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  • Writer's pictureTõnn Sarv

Revolution of Fraternity

Updated: Jun 4, 2020

Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi managed to do a lot during his long life. A clear visionary, and the initiator and lifelong leader of the Pan-European movement, he envisaged the European Union as early as 1923 as the best way forward.

And as early as 1937, he warned against the idea of crushing the Soviet Union by military force:

"For anti-communism, the overthrow of the Soviet regime through a capitalist crusade would be an irreparable catastrophe, as it would allow Marxism to assert for centuries that capitalism stifled communism when it set its wing on the fly: instead of falling with the Soviet state. "

This was very far-sighted, because indeed, even today, certain circles are still looking for some external causes, hostile agents, or conspiracies that put an end to this regime.

"Bolshevism must not be killed by any external power, but must continue to live on as a warning example to the cultural man until it by itself collapses internally."

And that's how it went. However, some of his thoughts and ideas may seem a bit utopian or naive today. In his book quoted above (Totaler Staat – Totaler Mensch, 1937), he described or foresaw the so-called "fraternal revolution":

"The fraternity revolution will bring a decisive revolution in the world struggle between the total state and the total man. He must redeem the stagnation into which man of our time has fallen. After the interruption of the Revolution of Freedom and the fiasco of the Revolution of Equality, the Brotherhood Revolution must build bridges from nation to nation and from state to state: to bring the message of the brotherhood of free people everywhere."

Understandably, the Freedom Revolution is the French Revolution of 1789, and he saw the Bolshevik coup in Russia in 1917 as a revolution of equality. But what is the "fraternal revolution"?

And what exactly is "brotherhood"? The slogan "Freedom, equality, brotherhood!" has always been particularly clear to revolutionaries. Liberté and Égalité were well-known ideas throughout the 18th century, but Fraternité did not always follow them. You could also hear other slogans such as Amitié, Charité, or Union. As if two were not enough, as if something else was needed.

And what exactly is a "revolution"? The French Revolution ushered in two centuries of revolutions. Russian officers saw the sequels of it with their own eyes when they arrived in Paris on the heels of Napoleon's forces, and the word "revolution" could be heard in Russia throughout the next century.

We know very well where it ended. And we also know that no revolution is "permanent", as Lev Davidovich hoped. And that sooner or later, every revolution will devour its children. That's what happened in France, and so it was in Russia.

"Revolution" means, of course, "turning", more precisely "turning around", and in the traditional sense, it is primarily a change of political power, the seizure of power, the overthrow of the former power and the establishment of new power.

But revolutions affect all walks of life, although at the time they take place, people may not yet understand that, and these changes will not be immediately apparent anyway.

The great French Revolution, with all its repercussions and waves, was one of the most significant turning points in recent history, becoming the frontier between the "new" and the "modern age" in many ways. Absolute monarchies and state privileges withdrew from politics, the industry began to thrive, slavery declined markedly - and these are all significant changes.

But this revolution did not change only the tangible and the material issues. Changes in mindsets, ideas, and beliefs were also very revolutionary. A profound revolution took place in science, culture, the humanities, and the spiritual sphere. Fashions, customs and practices changed, vocabulary changed, preferences and values changed.

For the first time, different nations, languages, and cultures became important; national awakenings took place, national pride emerged, nationalism, and so on. More attention was paid to human beings, with their unique personality, with all sufferings, feelings, and dreams. All the literature, art, music so far - everything turned around, looked at you, started talking to you, directly and honestly. A whole new era of Romanticism had arrived, and it continues in many ways to this day.

Belonging somewhere is a human need, at least according to Abraham Maslow. It is the need to consider oneself in a group, community, or society. If aristocratic status now meant nothing more, the opportunity to belong to one's people emerged. Of course, other options were sought and suggested, as well. For example, according to some theories, it was necessary to belong to a social class, and from this, the need to be class-aware developed. All proletarians were encouraged to join the class struggle, and so on.

The French Revolution highlighted and enshrined the idea of freedom, and despite many setbacks, this idea has survived to this day. Slavery, which had been taken for granted throughout previous human history, was now largely abandoned, though not immediately and definitively - and not everywhere.

However, whether what happened in Russia in 1917 can be called a "revolution of equality" is a separate question. Yes, medical care and education were free for all, and some manifestations of equality could still be observed. But everyone knew that apart from the equals, some are even more equal.

That nothing good comes out of all this was understood quite generally in the Western world, and Coudenhove-Kalergi wrote:

"Overcoming class struggle through the fiasco of the bolshevism and the triumph of technology is the first introduction to the great fraternal revolution after the French freedom revolution and the Russian equality revolution."

