Revolution and democracy

Painting of the taking of the Bastille in 1789

The taking of the Bastille prison 1789

In honour of Bastille Day, some excerpts from the book “The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?” examine the nature of modern republican revolutions, and the states they’ve given birth to:


“The debate is over: Statistics show that modern democracies, governed on principles of universal human / civil rights, the rule of law and separation of powers, are the most successful form of government. Such republics tend to be more prosperous and more stable than autocracies. Countries where the public has a powerful voice in decision-making are dramatically less likely to go to war, or to deteriorate into anarchy. Such stability fosters more flourishing trade, health, industry, learning and generally enhanced cultural and economic development, over longer sustained periods.

The larger picture of republican revolutions in world history is very much a work in progress. We, the natives of modern Western democracies are the living products of that political maelstrom: the ending of which has yet to be written. What John Stuart Mill called the great modern social and spiritual transition. In this greater ongoing process, Ireland is indubitably a success story, not a failure.


I may not get there with you. But we, as a people, are going to make it to the Promised Land. 

– Martin Luther King (on the eve of his assassination)


“The leaders of great revolutionary struggles often do not live to see the fulfilment of their own handiwork. That is an occupational hazard. One which they all accept at the very outset. One which Collins, judging from his own words on the subject, was thoroughly prepared for every day.


“All great leaders of this kind take on a very old system: an ancient imperialist war and political machine, oiled by centuries’ experience in putting down popular revolutions. And in eliminating great popular leaders.”

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“The Assassination of Michael Collins:
What Happened At Béal na mBláth?

The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth? by S M Sigerson - Cover Image

by S M Sigerson
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