Carlisle’s theory of history is that leaders make history rather than ordinary citizens. This is demonstrated in the way history remembers great leaders but not the people whom they led. Even in popular revolts, we see that there always is a leader who incites the masses. Ideologies of the masses are not their own ideas but those of a leader.
This has been true since biblical times. Even though the Israelites were oppressed in Egypt, they did not revolt until Moses led them. Once again, with Sparticus’ slave revolt in Rome, the slaves would have never revolted without him inciting them and giving them direction.
In more modern times, the English revolution was definitely not led by masses or even by merchants. It was led by Cromwell and other individuals.
The American revolution also was not without leaders. It is highly unlikely that a group of farmers would have revolted against British control without the help of rich, educated landowners. Those who formed the main body of the army did not feel any anger against the British until they were informed about the unjustness of the situation by the founders of our country. Benjamin Franklin and George Washington are the people we remember because, without them, the revolution would have never occurred. It was they, not the soldier, who came up with the idea that taxation without representation is unjust. This shows how a few great men were responsible for the revolution, not large numbers of common people. Although some people believe the American revolution was started to empower the masses, its purpose was instead to empower those rich people who instigated it.
The French revolution was also led by a few individuals. Though some think the revolution was brought about by the masses, it was not really their own idea.. Instead, it was started by liberals like Lafayette and then continued by others. The peasants did not burn down manor houses or fences until they were told to by revolutionaries spreading the news about the fall of the Bastille. The pamphlets printed by the leaders of the revolution also show how the revolution was not spontaneous; the people needed to be told that it was wrong for them not to have enough food. The many people that were executed for treason were killed not because of the masses but because of the struggle for power between leaders who were controlling them. The revolution ended when the leaders of it (the bourgeoisie) felt it was becoming too leftist.
The Bolshevik revolution of 1917 was also not a spontaneous reaction to the lack of food. It was actually caused by the distribution of pamphlets that told people that they deserved more to eat. The revolutionary leaders told people that, if they revolted, things would be better and they would not have to worry about food. This act of Lenin and his party members was what started the revolution not the proletariat feeling the need for it. Marx had realized that, if the proletariat was not told that they deserved to live in a socialist country, they would never realize it for themselves. That is why he said that the communists should teach the proletariat this. Later, when the revolution was over, these party members who had helped start the revolution became the leaders of the USSR.
The Chinese revolutions under Mao are more examples that the people will accept the status quo unless they are told otherwise by a leader. The Chinese peasants would have accepted Chiang’s new government if Mao had not opposed it. Mao and other communists led the Chinese peasants in the civil war against Chiang. Later, when he was in power, the Chinese people were satisfied with the new equal land system and were not ready for another revolution. However, when they were told that they would enjoy a higher quality of life if they gave up their land and formed communes, they gladly did. Again, after the Great Leap Forward was over, they respected and trusted their Communist leaders, but when Mao told them that they should struggle with these leaders to obtain a better life, they did. Mao is a perfect example of how the people will not revolt without a leader, but, once