• The nature of revolution
• Two texts today
o Steven Walsh (sp?) article— international relations perspective
o Michael Mann article about revolutions in general
• What is a revolution?
o In the original sense, it is a circle ending up in the same place (revolution of a wheel, for example)
o Areturn to the same place
o Classic definition of revolution—very much like one that Mann uses to begin his argument
Afundamental removal of the regime normally with violence, normally with the complete removal of the
previous ruling class, involving some measure of popular participation from below, leading to some social
American revolution—political, but no real change in social structure.
o Also, must consider the image of the revolution
Toqueville—what was France before the revolution?
• An absolutist regime that was trying desperately to rule France from the centre by installing its
own agents, bypassing the upper class
What is France after the revolution?
• Even MORE centralized…
• Napoleon: I can tell you what every school child is studying at this moment
T’s point: revolutions don’t necessarily change much. Sometimes they complete what was begun before the
• France, even more centralized
• Russia: organizations fully wiped out under Bolsheviks
So Toqueville argues you’ll have more change if you have a series of small changes rather than revolution
• Afew propositions
o Revolutions are only possible when there is a state breakdown
• 1.) Revolutions are the CONSEQUENCE of state breakdown
o Consider the great revolutions…
• French state absolutely bankrupt
o Impossible for Louis 14th to control the situation
o Has to call the states general
This starting the airing of grievances, and things heat up
o Then, no money to pay troops
o Nobody to put down popular movements
o Bread riots
• Increasing levels of feeling
• revolution due to inability of state to control
• State breakdown due to war
o Armies being destroyed by Germans.
o Armies coming home and there’s no food
o Armies don’t want to fight for the state anymore.
Only people left fighting for the state is his White Guard.
o So again, had to call a summit. Things getting more heated.
o Couldn’t control the situation.
o Revolution consequence of state breaking down
• State had been pretty strong—destroyed first communist revolution…
• But, invasion by Japan means Chinese communists can claim the nationalist card. o So revolution a consequence of war
Either due to bankruptcy or direct consequences
o If the political regime you live under is inclusionary, relatively liberal, then you will not be politically radicalized.
o You have the right to vote in it. Citizenship rights.
o Have unions, but the state is theirs.
o Other extreme: situation when you’re completely excluded.
o Can’t organize a trade union. Living under an authoritarian or autocratic regime
o Idea is that social movements take on the social character of the state with which they interact
o The more a state interferes with you, the more likely you will to be politicized.
o Inclusion diminishes things, exclusion radicalizes things
• 2.) There are revolutionaries. Why and where do they come from?
The answer is most often that political revolutionary feelings come from being excluded in society. Not
being allowed in.
In French case, most revolutionaries were highly educated lawyers, etc.
• French society was a caste system
• Revolutionaries wanted to have a voice, but they had no capacity to have a voice.
• If you have a voice in society, you will be loyal to that society.
State breakdown causes revolutions through state breakdown
• But if the state has been exclusionary in the past, it doubly causes revolutions
• By themselves, a group of revolutionaries cannot make a revolution. Must have a state breakdown.
Sometimes you have state breakdowns, but no revolutionary class. Without a real revolutionary class, you
won’t get any REAL change.
• In Europe, in 1989, when the communist state breaks down, there are no revolutionaries.
Noticeable of the huge change is that post-communist era produced no ideas. No revolutions.