Revolutionary Process of the 20th Century: A Quantitative Analysis

Revolutionary Process of the 20th Century: A Quantitative Analysis
Authors: Grinin, Leonid; Grinin, Anton L.
Almanac: History & Mathematics:Entropy and Destabilization


With the accelerated process of modernization the number of revolutions has increased. The 20th century witnessed many events of this kind. The authors analyze the main features of the twentieth-century revolutions, and their difference from those of the 19th century. In the 20th century, revolutionary activities increasingly moved from the World System core to its semi-periphery or even to the periphery (in the 19th century, though they often happened not in the core, but close to it, which sometimes allowed countries that survived the revolution to move to the core). As a result, the influence of revolutions on the historical process changed and their role as driving forces of progress in respect of the World System generally decreased. Also, guerilla warfare in the revolutionary societies of the periphery and semi-periphery became very common. New types of revolution emerged, and less widespread types further diffused. First of all, these were Communist revolutions, and toward the end of the century as a result of the decline of Communism – anti-communist ones as well as power-modernist and others. The authors offer a new typology of revolutions. The twentieth-century revolutionary process is described in chronological order as comprising four revolutionary waves and intervening periods (like the 1930s, or the 1950s – 1970s) when revolutionary waves were not observed. Significant differences in the characteristics of revolutions in the first and second half of the 20th century are shown. Some aspects of the theory of revolution as applied to revolutions of the 20th century are considered. In particular, the concept of lines of revolutions is introduced; their connection with revolutionary waves and differences from them are shown. The lines of revolutions show significant similarities in the causes, character, goals and results of revolutions of certain periods (up to three-four decades). Moreover, the lines of revolutions do not coincide with the waves of revolutions. The wave of revolutions is a more objective concept associated with a group of fairly close-in-time events (often associated with a specific region and some common world-system event). The line is a more theoretical construct, combining cases of different chronologies from different waves, but there are also quite objective things behind it. Nine lines of revolutions are analyzed (five in the first half of the century, four in the second). Much attention is paid to the analysis of revolution as one of the transformative changes (along with others – including coups, reforms, violent modernization, etc.) in society and in relation to different periods. For such an analysis, the term ‘analogue of revolution’ is introduced. Revolution analogues are those sociopolitical events that result in a change of political regime and profound transformations in sociopolitical structure; but this change takes place not by mobilizing the masses and protest actions against the existing government, but by other means: a peaceful constitutional movement coming to power; military coup; conspiracy and palace coup; constitutional coup (e.g., the impeachment of the president, etc.). An important feature of the revolution analogue (and not just reforms, transformations, modernization, etc.) can be considered the subsequent mobilization of the masses, that is, the mobilization of masses in the course of social and political transformations after the seizure of power by the new elite. The paper also includes two appendices, which contain a Table with the data on revolutionary events of the 20th century, as well as diagrams with correlations and ratios of different types and subtypes of revolutions as well as other revolutionary events.

Keywords: revolution, classification of revolutions, revolutionary waves.

1. General Remarks on the 20th-Century Revolutions and Some of Their Characteristics

1.1. The 20th Century – the Age of Revolutions

Eric Hobsbawm called the 19th century the age of revolution (Hobsbawm 1989, 1996a, 1996b). However, most revolutions occurred later, namely, in the 20th century. In this context, in the present article we will give only an overview and analysis of the revolutionary processes of the 20th century. We have identified 82 revolutions, 35 analogues of revolution, and also 29 attempts of revolutions and other revolutionary events (altogether there are 146 events in our Table; see App. 1; App. 2, Figs. 1, 4a, 4b). The definitions of different types of revolutionary events are given in Goldstone et al. 2022a.[1] The paper also includes two Appendices, which contain the Table with data on the revolutionary events of the 20th century, as well as diagrams demonstrating the correlations and ratios between different types and subtypes of revolutions as well as other revolutionary events (cf. Williams and Waller 1995).

Let us first consider the countries that managed to avoid revolutions in the 20th century. There are few of them. Mostly, these are societies that had established democracy in different periods, but all of them already had stable democratic regimes on the eve of the 20th century. The list includes Northern European countries, Great Britain with its dominions (Canada, Australia, and New Zealand), the USA and some developed democratic countries that had already recovered from revolutions or civil wars by that time (France, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, etc.). It may seem surprising but Japan can be also included in this group although it clearly did not belong to the countries with developed democracy. The reforms conducted after 1945 by the American occupation authorities were actually comparable to a revolution; however, in formal terms, only one revolution did occur in Japan – the one in 1868, although it was disguised as a restoration and therefore can be qualified as an analogue of revolution. In addition, many Third-World countries endured the 20th century without true revolutions as most countries in tropical Africa gained their independence only in the second half of the century and suffered more from coups d'état and civil wars than from revolutions.

1.2. Differences between the Revolutions of the 20th – the 19th Centuries

There is no doubt that the 20th-century revolutions are in many respects similar to the revolutions of the previous century, so it is rather difficult to find qualitative differences between the former and the latter (see, e.g., Dunn 1989) within the framework of any approach. The Marxian theory does not give a reasonable explanation either (Ibid.). In fact, both in the 19th and in the 20th centuries many revolutions aimed against monarchies and had democratic goals. They were generally caused by growing inequality and injustice which resulted in increasing social discontent. Revolutions would often appear as the result of an active struggle for an independent national state or additional rights for a certain nation. Evidently, in many if not in majority of cases the underlying causes were related to various transformations generated by modernization (see Grinin 2022c, 2011, 2012b, 2013, 2017a).[2] Nevertheless, there are essential differences between the revolutions of the two centuries. One can define some trends which came to the forefront or were widely manifested only in the 20th century. In particular, these were:

1. The growing radical aspiration to establish total social equality together with deliberate elimination of the causes of social inequality. In particular, this was expressed in the growing influence of socialist ideas, including the demand to get rid of private property. The idea of equality before the law, which spread starting from the end of the 18th century and in the 19th century,[3] would now transform into the demand of consumption equality. On the whole, under the public pressure and the example of the USSR, where these ideas were actively implemented, social reforms were partially carried out in democratic countries in order to prevent revolutions (see Fischer 1987; Grinin 2010a: 286–290; 2012a: 132–134; see also Grinin and Korotayev 2014, 2016).

2. Ultimately, in the 20th century the slogan of creation of a society with primacy of law even as an ideological construction significantly lost its importance (Hobsbawm 1986: 28, 31) in comparison with the 19th-century revolutions (and some earlier ones; see Grinin 2022f). Of course, the logic of revoluti-ons has always led to ignoring and abandoning the rule of law, while the revolutionary laws were in force combined with increasing terror, confiscations, etc. (see Grinin and Korotayev 2022a, 2014, 2016; Grinin, Issaev, and Korotayev 2016; Grinin, Korotayev, and Tausch 2019). Still the trend to move to the ‘dictatorship of law’ and to a rule-of-law state was rather strong. Later it was replaced by the slogans of creating the equal justice societies with equal property rights and distribution which finally led to the dictatorship of the state. The faith in an omnipotent state especially strengthened after World War I since the latter had considerably undermined the former liberal ideas; meanwhile, in the early 20th century the situation was similar to the 19th century in terms of revolutionary ideologies. It should be noted that the republican form of government was quite less common in the 19th century, and most of its revolutions were constitutional, that is, they aimed at limiting the monarchical power. As for the 20th century, more revolutions aimed at a complete change of political regime, which also implied the establishment of republican forms (see also Friedrich 1966).

3. The duration of great revolutions in comparison with the 19th century (but not with the earlier periods) increased.[4] This was probably caused by: a) the profound transformations occurring in the 20th century[5]; b) the spread of revolutions to the countries with insufficient modernization levels; and c) the introduction of universal suffrage in societies with weak democratic traditions. Finally, whole revolutionary epochs could start, when the state (or rather the authorities), created by the revolution, expanded the transformations. This can be most vividly exemplified by the early USSR and PRC. In the 19th century such long periods of post-revolutionary groundbreaking changes hardly occurred.[6]

4. In the 20th century the revolutionary trend more and more shifted from the World System core to its semi-periphery and even periphery (in the 19th century it was not in the core itself, but close to, and this allowed the countries that had experienced revolutions to catch up with the core or actually become a part of the core). As a result, as we have already pointed out in Grinin (2022b), Grinin (2022d), Grinin (2022a), in terms of progressive advance the impact of revolutions on historical process had decreased.[7]

5. As a result, new types of revolutions emerged and spread widely. This includes, of course, communist revolutions and anti-communist revolutions (the latter resulting from the collapse of communist regimes) as well as power-modernist and others (see below).

6. The increasing role of the state in different spheres also intensified its opportunities to conduct social transformations. As a result, one can distinguish a peculiar type of right-wing revolutions such as in Italy in the 1920s under Mussolini, and in Nazi Germany and other right-wing totalitarian regimes in Europe.

7. Some new societies were involved in advancing historical processes although their development was far behind the World System core (hence, they lagged behind the mainstream historical process) and it was often the world-sys-tem process that helped them to achieve a higher level (which they were hardly able to conform). This increased the number of peculiar revolutionary events which can be denoted as revolution analogues, which are revolutionary in their es-sence, i.e. speed and depth of socio-political transformations but use of mass mobilization for such radical changes only after revolutionaries have come to power. To overthrow the previous regime, the revolutionaries do not use mass mobilization with violent conflicts but use other ways to take power (elections, coup d'état, etc.; for details see below).

8. On the whole, the nature of revolutionary actions considerably changed. Let us point to the most important aspects: a) there emerged new means of struggle, including general strikes and nation-wide defiance (yet, some examples of the latter could be observed already in the 19th century); b) barricades as forms of struggle disappeared almost completely (which was connected with changed city planning). On the other hand, guerrilla wars which could last for decades started to play an increasing role (see, e.g., Wickham-Crowley 1991, 1992; Selden 1995; McClintock 1998; Polonsky 2016). In some cases, revolutionary movements formed de facto states in the areas under their control, as happened in China in the 1930s and 1940s or in a number of Latin American countries (Wickham-Crowley 1991; Selden 1995; McClintock 1998; Goldstone 2001). The role of armed struggle also increased and this would actually mean the creation of insurgent armies and formation of territories that supported them. Probably, this was also defined by a peripheral character of many revolutions and revolutionary movements; in the 19th century such a situation was observed in the periphery (in Latin America) and in the semi-periphery (the guerilla against Napoleon in Spain in 1808–1812). In this respect, Garibaldi's movement in the 19th century looks more like an exception while in the 20th century such movements were organized in many countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa; c) The nature of terrorist acts and attacks changed. Terror against individuals which was spread as a political weapon starting from the Italian Carbonarists, achieved its apogee in the early 20th century and later became less common. Meanwhile, acts of terror aimed at intimidation of societies in which innocent victims are killed became a favored tool for a number of revo-lutions and revolutionary attempts.

In what follows we will discuss some of those characteristics in detail.

2. Revolutions, Their Causes and Classification

2.1. The Causes of the Revolutions of the 20th Century

The general causes of revolution that were clearly manifested in the 20th century (as internal crisis, intra-elite and class conflicts, rapid growth of social tensions, nation's desire for independence, etc.) have been considered in Goldstone, Grinin, and Korotayev 2022b, Grinin 2022d, Grinin 2022c; etc.). We also pointed out the conditions which lead to a revolutionary crisis. However, there were also some points peculiar to the 20th century.

First, more revolutions than before were triggered by wars. They were caused mostly by military defeats but sometimes also by excessive strains on winning countries (as happened in post-World War I Italy and in the United Kingdom with the Irish Revolution of 1916–1923). The connection between revolutions and wars had never been stronger than in the 20th century (Halliday 2001: 64; on the relations between revolution and war see Arendt 2006 [1963]; Skocpol 1979, 1994; Tilly 1986; Gurr 1988; Goldstone 2001; Walt 1996, 2001; Graziosi 2005; see also Bueno de Mesquita et al. 1992; Conge 1996; about the impact of rapid military demobilization see Tilly 1986: 55). Both Russian Revo-lutions (in 1905 and in 1917) were associated with wars. As a result of the First World War a revolutionary wave swept across Europe and the Middle East, as the German, Austro-Hungarian, Russian, and Ottoman Empires fractured and collapsed. Numerous revolutions and their analogues of the second half of the 1940s in Europe and Asia were also closely associated with the Second World War, which had completely changed the balance of power as well as the social consciousness in every region and state.

Second, a number of revolutions were generated by geopolitical factors, including, of course, the world wars and the defeats of Germany, its allies and Japan. But one should also point out other events: the collapse of colonial empires as nationalist, socialist, and constitutionalist ideologies spread to the developing world, and the transformation of some states into world revolutionary centers that fomented or supported revolutions in other countries where movements adopted their preferred ideology (see Grinin 2017a, 2017b, 2017c).

Third, the possibility of revolutions was accelerated by expanding globalization and world-system impacts (see Grinin 2022b, 2022d). This became evident in the early 20th century (and even already in the late 19th century). The education of the intellectuals and military officers of colonized nations, inclined to revolutionary ideas, in European countries along with growing relationships between countries and the increasing popularity of Western ideas based on modernization produced revolutionary leaders in many regions who managed to inspire and/or head revolutions or revolutionary movements (this is especially evident with respect to the revolutions in Iran in 1905, Turkey in 1908, in China in 1911 as well as in other countries, like in Mexico where the influence of the USA was obvious).

