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Lecture 2--Revolutions, why_.docx

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Political Science
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Lucan Way

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Lecture 2 Revolution ● Minimal definition: ○ State or political regime is overthrown due to a popular movement in an irregular manner ● Maximal definition: ○ Rapid, fundamental, violent transformation of a country's state structure, social structure, that is accompanied and caused by mass-based revolts from below ● State transformation, destruction of the old army, creation of a new one (rare) ● Social structure transformation: (rarer) ○ Class structure: large scale nationalization of private property ■ Major land reform, destruction of land owning class ○ Religious transformation ■ e.g. Introduction of Sharia in Iran through morality laws ● Examples of revolution: ○ France 1789 ○ Russia 1917 ○ Cuba 1959 ○ China 1949 ○ Iran and Nicaragua 1979 ● NOT a revolution: Arab Spring (overthrow of regime but preservation of existing state structures), US 1776 (class structure is not altered), Eastern Europe (class and state structure changed but weak) ● Characteristics: ○ Violent ■ Smashing class and state is not easy without violence ■ Mass repression in Russia, China and France ○ RARE! ■ Mass mobilization, state collapse, major social transformation, FEW cases and hard to study ● Impactful ○ Durable authoritarian regimes in USSR 74 years, Mexico 80 years and China 65 years ○ Fostered new ideologies ● Why do they occur? ○ Structuralist: ■ Economic theories which focus on grievances ● Misery and poverty causes revolution ○ People have nothing to lose but their chains ○ People are pushed to the point where they can't take it anymore, things have to be pretty bad for you to take that risk ○ Is it always true where the poorest people take action? Not always, cause then the world would constantly be in revolt. ■ Misery actually breeds passivity. They are barely surviving and you don't have time to go out and protest. You just focus on surviving. Adverse to risk. ■ Lack of resources for rebellion. Don't know how to influence the wealthy and important (no cultural capital). Lack of education. ■ Low expectations. Enduring poverty makes their condition seem like a fact of life. ■ Relative Deprivation (Robert Davies): ● When does poverty lead to a revolt? Have to look at relative misery instead of absolute misery. Expectations can onl be frustrated if they are high and rising. ○ The J-Curve. You have it good, then it goes down. "What?! I thought things were getting better!" ■ e.g. Garbage strikes in Toronto. Bank sick days toward their retirement. Something they had that was being taken away. ■ e.g. Russian revolution. The serfs were freed and the economy grew. The loss of war caused economic collapse and it lead to mass frustration. ■ e.g. Boston Red Sox. The fans were upset when they don't get a cup, because they are used to them winning. ○ Revolutions require much more than dashed expectations ■ Lots of cases of dashed expectations in Latin America but no revolution occurred. ■ Marxist theory of revolution ● Class based analysis ○ Actions and beliefs are rooted in economic hierarchy ○ Haves vs. have nots ● Feudalism => Capitalism => Communism ○ Most communist revolutions happen to countries that haven't had capitalism ○ Predicted that England would go through it first ● Change is violent and conflict. People don't give up without a fight. ● Two types: ○ Bourgeois revolution where feudalism and elite is replaced by capitalism (French revolution) ■ Wealth is based on land and birth. Power is centralized in a small elite. ■ Rise of capitalism ● Base on money rather than birth, throws this aristocracy ● A parliament that represents the interests of commercial class rather than the monarchy or aristocracy ■ Creating a competitive system that excludes most of the population. ○ Communist revolution ■ Capitalism is accompanied by fierce competition between capitalists as they try to reduce costs to remain profitable ■ Desire to reduce costs leads to capitalists to force down wages of th
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