chapter  5
41 Pages

Revolution: Breakdown in the face of mass movements

Workers of all countries unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains. (The Communist Manifesto)

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (Lord Acton)

In this chapter

We turn to the most cataclysmic sort of breakdown – revolution. True

revolutions are relatively infrequent, but they can reverberate around the

globe for decades. Revolutions occur because regimes fail on a variety of

levels, losing legitimacy, governmental efficacy, and state effectiveness, even

including at times the loyalty and effectiveness of their armed forces. This

chapter examines the failure of each of these functional regime supports in

turn. Using the comparative approach pioneered by historian Crane

Brinton and the strategic perspective inspired by game theory, the chapter

examines how revolutionary actors and their opponents operate. In

addition, it summarizes one of the most important revolutionary ideologies

of the twentieth century, Marxism-Leninism, and concludes with case

studies of the Russian and Chinese Revolutions.