Klint Finley: I suppose you should start by defining what you mean when you say “revolution.”
Johnny Brainwash: Well, it’s one of those slippery words, like freedom or democracy, that gets used a lot of different ways. I’m assuming here a political and social aspect, and really focusing on what are sometimes called “social revolutions” or “the Great Revolutions.”
The basic definition for me is a rapid and fundamental change in not only political leadership, but also economic and social relations.
So the American Revolution or the various colored revolutions (like Georgia’s Rose Revolution) don’t make the cut, but the French or Russian Revolutions do.
What made you decide to study the revolutions and their history?
I was an Earth First! activist in the 90s, and had been involved in various other causes as well. We talked a lot about revolution, but never had a solid foundation to build on. It was always based on the world as we thought it ought to be, but rarely took into account the world as it is.
When I bailed on that type of activism, I went back to school to finish my history degree with the pretty clear intention of learning how it had actually worked in the past. I’m drawing especially on a poli-sci class called “Political Violence and Revolutions,” but also on a broad range of other sources I’ve encountered both in school and out.