Kapuściński: On Revolution X

From Ryszard Kapuscinski’s book Shah of Shahs (about the last Shah of Iran):

Revolution attaches great importance to symbols, destroying some monuments and setting up others to replace them in the hope that through metaphor it can survive. And what of the people? Once again they had become pedestrian citizens, going somewhere, standing around street fires warming their hands, part of the dull landscape of a grey town. once again each was alone, each for himself, closed and taciturn. Could they still have been waiting for something to happen, for some extraordinary event? I don’t know, I can’t say.

Everything that makes up the outward, visible part of a revoltuion vanishes quickly. A person, an individual being, has a thousand ways of conveying his feeligs and thoughts. He is riches without end, he is a world in which we can always discover something new. A crowd, on the other hand, reduces the individuality of the person; a man in a crowd limits himself to a few forms of elementary behavior. The forms through which a crowd can express its yearnings are extraordinarily meager and continually repeat themselves: the demonstration, the strike, the rally, the barricades. That is why you can write a novel about a man, but about a crowd — never. If the crowd disperses, goes home, does not reassemble, we say that the revolution is over.

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