Like any complicated explanation of any idea, event or even people, one must read all of a book, see all of the movie and all of the television show. As Gustave Le Bon explains, “The great events which shape the destinies of peoples— revolutions, for example, and the outbreak of religious beliefs— are sometimes so difficult to explain that one must limit oneself to a mere statement.” While seemingly contradictory, this is a great insight to what humanity reduces complications to mere feelings or one could say encoded in our DNA.
Le Bon writing before the modern age notes “So long as psychology regards beliefs as voluntary and rational they will remain inexplicable. Having proved that they are usually irrational and always involuntary, I was able to propound the solution of this important problem; how it was that beliefs which no reason could justify were admitted without difficulty by the most enlightened spirits of all ages.”
Further explaining the seemingly unexplainable, Gustave Le Bon expounds his thesis, “I arrived at the conclusion that beside the rational logic which conditions thought, and was formerly regarded as our sole guide, there exist very different forms of logic: affective logic, collective logic, and mystic logic, which usually overrule the reason and engender the generative impulses of our conduct.”
Revolutions, usually meant the overthrow of a “ancient regime” by violence, can also be done with mere thoughts, even if eventually finished with violence. And so Le Bon concludes that “The historians who have judged the events of the French Revolution in the name of rational logic could not comprehend them, since this form of logic did not dictate them.”
“A revolution cannot be effected without the assistance or at least the neutrality of the army, but it often happens that the movement commences without it.”
Reading this book can help understand what shapes the changes needed for societies to advance, to become more responsive to what everyone knows must happen but are resisted by forces that are by nature irrational.
“The Psychology of Revolution” by Gustave Le Bon