Fourth, although in the 19th century nationalism was an important cause of revolutions in Europe and Latin America, only in the 20th century did national liberation revolutions spread across the globe and beyond the countries of European settlement. These included not only the former colonies or semi-colonies where nationalism emerged due to world-system effect, but also countries where nationalism continued to assert itself in Europe – from the Irish Independence revolution and the Basque revolt in Spain to the breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia on ethno-nationalist lines. The 20th century was the century of nationalist revolutions ne plus ultra (there are 35 such revolutions and its analogues in our Table; see Appendix 4b; besides there are many revolutionary cases in which we pointed out national characteristics as additional ones; about the rise of peripheral countries see Grinin and Korotayev 2015; about rising nationalism in modern type of states see Grinin 2008a, 2010a, 2011, 2012c).

Fifth, the aspiration to social justice was strengthened and became increasingly widespread. At the same time, there emerged an example of development and modernization alternative to liberal constitutional models – the USSR. As a result, a number of communist or left-wing revolutions would break out in different periods and in a number of regions. For example, one of the most famous revolutions of the 20th century, in Spain (1931–1939, the sixth in this country's history), had a communist bias; although in 1931 it started as an anti-monar-chical and democratic revolution. Besides, a number of societies in Africa, Asia and Latin America tried to take ‘the socialist path of development’ in terms of the political language of the Soviet period. They purposefully organized revolutions and analogous attempts to change political regimes, or in the course of revolutions there would occur an abrupt shift to the left due to various reasons (including the desire to obtain assistance from the USSR). The impact of the Cuban revolution and its export of civilian and military assistance to countries in Latin America and Africa, and of the rise of the People's Republic of China and Maoism, on inspiration and support of communist revolutions, rebellions and military movements was really considerable (see below).

Sixth, there is an obvious connection between revolutions and state (nation) building (see Graziosi 2005: 9–10), since the early stages of nation-building can often lead to crises (for our study see Grinin 2012b; Grinin et al. 2017). This process had a considerable influence on the number of revolutions and analogues given that in the 20th century the number of new states rapidly increased.

2.2. Classification of the 20th-Century Revolutions

Unfortunately, there are no fully developed, satisfactory classifications of revolutions, a fact we have already spoken about (see Goldstone et al. 2022b; Grinin 2022a; see also Goldstone 2001; Andreski 1988; Shultz 2014, 2016). However, one should mention the typological differences which researchers have identified with respect to the 20th-century revolutions.

First, a number of scholars divide revolutions either into classic revolutions and others, or into revolutions in developed and developing countries (von Laue 1964: 16; Tucker 1969: 137–138); or into the Western and Eastern/Third World revolutions (Huntington 1968: 266–273; 1986; Foran 2005: 1, 18, 24); or into revolutions in European and non-European empires (Hobsbawm 1996a). These divisions make sense since as we have pointed above, the revolutionary process involved many societies whose developmental level was insufficient and still the world-system impacts and geopolitical shifts would launch revolutions there before they achieve the level which is required for the emergence of a classic revolutionary situation in the course of development (for details see Grinin 2022b, 2022d, 2022a, 2020). Second, as noted above, the liberal ideas and worship of the law priority (law-based society) were less typical for the 20th-century revolutions. Hence, some scholars like Hobsbawm (1996a) divide them into revolutions of the bourgeois liberalism epoch (the 19th century and earlier) and revolutions of the 20th century, which have different foundations.

For the purpose of the present paper we would like to suggest our own classification of the 20th-century revolutions according to their objectives and ideology (this classification can amplify our classification suggested in Grinin 2022a). The classification comprises both new types of revolutions that emerged in the 20th century and the types observed in the previous epochs. The classification considers both revolutions and their analogues. But one should take into account the complex character of many revolutions; so the pure types of revolutions according to the classification can hardly be traced. So we characterize every revolutionary event according to its kind, type as well as additional characteristics (additional type or subtype). All these characteristics are presented in Table on the 20th-century revolutions (see Appendix 1). It is interesting to observe how these types are distributed in quantitative ratio among all revolutions across the 20th century. Communist, national, national liberation and democratic revolutions prevail (see Appendix 2, Fig. 4b). Thus, one can distinguish:

1) democratic revolutions whose objectives are mostly to transform the political system from autocratic to constitutional democracy. Here we define the following sub-types: (1a) anti-monarchic (e.g., the Portuguese revolutions of 1910 and 1974; the revolution in Monaco in 1910) and (1b) anti-dictatorial revolutions differing in some aspects from anti-monarchic ones. Such revolutions were typical for Latin America. For example, both revolutions in Cuba in 1933–1934 (against the Machado dictatorship) and Castro's revolution in 1956 (against the authoritarian government of Batista) were anti-dictatorial revolutions. However, the latter revolution later transformed into a communist one. Many revolutions that started as democratic would change their character, for example, the Russian revolution of 1917–1921 or the Spanish Republican Revo-lution in 1931–1939.[8] Nevertheless, we counted thirteen purely democratic revolutions and eight other revolutionary events (see Appendix1, 2; Fig. 4b).

2) social revolutions which in the first place aspire to solve the problems of social injustice (in respect of land use, income distribution, labor rights, etc.) while democratic, political, legal and other transformations are just the tool of solving this major objective (e.g., the Mexican revolution 1910–1917, the Bolivian Revolution of 1952).

3) communist revolutions directed by the communist doctrine.

4) anti-communist revolutions. To a certain extent they may be considered as democratic. But since anti-communist revolutions must necessarily solve a number of complicated issues, such as returning to private property, economic freedom, etc., they are better considered as a peculiar type. This also gives a better explanation why the revolutions of the late 20th century had a different type of conflict than classic revolutions (see Goldstone, Gurr, and Moshiri 1991: 3).

5) power-modernist revolutions, which support the rise or restoration of the might of the states when the revolutionaries are well aware of the backwardness of their state and try to use revolution as a means to accelerate modernization (like the revolutions in the East of the early 20th century, e.g., the Nationalist Revolution in China and both revolutions in Turkey: the Young Turk Revolution and the Kemalist Revolution – yet the latter was at the same time the war against Greece occupation and for the Turkish national state).

6) national and national-liberation revolutions are the most numerous among all the revolutions of the 20th century (see Appendix 2, Fig. 4b). Here we distinguish (6a) national revolutions. Their major objective is creation of a national state (these are mostly revolutions on the ruins of multinational empires like the Austrian-Hungarian and Russian empires; the same occurred during the collapse of the USSR and Yugoslavia in the early 1990s; and (6b) national-liberation revolutions aimed at gaining independence/autonomy. These revolutions mostly occurred in the societies under colonial dependence that were forced to struggle for independence from metropolises.[9]

7) national-socialist, or right-wing, revolutions combined the ideologies of etatism,[10] socialism and national spirit (based on masses and anti-elite sentiments). This is in the first place, the Italian revolution (1922–1926) and the analogue of revolution in Germany (1933–1937, see also below) and also their followers in Europe (see below). Characteristically, they completely rejected democratic slogans (as different from communist revolutions).

8) religious revolutions (about them see Keddie 1981; Arjomand 1988; Moghadam 1989; Ahady 1991; Moaddel 1993; Foran 1993; Skocpol 1982). As examples here we may mention the Iranian revolution of 1979 (about it see Filin et al. 2022a; Grinin 2022a), we also point out some examples of religious revolutions at the periphery of the World System, for example, the Taiping Rebellion in China (1850–1864), the Wahhabi movement in Arabia in the late 18–19th centuries; Mahdi uprising in Sudan (1881–1998). We also show that the Persian (Iranian) Revolution of 1906–1911 was in many respects a religious revolution (at least the clergy played a great role) and also in certain respects the mujahedeen and especially Taliban movements in Afghanistan which emerged after the so-called April revolution of 1978, and reforms conducted by the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (see below). In 1991/1992–2002 in Algeria the religious revolution was defeated.[11] In Sudan, Islamism strived for power already starting from the 1950s. In 1989, there occurred a military coup and the military also engaged the Islamists from the National Islamic Front as allies (Sergeichev 2015: 383; Fuller 2004: 108). The Islamists tried to lay foundations of the Islamic statehood and impose sharia. But in the end, there occurred a certain cooling of relations between the military and Islamists, which would grow until in 2000 the Islamists were removed from power and faced reprisals (for details about this Islamic project see Sergeichev 2015; see also Grinin, Korotayev, and Tausch 2019; for an analysis of modern Islamism see also Grinin 2019a). This can be viewed as a failed analogue of a religious revolution. If we consider the first half of the 20th century, then we can mention that in the 1920s and 1930s the revolutionary movement in Pakistan (then a part of British India) had an essentially national-religious character since the Indians were divided by religious principle and this led to the emergence of two independent states in the British Indian territory: India and Pakistan proper (we have already spoken about the intrinsically Islamist movement in Pakistan; see Grinin et al. 2019). Another attempt of a national-religious revolution was the Sikh movement in India (mainly in Punjab) which started in the 1970s when discrimination against the Sikhs increased along with the resistance to their autonomy and creation of the independent state Khalistan. The Sikh groups committed terrorist attacks against civilians and assassinated Indian PM Indira Gandhi.

9) Other kinds of revolutions, often rather peculiar cases. For example, the cases of political revolutionary struggle and civil war where the major ‘battle line’ lies not in ideological but confessional, ethnic or ethno-confessional markers (when a society is mainly divided according to these attributes). The examples here are: conflict in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 1998 (or The Troubles [see Mitchell 2006; see also McGarry and O'Leary 1995]) between the Protestants (Unionists/loyalists) and the Catholics (Irish nationalists/republicans) for the constitutional status of Northern Ireland;[12] the Civil war in Lebanon (1975–1990) where the Muslims opposed the Christian-Maronite minority having an unproportioned representation in Parliament (this was changed in favor of the Muslims). In such revolutions the ethnic and religious bases for revolutionary mobilization was much stronger than in others (Goldstone 2001: 140). There is a type (with subtype) of revolution connected with confessional factors. One can define the events in the Northern Ireland (1969–1998) as a confessional-political revolution. To the type of ‘other revolutions’ one may also attribute the struggle for the creation of the Israeli state during and after World War II (1943–1948) against Great Britain (which possessed a mandate for the Palestine territories). The struggle was of a hybrid character of an open political movement at all levels and it adopted terror practices. The peculiarity of this struggle is that it can hardly be called national-liberation since the territory did not belong to the Jews; so one can better consider it as an analogue of ethno-political revolution aimed at creating an independent state.[13] One can also mention ‘racial’ revolutions (analogues) aimed at a segregated society. A vivid example of an analogue of a ‘racial’ revolution is the events of 1948 in the Union of South Africa when the National party won the election and introduced rather strict laws which started to impose the Apartheid regime in the country (it was finally established in 1961 when the Union gained independence from Great Britain and became the Republic of South Africa). Similar to the racial revolutions are ethno-national ones whose aim is not just gaining independence and/or national state but also creation of the conditions for preferen-ces and advantages for the titular ethnic group/nation in those new states. The examples here are the Singing Revolutions in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1991 (and the further politics in these newly emergent states). One should note that here the revo-lutionaries initially wanted to raise the titular nations and omit other (primarily Russian) nations and enshrine this in their Constitution and electoral laws. However, to a greater or lesser degree the ethno-nationalism existed almost in every post-Soviet state. An extreme example of these revolutions are those ethno-national revolutions where revolutionaries and fighters for independence strive for the purity of the nation via ethnic cleansing (as an example one can recall the organizations of the Ukrainian nationalists – the OUN-UPA – in the period from 1941 to 1944 with the acts of genocide against the Poles, Jews and Russians [see Katchanovski 2010]; another example is the Croatian Ustasha who promoted genocide against the Serbs in Croatia during the Second World War [see Khodunov 2016, 2017; Ghibiansky 2011]; also revolutions and inter-ethnic wars in Yugoslavia starting from 1991 give many examples here). Below we will speak about the revolution in Zanzibar (1964) which brought genocide of the Arabs and this allows attributing this revolution to the ethno-national type. The earliest racial, to be precise class-racial, revolution was the anti-slavery insurrection in Haiti (in the late 18th – early 19th centuries)[14].

3. The Revolutionary Waves, Lines, and Epochs of the 20th Century; the Epochs of Civil Unrests and Dictatorships. The Periods of Revolutionary Transformations. Revolutionary Movements without Revolutions. The Analogues of Revolutions

3.1. The Waves and Lines of Revolutions

3.1.1. Revolutionary Waves

It has long been recognized that revolutions come in waves (Beck 2011). We believe the key issue for theorizing revolutionary waves is how best to conceptualize them (Ibid.: 169). So we define and interpret some important statements and terms which we employ in what follows. It is sometimes difficult to interpret revolutionary waves and directions beyond the context of other transformations different from revolutions but still fitting in their relationship to the general trend of social and political transformations (these are the transition from democracy to dictatorship, military coups, peaceful yet profound changes, long civil and guerrilla wars and many others). So we try to outline the general context of transformations of which revolutions were just a part (and not always the major one).

We suggest distinguishing revolutionary waves according to the following criteria and discuss them in detail (see Grinin 2022f, 2022g): 1) the existence of an objective common cause underlying the events within the World System framework; 2) the number of revolutions should not be small (minimum four-five revolutions if they occur in more or less large and medium-size countries and more revolutions in smaller states); 3) one should not consider as a revolutionary wave the events within one state even if they are very large, multinational and possessing united territory; 4) the time interval between revolutionary events is limited; and 5) there can be only one wave within a period. In the present paper we only discuss some aspects of this definition.

