Revolution and the Millennium: China, Mexico, and Iran

By James F. Rinehart | Go to book overview

Mexico. These new forms differed from earlier millenarian movements in three important ways. First, each movement articulated a clear program of solutions for the problems of their societies. Their goals were well-defined, organized, and purposeful. Second, rather than looking back to a previous Golden Age, these movements were forward-looking. Progress was inevitable, they believed, and the program they espoused would chart their course. Third, these movements placed a great deal of responsibility for the manifestation of heaven on earth in the hands of the people themselves.Through strict morality, rigid discipline, egalitarianism, community of property, and the rejection of corrupt (i.e., foreign) ways, humankind, they believed, was capable of achieving a perfect world. These movements sought utopia and were willing to utilize violence in order to achieve it. They thoroughly rejected the existing institutions of society and sought total sociopolitical transformation. In this sense, these movements became aborted revolutions, not simply rebellions.

The ancient concept of millenarianism, in all three cases, was transformed largely in accordance with the needs of these societies. Much like its transmutation in the West, millenarianism moved from a magical source of origin in the eyes of its believers to that of a more human source. As a result, the notion of social transformation was converted from an exclusively God-induced process to one that was largely in the hands of the people. This transformation of millenarianism prepared the way for revolutionary violence in these societies.


NOTES
1.
Eric Hobsbawm refers to such millenarian forms as "pure." See his Primitive Rebels, 57.
5.
To add to this argument at the level of the individual, it is important to note the not so insignificant number of revolutionaries and revolutionary ideologists who were strongly influenced by religious doctrines early in their lives. Stalin was an Orthodox Christian seminary student in his youth; Marx was descended from a long line of rabbis on his mother's side, including his grandfather; Castro was educated in private Catholic schools in Cuba and greatly influenced by Spanish priests; in his early years in the Spanish military, Francisco Franco possessed a mystical belief in the destiny of Spain; Gandhi was deeply influenced very early by the asceticism and discipline of Jainism; Malcolm X was introduced to the Nation of Islam while in prison in his twenties and became a devout follower of Elijah Muhammad; and, in our present study, Khomeini was descended from a line of religious scholars and, of course, was himself an ayatollah, while Mao was, as a youth, intensely affected by the devout Buddhism of his mother.
6.
Ranger, Connexions between 'Primary Resistance' Movements and Modern Mass Nationalism in East and Central Africa," 635.
7.
Hobsbawm, Primitive Rebels, 59.
8.
Abrahamian, The Iranian Mojahedin, 105-25.

-103-

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Revolution and the Millennium: China, Mexico, and Iran
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 12
  • 1 - Apocalyptic Prophecy to Millenarian Revolution 17
  • Notes 33
  • 2 - Imperialism and Upheaval: China, Mexico, and Iran 41
  • Notes 57
  • 3 - Preparatory Function 63
  • Notes 103
  • 4 - A Platforin for Leadership 117
  • Notes 144
  • 5 - The Therapeutic Function 151
  • Notes 168
  • Conclusion 173
  • Notes 178
  • Bibliography 179
  • Index 191
  • About the Author *
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