At the center of all revolutions is the idea of a total, uncompromising transformation of society. Revolutionists are not content to simply repair the sources of the problems and evils of today. They undertake to completely remake the social system. Nonetheless, such a process does not begin overnight, and the idea of massive social redemption is not one that even the least sophisticated of revolutionists takes lightly. Over a lengthy period of time, the way must be carefully and properly prepared for the coming transformation -- people must be mobilized, a revolutionary organization must emerge, ideologies must be crafted, grievances must be effectively articulated, leaders must come forward and become legitimized, and a call for action must be extended. The timing of each of these actions is critical. If any occur at an inappropriate moment -- either prematurely or unduly late -- then the potential for revolution may collapse.
Revolution is never the result of any single causal factor. It is frequently in response to a multiplicity of long-festering socioeconomic and political issues. The patience of the masses is usually pushed to the limit and sometimes beyond. Indeed, in the years leading up to revolution, massive state repression, which represents the manifestation of the government's fear of the masses' potential for transformation, is the norm and not the exception.
While some symbolic flashpoint event -- the Minutemen at Lexington Green, the fall of the Bastille, Castro's capture of Santiago -- often comes to be identified with the onset of revolution, these images significantly discount the true, slowly emerging character of revolution.
Millenarian expectations lie at the core of this gradual, preparatory process. First, millenarianism sets up the possibility that the present can, in fact, be transcended. Without such a faith, humankind would remain static in the reality