It is obvious that revolutionary waves are triggered when revolutions in some societies affect other societies, and this is determined by geographical proximity, interactions between revolutionary elites, similarity of existing situation and attractiveness of an example (on the typology of causes of revolutionary uprisings see Rozov 2022). Diffusion of a revolutionary wave is also related to common features characterizing culture, the position within the World System (see Grinin 2022f, 2022g, 2022e) or peculiarities of the development of particular groups of countries (this can be exemplified by the revolutionary wave in the Arab countries that started in the late 2010s; see Grinin and Korotayev 2022b; Korotayev et al. 2022; Kuznetsov 2022; Korotayev and Zinkina 2022; Akhmedov 2022; Barmin 2022; Issaev et al. 2022).

In any case, the revolutionary waves form a dimension of the supra-societal, regional and/or world-system aspect; and it is just in this context that we should study them in the first place. The development of such waves requires a great triggering world-system event – a world war, severe economic crisis involving many countries, a great successful revolution, a collapse/ weakening of a large empire or of a coalition center, etc.

For a revolutionary wave to start and evolve there should occur a coincidence of different regional and world-system events and their outcomes (see Grinin 2022g). In most cases the major triggering world-system events are quite obvious; yet, sometimes they are not. We showed that the revolutionary wave of the 1820s was associated with serious changes (both in the World System in general and in certain countries) caused by the French revolution, Napoleonic wars, the Vienna Congress and post-war world order (see Grinin 2022f). Meanwhile, the Springtime of Nations of 1848–1849 was closely connected with the 1847 economic crisis, stemming from the exceptionally bad harvests and famine during the preceding years. The revolutionary wave of the 1917–1920s was undoubtedly caused by the First World War and its hardships. As for the revolutionary wave of 1905–1911 (in Russia, Iran, Turkey, China and Mexico [about some comparisons between them see David-Fox 2017]) there seemingly was no single world-system event, although there was a regional one in the rise of Japanese imperial power, which directly impacted both Russia and China. The revolution in Russia, beginning in 1905, could be considered as such a world-system impulse, a triggering event that shook the world after a long pause in revolutionary events. The events in Russia also directly affected the population of the Eastern countries due to then existing close economic and other relations. For example, thousands of Iranian seasonal workers had jobs at oilfields in Baku and other places.[15]

As we already discussed (see Grinin 2022f), a revolutionary wave, in our opinion, can hardly unfold for more than ten years if we count from the start of the first revolution to the start of the last revolution. Otherwise this will be not a wave but a line of revolutions (see below). As for the mentioned interval (a decade), we define it as the interval between the starting points of revolutions of the same wave in different countries while the completion of a revolution may take rather a long time. Within this ten years' interval there is often almost no interval between revolutionary events. Their synchronicity is amazing, for example in 1989 the anti-communist revolutions occurred in five countries. In general, the European anti-communist revolutions took place within the interval from 1989 to 1991 starting from Yugoslavia, i.e., within three years; but if one considers all revolutions from their start on the ruins of Yugoslavia and USSR then the wave should be prolonged to 1994–1995 and even later[16]. Sometimes the time gap is larger, like the wave of color revolutions of the early 21st century (in 2000–2009, which is covered in Goldstone et al. 2022a). In many respects the duration of a wave and its consequences depends on the triggering world-system event. Thus, the anti-communist revolutions of 1989–1990 in Europe continued in the unification of Germany, the collapse of the USSR and Yugoslavia and the genesis of new states, and also in inter-ethnic and interstate wars, strengthening of the Western bloc and other processes, whose aftermath is perceived even today.

Jack Goldstone (2001: 145) defined the following waves of revolutions in the second part of the 20th century: the anticolonial revolutions of the 1950s through the 1970s, propelled by nationalism; the communist revolutions of 1945–1979 in Eastern Europe, China, Cuba, Vietnam, and other developing countries; the Arab Nationalist revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa in 1952–1969; the Islamic revolutions in Iran, Sudan, and Afghanistan; and the anti-communist revolutions in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

From what we have said above, one can hardly agree to place the anti-colonial revolutions of the 1950s–1970s, the communist revolutions of 1945–1979, and the Islamic revolutions in the category of waves of revolutions. We would better define them as lines or mini-lines of revolutions (see below). The reasons are the following. The duration of such waves would be too long. But even if we disregard this point, the wave launched by World War II in fact includes quite different types of revolutions (anti-monarchical and democratic, antifascist, anticolonial and communist, anti-dictatorial and anticommunist). To be sure, one type of revolution could transform into another and vice versa. But still this was one and the same wave and not several: the anticolonial revolutions started in 1945 and not in the early 1950s. The ‘density’ of revolutions per year and the number of revolutionary years per decade in the 1950s–1970s was much lower than in the 1940s (see Appendix 2, Fig. 12.1). Besides, there were many analogues of revolutions in these decades. Thus, we distinguish only the wave of 1942–1949 (see Appendix 1, 2, Fig. 5a). It is interesting that this wave was slowly rising in 1942–1943. It was like a revolutionary tide which grew and grew following the weakening of Germany and Japan. Then the antifascist rebellions and revolutions started in 1944–1945 and the wave became huge. Concerning Islamic revolutions one can argue that as they were few in number and spread over several decades, they did not make a wave but only a revolutionary mini-line.

The world-system processes do not usually generate exactly revolutionary waves but start some complex processes of changes involving both revolutions (and their analogues) and other events (such as military and other coups d'état; reduction or abolition of democratic institutions, creating of dictatorship or vice versa such as transition from military dictatorship to civil government) which have certain relations and similarities with revolutions with respect to radical changes and transformations. Sometimes revolutions appear to unleash floods of such related social-political changes and sometimes they become additional or accompanying processes among others in these aggregative breakthroughs (that was the case in the 1930s, see below). Also one type of processes may transform into another. Thus, a military coup may transform into an analogue of revolution and vice versa; a revolution may change into counterrevolution while legitimate elections may end in the victory of the forces which later revolutionize the society and lead to revolutionary dictatorship.[17] And the latter may end with counterrevolution, then military coup d’état and return to legitimate elections. In other words, (in theoretical terms) we often observe not pure but complex phenomena. Within the world-system wave this is always a complex set of transformative processes unfolding in different forms. But one should consider them as a single process of changes.

3.1.2. Lines of Revolutions

Along with the classification of revolutions that we have presented (based on their major goals) it makes sense to define revolutionary lines. Revolutionary lines demonstrate significant common features in the causes, character, goals and outcomes of revolutions. However, the revolutionary lines do not coincide with the waves of revolutions. The wave of revolutions is a more objective notion associated with a group of events relatively close in time (often connected with a certain region and a common world-system event, as noted above). Revolutionary lines are more a theoretical construct, uniting cases with different chronological frameworks and belonging to different waves but sharing an objective background, namely, the common character of these revolutions as well as their outcomes (if the revolutions were successful). So the anticolonial revolutions of the 1950s–1970s, communist revolutions of 1945–1979, and Islamic revolutions mentioned by Goldstone represent the examples of different lines of revolutions, since they each have a distinguishing character, type, and goals. A wave of revolutions may generate different revolutionary lines. Thus, we distinguish five revolutionary lines for the period of the 1900–1930s, including the attempts to raise peripheral states and strengthen sovereignty; formation of national states as a result of collapse or weakening of empires; and attempts of communist transformation of the world.

Thus, the line of revolutions can be called a group of revolutions, distinguished within a certain period (usually several decades), that take place at different times and in different regions, but which have significant similarities in the goals, common features of revolutions, their results (if the revolutions were successful) and also often directly or indirectly in world-system factors. Lines of revolutions, although they take place over a quite long period of time (several decades), nevertheless belong to the same historical era (the types of revolutions at the same time combine revolutions from many different eras).

Although in the present paper we distinguish between the lines spread in the first and second half of the 20th century, still some lines (e.g., communist transformations, the rise of peripheral statehood and strengthening of sovereignty) that emerged in the first half of the century actively resumed in its second half.

3.2. Analogues of Revolutions. The Revolutionary Epochs and Epochs Related to Revolutions

3.2.1. Analogues of Revolutions

The analogue of revolution denotes political and social events that result in a shift/transformation of political regime and profound transformations in politi-cal-social structure which occurs at the first stage (i.e., during the removal of the existing regime and coming of new forces to power) not through the mobilization of masses and protest actions against the existing government but in some different way: with a peaceful and constitutional coming to power, military coup d'état, conspiracy or palace reshuffle, constitutional coup (e.g., impeachment of president, etc.). An important indicator of the analogue of revolution (and not just reforms, transformations, modernization, etc.) is the subsequent mobilization of masses (i.e., mobilization in the course of socio-political transformations).

If to apply our classification, it appears that in the 20th century the ratio between revolutions and their analogues is 2.3:1 (see Appendix 2, Fig. 1). However, it is interesting that before 1930 one cannot find any analogues of revolution. So if we compare revolutions and their analogues after the year 1930 the ratio is 1:0.63.

The analogues of revolutions were observed in a number of countries. In particular, in the 1950s and 1960s there occurred several military coups d'état in the Arab world which launched the epochs of radical revolutionary changes in these countries (we will return to them below). The German events starting from 1933 can be considered as an analogue of revolution. The events in the Republic of South Africa (RSA) of the 1990s can be also considered as an analogue of revolution since the revolution actually started after the 1994 elections which had been preceded by a public confrontation, general liberalization and changes in election laws (for more details see below). Analogues of revolutions overlap in some cases with the events described by other scholars as ‘negotiated revolutions’ (Lawson 2004) or ‘revolution from above’ (Trimberger 1978), underlining the fact that these events do not fit well with the classical definition of revolution as political change brought about by mass mobilization[18].

3.2.2. Revolutionary Epoch as a Long Period of Transformations in a Society

It is known that profound transformations in different countries often (and even as a rule) do not finish with a single revolution, especially if the latter is defeated. As long as the main problems causing a revolution are not resolved, the peaceful periods (which can be periods of uncertain equilibrium between old and new institutions, of weak democracy or counterrevolutions and dictatorships) can give way to a revolution (sometimes even two or three). In this situation one can speak about a revolutionary epoch. The term refers only to a single society in contrast to the terms ‘wave of revolutions’ and ‘line of revolutions’. In our opinion, when defining a revolutionary epoch it makes sense take into account that revolutions of the same epoch are logically and ideologically connected with each other so that every subsequent revolution appears as a new attempt to solve the problems unresolved by the previous ones (like the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917) or the subsequent revolution organically follows from the logics of the previous one (as was the case with the Chinese revolutions of 1911, 1925–1927 and 1946–1949). This relation, however, is sometimes difficult to establish. Thus, at a first glance one can hardly reveal any relation between the Young Turk Revolution (1908) and the Kemalist revolution (1919–1923). Nevertheless, both revolutions had a common ideological core and goals: the necessity of modernization, democratization and strengthening of the country (about revolutionary epochs in some modern countries, including African ones see Goldstone et al. 2022a).

A revolutionary epoch in a society may include as the second revolution (or subsequent ones) not a classic revolution but some other events which comprise social transformations but are manifested in different forms or nature. In this case one may speak about revolutionary-transformative epochs. The analogues of revolutions are the closest to revolutions and may have exceptionally profound impact. Thus, for example, after the first phase of the revolutionary epoch in Germany in 1918–1923 the country entered a period of stabilization. However, in 1930 the situation got worse and it was aggravated by the socialist/ nationalist tensions inherited from the 1918 Revolution, discontent with the Treaty of Versailles and the economic crisis of the Great Depression. As is known, in 1933 the Nazi party (NSDAP) headed by Hitler came to power. That is how the Nazi revolution started. But since the Nazis came to power as a result of democratic elections and the political regime was changed during Hitler's rule and in a seemingly democratic way, it seems more appropriate to speak about the analogue of revolution. After Nazism had led to the defeat and the occupation of Germany the revolutionary epoch seemed to continue in the dramatic (and revolutionary in their essence) transformations conducted by the occupational authorities in the German territories (though these were quite different in the Western and Soviet occupational zones, with a constitutional transformation in the West and a communist one in the East). In this respect, in a broader context, the revolutionary epoch in Germany was completed only in 1949 with the establishment of the German states. In some cases the dramatic transformations in societies are conducted in a combined way: through revolutions from below and through transformations from above with impact equal to revolutions. That is how the unified states were created in Germany and Italy in the 19th century (see Grinin 2022f). The result of very long revolutionary epochs in some countries in the 20th century especially in its second half can be observed in Appendix 2, Fig. 2.[19]

3.2.3. The Epochs of Disturbances and Revolutions

However, after revolution there may be established not a new order (or the former one may be restored) but a period when a country becomes decentralized for a long time so the importance of the central power (if it exists) considerably diminishes, so that the country splits into several territories, states or polities, none of which has the power to become a winner and unite the country. There starts a period when the strongest reigns, while military and political anarchy flourishes, the time when ‘political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’ as Mao Zedong said. Still the revolutionary rhetoric may considerably weaken and be substituted for the rhetoric of the strongest. After 1911 in Persia there was observed a considerable weakening of central power combined with increasing foreign interference (especially during World War I and the Civil War in Russia). Yet, the country would not split. The decentralization and anarchy ended in 1925 when Reza Khan was appointed as the legal monarch of Iran under the name of Reza Shah Pahlavi. However, China would split into a number of units after the revolution of 1911–1913 and Yuan Shikai's failed attempt to become an emperor and his death in 1916. The epoch of disturbances started. It was interrupted by a new revolution of 1925–1927 led by the Kuomintang of China. The revolution swept through China and then the Northern Expedition of Chiang Kai-shek unified the country. After 1928, there was established some order which soon, already in 1931, again gave way to disorders connected with creation of the Communist party in the South and later in 1937 – with the war with Japan, expanding civil war with the communists, etc. This period lasted until 1949 when the communists finally won the civil war. Thus, from 1911 to 1949 China passed through a long epoch of disturbances and revolutions. The subsequent period from 1949 to about 1969 or even to 1976 may be defined as the period of post-revolutionary transformations (when the winning revolutionary governments made transformations that were comprehensive in terms of social destruction and changing the character of daily life. These changes generally lead to the country's modernization). In the USSR such an epoch of post-revolutionary transformations lasted till about 1937.

