Graham Andrews is a gentleman and a scholar, and I was gonna write a long facebook comment but just decided to make it a blog post of my own in response to his rather thoughtful post, "John Brown's Body."
So, here's my thoughts: violent revolutions and wars to correct injustice have been happening since as long as we could figure out that if Urg stole our goat, we could take a rock to his head (unsurprisingly, we all learn this behavior without much guidance around age 2.) They are usually unsuccessful in achieving their desired aim. I know you're obsessed with the glory of violent revolution to the point that you have to change your pants when you spend too time thinking about it, but I don't think that violent revolution has an awful lot of show for itself. Most violent revolutions create societies that are not particularly more just than their predecessors (America 1776, France 1793, Cuba 1959, Iran 1979, etc.)
Even the Civil War, which, as you noted at the beginning, was in some senses just retribution for the horrors of slavery and crucial turning point in achieving justice, was still not particularly effective in actually changing the economic or social situation for a lot of African-Americans. That took the Civil Rights Movement, which was a militant, fire-breathing, Bible-thumping group of preachers & political agitators who wouldn't take no shit from nobody. And they also wouldn't fight back. I'm sure there's some pithy quote from Martin Luther King Jr. about nonviolence and justice that's appropriate to squeeze in here, but I think it's fair to say that the most lasting change for justice tends to come from the long, slow, hard work of sacrificing yourself and the needs of your community for the needs of another whilst defiantly and militantly defaming the lies of the overlords who try to keep you in line.
In a world where every ideologue is waving guns and money and power around trying to prove that their dick is bigger, laying all of those things down for the good of others (in a way that actually disadvantages yourself) is the only truly radical thing left to do. It may be loving, every now and then, to kill someone else in order to save a few people (John Brown is a particularly controversial example.) What is definitely loving, though, is spending your whole life dying for other people. It takes a lot of people doing this to change a society, but it has happened. I see it in Sandtown every day, and I think that sort of ethic has done far more for folks in my neighborhood than years of people doing good from a distance. John M Perkins is another great example, as is this dude, who is pretty hilarious to listen to even if you totally disagree with him.
There's obviously a lot of human failure and selfishness that stands in the way of this. You and I both know the dismal record that people have with helping others or sacrificing anything for anyone else. That's why Jesus is important-- He suffered the greatest injustice so that those of us who act unjustly could be called just, and those of us who suffer injustice can be restored and reconciled. As Tim Keller says, "So the gospel has got enormous social justice ramifications. It’s there, in Luke 1: 'He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble.'" And that sort of change-- not forced by some revolutionary gun, but by a tremendous, deep inner transformation-- lasts and endures, even to death. You mentioned in your post about how John Brown loved black people enough to kill some slaveowners. But "greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." The greatest revolution in history took place when a peasant king got lynched-- and then lived to tell about it.
If you're ever curious to see this in action, I'd invite you to come visit New Song, where people are doing the slow, humble, militant work of loving people every day. Come on the first Sunday of the month so even if it's a total drag and you can't even write an incisive blog post about it later, you can at least get some good fried chicken and curry.