But what exactly was the revolution of fraternity that he has been talking about and which he is eagerly predicting?

"The modern world has moved far away from this fraternal mind. It has surrendered to the apparent primacy of the Darwin's struggle for existence, which proclaims a stronger victory. The materialist bolshevism blindly follows this command, as so does the racism of National Socialism. Both are blind to the fact that the struggle for life is only one half of nature's life, as the other primordial law complements it: the requirement of mutual tolerance and assistance - symbiosis, the law of fraternity."

It is nice and beautiful. But now, perhaps, one might finally ask, where did this revolution go? Or maybe it has already happened? Perhaps it passed without bloodshed and terror, without guillotines and shootings, without wars and riots? Perhaps we just didn't notice it?

Indeed, there is not much consensus on this. The "fraternity revolution" was just a dream and an idea of idealists like Coudenhove-Kalergi, which as a concept did not go very well, and in general, it is not seen anywhere; it doesn't mean much. If we look at the lists of all sorts of revolutions, we also find nothing to suggest.

But there is another possibility. It would be a great idea to see when the "revolution" was most talked about, at a time when this concept and topic was important and significant. Using a database that consists of the full texts of a million English-language books, it is clear that the term "revolution" has been used most frequently around 1970.

This is really interesting. So what happened at that time? Was there really a turnaround at that time, did something really change? One thing is when the revolution is talked about and written, and the other thing is reality. If something happened at that time that could be called the "brotherhood revolution", then we should notice it; there should have some consequences. Did people overcome national and racial prejudice and hatred at the time, did they become brothers and sisters? Did the "demand for mutual tolerance and assistance - symbiosis, the law of fraternity", as Coudenhove-Kalergi wrote about it, come into force?

In the United States, interracial tensions and problems had persisted for centuries. Ending slavery, granting civil rights to all, and many other laws have not yet brought peace or reconciliation. Anti-racist demonstrations, marches, and clashes continued, as did discrimination and contempt for Negroes, racial segregation, and so on. But then, in 1968, the use of the derogatory word "negro" declined. And very abruptly.

So what happened? - It couldn't just be the loss of a word. We know that Martin Luther King Jr. fought for the rights of African Americans all his life. His assassination on April 4, 1968, shocked the whole of America and unleashed mass unrest. A week later, the long-prepared Civil Rights Act entered into force, becoming one of the most important milestones in the history of human rights, bringing about a definitive and radical change in centuries-old customs and practices.

And this time, it turned out to be possible. This began to take effect because it was at this time that brotherhood, friendliness, and caring had already started to become essential values. It was the beginning of the renunciation of racist and nationalist prejudices. It was a time when people wanted to be treated equally, lovingly, as brothers and sisters. This was the fraternal revolution that was going on. And its impact spread everywhere and even changed the vocabulary.

In the United States, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Day is currently one of the ten public holidays with Christmas, New Year's and Independence Day. Defamatory expressions about someone's race, nationality, origin, or skin color are virtually gone.

A person's belonging to a nation, race, or tribe, his or her origin, mother tongue, etc. are no longer particularly relevant. In the eyes of the law, only citizenship matters, but it is not an essential characteristic either. Once "nation" meant a language and ethnic group but came to mean a location and legal country. If very necessary, the "ethnic" origin is also specified, but in general, it is not mentioned. Just as after the "Freedom Revolution", someone's aristocratic status no longer mattered, so after the "Brotherhood Revolution," your skin color or ethnicity became less relevant.

Maybe the revolution doesn't have to be violent? Coudenhove-Kalergi wrote:

"History knows only two fraternal revolutions: the spread of Buddhism and Christianity. To them, all people are brothers and sisters."

Maybe the revolution of fraternity is more like a spiritual turn or rebirth, the arrival of a new era? The term "New Age" has been used more and more frequently since the 1980s.

In fact, it was clear to everyone that a revolution was taking place. And everyone also knew that revolution means changing power, seizing power, establishing new power. But everyone also understood that it is another power, a different power - the power of friendliness, caring, compassion and joy, the power of love - the "Flower Power".

Are we getting closer now? Can we already guess that the "fraternal revolution" could have taken place at that time and in this way? - And if that is the case, then perhaps this revolution should be looked at and described a little more closely. What happened then?

As already mentioned, some phenomena ended: centuries of colonialism, racism and nationalism, apartheid, and segregation. And some remarkable events happened. During the great and far-reaching revolution of the fraternity, a number of smaller and also more fun revolutions took place. One of them, for example, was the sexual revolution.

The first widespread handbook on sex life was Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * (* * But Were Afraid to Ask), published in 1969. In the same year, the first erotic film, "Blue Movie", was screened, pornography was decriminalized, sex shops were established, etc.

