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If one wishes to understand the world we live in. There is one basic fact about it which cannot be overlooked. And this is the fact that we live in the midst of the greatest revolution in history. Our times are revolutionary times. Our world is a revolutionary world. And the most important point about this revolution. Is not so much as it is often presented in the American and parts of the European press not so much a conflict as the tween American forces and communist forces or Western forces and Soviet forces or the normal dichotomy that is often presented. The most important point about this revolution. Is not that some of the great nations in the world today are at odds with one another but the fact that both America and the Soviet Union along with the rest of the world are living through a similar revolutionary period in world
history. That was Dr. Fred Krivsky professor of political science at the University of Southern California speaking at the twenty sixth annual Institute on world affairs. Conducted as a special feature of the instructional program at San Diego State College the institute is dedicated to the use of the free academic forum for the presentation and discussion of current and continuing issues of international significance. The main theme of this year's Institute is expressed in one word revolution to introduce our speaker on the multiple revolutions of today. Here is Professor Minos generalise director of the Institute on world affairs. Dr. Fred Pinsky is no newcomer to the platform who has spoken to me on several occasions and delivered what really consists of a very informative and inspiring talk he will speak for himself the moment his background is that of a bachelor's degree from Brooklyn College and his mam Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught at the University of
California since 1947 and moved to Syracuse in 1948 and thence in 1961. He joined the faculty at the University of Southern California where he has been since he has published many books many articles. Franklin D Roosevelt subring cook problems in democratic citizenship Middle Eastern crisis summitry 1960 Algeria crisis in conscience and so on and so forth as you will shortly know he is fully equipped to handle the topic that he has chosen for the day and it gives us great pleasure to welcome him back to office. Of that I've chosen for my topic this morning a phrase I've chosen from a phrase by Max Lerner. Quote The multiple revolution of our time is. And I want to present you at the outset a relatively simple thesis which I will then attempt to elaborate for you in the hope that you come to understand
with me even if you don't agree with me. That we are in the midst of an extraordinary series of events and world affairs perhaps unparalleled in the annals of mankind. And I also want to emphasize one other matter which I think needs some emphasizing and I suspect has also been hammered away at by any number of the preceding speakers of this program. And that is that we or at least I for one am not involving myself in an exercise in academia. I don't want to prove to you my area Ed. nor do I want to convince you of certain philosophical points of view. I think that the importance of an institute of this kind is dependent upon the realization by all of us particularly those of you who come to it as students. That we are dealing with vital day by day issues which literally will affect the rest of your lives and that the understanding of which is not merely as I said before an
exercise in words but an exercise ultimately in living. I would contend at the very outset of my remarks for you that if one wishes to understand the world we live in. There is one basic fact about it which cannot be overlooked. And this is the fact that we live in the midst of the greatest revolution in history. Our times are revolutionary times. Our world is a revolutionary world. And the most important point about this revolution. Is not so much as it is often presented in the American and parts of the European press not so much a conflict as the tween American forces and communist forces or Western forces and Soviet forces or the normal dichotomy that is often presented. The most important point about this revolution is not that some of the great nations in the world today are at odds with one another but the fact that both America and the Soviet Union
along with the rest of the world are living through a similar revolutionary period in world history. And that or other world revolutions can be graphed if we had a blackboard here behind us. Nothing terms of a straight line of proceeding from A to B. But in terms of a series of back and forth lines were written. Those who are involved in the revolution may be at different points in that line so that at times a revolution which is moving ultimately from A to B seems to be at a different stage than another aspect or another facet in that revolution but still part of it. If this world survives another hundred one hundred fifty years the historians of that period will note that this was simply a great revolutionary period and worthwhile in themselves I think astonished over the exacerbated exchanges which so often that taking place in this last decade or two that have come to be known as the Cold War.
