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What is the difference between "revolution" and "insurrection"?

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asked 3 years ago by anonymous edited 2 years ago by dot

1 Answer

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Stirner wrote: "Revolution and insurrection must not be looked upon as synonymous. The former consists in an overturning of conditions, of the established condition or status, the State or society, and is accordingly a political or social act; the latter has indeed for its unavoidable consequence a transformation of circumstances, yet does not start from it but from men's discontent with themselves, is not an armed rising, but a rising of individuals, a getting up, without regard to the arrangements that spring from it. The Revolution aimed at new arrangements; insurrection leads us no longer to let ourselves be arranged, but to arrange ourselves, and sets no glittering hopes on "institutions." It is not a fight against the established, since, if it prospers, the established collapses of itself; it is only a working forth of me out of the established. If I leave the established, it is dead and passes into decay. Now, as my object is not the overthrow of an established order but my elevation above it, my purpose and deed are not a political or social but (as directed toward myself and my ownness alone) an egoistic purpose and deed."

I write: Insurrection does not have to mean the uprising of a single ego, it can be the simultaneous uprising of many individuals together. It differs from revolution, however, in that it is simply uprising. Revolution may "follow" an insurrection in reestablishing a new order. Most revolutionaries would say that an insurrection is necessary to the process, but is not all of the process.

In the Marxist sense, revolution is the total overthrow of an economic-political system and its replacement with another one--the most accessible example being the bourgeois revolution which overthrew feudalism and produced capitalism. So from a Marxist perspective we have no examples of a full proletarian revolution (yet), only various proletarian insurrections (the Paris Commune, etc), which have been put down, or coopted for example by the Bolsheviks.

Others would say that the problem isn't that "we haven't gone far enough" to full revolution through insurrection, but that we are on the side of insurrection itself because that is where anarchy or communism "live," while revolution is itself a cooptation of insurrection (see Stirner).
answered 3 years ago by anok (20,210 points)

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