Magazine February 8, 2010, Issue

Thoughts of Revolution

Prise de la Bastille (Gianni Dagli Orti/Corbis)
The strange cachet of a usually miserable phenomenon

Will the second revolution in Iran, if there is one, be any better than the first? How often, in fact, do revolutions increase the sum of human happiness?

Thirty years after the French Revolution, Coleridge, recorded in his Table Talk, said: “We are not yet aware of the consequences of that event. We are too near it.” A hundred and fifty years later, Chou En-lai, when asked what he thought the effects of the French Revolution had been, famously replied that it was too soon to tell.

The effects of every great event or process are constantly reevaluated, and there is no

Anthony Daniels — Mr. Daniels, a retired doctor who worked in several parts of the world, is the author of Mass Listeria, a book about health scares.

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