When you have a country in massive debt, in economic and political disarray, with loss of trust in the government, it’s only a matter of time before a dictatorial leader steps in and gains the support of the people.
That’s what happened in 1789 in France, and triggered the French Revolution.
Citizens turned against King Louis XVI in protest of the monarchy’s excesses and the debt France had racked up during the American Revolution, catching the elite totally off-guard.
Napoleon took advantage of the situation and created a dictatorship, declaring himself “Emperor” and taking charge of the army.
Unwittingly, the French public had jumped from the frying pan into the fire.
What happened next? Napoleon adopted what’s now famously know as the “Napoleon complex”, proclaiming to make France great again by attacking all France’s international neighbours.
The world pushed back, defeating Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo and exiling him to the remote island of Saint Helena.
Realising there was more to revolution that just overthrowing out the old, France had its second revolution, with the principle of “droit au travail” (the “right to work”), establishing “National Workshops” to retrain the unemployed, and created a new government (the “Second Republic”.)
A universal right to vote was put in place, democratic elections were held in April 1848 and a president was elected. They also adopted a “Declaration of the Rights of Man” that US Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson, helped to write.
France’s move triggered the “Spring of Nations” – the most widespread revolutionary wave in European history.
Revolutions took place in 50 countries within the same year. From Italy to Germany, from Ireland to the Austrian Empire, people rose up against the monarchies of the time. The end result – after years of painful transition – is the democratic systems we live with today – a system that’s only 250 years old.
All that may be about to change again.
When UK citizens voted for Brexit, many were in disbelief.
With US citizens voted Trump in as US President, again many are in disbelief.
But this is disbelief in the backdrop of a government system that more than two thirds of all citizens have already lost trust in – Just as everyone had lost faith in the 18th century monarchies.
“Wise men don’t judge. They seek to understand.” ~ Wei Wu Wei
What if there’s a better system ready to emerge this century? One that does away entirely with four-year-term national governments? One that moves from Nation States to City States or self-sustaining communities? One that gives us the power to truly solve our global issues?
It won’t happen immediately, and – like the Spring of Nations – it might take a few false starts. But what if we need to journey through the unthinkable to reach a far better system that’s currently unimaginable?
Just as the Storming of the Bastille wasn’t about either King Louis XVI or Napoleon, what if the current groundswell is nothing about Brexit or Trump?
Instead, it could be the first votes against the old-system-we-know for the new-system-we-don’t know.
Instead, it could be the early signs of a coming global revolution.
“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” ~ JK Rowling