read the Communist Manifesto (which, with my limited understanding of economics at the time, I got little more out of than I would had I read it in German), somehow feeling as if I were some sort of revolutionary. I read everything I could find about V.I. Lenin and Fidel Castro and even made contacts in Russia, Poland, and Cuba to learn more.
Then the first breakthrough occurred; I became acquainted with the Communist Party of the United States. I read their pamphlets and newspapers and agreed with their freedom cries: "End Racism! Equal rights for Women! Equal rights for immigrant workers! Cut the military budget! End war!" (qtd. from CPUSA membership card). It all seemed a bit idealistic, but nonetheless the movement looked good, so I joined the party and was proud to say that I was a card-carrying communist working for social justice and world peace. Now I saw something real and tangible for which the communists stood, and I knew that it was good.
The counter-breakthrough was an even more stunning revelation in which I realized that I had not really known what communism was all about. It all began when a close friend of mine in Colorado asked me why I was a communist. It seemed like a simple enough question with a typical answer involving those Marxist inventions, the Proletariat and the masses; but the more I thought about it the less I knew and with each argument of mine I could hear more and more hollow echoes. I finally wiped away my stubbornness and wrote her the following:
"I was wrong about the whole Communism thing. As long as I felt that I was a Communist I had to find some way to defend it. Whenever you're a part of something you're inside it, swallowed by it, and can't see the perspective from the outside. With all this talk about being liberal I wasn't being that way at all...I wasn't opening my ears and eyes and mind to your ideas or anyone else's. Instead I was scrambling, always looking for some kind of escape. When I looked at all the atrocities that occurred in Communist countries I had to find ways to explain them...they were infiltrations into the system. I was doing this rather than looking at the whole thing and seeing that this is wrong.
"Obviously it wasn't the intent of Communism for these things to happen, but they did...and they happened as a result of the system. And maybe Communism would work if humanity were perfect...but we aren't. The central planning system didn't allow for self-interest. There was not work incentive because individuals saw no immediate value or results from their work. They took no pride in their work. And the government, trying to deal with mass inefficiency, resorted to terrorism and oppression. And this is where I went wrong. This problem did come from the system, and it seems to have happened in almost every example of the system. I have started to see this as very good reason to question the system. And the more I looked at the whole thing, beginning with the problem and working outward, it became manifest that there was a problem somewhere. People were not being given human rights at the level of human dignity...that was obvious. Then as I analyzed the whole thing a little more I noticed that there was a case in which socialism worked perfectly well - there was happiness, freedom, and productivity. The example I'm talking about is the Huterian community, a religious group that my family has had contact with for years. They live in community (eating, working, being educated and praying together) and work for the 'common good.' I guess you could say the same thing about some monasteries and convents, [although the somewhat totalitarian dominance of the Catholic Church in some regards may diminish the Quality of these situations]. I found that what I had been missing before was so obvious. These people are in these groups because they want to be, not because anyone is forcing them to. The Huterians are very wise in preventing their community from becoming cultic by encouraging their children to go out into the world and interact with other people and get other perspectives. Then they have the choice of whether or not to remain with the community as adults. If they do choose to they will be productive members because they want to be..."
Coming to this conclusion I began to wonder why I had ever been so fascinated with leaders like Lenin and Castro when I now so strongly disagreed with their economic systems. I thought about the American Revolution. We had learned for years that it was good, an honest fight for freedom and democracy over some ever regime. Why, then, were these other revolutions any different? After reading about Robert Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality I came to my conclusion, they were not different. Lenin and Castro were good men and the revolutions they led honest attempts at the intellectual ideals of liberty and justice. The Communist Party of the United States is at this stage in the game a good organization in its capacity as a social reformer and the revolution it supports is a good one. We are living in a dynamic kaleidoscope of forever rearranging patterns of life. It is a vast and radiant world, full of endless possibility for the reformer and the revolutionary.
Anonymous: lawyer on Amtrak train en route from Rhode Island to Washington, D.C..
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