3.2.4. The Periods of Counterrevolutionary Dictatorships and Transformations

A dictatorship may result from different events. A successful revolution often promotes the establishment of a radical dictatorship, which happened more often after communist revolutions. But a revolution (a revolutionary epoch or an epoch of disturbances and revolutions) may end in the victory of conservative forces as well. In this case a right-wing dictatorship may be established which makes transformations usually aimed at a country's modernization. Thus, the fascist dictatorship of Mussolini in Italy rose as a result of the national-socialist revolution of 1922–1926.

Such right-wing post-revolutionary dictatorships are not uncommon. We have given the example of Franco's dictatorship. A less vivid example is the dictatorship of Salazar in Portugal, who made an attempt to create a corporative state following Mussolini's example. In Chile the Pinochet dictatorship was the result of the counterrevolutionary coup d'etat of 1973, which stopped the development of what could have become an analogue of communist revolution (an analogue since the ousted president Allende had legally come to power via elections). Pinochet's military government implemented modernizing transformations. To the same type one may attribute the periods/transformations resulting from the activity of the monarchs who were enthroned by revolutions. In the 19th century this was Napoleon III, in the 20th century the above-mentioned Reza Pahlavi, who conducted a number of important reforms in Persia (which he suggested referring to as Iran).

3.2.5. Revolutionary Movements without Revolutions. Revolutionary Epochs in India and Pakistan

We have already emphasized that the analogues of revolutions imply that to overthrow a regime there are needed neither preceding mobilization of the masses, nor pressure on the government and organization of protest actions. Ho-wever, sometimes the mobilization of the masses and various protest actions (claims, etc.) do not lead to an overthrow of the government and there are no demands to oust it. In other words, there are claims for meaningful transformations without a regime change that may manifest in a powerful wave like the protests and disturbances in 1968 in France, USA and a number of other countries (for a discussion of these events see Boung 2015). But such movements are often situational and lack progressive ideas (i.e., have no ideology but only voice certain requirements).[20] It is interesting to consider those long-lasting and powerful movements that ideologically are against revolution.

A vivid example here is the civil disobedience movement led by Mahatma Gandhi in the 1920s – 1930s in India which supported the spread of self-governance by non-violent means. Sometimes the campaigns would be successful so that the colonial authorities conducted certain changes; yet, sometimes they would fail. Among the Indian Muslims there was a movement akin to early Islamism (see Grinin, Korotayev, and Tausch 2019: Ch.3). Thus, for a long time the revolutionary movement in India did not strive for a classic revolution per se. But still it was a genuine revolutionary movement. It was not accidental that during World War I it began to gain different forms and in some respects it became like a revolution. In particular, a wave of large-scale anti-colonial protests swept through the country in 1942. It received the name The Quit India Movement, or the August Movement; in some historical traditions it is sometimes called the August revolution (Alaev et al. 2010: 402). There were large-scale and vigorous actions whose participants employed methods well beyond the frameworks of non-violence.[21] The participants of this movement demanded not reforms but independence. Although the movement had failed to displace the British Raj, it produced a very powerful impact since the international situation was unfavorable for Great Britain. As a result, the British government, which needed to concentrate all its efforts on the war with Germany and Japan, became very worried about potential disturbances in India which could make a dramatic impact on the outcome of the war.[22] So the British had to promise India the status of a dominion after the war, thus, more or less pacifying the revolutionary movement during and after the war; yet, disturbances and religious conflicts remained widespread in India both prior to and after the formal awarding of dominion status.

Thus, one may argue that the revolutionary movement in India and Pakistan had developed for over 20 years until it transformed into national-liberation revolution with certain peculiarities. The actual apogee of the revolutionary events was reached in 1942 while the revolution itself occurred only in 1947–1949. To a certain extent that revolution was legitimated, delayed and agreed upon (in the sense that there was an agreement between the British authorities and movement in India). Thus, one may have a revolutionary movement for several decades that culminates in orderly revolution (in India's case, replacement of the colonial government by independent India via a handover of authority); we would argue that this also constitutes a revolutionary epoch.

Thus, the epochs of disturbances, revolutionary movements, post-revolutionary transformations and other related events considerably complicate the overall picture of revolutionary waves. It is also clear that revolutions are just one of numerous types of socio-political transformations connected with society's transition from archaic to modern industrial relations or/and from authoritarian to democratic regimes. It is not surprising that within the general modernization movement that involved many countries in the 20th century there appeared many mixed transitionary transformations within which it is often difficult to distinguish revolutions from other types of societal transformation[23].

4. Major Revolutionary Trends and Lines

4.1. The Trends of the Twentieth-Century Revolutions

To supplement the above stated ideas we will briefly analyze the changing revolutionary trends of the 20th century and related characteristics of revolutions.

4.1.1. From Center to Periphery: Building Alternative Directions of Evolutionary Development

As already discussed, in the 20th century major revolutions hardly occurred in the World System core countries but shifted to the semi-periphery and periphery.[24] This has changed the relations between revolutions and the mainstream of historical development (see Grinin 2022d, 2022a). In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the undeniable superiority of Western societies made the democratic trend to attain similar, constitutional nation-states, generally dominate the goals of revolutions in terms of societies' future development.[25] However, the revolutions of the 1920s – 1940s started to form alternative paths of evolutionary development. One can distinguish two such paths. The first direction was associated with the idea that revolutions can help societies leap over stages of evolution and create a new society with a higher developmental level – the communist society. Russia's communist revolution created an alternative world-system developmental center in order to spread this trend throughout the world (Grinin 2017c). The second direction was the national-socialist/ authori-tarian type (which included fascist, national-socialist and right-wing nationalist) and which also sometimes aspired to global domination. However, some societies alternated their developmental vectors, shifting from one path to another (in particular, from national socialism/fascism to socialism). There also appeared some less important evolutionary paths, due to the rise of numerous states in the so-called Third World. Thus, the range and number of the 20th century revolutions can be considered as providing emerging opportunities for significant social-political experiments.

4.1.2. The Failed Idea about a Correlation Between Revolutions and Social Advance

As already mentioned, the expansion of revolutions to the World System semi-periphery and periphery was generally motivated by a desire to find and accelerate the nation's developmental path; but many such revolutions hardly promoted a World System advance (even in the framework of great revolutions; see Grinin 2022b, 2022d, 2022e) and only a few created real developmental alternatives (as with Russia 1930–1945 [Grinin 2017c] and China 1978–2020); others often led to a dead end. Numerous failed attempts to employ communist revolutions to create a fundamentally new, fair and advanced society, along with the disappointing results of conservative and right-wing revolutions (fascist and religious) disproved the previously popular idea about an indispensable correlation between revolution and progress. This disproof of concept was further exacerbated by the failure of the idea that revolutions ultimately lead to democracy. Many revolutions encountered a situation where democratic forces were weak and receded or were overcome, so that the struggle for power brought either right-wing or left-wing dictatorship (on the correlation between democracy, revolution and dictatorship see Grinin and Korotayev 2022a; Grinin 2017b).

4.1.3. The Growing Number of Analogues of Revolutions

There were a considerable number of military coups among the analogues of revolutions. This shows that in a number of countries the role of the military as a revolutionary force was quite significant.[26] Yet the transition of power to revolutionary forces in a peaceful manner was also a frequent case; and we have described other analogues of revolutions. Of the 117 revolutions and their analogues in the 20th century, we count 35 as analogues, i.e. almost 30 % (see Appendix 1, 2; Fig. 1). As we already pointed out, the ratio of revolutions and their analogues is 2.3:1, and in some periods, for example, from 1964 to 1975, the analogues of revolutions even prevailed (see Appendix 1, 2; Fig. 2).

4.1.4. Increasing Number of Revolutions with Considerable Foreign Interference and Disturbances Directly Inspired by Foreign Centers

In the 20th century, with most revolutions in peripheral and semi-peripheral countries rather than core ones, revolutions were more often subject to considerable foreign intervention, especially by major global powers. Revolutions and civil wars in some countries (Spain, China, Korea, Cuba, and Nicaragua) became the scene of geopolitical struggle between the USSR and its ideological rivals, first Germany and later the USA.

We have noted above a number of ways that the 20th-century revolutions differed from those of the 19th century. However, when defining the common features of the 20th-century revolutions one should take into account the fact that the revolutions of its first and second halves considerably differ. The revolutions of the first half demonstrate the greatness of revolutions and the latter still play the role of one of the major drivers of historical processes both for certain countries and for the whole world, since they help to find an evolutionary path of societal development in the World System as a whole. This was a genuine period of ‘Revolt of the masses’, to use Ortega y Gasset's term (Ortega y Gasset 1994). Two of the great social revolutions in history – the Russian and the Chinese – took place in the first half of the century. The revolutionary transformations of the 1920s and 1930s in Italy, Austria, Germany, Spain and Ottoman Turkey also caused dramatic reforms, ending centuries-old monarchies. In the latter half of the century, revolutions more often overthrew colonial, one-party or dictatorial regimes (though some still toppled monarchies, as in Ethiopia and Afghanistan). In addition, revolutions associated with guerilla warfare started spreading widely in Asia from the 1940–1950s and then in Africa (in Latin America guerilla warfare had lasted since the 19th century).

But it is far from easy to define an exact border between halves of the century. First, the logic of events makes us unevenly divide the 20th century. We consider its first half to last until the end of World War II, that is to 1944–1945 when the defeat of the Axis countries became clear. Thus, WWII serves as a clear demarcation line in the 20th century. Second, the most vivid events of the second half of the 20th century have their roots in its first half. This mostly refers to the employment of revolutions as a geopolitical tool or a means to undermine rivals.

When analyzing Wickham-Crowley's approach (1992), Sanderson fairly notes that explaining Third World revolutions is a somewhat different task from explaining earlier historical revolutions (Sanderson 2010). Indeed, the revolutions in the Third World differ both from the revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries and from the revolutions of the first half of the 20th century in Europe and Russia and revolutions in Asia of the early 20th century (about anticolonial and anti-dictatorial revolutions in the Third World see Dix 1984; Dunn 1989; Shugart 1989; Goodwin and Skocpol 1989; Farhi 1990; Kim 1991, 1996; Goldstone, Gurr, and Moshiri 1991; Foran 1992, 1997; Foran and Goodwin 1993; Johnson 1993; Goldstone 1994, 2001; Snyder 1999). Certainly, in the second half of the 20th century the role of revolutions in advancing the historical process generally decreased in comparison with the first half (see Grinin 2022d, 2018a, 2018b, 2019b). This was a positive point since world development would thus take a less dramatic path with a smaller number of victims and with less destructive means applied to advance. As to the scale of revolutions, the first half of the 20th century seems to be the culmination point in this respect.

4.2. Lines of Revolutions of the First Half of the 20th Century

Earlier we have introduced the idea of lines of revolutions as revolutions that follow one another in time over larger intervals but have a common origin and resemblances. Here we identify the major lines of revolutions in the 20th century.

The first line of revolutions: the attempts to raise peripheral statehood and strengthen sovereignty by creating a modern, liberal constitutional nation-state. Here one may attribute the two revolutions in Turkey from 1908 to 1923; in Iran 1905–1911; China 1911–1913; Mongolia 1911; Mexico 1910–1917 and also the Egyptian revolution of 1919 and the rise of national movement in India.

The second line of revolutions: the formation of national states as a result of collapse or weakening of empires.[27] These are the revolutions in Austro-Hungary and Germany in 1918 and subsequent years and in the national periphery of the Russian empire.[28] The above-mentioned events in Turkey, Egypt and India were also connected with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and weakening of the British Empire. Here one can also attribute the events in Ireland in 1916–1923 (see Coleman 2013).

The third line of revolutions, which also emerged within the revolutionary wave related to WWI: the attempts at communist transformation of the world. Here one can mention in the first place the communist revolution in Russia and attempts at such revolutions in Europe, in particular, in Hungary, Slovakia, Germany in 1919 and 1923, Bulgaria and others; and also a successful revolution in Mongolia in 1921. The attempts at socialist revolutions in different countries were made in the 1930s due to the popularity of communist ideas and the emergence in the USSR of a center for inspiration and support of such revolutions (Comintern). To this line one may attribute the revolution in Spain (at a certain stage). The communist movement achieved the most success in China, where the communist guerilla forces managed to occupy whole areas. One can also mention the so-called uprising of the Nghệ-Tĩnh soviets in Vietnam under the communist leadership in 1930–1931. As we will see below, socialism-based events also took place in Latin America, in particular in Chile and El Salvador.

The fourth line of revolutions: national-socialist revolutions. These are the right-wing revolution in Italy; the analogue of such revolution in Germany, the spread of fascist movements in a number of countries (including Slovakia, Croatia, and Great Albania as a result of German and Italian conquests) and the transition to dictatorship caused by revolutions (in Portugal and Spain, see below) and also by the growing right-wing bias of societies (see below). This line results from the impacts and outcomes of World War I, and also from the consequences of economic collapse and difficulties emerging as a result of the split of large political entities with receptive internal markets. In the first decades of the 20th century nationalism and socialism both became political movements and powerful banners, with tragic consequences for the rest of the century.

