On the subject matter of the concept of revolution
This article disputes the possibility and reason for any general theory of revolution (philosophical or metahistorical) that claims to reveal the “essence” of this phenomenon without regard for the context in which any particular revolution occurs. The article describes revolutions as contingent and self-constituting events. Their triggers, but not their causes, are the dysfunctions of existing orders (the incompleteness of the structuredness of these orders). Such events are a special kind of historical and political practice and are characterized primarily as the initiation of a mechanism that Kant called causation through freedom, and the emergence of collective actors possessing the properties of a political subject (as strictly an event, not metaphysical subject). Such events are possible only in the context of Modernity, just as Modernity itself persists until and to the extent that it bears the imprint of these events, both in its institutional organization and in its historical memory (as a belief in the feasibility of an alternative to existing structures of domination, and not as an homage to the “museum of revolution,” which fixes it in a “glorious” but lifeless past).