Real change though social evolution

Permanent revolution is fostered by ordinary people when they change the way they think and live.


When the old institutions crumble, there is no guarantee that more human-centered structures will replace them. That is why we all must participate in the remaking of society—to ensure that human values replace the values of the old elite. Because destruction is also creation, the methods we use to pull down the ruins will determine what kind of world arises from the rubble.

Our struggle should not be strictly political because political revolutions simply deliver concentrated power into new hands, rather than dispersing it throughout the society.

Family praying to missile thinks: "This seems wrong somehow"

Furthermore, governmental policies are rarely innovative—political change usually originates from social conditions, rather than the other way around.

Instead of political revolution, our goal should be social evolution—a change in the way we live our lives. It springs from changes in the way we think. Social evolution takes longer than political revolution, but its gains are longer lasting and not subject to appropriation by political factions and demagogues.

In today’s context, social evolution occurs when people stop believing one thing, and start believing something else; when people discard their old ways of living, and begin to live in new ways. When enough people lose faith in an institution and begin to act as if it did not exist, that institution disappears.

Values and institutions are social constructions. They were not handed down by God or created by nature. We invented them. And if they don't serve our needs, we have the power to eliminate them. Share on X

Everything we do can foster social change—how we make money, how we spend our leisure time, how we relate to our family, friends, co-workers and members of other genders. Every activity that asserts individuality and autonomy from corporate/government/religious control can be a positive step in social evolution.

When we make our own music (garage bands, self-produced records), produce our own food (home-brewed beer, collective gardens), or create our own forms of communication (graffiti, zines), we strike at the heart of mega-corporation hegemony. When we engage in “do-it-yourself” projects that express our unique personalities and deepest desires, we participate in transforming the world.

Revised 2019

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Text and graphics on this page by James L. VanHise licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Attribution: James L. VanHise –

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