Rachel Marsden

Tens of thousands of protesters are flooding the streets of Ukraine, blocking access to government offices and threatening to start what the media is largely (and preemptively, if not mistakenly) referring to as a "revolution." All this over the pro-Russian Ukraine leadership's decision to renounce a free-trade agreement with Europe that would have represented a shift away from the Russian sphere of influence.

Except that this is no revolution, at least not yet, and people around the world seem to have forgotten what that word actually means. Like so much else these days, it seems that the very meaning of the word has become so diluted as to be virtually meaningless.

If you're a self-styled revolutionary, please study the poster boy for such things: Che Guevara. I don't much care for Che or his ideology, but he wasn't in his basement making protest posters and figuring out how he was going to get pizza delivered while he spent days camping out on Wall Street with his pals.

Today's protesters, wherever they happen to be in the world, seem to think that they can execute Che-like coups on superpower-backed governments with the same effort it takes to click a "like" button on a Facebook page that translates as "EuroMaidan" -- a hat tip to the Maidan Nezalezhnosti central square in Kiev -- as more than 126,000 people have done to date. That won't even score you a victory in a government no-confidence vote, as we're seeing in Ukraine.

Governments, particularly those with support from superpowers, can't be ousted unless the opposition has two things working its favor: support from the state military (or at least a large faction of it), and an expanded Overton window, defined as the range of ideas and outcomes deemed acceptable by the public.

The Ukraine protesters seem to be looking for a peaceful Berlin Wall dismantling kind of moment -- minus the fall of the Soviet empire that provided the impetus for that historic opportunity. Popular, or "color," revolutions against governments don't work unless they're backed by superpowers -- and typically not without an electoral event that would provide adequate opportunity and democratically acceptable cover for government removal.

Rachel Marsden

Rachel Marsden is a columnist with Human Events Magazine, and Editor-In-Chief of GrandCentralPolitical News Syndicate.
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