Not only in hippie communities but also more broadly, free relations became quite acceptable. Sex no longer had to mean any special or long relationship, and it no longer had to create obligations. It could also have taken place only as a brief acquaintance or between good friends, much more freely, happier, and carefree. This was largely due to the widespread availability of birth control pills and effective tools for the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Many old taboos and prejudices disappeared; masturbation was no longer considered unhealthy, oral sex dangerous, homosexual relationships as a crime, group sex as madness, nudity shameful, etc.

In fact, there were not too long talks and writings about the "sexual revolution", just a few years; then, these new attitudes were generally taken for granted, the previous opinions disappeared, and this little and happy revolution was forgotten.

But most important of all were the things that actually started this great revolution.

The "New Age" came with various teachings and practices, teachers, and gurus. There was a more profound interest in the ideas and practices of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and others. Meditation and yoga became part of everyday life, as did belief in horoscopes, rebirths, and more. Spiritual values became self-evident even without a religious framework; people prefer to be "spiritual, but not religious".

The name New Age refers to the arrival of an age, which is astrologically associated with the vernal equinox's movement to the sign of Aquarius, which is to take place soon and lead to the general brotherhood of humankind. The concept of the Age of Aquarius became more widely used in 1967 with the musical "Hair," and the opening song proclaimed: "This is the dawn of the Age of Aquarius!" - But that was just the beginning.

Marijuana smoking, LSD, and other psychedelics were widely used; long hair, jeans, and miniskirts became fashionable; the "green" or environmental movement began. With the disappearance of customs borders, free trade developed; with the mass media and mass culture, the music industry developed; copyright became a commodity class; consumerism, globalization, etc. were soon reached. Not everything that started with this revolution could be listed. But a whole new era in the history of music began - the era of pop music.

This was finally confirmed and crystallized by the British band The Beatles with their global and unprecedented popularity. Music has never been so important or significant in any previous revolution. Such a passion for music has never been seen before. Everyone made their own band, or at least everyone had an acquaintance in some band. Everyone played the guitar - and it didn't require any musical preparation or the ability to read a note - they could just play and sing, just by hearing, to the delight of themselves and others.

And not just pop or rock music. A new wave of folk music rose just as well, singing your songs to the accompaniment of the guitar. Traditional music and ancient customs and peoples received fresh and vivid attention, Baroque and Renaissance music, etc. were rediscovered.

Everyone knew that something revolutionary was going on. It is no coincidence that the Beatles began their global message, "All You Need Is Love", in "Our World" satellite TV broadcast on June 25, 1967, with the French revolutionary anthem, "La Marseillaise." Even a look at the titles of the best-known songs confirms that something vibrant and revolutionary is happening: "Let's Go!", "We Shall Overcome", "We Can Work It Out", "Let the Sunshine In", "Let It Be", "All Right Now", "Come Together", "We're Only Just Begun".

It is through music, with the words of songs, that the truths are conveyed, life is seen, instructions are given, the arrival of a new era is proclaimed, as it sounds in the "Hair" musical:

"Harmony and understanding. Sympathy and trust abounding. No more falsehoods or derisions."

Almost all the important points of the fraternity revolution were related to music, in one way or another. In 1967, the first multi-day music festivals took place, introducing the "Summer of Love" in San Francisco, which brought together nearly 100,000 young people, flowers in hair, and the Haight-Ashbury district became known as the center of revolutionary freedom and the song "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" became the biggest hit of the year.

So wrote San Francisco Oracle (Vol.1, Issue 5, p.2):

"A new concept of celebrations beneath the human underground must emerge, become conscious, and be shared, so a revolution can be formed with a renaissance of compassion, awareness, and love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind."

In the United States, these developments and movements were, in some ways, alternative, but in Britain, the culmination of this revolution became known as Swinging London and was very mainstream.

Its centers were King's Road, Kensington, and Carnaby Street, and it all lasted throughout the second half of the 1960s, highlighting bands such as The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Who, Kinks, Small Faces, Animals, Pink Floyd, Cream, Procol Harum, etc. Their music was constantly played by Radio Caroline, Swinging Radio England, Radio Luxembourg, and others, and soon by BBC Radio One. Optimistic and innovative Swinging London also covered fashion, design and many other cultural fields, and was helped by dozens of films, TV series, magazines, etc.

John Lennon summed it up as follows:

"There's nothing you can do that can't be done. Nothing you can sing that can't be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game. It's easy. All you need is love."

Music began to unite and differentiate people, showed belonging, became part of self-definition. According to musical preferences, people began to be categorized, set, but also despised and ridiculed. Musical addictions developed, fans, groupies, clubs, magazines, radio stations emerged, cult bands and performers formed.

