The Rise of Ideas and the Fall of the State Essay

The Rise of Ideas and the Fall of the State Essay

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Social revolutions are swift and violent transformations, carried out by the lower classes, which ultimately transform the political, social, and socioeconomic structure of the government (Skocpol, 4). Revolutions do not easily occur and are not inevitable. In fact, there must be certain variables simultaneously present in order for the current regime to collapse and be replaced by a new system. I will argue that the two important variables that caused the Russian Revolution, in February of 1917, and the French Revolution, in October of 1789, were the collapse of the military and the rise of radical ideas.
There are no current theories that explain why, how, and when revolutions occur. The volcanic model states that revolutions occur when the demands of the people are not met by the state. The eventual frustration of the people will mobilize the masses, resulting in a revolution. This theory neglects to identify the actors and the connection between mass frustration and social change. It also fails to identify the ultimate spark that motivates people to mobilize towards a revolution. Moreover, it does not specify how much “frustration” needs to be present for a revolution to occur and assumes that frustration leads to revolution, although frustration can also result in isolation or corruption. The modernization theory explains that revolutions occur when rapid technological and economic change mobilize the people and raise their economic aspirations and demands for political participation (Huntington, 36). While it may be true that mobilization has the effect of engaging the public, it is simply not enough to cause a revolution. For example, in 1905 the Russian people came together to protest against the state, however, no...


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Doyle, William. The Oxford History of the French Revolution. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2003.

Duffy, Michael. "First World War.com - Primary Documents - Anton Denikin on Mutiny in the Russian Army, 28 July 1917." .
Huntington, Samuel. Revolution and Political Order in Revolutions; Theoretical, Comparative, and Historical Studies. Davis: University of California, 1994.

Pipes, Richard. A Concise History of the Russian Revolution. New York: Vintage, 1996.

Schama, Simon. Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.
Skocpol, Theda. States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Soboul, Albert. A Short History of the French Revolution, 1789-1799. Berkeley: University of California, 1977.

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