No two places in the world are so similar in their conditions that the revolution seems to be the same. And yet all the world is today part up a future embryonic world and the embryo today is that at different stage of growth in each country. Now what is this revolution that I make reference to. I think the best way to understand it is by first asking the question rhetorically What kind of a world is dying and what kind of a world is being born. If you take a hasty glance over the pages of history you will see that there has never been a single generation in all of recorded history in which the mass of the people were not ruled arbitrarily by a mere fraction of the population. A few rulers live at the top and everyone else was at the bottom and the rulership and those who were ruled could be divided along very many lines. Sometimes the rulers were there because they were great hunters sometimes they were there
because they were landowners. Sometimes they were there because they were the right family clan sometimes they were there because they were the property owners. But there was always a division and a clear division between a tiny infinitesimal minority of those who constituted the ruling class and all others who if they did not live something in slavery were nevertheless and living in some form of subjugation somewhat akin to slavery. And it IS THIS FAM of society which is dying. But society as I said before is so complex and it is organized into so many races and religions and states and super states that any such revolutionary changes we are witnessing in our time is bound to be and even process rather than an even and simple. But these simple elements of revolutionary change be in any way misunderstood.
From about the time of the French An American Revolution a larger and larger units of people first than the west and then in growing sections of the world the growing numbers of other sections of the world and particularly in the last decade or two in Asia Africa and Latin America growing numbers of people by the millions and tens of millions and hundreds of millions are now by the billions. Have reached the conclusion. That there is an in execrable march in history which will allow mankind to be the master of its own destiny and not be subject to the ruling whims or to the ruling fancies of a small elite group. This is the simple and yet vital fact of contemporary world affairs. There are millions and millions of people. Who for reasons that I shall attempt to clear for you this morning have reached the conclusion that the world of the future is to be their world of their
making. And as a result of this prevalent spirit we are now in the midst of perhaps four of five or perhaps even as many as six simultaneous revolution which we have referred to here already as the multiple revolution of our times. And each of these revolutions is proceeding apace and each of these revolutions feeds into the other and the totality of the revolutions will lead to a complete transformation of the world in which we live in such a way as to perhaps make it almost unrecognizable. Thirty to 40 years from now by those who are at a mature stage today. Now what are these revolutions. Let me list them for you and then go back and try to describe them for you. I think we can categorize them as political. Colonial technological. Morrow. And perhaps a fifth word which encompasses all
of it. The revolution of Great Expectations. A revolution which acts whose constituent elements. Are looking forward to a kind of world they have never lived in before and a kind of world which to them is an extremely vital one. Let's take a look very briefly first at what I've referred to here as the political revolution. The most important part of the political revolution is that despite the paradoxical growth of many new nation states in the last 10 20 30 years the nation state as the basis of political organization as the basis of political negotiation as the basis for geographical organization is rapidly becoming an anachronism. Whereas it is still true that many of us for reasons of our own may have a particular interest in what is going on in Tel Aviv or a Bucharest or in Cairo or in Paris or sometimes even annoyed by what
happens in Paris or amused by what may happen in London or Rome. We have come to live in soche in so shrunken a world that there are only three places in this world in which key decisions are made and in which the decisions made as fact all of the rest of man. And these are the capitals of Moscow Washington and Peking. There are millions of people today in parts of Africa and Asia who have never heard of the existence of this capital. And yet a decision made there affects all of mankind. So that although we still go through the process of organizing our affairs through the nation state. The multiple state system which has been existing since the middle or late Middle Ages is really on the way out and we must look forward to living in a world where allegiances will no longer be paid to individual states but rather its allegiances of this kind of reason to exist they will be made in terms of much much
larger units. There will be a unit organized around Washington a unit organized around Moscow a unit organized around Peking and perhaps in time to come one or two other great blocks around Africa perhaps Latin America and perhaps a United States of Europe as well. But the future political organization of the world is going to be an organization around simpler and smaller units rather than the multiple state system that we have known for so very very long in our own history. But the political revolution is really a very small one in terms of impact upon daily lives as compared to the more vital revolutions which I have referred to as the colonial the technological and the moral and I'd like to move to the colonial next the colonial rep revolution is perhaps the most recognizable one of the post-World War Two period and it has been made visible to almost all of us in the West. If we do nothing but watch television if we
