a curiosity revolution

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In his 1973 breathtaking 3-volume masterpiece, The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote that the problem revolutionaries continually make is that they “ascribe the vices of the upper class to the class itself and not to humanity as a whole, while failing to imagine how notably they themselves inherit these vices.”[1]

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In the interests of tackling this problem, we need a new revolutionary perspective: one that allows a great deal of inquisitiveness and self-reflection.

Truth has no qualms about concerning itself with falsehood, about examining it. But the opposite cannot be said. Falsities have no care what the truth is. In fact, they are oppositional to the truth. They cannot stand against it. One can know the truth but still be interested falsities.

What’s the value in entertaining falsities, especially if they’re known to be false?

The fact is, is that they exist. And they not only exist, but are often held to be truths by a wide variety of people. So to dismiss something that exists, even if it’s false, isn’t a wise option.

This is what appears to be happening in our political discourse. We brand other opinions as ill-informed and therefore as dismissible.

As a concept taken at face value, there’s a valid point to this. However, in reality, simply dismissing a perspective doesn’t end its existence or even its appeal.

Curiosity is the only means by which we can expand the horizons of our mind, our worldview, and our ability to progress. Possessing and using the tool of curiosity is the strongest bastion against unnecessary division and politicization.

Going back to Solzhenitsyn, curiosity encourages us to explore the world around us while simultaneously forcing us to continually self-assess. It instills in us a sense of humility, a recognition that the problems of our world don’t come from a particular class or race of people, but rather come from the nature of humanity itself.

It is humility that guards against arrogance, the destructor of civility.

This is why any revolution built on an external ideology focused on a future utopia is, in the long run, doomed to failure. A successful revolution can only occur if the individuals of a society have a mechanism by which to reflect on themselves. The revolution that asks the individual to completely abdicate their personal identity in favor of a collective idea has no sustainable strength.

So in our advocacy for a revolution, let us throw aside political ideologies and pick up our curiosity.

[1] Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 2 (New York, 1973), 490.