It has been mentioned above that the era of Romanticism, which began after the French Revolution, continues in some ways – the focus is still on the person, personality, personal experiences and sufferings, desires, and wishes. And it was also mentioned above that the changes that began with the revolutions would not be immediately apparent. Freedom did not start with the conquest of Bastille, nor did the fraternity begin to spread directly after the Woodstock Festival. Music still expresses your desires and wishes, your small worries and problems, your disappointments and misunderstandings - and it is done very romantically:

"Love me do, please please me, I can't get no satisfaction, I wanna hold your hand, I can't stop loving you, I can't control myself, please forgive me, I can't quit you, I'm gonna leave you..."

Still the same: "I", "mine", "me". It cannot be seen that self-importance and selfishness have disappeared and caring for others and altruism have come to the fore. True brotherhood, kindness, caring, compassion, and love are still a long way off.

But right away, some understood this and had something more important to say. They were first of all representatives of the so-called progressive rock, such as Pink Floyd, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jethro Tull, Mike Oldfield, etc., together with their musical innovations, sound mastering, and skillful compositions. And there were other trends and performers as well.

It was widely realized that in addition to wishes and desires, dreams, and hopes, there is much more in the world to think and talk about, care for, and understand. The worldwide popularity of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in 1970 clearly showed this, too.

After all, pop music had grown out of entertaining dance music in the same way as many earlier music eras. And just as every era brings with it changes in all areas of life, so do the ways of social dancing. Pop music led to the disappearance of social dances, and clubs and discotheques replaced dance halls. Yet entertainment remains a primary function of this music anyway.

In the second half of the 1970s, Michael Jackson emerged as a shining star and a new phenomenon, and he was initially a rather light entertainer, just as was the custom at the time.

But something is entirely different now. He also expresses feelings and desires like others, but these are not his personal feelings or desires. He mimics others, introduces different characters; he talks and cares more about others. He never talks about himself. When one interview wanted to know how often his father beat him, he was puzzled, "Why do you ask such things?" He's over himself. His only song, where he wants something, is straightforward: "Leave Me Alone" (1989).

We have already mentioned that, according to Coudenhove-Kalerg, there have been only two flowerings of fraternal revolution, Buddhism and Christianity, in human history. According to the Buddha's teachings, nobody owns the self, one's "self" is only temporary, and attachment to oneself causes suffering (Dhammapada 62, Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, Cūḷa Vedalla Sutta). Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40) and added, "Love one another" (John 13:34). Michael Jackson said, "We're all a part of God's great big family, and the truth, you know, love is all we need" (We are the World, 1985).

Despite his sometimes childish sincerity and somehow naive games, Michael Jackson still seems to be a very mature adult in his spiritual care and compassion.

His worldwide acclaim came not only for his peculiar movements and appearances, or fascinating music videos; not only the perfectly crafted musical material and its performance did not make him famous.

It was in Michael Jackson's work and activities that the idea of a "fraternal revolution" finally emerged very clearly and powerfully. With his songs, he spoke out against violence, injustice, and prejudice, emphasized cohesion of all people, paid attention to the abandoned and the disabled, the sufferings and the needy, nature and the environment, and so on. His songs and music videos rose to the top of the charts, winning numerous awards and helping the fraternity's ideas and ideals to spread worldwide due to his great popularity and masterful performances. His "Black or White", "Heal the World", "Earth Song", "They Don't Care About Us", "We Are the World", "Will You Be There", etc. are the songs of this revolution.

But Michael Jackson's activities were not limited to songs, the dissemination of ideas and ideals. He made large donations to dozens of charities and set up and initiated own funds and projects to help the poor and homeless, hungry and disaster victims ("Heal the World Foundation", "We Are the World", "United We Stand: What More Can I Give"). On all his tours, he visited hospitals and nursing homes, encouraged and helped the sick and afflicted, made donations and distributed gifts, without seeking attention, remaining modestly in the background.

No other star has donated so much to charity or paid so much attention to the brotherhood. In the end, Michael Jackson himself was already ill and almost went broke.

And finally, this revolution began to devour its children. Celebrity is accompanied by envy, and big money is accompanied by blackmailers. Despite Michael Jackson's sincerity and benevolence, contemptuous and malicious rumors were constantly circulating about him. Finally, judicial charges were brought. Although one case ended with an agreement and the other in a full acquittal, his reputation was damaged.

And just as no one has heard of any "fraternal revolution," so this revolution cannot have its greatest singer. So it goes.

In other words, as the old sage, Laozi already wrote: "Customs do their doings, and nobody can ignore them; the attack will follow immediately," and added: "Honesty seems suspicious."

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