do nothing but the covers of news magazines if we do nothing but come into contact as so many of us have with young people from all over the world who are a stir and who are deeply moved towards a kind of toward the towards the reorganization of the world in such a way as to make it do its make the world bend to the to the will of the people rather than the other way around. In every single section of the world but particularly in the areas that I keep referring to Asia Africa and Latin America a major visible change has taken place which has contributed to the stopping of the old European power which used to dominate and so many of these areas that I have made reference to. And the importance to the rest of the world Asia Africa and Latin America can be measured correctly by the tremendous size of the populations there. The tremendous amount of untapped resources perhaps even more than
anything else the creativeness of the intellectual leadership in these areas. And if I were to give you a key phrase by which to judge and by which to measure the impact of the revolution the colonial revolution in the former colonial areas upon the rest of us I would do it in a phrase that I've used here before that I think for myself serves as a as a description a par excellence and it is this. Poverty. Plus exhilaration equals dynamites. Poverty plus exhilaration equals dynamites. I must remind you almost didactically that one of the great misconceptions about revolutions is that they are made by people who are stricken in poverty. This is really not the case at all. If you look carefully through the pages of history you will see that the people who are really poor who are really steeped in poverty are usually
incapable of making revolutions and beyond that aren't interested in making revolutions. They are far too concerned in eking out a living. They are far too taken up bites by just trying to stay alive. What happens however is that every once in a while a number of circumstances in a peculiar juxtaposition make it possible for people who have been deeply steeped in poverty to see a ray of hope for the future. And when these people become exhilarated either as a result of being stimulated ideologically or as a result of certain economic circumstances or through a conglomeration of circumstances which make them think that they can get out from underneath. At that time in history revolutions break forth and it is this kind of exhilaration in the countenance that I have mention that has made it possible for tens of millions of people
literally to take to the streets to take to the battlefield and to take to the ramparts of the future in the hope that there was that there will be a new kind of world in which they can exist. I also want to quote your attention that in so very much of the world the phrase is a state from poverty has a much greater significance and a much greater meaning that most Americans can conceive of. We will from time to time a preference to the war against poverty in Appalachian and elsewhere. And we will make references to all kinds of battles against poverty. But I think unless we have come into contact with personally at least intellectually with the depth of poverty one cannot begin to understand the nature of the exhilaration which leads some people to move from poverty. For example my views this example before but I think it serves its purpose again. If we were to do an analysis of a country like
China and let's for a moment forget who rules China. Let's assume for example that tomorrow morning in a repetition of the scriptural story URL of the political leadership Red China would be swallowed up in an earthquake and there would be nobody left to govern China other than a band of angels which descend from upon high and none of whom can be accused of communist leanings. Now if all of these people were to suddenly take over China and rule it in perfect order for the next 50 years if they were to completely revise the system of transportation if they were to bring into into cultivation land which has not yet been placed on the cultivation if they were to move large sections of the population from rural to industrial areas if they were to introduce successful birth control by whatever means they want to use if they want to introduce all sorts of modernisation the plants if they were to bring it to being a completely successful health programme then in
50 years from now if the Chinese were totally successful then were to raise their standard of living by approximately 600 percent. Then the average person in China would be earning something like 130 dollars a year. Now this is what poverty me and this is why when any kind of charismatic leadership appears in these areas and promises relief you do not then get a discussion which ensues which is a rational discussion of is this man's ideology conducive to our future growth. Is this man a red white pink yellow green or a blue something or other. The desire to get out from underneath is some real and so purposeful and so understandable that any kind of political leadership which comes out of these depressed areas and not only promises but makes some delivering on the promise. Becomes the inspired kind of leadership to which these people will react and will
continue to react poorly for at least the next half century to come. And I think it behooves us as students of international affairs and students from with an American framework to stop having so many of these find the bait as to whether leader X is really a communist or is only a socialist or is dedicated to freedom or is dedicated to ideology A B or C because the vast majority of the people who react to leadership react precisely to that to leadership rather than to a specific ideology that is often it is only after a leadership becomes successful that the ideology of that particular leader happens to espouse begins that any affect upon that community at all. And to further understand the nature of this colonial revolution which is sweeping the rest of the world and just as an aside and only an aside. When I say the rest. To the world I mean the rest of the world we sometimes in our own instant insularity forget that