The fifth line of revolutions: democratic and social transformations, transformations of democracy. Democratic slogans were inherent to almost all revolutions; so this line may comprise many revolutions. For example, the Young Turk Revolution was democratic in its character but with a strong aspiration to military modernization which makes us attribute it to the first line. To a certain extent, the fifth line is a more artificial unification than other lines since there were quite a few pure democratic revolutions and their role is minor.

The pure democratic revolutions mostly aimed at changing political regime since in ideological terms the change of regime (overthrow of dictatorship or monarchy, establishment of constitutional monarchy or republic) is a sufficient means to improve life through the election of appropriate legislators. The examples here are the revolutions in Portugal or Monaco that occurred in the same year of 1910,[29] that in Greece in 1922 (see below), the analogue of revolution in Thailand (an analogue in the form of a military coup of 1932, the so-called Siamese revolution), and some revolutions in Latin America.[30] The first Russian revolution of 1905–1907 can be attributed to this line since the most important aim (and achievement) of this revolution was the introduction of an elected representative body. Yet, this revolution month by month would obtain the features of a social one. Far from all revolutions brought a successful transition to a stable democracy. On the contrary, as we have already mentioned, the 1920s and 1930s were hardly favorable for democracy so that numerous coups took place that brought personal and party dictatorships to triumph for a while. Thus, a number of revolutions aspiring to create democracy ended with establishment of dictatorship (in Portugal in 1926 – the dictatorship of Salazar; in Spain in 1939 – Franco). This line also comprises revolutions with a social character. These are in the first place, the revolution in Spain and to a certain extent the revolution in Mexico.

4.3. Lines of Revolutions from the 1940s through the Second Half of the 20th Century

The first line of revolutions: communist revolutions and transformations related to them. This includes revolutions and analogues of revolutions starting from 1944–1949 in Eastern Europe, the August Revolution in Vietnam, the victory of communists in the civil war in China; revolution in Cuba in 1956–1959 and subsequent revolutionary transformations there. Here one should also attribute the struggle of communists and their victory in South Vietnam and Laos in the 1960s – 1976 and the Maoist communist revolutions and movements (in Cambodia, Nepal, Burma and others),[31] and also the analogue of revo-lution in Chile under Salvador Allende and the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, the April 1978 revolution (analogue) in Afghanistan, as well as a number of other movements and attempts.

The second line of revolutions: national-liberation revolutions and streng-thening of peripheral statehood. This line includes not only revolutions but also numerous revolutionary and other movements for independence. They intensified after WWII (the liberation of Indonesia, independence of India and Pakistan) and continued over the period of 1950–1960 and partially in the 1970s. We observe such events (including analogues of revolutions) not only in Africa, but also in the Middle East. The most famous are the Arab-socialist revolutions (or to be more precise, analogues of revolution since they occurred in the form of military coups d'état) in Egypt in 1952, Libya in 1969, and in Syria in 1963–1966. Here one may also attribute the revolutions in Algeria, Mozambique and Angola which gained independence only in the course of long-lasting national-liberation struggles. To this line one may also attribute different movements for independence in different parts of the world, including the USSR and Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

The third line of revolutions: anticommunist revolutions. Here one can point out the early revolutions (the rebellions and movements in the GDR in 1953, Hungary in 1956, Czechoslovakia in 1968, and Poland in 1970 and 1980[32]) and also revolutions in the socialist countries in 1989–1992 (Czechoslovakia, GDR, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Albania, Mongolia and the USSR). Actually, this line may also comprise different movements and process-ses in different national republics of the USSR and Yugoslavia which, however, mostly refer to the second line.

The fourth line of revolutions: democratic and anti-monarchical revolutions with different outcomes. As we already mentioned, although democratic slogans were used in the absolute majority of revolutions there were a few purely democratic revolutions. Here one can mention the April 1960 revolution in Korea (and to a certain extent the Gwangju Uprising in 1980), the People Power (or Yellow) revolution of 1986 and the subsequent revolution in 2000–2001 in the Philippines, the October revolution in Sudan in 1964, and some others. Anti-monarchical revolutions and analogues were also observed: in Zanzibar in 1964, in Iran in 1979, and the analogues of revolution in Afghanistan in 1973, Yemen in 1962, Iraq in 1958 and Ethiopia in 1974 (all four occurred in the form of military coups). But the outcome of revolutions and even their directions were mostly quite different. In Iran, for example, the revolution quickly transformed into a religious one (thus, it is not surprising that it obtained a wide coverage in literature [e.g., Skocpol 1982; Parsa 2000; McDaniel 1991; Aliev 2004; Milani 2015]); in Afghanistan the revolution first transformed into a communist and later into a religious revolution. In Zanzibar it obtained a strictly ethnic (anti-Arab) character which led to massacres of the Arab and South Asian civilians.

5. The Waves of Revolutions of the First Half of the 20th Century

Having laid out the diverse types and the major lines of revolutions of the century, we now present the proper ‘waves of revolution’– that is, cases showing a fairly rapid and closely linked diffusion of revolutionary impetus.

5.1. The First Wave of 1905–1911

This wave included several major revolutions, including the Russian Revolution of 1905–1907, the Iranian Constitutional Revolution of 1905, the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, the Chinese and Mongolian Revolutions of 1911, and the Mexican Revolution of 1910, as well as two minor revolutions in that year (Portugal, Monaco). The Russian revolution of 1905–1907 was of a peculiar character and can be characterized as social-democratic. It took much time to ripen and was triggered by Russia's military defeat in the war with Japan. Other revolutions of this wave were to a large extent connected with the first line of re-volution (rise of peripheral statehood and strengthening of sovereignty) since the revolutions would break out in the East and in the periphery (Mexico), except for minor revolutions of the democratic line (the Portuguese revolution, the revolution in Monaco in 1910). The major causes of these revolutions were a desire for modernization as well as constitutional regimes and related changes and also attempts to eliminate their countries' dependence on the West (except for Russia which was an imperialist country itself).[33]

The Xinhai Revolution of 1911 in China (similar in many respects to the Persian revolution) was caused by the painful national humiliation of decades of Western incursions and demands, and aspirations to make China truly independent. This revolution also caused a revolution in Mongolia in 1911 (and declaration of its independence from China) which was supported by the Russian interference. The Young Turk revolution in 1908, organized by revolutionary officers, aimed at restoration of the former greatness of the Ottoman Empire. At this time, revolutionaries in many parts of the world looked to the superiority of European (and American) power; hence European institutions and ideas, as well as their revolutionary history, were taken as models. However, the attempts to introduce constitutional and democratic regimes in Persia, Turkey and China ended in establishing new dictatorships – in Iran a new dynasty came to power; in Turkey a coup d'état was led by Enver Pasha; and in China Yuan Shikai sought to reclaim Imperial rule before the country dissolved into warlord fiefdoms.

Eventually, these revolutions did open a path to modernization, but in each case the path was long and fraught with pitfalls. The Ottoman Empire needed another revolution. In Iran and China the revolutions triggered a long epoch of disturbances which in both countries lasted until the mid-1920s, followed by revolutions later in the century. Perhaps, the most favorable outcome was observed in Mexico, where although the revolutionary wars of 1910–1920 were extremely bloody and destructive, there emerged a constitutional regime that later provided substantial land reforms and modernization before shifting to a stable one-party regime that peacefully transitioned to democracy at the end of the century (David-Fox 2017).

5.2. The Second Wave of Revolutions in 1917–1923

This wave was related to WWI and led to the emergence of many new states and also to a considerable revision of boundaries. As we have noted, at least two revolutionary lines emerged within this wave and others were reinforced. In the situation of declining or collapsing multinational empires (the Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman) there was opened the way for a number of national revolutions.[34] At that, some of them were actually peaceful and conducted via partially legitimate means (most of all, in the countries where democracy had already proliferated). Thus, in 1918 the revolution in Austria passed with little effort.[35] By this time the evolutionary events were already in progress in all parts of Austro-Hungarian Empire. They were also mostly peaceful and relatively legitimate.

In Hungary the democratic revolution would transform into a communist one because many prisoners of war who returned from Russia were fascinated with communist ideas and also because Hungary experienced humiliation of territorial losses from the newly emerging states. It is also worth noting that the states that emerged partially or fully on the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy (Yugoslavia, Hungary, Poland, and also Romania) experienced certain problems in introducing democracy and in nation building. In Austria fascist and ultra-right ideas were on the rise and in early 1933 the parliament ceased its activity while Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss set a course for dictatorship, prohibiting the right and left wing and resorting to repression. This eventually led to the revolt of socialists and anarchists in Vienna and other cities in February 1934 and actually to a small-scale civil war between the governmental forces and left forces which caused numerous victims. Only Czechoslovakia was relatively trouble-free, besides, the nationalist movements among the German and Slovakian minorities were considerable.

Although the revolution in Germany was not that smooth, there were relatively few bloody incidents (like the defeat of the insurgents in Berlin in January 1919) despite the attempts of the communists to turn it into a more intensive communist revolution. It is interesting that this revolution not only overthrew the major monarch in the country (Kaiser) but also more than 20 other crowned heads. But the process of change could hardly proceed without serious hardships, especially in the context of the peace treaty's tough terms; and, so, as we said above, it turned into a revolutionary epoch.

The situation in Greece and the Ottoman Empire was also serious due to the war between them. The defeat of the Greek troops in Turkey in 1922, and a forced resettlement of the Asia Minor Greeks to their motherland in September 1922 generated a revolution in Greece (whose bulk was formed by the Greek military). The monarchy was overthrown and a republic was established. But there were no other consequences. In Turkey, under the need to repel the Allies and stop their plans to divide the country after its defeat in World War I, a revolution (1919–1923) was led by Kemal Atatürk (the title surname was granted to him later on) that led to dramatic transformation of the state and life in Turkey, and to its accelerated modernization following the Western pattern. Profound transformations also occurred in Russia and its periphery (see also Table in Appendix 1, lines 11), which eventually transformed into the USSR, which provided support for the line of communist revolutions.

Almost every participant of World War I paid for it somehow in subsequent political upheaval. The defeated regimes paid first, and collapsed or were overthrown. Yet, several of the winning countries faced grim prospects as well. Ireland would revolt and break away from the United Kingdom, and Italy obviously exerted itself to the utmost and so the economic situation was bad – in 1920–1922 the communists and anarcho-syndicalists scaled up their activities in order to get power. In this situation nationalism and a strong paternalist state seemed a way out. Finally, by stirring up his followers to participate in the armed march to Rome in 1922 the fascists led by Benito Mussolini managed to come to power and create a new government. The fascist (national-socialist) revolution in Italy generated a pattern of similar revolutions which obviously perceived democracy as a burden (Mussolini supported the Ustaša Movement in Croatia, the fascist movement in Albania and in some other places, and was admired by Hitler).

On the whole, this second wave of revolutions of the 20th century led to the emergence of the first communist state, enhanced modernization in some Asian states (including China where revolutionary processes were still in progress) and strengthened dictatorships in new and defeated European countries. It thus created powerful revolutionary movements, many of which continued to influence political trajectories throughout the century by providing alternatives to the constitutional model which had previously dominated revolutions. Thus, the state started to aspire to transform from what Marx called ‘a night watchman’ into a total and all-embracing entity.

5.3. The Flood of Transformations in the 1930s

The 1930s can hardly be considered as a revolutionary wave period (though as we said earlier there were many transformative events of different nature). In a certain sense a small-scale wave of revolutions swept Latin America connected with the economic crisis of 1920 – the 1930s (the Great Depression). It is not surprising since these countries severely suffered from trade barriers and the reduced demand for their goods. Here one can mention the socalled revolution in Brazil in 1930 (which we would better call an analogue of revolution), the revolutionary events in Chile in 1931–1932 (where the military dictatorship was overthrown and replaced by a fragile socialist republic),[36] revolution in Cuba in 1933–1934, and also a number of other events. In 1930 in El Salvador there was a failed communist revolt (the movement originated already in 1927) while in 1926–1934 in Nicaragua the insurgent army of Augusto Sandino organized a guerrilla war against the government and American troops; however, after certain success it ended with disarmament of the insurgents under an agreement with government, subsequent arrest and assassination of Sandino and the establishment of a 40-year dictatorship of the Somoza Dynasty. Additional revolutionary events took place in 1930–1932 in Peru; the economic crisis also generated an antidemocratic coup in Argentina in 1930.

While the 1930s may not have seen major revolutions, it was nonetheless a landmark decade in terms of major revolutionary events within ongoing revolutionary epochs. The USSR implemented the radical policies of collectivization, forced state-led industrialization, cultural revolution, and under the guise of increasing class struggle, the flywheel of repression was launched against all societal layers, including purges targeting many members of the Soviet elite. At that, the demonstrated developmental rates (which were the highest in a world overtaken with severe depression) made the USSR an attractive example.

In Central, Southern and Eastern Europe the objective social-economic situation pushed many European countries towards strict models of political order and to dictatorships of ‘strong personalities’ (Ponomareva 2014: 20; about the first so-called backside from democracy see Huntington 1993; about the role of individuals in history [including their role in revolutions and post-revolutionary epochs] see Grinin 2008b, 2010b, 2012a).

