Kissinger on Revolutionary Power

Henry KissingerFor powers long accustomed to tranquility and without experience with disaster, this is a hard lesson to come by. Lulled by a period of stability which had seemed permanent, they find it nearly impossible to take at face value the assertions of the revolutionary power that it means to smash the existing framework. The defenders of the status quo therefore tend to begin by treating the revolutionary power as if its protestations were merely tactical; as if it really accepted the existing legitimacy but overstated its case for bargaining purposes; as if it were motivated by specific grievances to be assuaged by limited concessions. Those who warn against the danger in time are considered alarmists; those who counsel adaptation to circumstance are considered balanced and sane, for they have all the good “reasons” on their side: the arguments accepted as valid in the existing framework. “Appeasement,” where it is not a device to gain time, is the result of an inability to come to grips with a policy of unlimited objectives.

But it is the essence of revolutionary power that it possesses the courage of its convictions, that it is willing, indeed eager, to push its principles to their ultimate conclusion. Whatever else a revolutionary power may achieve therefore, it tends to erode, if not the legitimacy of the international order, at least the restraint with which such an order operates. The characteristic of a stable order is its spontaneity; the essence of a revolutionary situation is its self-consciousness.

—Henry Kissinger
A World Restored

See also: Neville Chamberlain Was Right.

H/T: The Great Unraveling.

6 replies on “Kissinger on Revolutionary Power”

  1. […] all of this, but I think it goes deeper. Another aspect of it is Henry Kissinger’s idea of a revolutionary power, and the fact that the Republicans have become one. The whole party has given up on practical […]

  2. […] whole thing goes back — as so much does — to Kissinger on Revolutionary Power. No normal political party would make that claim after it had overseen the murder of 3,000 […]

  3. […] parties move that quickly is ridiculous anyway. If the Republican Party is going to stop being a revolutionary power, it is going to take decades. And that's especially true given that it can continue being a […]

  4. […] Under normal circumstances, a Trump or Cruz Republican nominee would be a good thing for Democrats. But I can't help remembering that a lot of liberals were pleased when the Republicans nominated Ronald Reagan in 1980. "The people will never elect a McCarthyite freak like that!" Well, they did. And in a landslide. Will the American people, in their good sense, elect Donald Trump or Ted Cruz? Under the right circumstances, absolutely. This is one of the reasons I've been saying for years that the best thing for the Democratic Party is if the Republican Party started acting like a normal political party and less like a revolutionary power. […]

  5. […] So the blue states represent more than 56% of the nation. Yet they get only 46% of the representation in the Senate. Now in the old days, that wouldn't have been such a bad thing. If a blue state sent a Republican Senator to Washington, she would be a moderate. But that's just not true anymore. Ron Johnson is representing Wisconsin! At the same time, the Democrats representing red states are moderate — because the Democrats are still a regular political party and not a revolutionary power. […]

  6. […] him by acting like he had wounded them. There is no dealing with the Republican Party. It is a revolutionary power. It doesn't believe in norms. It doesn't believe in history. It only believes that it should be in […]

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