in the end if you take that harmful western population it's a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the world's population. I remind you for example that certainly by nine hundred seventy five approximately one out of three people in the world is Chinese. Our government of course remains unaware of this because as far as our government is concerned there exists no government in China. But whether the government there exists or not the people do. One out of three people in this world is Chinese. And when this Chinese population attaches its own numbers. To the harnessing of power in the harnessing of energy they are no longer to be summarily dismissed as somehow or other people who do laundry or people who cook meals for other people who are nice and somehow or other. Portrayed in the end Charlie Chan rolls or anything other than normal human hears. This is a growing a factor in international affairs that we
ought to remain aware of. As I said As an aside. But to really be successful in our own conduct of affairs with the people in Asia and in Africa and again in Latin America I think we should become at least cognizant of the three or four major impulses which are the key impulses in those those geographical areas and would serve as the motivating factors for their own growth and their own development. Perhaps the most important of these. Well no I shan't list them in terms of a greater or lesser importance I'd like to list three impulses which motivate the growth of these revolutions in general and the Colonial revolution in particular. The first might be the insistence upon upon complete sovereignty. Now the term complete sovereignty almost smacks terribly. Academic as a terrorist as I'm but I often try to bring it into the realm of
reality as seen by the people who are involved. If any of you were to come to me and say Professor do you think that the Congo for example was ready for self-government I'd say hell no. Absolutely not. If you were to come to me and list another 30 new countries that have come into being mainly in Africa but other areas as well and say to me objectively honestly do you think these people are ready for self-government. I'd say no but I would add a very vital ingredient of this to this discussion. And so the fact that I'm think that objectively they are not ready for Government does not in any way deter or detract from the reality of the situation which is that subjectively every people in the world today has come to believe in its own ability and power and why. Right to self governance. The complete sovereignty. And the subjective reality of this feeling is in itself
an object a factor which has to be weighed in the understanding of this of this great portion of the world. There isn't a segment of the world whether it be in Vietnam north or south or in Cairo or other parts of Africa Asia and again Latin America which isn't convinced. That it is or that it isn't convinced that it isn't that it is ready. For for self-government. And it looks upon every single attempt. To stand in the way of that self government and its own determination of what that government should be. As the unwarranted and undue interference of those who used to be the imperial powers and they are quite ready to denounce and to be suspicious of at the very least those who who want to stand in the way of that development. If this insistence upon complete sovereignty. Is the first of the three impulses to be recognized very closely
attached to it is something which is again seemingly strange to most American and Western eyes. But it's exceptionally vital to the people who live in particularly the areas where there used to be colonial empires. There is a normal tendency on the parts of these millions of people to look with a great suspicion with extraordinary suspicion upon the United States as the last in a long line of white colonial powers just so very many of the people who live in Asia and Africa the western white man has been pictured in the pit of my eyes as a man carrying a Bible in one hand and a rifle on the other hand and ready to impose his will upon those who work for the time being his economic and political inferiors. And it's strange and yet important to remember that for historical reasons the Soviet Union is usually not included among these white western powers of whom these people are suspicious.
Why. Not because the Soviet Union or its predecessor Russia was more gentle in dealing with the peoples of Asia and Africa. Not because there is even for that matter a historical past which shows greater understanding of the problems of these people as much as them of the much simpler historical accident that Russia and then the Soviet Union were impotent as political imperial powers and worked on able to impose their will is ship and world upon it. Many of the sections of the world which fell under the control of the British the French the Dutch the Americans and so on. So that so the average person who lives in what used to be known as the colonial world there is a tendency to lump all the others together and leave out the Russians because there has been no contact with the Russians. So that when we as Americans enter into the arena of international affairs in this section of the world we entered with two strikes against us and when we
come to the peoples of Asia and Africa and say we are different. We are ready to help you. We are ready to be cooperative. We understand the revolution that's going on than the average person who lives in this country says show me. Because to me all white men look alike. And if they're white men look alike then the proof of the of the difference lies with the white man. And I keep using the term white man because there is a definite association between imperialism of the past and racism of the past and racism today as part of the ongoing revolution that is taking place precisely because rights the color of a man's skin was a vital factor in the past relationship between ruler and ruled in Africa and Asia and to a lesser degree in Latin America a super sensitive Italy has arisen in return about the new kind of relationship among
Revolution: 20th century phenomenon
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#4 (Reel 1)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #4 (Reel 1),” 1969-01-29, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 6, 2023,
MLA: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #4 (Reel 1).” 1969-01-29. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 6, 2023. <>.
APA: Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #4 (Reel 1). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from