In Italy the fascist regime continued to strengthen and gradually transform the society. In 1926 (after the attempted assassination of Mussolini) the repressions expanded, the opposition parties were banned, and the elections were more and more put under control. A corporate state was established which started to create state-controlled entities. The society quickly made its way towards totalitarianism, yet, the Italian variant of totalitarianism was just a precursor of the German one. In Germany in the late 1930s, in an analogue of a revolution of the nationalist-socialist type, after his election as Chancellor Hitler transformed Germany into a totalitarian ethno-racist imperial state. Then with this fifth column, Germany managed to destabilize situation in Austria and Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia which both served as a pretext and facilitated the conquest. To a certain extent the events of 1938 in Austria and the Sudetenland can be considered also as analogues of revolutions of nationalist-socialist type.

In China, the revolutionary epoch continued and intensified, as the Sino-Japanese War merged with the revolutionary civil war. As already pointed, in 1925–1928, Chiang Kai-shek succeeded in uniting China and formed a new government. In the 1920s and 1930s, China became a zone of Soviet activities and of German (and to a certain extent of American) ambitions as well. But in 1931 Japan launched its aggression against China which in 1937 transformed into a full-scale invasion. This enabled the survival of the Chinese Communist Party, as Chiang Kai-shek was forced to halt his effort to destroy the communists in order to repel the Japanese, eventually striking a deal with Mao Zedong to combine forces against the invader.

Revolutionary countries started or continued to actively affect revolutionary preparations in other countries via special organizations and other means. As to Comintern, its attempts to inspire revolutions mostly failed while the Nazi Germany achieved more success.

Probably, the most vivid revolutionary event of the 1930s was the Spanish Revolution of 1931–1939. This revolution passed through all possible stages of revolution (about them see Grinin 2022b), including intervention and interference of several other countries, beginning as a social-democratic revolution and ending with a right-wing dictatorship.

6. Waves and Mini-Lines of Revolutions of the 1940s and Second Half of the 20th Century

6.1. The Third Wave of Revolutions in 1944–1949

The second wave of revolutions after World War I, and especially the continued revolutionary transformations of the 1930s (the rise of fascism and Nazism and the rapid industrialization of the USSR) contributed to the emergence of the World War II. The cost and defeats of that conflict then launched a third wave of the 20th century revolutions in 1944–1949 (in India and Israel/Palestine it began around early 1942 and 1943, see Appendix 1). This third wave was predetermined by the outcomes of WWII; that is, by the defeat of Germany, its allies and Japan and the liberation of the countries they had conquered and the subsequent occupation of those territories by the members of the anti-Hitler coalition. Here we should make some preliminary remarks:

·   Not only revolutions but also other types of events (including the people's armed resistance) were naturally connected with occupation, resistance, liberation and post-war order;[37]

·   The revolutionary events involved many societies at different levels of development, and so included classic revolutionary events as well as many revolution analogues and mixed type events;

·   In the Asian countries the revolutionary events (at least, at their first stages) were national-liberation movements. They could thus start as liberation struggles against the Japanese and then later become anti-colonial revolutions against the metropolis (France, the Netherlands, and Great Britain).

·   Some revolutions would launch revolutionary epochs (or even epoch of disturbances) that later encompassed civil wars, genocides, and further revolutionary transformations.

Thus, for example, the revolutionary epoch in Vietnam lasted for more than 30 years – from 1945 to 1970. The epoch of disturbances in Laos lasted for about 20 years – from late 1950s to 1975 – after which a complicated epoch of communist transformations started which also led to the overthrow of the royal power (in 1975) and formation of the Lao People's Democratic Republic. In neighboring Cambodia, the epoch of disturbances started later but lasted for about 40 years. From 1947 the civil war resumed there. In the 1960s, with the outbreak of the second Indochina war, the Vietnamese organized military camps in Cambodia which led to American interference into Cambodian affairs. After the coup of 1970 in Cambodia, a new period of civil war started there which was followed by the revolution of the Khmer Rouge (1975–1979) led by Pol Pot – one of the bloodiest revolutions in history. Then the Vietnamese army took down the Pol Pot regime and installed a new parliamentary regime. The troops were withdrawn only in 1987. The epoch of disturbances in Burma was especially long, it lasted about 75–80 years (1948–2012); perhaps, it continues till now.

After World War II, developing countries around the world were drawn to the Soviet model as a path to rapid modernization and to making a break with the Western imperialist powers. The USSR victory in WWII promoted the spreading of communist ideology. Taking Soviet support, a line of communist revolutions and revolutionary parties was launched in China, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia and other nations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, many of which came to fruition (or defeat) only in the 1950s – the 1980s (as discussed in the next section below).

In the Eastern European countries there were no classic revolutions, of course, but the analogues of revolutions. The analogues of revolutions in the five future socialist countries of Eastern Europe may be divided into two groups: 1) revolutions that started as antifascist revolts and democratic in their nature but due to the circumstances would later transform into socialist. This transition was facilitated by the Soviet occupation, by the role the communists played in the resistance and also the general left-bias of the society as a result of struggle with fascism. Thus, the communists managed to win the elections (not everywhere) and referendums (yet, not without vote rigging) especially if they had previously gained the key positions; 2) revolutions that broke out during the communists' attempts to gain power. The former type is characteristic for the countries collaborating with Germany. The second one was characteristic for Czechoslovakia and Poland.

Finally, there was one more way to socialism – due to transformations with the help and under a strict control of the Soviet occupation troops (in Northern Korea, German Democratic Republic). In this case, one may hardly speak about revolutions (or even about analogues of revolutions). But since this does not affect the intensity and scale of revolutionary events then such kinds of changes may be called the transformations with revolutionary importance.[38]

This type of transformations includes the forced transformations in the countries occupied by the USA (Japan and South Korea and also Western Germany). However, the transformations there were less radical than in socialist countries.

With account of the aforesaid we can also distinguish groups of revolutions connected with different aspects of the abovementioned large-scale world-system changes and also give characteristics of other events.

6.1.1. Revolutions Connected with Long-Lasting Armed Resistance in the Countries Occupied by Fascists

Here we speak about Yugoslavia and Albania in the first place where thanks to operating guerrilla detachments which later grew into armies, the communists came to power and then conducted revolutionary transformations. Similar situation was observed in Greece where the resistance army headed by communists succeeded to liberate almost the whole country. But the British occupation of Greece hampered the communists from coming to power. As a result, the opposition between communists and royalists turned into a civil war from 1946 to 1949 which ended in the communists' defeat. So if one speaks about the Greek revolution then it should be defined as a national-liberation with failed transformation into a communist one. In all cases the revolutionary pattern implies peripheral advance (see Huntington 1968; Goldstone 2014: 27–29).

6.1.2. Revolutions Caused by the Defeat of Japan

Here one can list the revolution (uprising) in Vietnam in August 1945 and also the transformations of revolutionary importance in North and South Koreas. The struggle with Japan became the turning point for national-liberation struggle in Indonesia and subsequent cataclysms in Burma; and it also laid foundations for the struggle for independence of Malaysia. Finally, it put an end to the civil war in China, because the communists became strong and succeeded to defeat the Kuomintang.

In some cases, revolutionary transformation occurred through agreement, as with the British withdrawal from India, though this had been forced upon Britain by massive demonstrations. But whether by revolution or revolution analogues, few nations in Europe or Asia had the same regimes within five years after World War II as they had before the war.

Revolutions in Latin America were not connected with the end of war; however, similar processes went on there. In particular, in June 1944 in Guatemala a popular uprising removed the dictator Jorge Ubico, established a democratic regime and conducted a number of reforms including large-scale agrarian reforms. It is considered that this revolution lasted until 1954, when the elected president Jacobo Árbenz was ousted during the military coup inspired by US intelligence agencies who accused Árbenz of being a communist. As a result, the military junta led by Carlos Castillo Armas came to power. Several years later these events eventually provoked a civil war in Guatemala which would last with intervals from 1960 to 1996. So again we see how revolutions initiate long periods of instability and confrontation in society. Other countries were also unstable: for example, in 1948 in Columbia there broke out armed riots (El Bogotazo) which launched a ten years' civil war (with the participation of communists). The military coup in Venezuela in 1945, which briefly installed a democratic government, is sometimes called a revolution but although it was supported by the population and led to certain political changes in the country it is hardly a revolution, all the more so since in 1948 there occurred another coup that brought the democracy to an end.

6.2. The 1950s – the 1980s. Lines of Revolutions and Revolutionary Events

Unlike the previous period, that is the wave of revolutions in the 1940s, the revolutions and revolutionary events of the 1950s and 1980s were not so frequent (the anti-communist revolutions of the late 1980s are considered as a distinct wave and discussed below). Sometimes there occurred several revolutionary events within a short period, like for example, in the end of the 1970s (the analogue of revolution in Afghanistan in 1978, revolution in Iran in 1979, and that in Nicaragua in 1979).[39] Or one can mention national-liberation struggle in the Portuguese colonies: in 1961 it started in Angola, in 1963 it began in Guinea-Bissau, in 1964 it started in Mozambique. But still one can hardly call this period a revolutionary wave since there were not enough revolutions for a true wave (see the definition of a revolutionary wave above; see also Grinin 2022f, 2022g). We define such groups of events as a sort of mini-lines of revolutions (see below). Outside of the anti-colonial revolutions in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, there were only a few true revolutions in these decades (e.g., Bolivia 1952, Cuba 1959, Nicaragua and Iran 1979), and they were widely dispersed in time and space. However, there were many revolution analogues, especially military coups and attempted secessions and revolutions.

One reason there were many different kinds of events is that there was more than one world-system factor producing them. The most important world-system factors propelling revolutions and revolutionary events of the period were the rise of anticolonial movements; the growing national identity of a number of peoples with the spread of radio, television, and literacy; the opposition between the communist and capitalist blocs (and also the intensified international Maoist movement); and the urge towards democracy.

Revolutions, analogues of revolutions and other revolutionary events in the 1950s – 1980s occurred in many different parts of the world, including Europe.[40] Revolutionary events took place in democratic countries as well. In 1968, a whole wave of revolutionary movements without revolutions swept Europe and the USA, as revolutionary student and labor unrest occurred in France, Great Britain, Germany, the USA and other countries, but they did not aim at the ouster of governments and did not lead to them. In the 1960s – the 1970s there were massive student, race, anti-nuclear and anti-war demonstrations and protests in the USA. By contrast, the 1980s (until the very end when a new wave of revolutions started) were more peaceful in revolutionary terms than the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Although one can hardly speak about waves of revolutions during this period, still we may speak about a sort of mini-lines of revolutions. These are events taking place in different countries and periods, i.e. not simultaneously, but separated by an over decade, yet having common reasons and sometimes even goals and ideologies and producing mutual influence. Such mini-lines can often be traced on a regional scale, in particular we observe them in the Near East, Latin America, and Africa (we may speak about mini-line also in respect of the anti-communist revolutions in Eastern Europe in the 1950s – the 1970s). Such mini-lines have certain common civilizational and historical features, genetic roots and geopolitical conditions.

Similar to other periods, revolutions should be treated within a general trend with military coups, peaceful coming to power followed by further radical transformations and other analogues of revolutions as well in combination with counterrevolutionary movements which created peculiar developmental epochs (e.g., in Chile after 1973). Here we should point out that the number of military coups exceeds by many times the number of revolutions for most of the post-war period.[41] We consider some of the military coups (e.g., in the Arab countries in the 1950s – the 1960s) as analogues of revolutions since they provoked profound changes and mass mobilization and also relied on the formed and attractive ideology (which is a characteristic of revolutions and their analogues). But most military coups are not analogues of revolutions, but just a change of power or oust of democratic government. Among the latter one can distinguish a peculiar type of military coup which are better defined as counterrevolutionary. These were the ones in Latin America: in Guatemala in 1954, Bolivia in 1964, in Chile in 1973; and also in Europe, for example, in Greece in 1967, in Poland in 1981.

We examine some of the major revolutionary lines and mini-lines of this period according to the regions where they developed.

6.2.1. Eastern Europe: Anti-Communist Revolutions

The first such events were the worker strikes, unrests and even revolts in German Democratic Republic (GDR) in June and July of 1953. The movement started as economic protests but gradually grew into a political movement with demands to oust the government. It spread to the whole GDR and was suppressed by a huge number of Soviet troops. One can hardly define these events as a revolution but this movement probably could have grown into revolution if not for the Soviet troops. The events in October and November 1956 in Hungary better fit the notion of revolution. Here the movement for rehabilitation and renewal of the communist party started under the influence of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and gradually grew into an anti-communist revolution. The new revisionist government of Hungary declared its exit from the Warsaw treaty and addressed the West for help against the USSR. Soon the revolutionaries started to get arms and tried to forcibly take power in Budapest, and there actually started a military revolt that was suppressed by Soviet troops similarly to the GDR. In the same year, similar but smaller protests took place in Poland (in particular on June 28 in Poznan the workers' actions were suppressed causing numerous casualties [Williams et al. 1995]). Finally, the events of the so-called Prague spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968 took place against the background of a general rise of protests in Europe.[42] The movement escaped the control of the communist reformers and transformed into an antisocialist and anti-Soviet revolution. It may be considered as an analogue of revolution and the course of events should have brought profound changes in the country. However, it was crushed by the troops of the Warsaw treaty member-states. This mini-line also includes the upheavals of 1970–1971 in Poland which can hardly be considered as a genuine revolution. However, the events of 1980–1981 in Poland were evidently close to revolution. They ended with imposition of martial law by General Jaruzelski.

6.2.2. The Middle East

In the Middle East the revolutionary events were caused by several interrelated factors: national-liberation struggles, the establishment of statehood in the Arab societies (which was weak from the very beginning, so the establishment of borders and sovereignty caused tensions and conflicts [see Grinin, Korotayev, and Tausch 2019: Ch. 2; Grinin and Korotayev 2019a, 2019b, 2019c]).

