As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. If you have more recent summaries to add to this collection, send them my way I guess. Sorry for the ads; they cover the costs of keeping this online. States and social revolutions.
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I was rereading this. I noticed that it was a bit difficult to read with the telly on in the background, the blathering of the television had a singular effect - my eyes would invariably slip down to the bottom right and catch on the final paragraph of the page.
Her aim is to drag us away from staring at the trees and get the reader to think about the whole forest for a change. Either this or having violently combined sociology and history into a single glass and knocked back the lot, came to to find herself sitting on the ridge of a faculty roof with a hell of a hangover.
Possibly both. For Skocpol, France, China and Russia in their pre-revolutionary guises were fundamentally similar, despite surface dissimilarities, and crumbled in the face of similar crises. In all three countries she feels a key point often overlooked was the international environment , the old regimes lost prestige and respect because of their inability to match external rivals. Without the undivided support of the dominant classes who made up the officer corps of the army, formed the administration and governed the countryside, they were unable to maintain order while peasant rebellions unleashed social change as she says: In all three Revolutions, the externally mediated crises combined with internal structural conditions and trends to produce a conjuncture of 1 the incapacitation of the central state machineries of the Old Regimes; 2 widespread rebellions by the lower classes, most crucially peasants; and 3 attempts by mass-mobilising political leaderships to consolidate revolutionary state power.
The revolutionary outcome in each instance was a centralised, bureaucratic, and mass-incorporating nation-state with enhanced great-power potential in the international arena.
Obstacles to national social change associated with the pre-revolutionary positions of the landed upper class were removed or greatly curtailed , and new potentials for development were created by the greater state centralisation and mass political incorporation of the New Regimes p41 She suggests that Max Weber has more to offer than Marx in understanding these massive revolutions, in that the outcome was in all three cases a dramatic increase in state power, particularly in Russia and China where the conflict with the countryside and the need to develop the revolution from the countryside respectively pulled state power deeper into rural communities than previous governments has aspired to, view spoiler [ rather as Heiniken reaches the parts other beers can only dream of, so too a through going social revolution refreshes the whole of society and not just its jabbering mouth parts hide spoiler ].
I particularly enjoyed the paradoxes that for instance developed between the Jacobins and the countryfolk, I suppose repeated later in revolutionary Russia, with the new guys having to confirm title to what the peasants had seized for themselves, indeed having nothing else to offer that consistency other than blood, toil, and sweat only to find that the countryside was profoundly uninterested in the rest of their political programme thank you very much.
Although one key lesson the aspiring social revolutionary can take away is to avoid the peripheries like the plague, work from the gravitational centres of power, not the apparent surface structures of power, but the gravitational centres - were economic and social power is constructed from - in these societies that meant the countryside, that was where people can from, where surpluses were created, unfortunately except in China, this is where people were minimally engaged by the social revolutionaries which created problems eventually downstream once they had all got that far.
As per the title and a little bit of compare and contrast with reform movements in Prussia and Japan. Looks for common causes in social revolutions in France, Russia and China particularly the sharp downturn in popular mood from one of rising expectations to negative ones and failure on the part of existing state structures. Here her ability like a cunning judge in a common law case to distinguish and find significant differences was more convincing particularly in the case of England, while reading than in retrospect while reviewing.
In England she argues the peasantry were already dying out while tenant farmers were effectively tied up through the economic power of the gentry landowners, hence social revolutionary movements like the Levellers or the Diggers remained too weak to break the power of the landowners. In Russia the peasants broke the landowners and drove them off the land while the Bolsheviks through an industrial proletariat and control over the railways managed to defeat political rivals they then had to break the peasantry, repeatedly, to achieve complete power largely by reverting to the old Regime practise of hanging and shooting first to build an army, later under Stalin to release agricultural produce to finance industrialisation.
Anyway, a pretty good read, substantial with chewy analysis, nothing flippant or unsubstantial one feels the weakness of the mercantile periphery in all three cases and senses the improbability of building liberal regimes from such autocratic bricks on ancien regime foundations. As Tocqueville saidThey took over from the old order not only most of its customs, conventions, and modes of thought, but even those ideas which prompted our revolutionaries to destroy it; that, in fact, though nothing was further from their intentions, they used the debris of the old order for building up the new.
States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China
Synopsis[ edit ] The book uses both J. Thus pre-revolutionary France, Russia and China had well-established states that stood astride large agrarian economies in which the imperial state and the landed upper classes partnered in the control and exploitation of the peasantry but monarchy in each country faced an extraordinary dilemma in dealing with foreign power intrusion on the one hand and resistance to raising resources by politically powerful dominant domestic classes on the other. A revolution such as the French revolution also presented itself with a significant factor of power conducted with social, political, and economical conflicts. She describes the processes by which the centralized administrative and military machinery disintegrated in these countries, which made class relations vulnerable to assaults from below. Chapter 1: Explaining Social Revolution: Alternatives to Existing Theories[ edit ] Chapter one of States and Social Revolutions, entitled "Explaining Social Revolutions: Alternatives to Existing Theories", starts by explaining not just the rarity of social revolutions, but also their momentous occurrences in the history of the world. These revolutions change the lives of every citizen of the country; they completely alter the organization of the state, including their class structures, as well as the prominent beliefs and theories held by the people.