Theories of Revolution

Theories of Revolution
Barrington Moore
The Classical Historical Model
1. Population Explosion and Technological Revolution c.
2. Increase Commercial and Modern Industrial Activity c.
3. Urbanization c. 1775
4. Emergence of a Middle Class c. 1789: With Accompanying
Ideas of: Liberalism, Nationalism and Democracy
5. Emergence of a Working Class (Proletariat) c. 1825: With
Accompanying Ideas of Socialism
Crane Brinton
Anatomy of Revolution
Causes of Revolution
Condition 1 – Economy: Societies become prosperous economically before revolution.
Condition 2 – Social Class: People of all social classes feel restless and held down by
restrictions in society, religion, the economy or the government. People are hopeful about
the future, but they are forced to accept less than they believe they are due. There is a
growing bitterness between social classes and the classes closest to one another are the
most hostile.
Condition 3 – Intellectuals: Scholars and thinkers give up on the way their society operates
and transfer their allegiance to a revolutionary group.
Condition 4 - The government does not respond to the needs of its society. The government
cannot organize its finances correctly and is either going bankrupt or trying to tax heavily and
Condition 5 – Ruling Class The leaders of the government and the ruling class begin to doubt
themselves. Some join with the opposition groups.
Crane Brinton
Anatomy of Revolution
Stages of Revolution
1. Moderates Come to Power
2. Radicalization of the Revolution – Radicals to
3. Crisis Period/Reign of Terror
4. Thermidor – Moderates back in power
5. Subversion of Revolution to Right Wing
Authoritarian Figure (Meisel Addendum)
Chalmers Johnson
Revolutionary Change
Categories of Revolutionary Theories
1. Actor-oriented Theories
2. Structural Theories
3. Conjunction Theories
4. Process Theories
Chalmers Johnson
Revolutionary Change
Multiple Dysfunction + Intransigent Elite
+ X Factor = Revolution
Mitigating Factor: Structural
Chalmers Johnson
Revolutionary Change
Types of Revolutions
1. Jacquerie – spontaneous uprising of the Masses
2. Millenarian – Elite leading the masses (Unusual of
inspirational leader)
3. Jacobin – Elite leading masses (ideological elite)
4. Anarchist – Elites leading masses without direction,
ideology or replacement of the social system
5. Coup d’etat – One Elite minority replacing another
6. Militarized mass insurrection - Elites arming the
masses but don’t provide direction
Karl Marx
The Communist Manifesto
Hegelian Dialectic for the economic and social
1.Primitive Communism
2.Slave Society
3.Feudal Society
6.Communism (“The state will wither away”)
Karl Marx
The Communist Manifesto
• All conflict arises from the class-based
struggle to own the means of production.
• The Bourgeosie would never give up their
privileged place as owners of the means of
production. Therefore, a revolution followed
by a dictatorship of the proletariat will
inevitably occur in the most industrialized
James DeFronzo
Revolutionary Movements
Sufficient Conditions for Revolution
1. Mass Frustration in Society
2. Dissident Elite
3. Unifying Motivation
4. Severe Political Crisis
5. Permissive or Tolerant World Context
Ted Gurr
Why Men Rebel
RD – Relative Deprivation
1.Turmoil – Mass RD
2.Conspiracy – Mass RD + Elite RD
3.Revolutionary War
Charles Tilly
Europe in Revolutions: 1492-1992
1. Revolutionary Situations
Environment/Structure –
• Weak states are more likely to enter these situation
• Two or more groups compete for control of the state
• State is unwilling or unable to suppress alternative
2. Revolutionary Outcomes
• Elites defect
• Neutralization of the armed forces
Theda Skocpol
States and Social Revolutions
• Social Revolutions have both national and international impact.
• Structural forces create revolutionary situations.
• Social revolutions (a change in both state institutions and social
structures) are carried out by purposive action by class-based
revolts from below.
• Two variables are sufficient to create a Revolutionary Situation
(Part I):
1. A Crisis of State which creates a challenge the state cannot
meet leading to elites (and/or the army) becoming divided
2. Patterns of class dominance determine which group will rise
up to exploit the revolutionary situation and lead it.
Theda Skocpol
States and Social Revolutions
• Revolutionary Outcomes (Part II) are shaped by:
1. The “obstacles and opportunities “ from Part I
2. The socioeconomic and international constraints
affect how the revolutionary regime will establish
• France – liberal capitalism
• Russia – socialist dictatorship
• China – mass mobilizing party-state
Che Guevara & Gabriel
Guerrilla Foco Theory
Partisan Warfare (war against your enemy)
Psychological Warfare (War against your friends)
Equals Revolutionary Warfare
Che believes the corruption of capitalism causes the conditions (ie Multiple
Dysfunction) for revolution exist everywhere. Therefore in a guerrilla foco, a
revolution can be created anywhere.

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