Probably, the most vivid manifestation of weak statehood could be found in Yemen, which in 1948 entered an epoch of disturbances lasting until 1994, including civil wars and separation into two countries, then reunification, and later in 2011 destabilization returned. Civil war in 1948 was connected with a coup (the king was assassinated and his heir was removed from power) and in 1962 with the overthrow of monarchy. Both events are sometimes called revolutions, yet the former hardly suffices a revolution and the latter is more likely an analogue of revolution. Besides, many countries traditionally interfered in Yemen's conflicts.

An important role was played by the strengthening secular trend and etatism in the Arab world,[43] resulting in the choice for political forces between the world mainstream trends (socialism and capitalism) and also the struggle against post-colonialism, imperialism and Zionism (more specifically, Israel). It is significant that there were no classic social revolutionary events in the Middle East in this period except for the Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979. We more often observe analogues of revolutions with the military playing the leading role (Egypt 1952, Iraq 1958 and 1968 [the latter coup completed the establishment of a new regime when the Iraqi Ba'ath political party came to power], Syria 1963–1970 [three coups in 1963, 1966, and 1970; during the first coup the Syrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party came to power, while the second and third coups were the results of the struggle for power until Hafez al-Assad came to power]; the already mentioned coup in Yemen [1962]; in Libya [1969]; in Sudan [1969]; in Afghanistan [1973, 1978])[44]. The events most close to a revolution type were the national-liberation struggle in Algeria in 1954–1963 and the so-called October revolution in Sudan in 1964. Another interesting example of national-liberation struggle was the fight of the Palestinians for independence headed by the Palestine Liberation Organization, led by Yasser Arafat. This struggle intensified from the early 1970s and eventually led to partial victory in the form of the Palestinian autonomy in the 1990s, which then gave way to schism and divided rule between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in other parts of occupied Palestine.

The only classic, yet novel, revolution in this region during these decades was the foundation of the Iranian Islamic Republic through a revolution against the Shah, Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. Pahlevi's father came to power in the 1920s, in a coup following the Constitutional Revolution of 1905. Mohammed Reza took over at his father's abdication, and sought to carry out the program of modernization, including land reforms to undermine the clergy, military modernization to become a major power, and rapid industrialization. However, he depended on deals with foreign powers to develop and pay for Iran's oil, and this led to an attempt by Parliamentary leader Mohammed Mossadegh to nationalize the oil industry and more widely distribute its revenues. In 1953, with the help from America's CIA, Mossadegh was driven out of power, and the Shah became an even more authoritarian dictator. His corruption, cronyism, deals with foreigners, and economic mismanagement united almost every stratum of Iranian society against him: oil field and professional workers, government bureaucrats, traditional Bazaar merchants, peasants (many of whom were driven to the cities by his land reforms), and the clergy. More radical members of the clergy, students, and workers were drawn to networks of resistance, led by the exiled religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini, whose recorded sermons circulated widely. In the late 1970s, the US President Jimmy Carter, who had run on a platform of championing human rights, pressured the Shah, as a leading ally, to show more toleration of dissent. This allowed his opponents to organize large-scale protest rallies. When these were violently repressed by the Shah's security forces, Khomeini turned the repression to his advantage by promoting large-scale funeral processions for the ‘martyrs’, which turned into large anti-regime protests. By 1979, the protests had become massive and the Shah, who was now quite ill, had lost the will to fight. He left Iran for medical treatment in the U.S., and the weak government he left behind was soon forced to give in to the protestors. Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile to lead a revolutionary government that was novel in being led by religious leaders, and making all state decisions subject to veto by the ‘Supreme Leader’ (Khomeini) on the basis of his interpretation of Islamic law. The more resolutely secular and pro-Western Iranians who had been close to the Shah, and even some secular revolutionaries who had joined the revolution against the Shah, were forced to flee as the Ayatollah reshaped Iran into a more religious and intolerant society (Keddie 1981; Skocpol 1982; Arjomand 1988; Moghadam 1989; Farhi 1990; Moaddel 1993; Milani 2015). The Islamic Republic has not only survived past Khomeini's death, but has become a major regional power, supporting sympathetic parties in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and becoming a major opponent of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Emirates and the United States.

6.2.3. Communist Revolutions in Indochina

In 1945 the defeat of Japan opened the way to independence for the countries of Indochina; however, soon they had to struggle for independence from their former imperial power, France. It is worth noting that in contrast with Britain, which decided to peacefully set several colonies and dominions free, France sought to hold on to its colonial possessions, which caused national-liberation struggles in Indochina and Algeria. Besides, the French suppressed independence revolts in Algeria in 1945 and in Madagascar in 1947. However, in some cases the British also suppressed national-liberation rebellions, in particular, in British Malaya and Kenya (Gromyko et al. 1988: 175).

Vietnam fought France from 1945 to 1954; a negotiated peace then led to split of Vietnam into the northern communist regime (the Democratic Republic of Vietnam) and the pro-Western republic of South Vietnam. However, corruption and peasant grievances over landholding (many large French plantations in the rice-paddy regions were simply taken over by local landlords) led to a coup d'etat in 1963 followed by intensifying guerrilla war in Southern Vietnam supported from Hanoi. The United States responded by sending military assistance and then large numbers of American troops to what became a full-scale war that also involved Laos and Cambodia. The war in Vietnam ended in 1976 when Northern Vietnam conquered the Southern part, yet in Laos and Cambodia the revolutionary events went on for another decade. As noted above, the revolution in Cambodia brought to power the genocidal Khmer Rouge communists, who sought to destroy urban and bourgeois life in Cambodia (which they renamed Kampuchea). They were only defeated after a war with Vietnam which they lost.

6.2.4. Other Revolutions in Asia

We have already mentioned the communist rebellions in British Malaya (the first, from 1948 to 1960, was put down by the British; the second from 1968 to 1989, by the government of Malaysia). The communist revolutionary movement continued in Asia. Moreover, starting from the 1960s the Maoist influence on revolutionary processes was perceived in Asia very well. We may also remember the events in Nepal, yet they go beyond the defined period. In 1996, the guerilla warriors with participation of communists started the so-called Maoist Conflict against the government; the Maoists actively led it being supported by population. Finally, in 2006 the king of Nepal was actually deprived of power (in 2008 the country was proclaimed a republic) and in 2007 signed a ceasefire with the Maoists who were integrated into the country's political system. In 2018 communists (Maoists and Marxists) united into a single party. Thus, Nepal is one of the few countries where communists rule. But the Maoist impact was perceived not only in Asia but in other parts of the world as well (see below).

Alongside with successful communist revolutions there were a number of failed attempts, for example in Indonesia. On the night of September 30 to October 1 of 1965 the communists attempted a coup but the president in office Sukarno made a successful countercoup which led to mass murders and purges taking the lives of hundreds thousands of the president's political opponents. In this context, we may also mention the communist guerrilla war in the Philippines (guerilla forces were created already during the Japanese occupation) which lasted until 1974.

There were also other national liberation movements, for example, the Bengali nationalist uprising in East Pakistan, which led – with Indian intervention – to the secession of East Pakistan from Pakistan, and its independence in 1971 as the new state of Bangladesh. Let us also mention the struggle of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka which lasted from 1983 to 2009 and ended with the Tigers' defeat. One should also mention numerous Kurdish rebellions and resistance in the Northern Iraq from the 1940s to the 1960s, none of which produced a Kurdish state, but which did lead to the creation of a semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq in the 21st century.

One should also note that there was a democratic revolution in South Korea in 1960. At that time, massive student and urban protests drove from power President Syngman Rhee who had been the country's only President since South Korea was formed in 1948. Still, the 1960 revolution is notable as being the first case in Asia of a government being driven from power by non-violent protests following claims of a rigged election, which would later become a common pattern for ‘color revolutions’ from the 1980s to the 2010s.

The Korean model was followed in 1986 in the Philippines. There, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos was asked by the US to demonstrate his legitimacy by a na-tional election. He was opposed in a national campaign by Corazon Aquino, the widow of a popular politician that Marcos had assassinated. Aquino was backed by the archbishop of the Philippines, and most voters believed she had won. But when the vote counting was delayed, and then Marcos declared the winner, non-violent protests arose in Manila and around military bases. This ‘yellow’ revolution (from the color of ribbons worn by protestors) or ‘People Power Revolution’ was joined by a faction of the military, and Marcos was forced to flee, leaving Aquino to become President. The Yellow Revolution – with many images of peaceful crowds swarming and immobilizing military installations, and the heartwarming appeal of Ms. Aquino as the courageous victor – became in many respects the harbinger of modern color revolutions.

6.2.5. Latin America

In general, the period between 1950 and the 1980s was a time of rather active modernization in Latin America, including industrial development, urbanization, development of modern education systems and other spheres which caused huge social shifts (one should also take into account that before the 1980s population growth remained strong). However, the tensions in these societies were considerable as well. The traditional disparities in income between the highest and lowest layers remained very large or grew larger, but now with a more educated and connected population, opposition could organize and grow. Socio-political struggles thus dramatically aggravated, bringing clashes between political and ideological forces over whether government would back the rich or support workers and peasants (in certain respects affected by the presence of the world communist camp as well as the impact of the Maoists[45]).

The clearest example of large reforms, continuous revolutionary protests and military coups in the 1950s–1970s was Argentina. This period in Argentina can be called the epoch of Perón since the brightest political figures were President Juan Domingo Perón and his wives: Evita and Isabel. The latter served as vice president during her husband's third term as president from 1973 to 1974 and succeeded him as president upon his death (1974–1976). Perón was one of the leaders of the military coup of 1943 which allowed him to become President in 1946 and perform considerable changes in the Constitution. Against this background his rule until 1955 may be considered with certain reservations as an analogue of revolution. All the more so since his rule ended with his ousting in September 1955 during another military coup which was preceded by anti-Perón civil actions.

In the 1950s – the 1970s in Latin America there occurred many more coups (only in Argentina there were more than four successful military coups). The number of revolutions was much smaller even if counted together with analogues of revolutions. In Latin America the role of the military is traditionally large so revolutionary events, for example involving major land reforms, often had the features of a ‘military revolution’ (Stroganov 1995: 221), like, for example, the Peruvian revolution of 1968–1975. Among numerous military coups there were a few that resulted from revolutions from above (Ibid.: 225; i.e. analogues of revolutions), like for instance, the revolution in Panama on October 11, 1968 led by general Omar Torrijos.[46]

An important event was the national revolution in Bolivia in 1952 (which was anti-dictatorial, democratic and social in its character). In 1951 the right-wing forces and the military made an attempt to ban from power the president Ángel Víctor Paz Estenssoro, who had been legally elected from the leftist Revolutionary Nationalist Movement (Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucio-nario [MNR]). In 1951 the dictatorship was established but the Revolutionary Nationalist Movement prepared the rebellion (relying on the tin miners and other sympathizing population) in all country's major cities (see Thomas 1960: 400). 10,000 armed miners came to help the insurgents. During the three days' fighting the army and repressive apparatus were defeated (Stroganov 2002: 159). As a result, on April 9, 1952 the dictatorship government fled. The Bolivian national revolutionary government lasted until the coup of November 4, 1964. For the twelve years that the MNR ruled the country, it conducted agrarian and other reforms that affected the course of Bolivian political, economic and social development.

The most influential and famous Latin American revolution of this period is the Cuban Revolution, which started in 1956 as an anti-dictatorship revolt but eventually grew into a communist revolution.[47] Its success, and its anti-Ameri-can vector, had a considerable impact on revolutionary movements in other countries. Besides, the USA, in panic, feared intensifying protest actions in the countries with dictatorships (which were quite numerous in Latin America) following the Cuban scenario. In the late 1970s, a similar revolution occurred in Nicaragua. In 1978, the dictator Anastasio Somoza, Jr. under pressure from American President Jimmy Carter lightened the dictatorship (as he did this with respect to the Iranian shah, see above) and this led to intensified protest actions while the Sandinista front (which operated from the early 1960s under the influence of the Cuban revolution) gained the initiative. In 1979, under the pressure of fast-spreading popular protests and military campaigns by the Sandinista guerilla forces, Somoza was ousted and escaped. His vast possessions and other concentrations of wealth were taken over and administered by the new socialist regime. Though the Sandinistas promised a democracy, and (surprisingly) even gave up power after losing one election in 1990, after Sandinist leader Daniel Ortega returned to power in 2006 he increasingly eliminated any opposition and instituted what became essentially one-party rule.

In neighboring El Salvador, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front emerged in 1980 with Cuban backing. It incorporated five revolutionary organi-zations with socialist and communist aims. Active antigovernment actions lasted for more than ten years but finally, in 1992, reconciliation was achieved between the government and the opposition (Midlarsky and Roberts 1991; see also McClintock 1998).[48] This was a situation of long drawn out revolutionary struggles lasting a decade or more.

There were further revolutionary analogues in the 1970s and 1980s. In Chile, the 1970 elections brought to power a leftist government that was headed by the socialist Salvador Allende. First, they launched quite radical reforms including nationalization of the largest foreign mining companies. Thus, the country experienced revolutionary transformations (the analogue of revolution). However, as a result of mistakes in economic policy and American activity aimed at undermining the economy, the situation in the country deteriorated and discontent grew. Against this background there occurred a right-wing military coup, sanctioned by the USA, in which the military, led by General Augusto Pinochet, came to power. Pinochet's rule may be considered as a counterrevo-lution and in a sense an analogue of rightist revolution since it made rather radical changes to protect private capital. The discontent with Pinochet's dictatorship, however, led to renewed popular opposition and finally made Pinochet transfer the power to a civil government, so the country returned to democracy in 1988.

