Examination of Factors that Begin Revolutions

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Revolutions have been the means of providing some of the most significant political and social changes the world has ever seen. The communist revolutions in China and Russia changed the face of the world order and ushered in a period where nuclear arms races between the great powers could have brought the world to an end. Some revolutions have brought with them a period of profound social and political change. In both France (1789) and England (1688) the outcome of their revolutions was a more democratic regime through the removal of sovereignty from autocratic monarchs. The American revolution of 1775 meant an end to British colonial rule, now an independent America has become the greatest power on Earth. Revolutions cause historic change, but why do they occur? Why do some states experience revolutions when others do not? In this essay I will attempt to identify the circumstances in which revolution is likely to occur and attempt to explain the question of why there is variance in revolutions.

So what exactly is a revolution? Peter Calvert (2002: 303) describes revolution as `violence plus political change: it brings about a fall of government or a change of regime'. However the revolutions of Eastern Europe in 1989 dispute this definition as in some cases no violence was used. The defining feature of revolution is in its desired outcome, political change. Huntington (1968: 264) believed that revolutions were extraordinary political events, and described them as `a rapid, fundamental, and violent domestic change in the dominant values and myths of a society, in its political institutions, social structure, leadership and government activity and policies', however in many cases of revolution Huntington's definition ...

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