Every revolutionary movement started off like a talented cover band. During the Chinese revolution the new organs of power were called Soviets and one of the political factions was dubbed the “28 Bolsheviks.” Russian and Haitian Revolutionaries were both inspired by and made repeated references to the French Jacobins. The French revolutionaries took cues from the Americans. The American Founding (slave-owning) Fathers were inspired by Ancient Greece and Republican Rome. Each considered themselves as a continuation of a previous historical revolutionary tradition.
What set these revolutions apart (and what made them successful) is that they also started playing their own music. They quickly broke with previous models, taking on only what worked, casting aside what didn’t, inventing new things based on their differing objective and subjective conditions, and filling in the gaps left from previous theory.
Importantly, each developed startlingly original aesthetic forms, symbolic languages, and artistic styles that both merged with and defined the most cutting edge cultural innovations of their times. Can we even imagine Russia in the teens and 20s without Constructivism? Or the 1960s in America without the Panther’s black berets and leather jackets or the art of Emory Douglas?
Meanwhile, the “28 Bolsheviks” were politically defeated and their name became shorthand for “dogmatism.”