In the 1970s – the 1980s many revolutionary events accelerated the withdrawal of military dictatorships in a number of countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, and Paraguay[49] and others[50]). It is notable that no more military coups occurred in Latin America.[51] Yet there were further US interventions; the first such case occurred in 1983 when the left-wing government of Grenada, which established close trade and military ties with Cuba and USSR, was overthrown. In 1989 American troops entered Panama after a failed attempt to remove the military from power. The 1990s were a halcyon period in respect of revolutions in Latin America. However, just at the end of 20th century the so-called Bolivarian Revolution started in Venezuela. In fact, it is an analogue of the revolution since it started in 1999 after Hugo Chávez became the president of Venezuela and the new constitution was adopted by popular referendum in 1999. After Chávez's death, however, his socialist policies were seen to have destroyed Venezuela's oil industry and bankrupted the economy. It gives us a vivid example of the catastrophic results that can arise from the revolutionary course. The revolutionary epoch in Venezuela has been continuing until now (see also Goldstone et al. 2022a).

6.2.6. Africa

During the period from 1950 to the 1970s, African countries underwent huge changes, mostly associated with the emergence of independent states and the first steps made on the way to strengthening statehood. However, the weak traditions of statehood, underdeveloped social structure and low education levels of the population predetermined a complicated developmental path for this continent. The history of African countries shows dozens of military coups as well as civil, interethnic and separatist wars. By comparison, the number of true revo-lutions is quite small, and the number of analogues of revolutions (military coups causing profound changes) is only a bit larger. Some revolutions are connected with liberation from colonial dependence (the national-liberation wars in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau which gained independence in 1974–1975). Others occurred in already formed states. Among these were (in chronological order) the August revolution in Congo 1963 (Three Glorious Days); the Zanzibar revolution (1964) which ousted the Arab sultan and Arab rule as a whole, so later Zanzibar united with Tanganyika, thus, Tanzania would emerge;[52] the October revolution in Sudan 1964 (which we already discussed); the revolution of 1972 in Benin (which actually was an analogue); the May 1972 revolution in Madagascar that opened the period of instability in the island; and the overthrow of emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia in 1974 (which began with a military coup, and hence was an analogue of revolution). The military junta that took power in Ethiopia, known as the Derg, implemented a radical Marxist program that immediately sparked counter-revolutionary rebellions. After the massive famine of 1983–1985, the Soviet Union withdrew its support for the Derg. The rebellions then grew more successful, and in 1991 captured the capital and drove the Derg from power.

From 1960 to 1972 there occurred five military coups in Dahomey (Benin) (see Gromyko et al. 1988: 107), the one in 1972 brought the socialist military to power; the new government conducted a number of reforms in the country; yet, the course to democracy was actually canceled. This coup can be regarded as an analogue of revolution.

A separate category is constituted by the racial revolutions against White rule in Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) and South Africa. In both countries, the transition from White minority rule to universal suffrage and Black majority government occurred through negotiated settlements that followed many years of guerrilla war, labor strikes, and urban protests. Parties expressing the sentiments of the black majority came to power in both countries as a result of a change in the electoral law and victory in elections (respectively, in Zimbabwe in 1980, and in South Africa in 1994). In both cases, there was an insurgency threat and international pressure. But in Southern Rhodesia, the coming to power of the Zimbabwe African National Union led by Robert Mugabe happened, first of all, as a result of the real threat of military defeat of the white regime on part of the rebel army, and only secondly – as a result of strong inter-national pressure. And in South Africa, although resistance to the regime and guerrilla warfare lasted quite a long time, they did not directly threaten the apartheid regime with military defeat. At the same time, international pressure on the apartheid regime was very strong. And it actually became decisive for the admission of the African National Congress to free elections. Therefore, we do not consider both of these events as completely the same type. We classify the events in South Rhodesia as a revolution, and in South Africa as only an analogue of revolution, but in both cases of a racial-social type.

It is also worth mentioning the revolutionary events of 1997 in Zaire, as a result of which the president-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, who had been in power for more than 30 years, was overthrown. However, these events were very complex and were associated with old and new interethnic conflicts, civil war and the intervention of neighboring states (McNulty 1999).[53] And after the overthrow of Mobutu, ethnic conflicts led to a new civil war (the Second Congo War), which turned into an African war involving nine states (the so-called Great War of Africa or the Great African War, and sometimes referred to as the African World War).

7. The Last Wave of Revolutions of the 20th Century. Anti-Communist and National Revolutions of 1989–1996

For decades after 1945 the World System was split depending on the social-political regime. The struggle between capitalism and communism took different forms including hybrid wars (and sometimes hot ones). Yet, the economic competition of the systems was of utmost importance. The socialist countries obviously lagged behind their capitalist rivals. This was especially evident by the example of two German states, the FRG and the GDR, when many citizens of the latter tried by all means (which were mostly illegal) to move to the FRG and West Berlin. As is known, in 1961 this led to construction of a wall between West and East Berlin. In the early 1980s the USSR did not simply lag behind, but exhausted its growth potential. Meanwhile, as the USSR was the core of the socialist camp, its weakening caused the collapse of the whole system. The European ‘socialist’ states, especially Hungary, Romania, and Poland, became heavily indebted to the Western banks which weakened their dependence on Moscow and increased the influence of the USA and Europe.

In 1985 new General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev came to power and launched reforms which he meant to create a favorable environment for economic acceleration. However, the fact that he tried to combine this with attempts at democratization was fatal. By the late 1980s, the failed attempts of modernization and democratization against the background of dramatically falling oil prices and increasing shortages led to dramatically weakened influence of the USSR on its smaller allies. Besides, there actually appeared a syndrome of fearing to use violence against the opponents of the regime both in the USSR and in other socialist countries. The weakening of the core of the socialist camp led to a wave of anti-communist revolutions in its periphery resulting in the establishment of young democratic non-socialist regimes in most East Euro-pean countries. Except for Romania, these were peaceful and bloodless revolutions, often referred to as ‘velvet’ revolutions.

These revolutions had many common causes: dependence on the USSR which was a burden, the threat of violence which restrained the opposition; a natural weakening of this dependence which changed the balance of power; common problems of socialist regimes (shortage of goods, egalitarianism; advantages of the Western countries, lack of freedom etc. [for studies of the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe see Bunce 1989; Chirot 1991; Goodwin 1994, 2001; Huntington 1993; Lupher 1996; Goldstone 1998, 1991; Sanderson 2010; Markoff 1995, 1996]).

However, different countries had their peculiar revolutionary course and driving forces and also some causes. For example, in Bulgaria the oppression of the Turks was important. In Romania, due to the country's large debts and strict austerity efforts the population's living standards considerably decreased and this combined with various unpopular and strict measures of the Ceaușescu regime revolutionized the masses.

In the East Germany (GDR) the neighboring wealthy and strong West German state, the FRG, which considered the Eastern Germans as potential citizens, defined the direction of the revolution. It is not surprising that after the fall of the regime in the GDR the reunification of two German states occurred almost immediately. As soon as the GDR government allowed free movement into neighboring German state, about two million GDR citizens visited West Berlin on November 10–12 (Loshchakova 2008: 28). The spontaneous demolition of the wall also started, and it was officially destroyed in January 1990. The destruction of the Berlin Wall as a symbol of separation of a single nation marked the victory of the revolution.

In Poland the opposition had already been formed around the Labor Union ‘Solidarity’ and the Catholic Church. Though the regime was able to suppress the opposition protests in the early and mid-1980s, with the weakening of repression brought by Gorbachev's regime in the USSR, the Polish government negotiated elections in which non-communist candidates were allowed to stand. Thus, the fall of the regime occurred there through the expression of the will of the people at the elections to the Sejm (1989) and presidential elections (1990). In Hungary the market reforms that had been underway for a long time had already weakened socialist relations. The regime of János Kádár was rather soft and, according to some analysts, resembled the soft authoritarianism of Franco's dictatorship on the eve of its decline. Hungary's transition thus took the Spanish scenario of a transition to democracy after 1975 (Huntington 1993).[54] The movement to democracy was rather vigorous at least after 1987. In Hungary the transition to democracy occurred not through ousting of the old regime but via adoption of parliamentary law which included pluralism of trade unions, freedom of associations, meetings and press, new election law, and a radical revision of constitution. This distinguished the Hungarian revolution from the radical break with the old regime that happened in the GDR or Czechoslovakia.

In November 1989 in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic the Civic Forum organized protests and general strike supported by the majority of population. The communist government headed by Gustáv Husák was forced to surrender power. On December 10 the government of national accord was formed. So the revolution won.

In Bulgaria the revolution actually proceeded from above through the resignation of General Secretary Todor Zhivkov at the plenary session of the Bulgarian Communist Party, after which the new government started to change its constitution and political regime (a ‘tender revolution’). The transformation of Bulgaria into a democratic state with a market economy was peculiar since the Bulgarian Communist Party changed its name to the Bulgarian Socialist Party on April 3, 1990, and remained ruling even after Zhivkov's resignation (Loshchakova 2008: 26). The discontent in Romania, by contrast, transformed into a violent revolution with bloody incidents both on the government and revolutionaries side including the assassination of the Ceaușescu couple.

So by the end of 1989, this closely linked line of revolutions succeeded in all mentioned countries and carried out the destruction of communist parties, political systems, organization of elections and coming to power of new or modernized political forces.

In 1991, as a result of the growing weakness of the central government in the face of powerful nationalist and separatist movements, the USSR itself collapsed, which was followed by changes (and in some places revolutions) in the rest of ‘socialist’ countries such as Mongolia and Albania.[55]

The collapse of the USSR was a logical outcome of Gorbachev's failed reforms which also set free the political and social forces that the Soviet regime failed to cope with, including nationalism, a desire for greater freedom, frustration with corruption, uneven access to goods and services and especially the growing shortage of food items and nonfood commodities. The latter was the re-sult of a completely lame economic and financial policy. Nevertheless, if not been pushed, the regime would have endured. Thus, the meeting of Boris Yeltsin, Stanislav Shushkevich and Leonid Kravchuk in Belavezhskaya Pushcha (Belarus) in the end of 1991 and the decision to dissolve the Soviet Union and form the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) looks as a conspiracy but produced a huge effect so it may be considered that the meeting launched the events equal to an analogue of revolution (for the USSR and the republics it comprised). Besides, in some republics the events resembled revolutions or their analogues.

Unlike in East Europe, in the USSR republics (similar to the Yugoslavian republics) the revolutions were primarily nationalist or ethno-nationalist. Howe-ver, they simultaneously and inevitable became antisocialist since communist ideology had been substituted for national. In particular, this especially refers to the Baltic republics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – where revolutions were called the Singing Revolution. One may also speak about a revolution in Georgia which became independent in the very end of 1991. Yet, soon military and civil revolts started there and the first president was ousted, so actually, there started a small-scale civil war. Later, national-liberation revolutions occurred in the Georgian national peripheries – Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia (1992) which grew into rather long and bloody conflicts with Georgia (for more details on events in Georgia, Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia see Khodunov 2022b). Later military rebellion in Chechnya in 1994–1999 resembled national-libe-ration movement.

In Yugoslavia the impact of the USSR was hardly direct and strong; nevertheless, the wave of separatism overwhelmed this country and led to its split. It is difficult to characterize the Yugoslavian events in terms of the theory of revo-lutions since there was a chain of independent and complicated episodes during the period from 1989 to 1999. But it is generally true that in the first place these were ethno-national revolutions and then anticommunist.[56] In Slovenia and Croatia the revolutions manifested in proclaiming independence in 1991, by action of the governments of those republics supported by the population. In 1991 and 1992, Macedonia and Bosnia/Herzegovina proclaimed independence as well. Certainly, these were not classic revolutions but revolutions from above since the parliament simply declared independence. However, this would launch changes in every separate republic and province provoking chains of violent and later bloody confrontations and armed clashes. In the following years, there would be a series of local uprisings of Croats and Serbs in Bosnia/Herzegovina,[57] further declarations of independence by Kosovo[58], and campaigns of ‘ethnic cleansing’ or genocides by Serbian and Croatian forces seeking to seize and pacify disputed territory. After the intervention by NATO against Serbia, the first ‘color’ revolution of the 21st century (the ‘Bulldozer revolution’) happened and swept Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic from power.[59]

The collapse of the Soviet Union and communism in Eastern Europe had major geopolitical consequences. Aside from creating many new and relatively weak states in former USSR territories, the sudden end of the cold war had repercussions far from Europe. In Africa and Latin America, dictatorships that had been supported by the United States in the name of combatting communism no longer seemed necessary to support.

8. Conclusions

Thus, the 20th century started with the world being transformed by the struggle for communism and ended with the world being transformed by anticom-munist revolutions. Communism in its anti-market, authoritarian, state-bure-aucratic form banning private property completely discredited itself. Revolutions played a significant role in the history of the 20th century, unfolding through multiple waves and different lines of revolution. Reviewing these events, we find that revolutions (as well as its analogues) had deeply diverse outcomes. While some were successful in bringing democracy (e.g., in the Baltics, the Philippines, in several Eastern European countries) more often they launched lengthy epochs of instability and further revolutionary transformations. In some cases, especially in successful and profoundly social revolutions, from Russia and China to Yugoslavia, Ethiopia or Zaire, the results are very expensive while the means to transform a regime become dangerous, particularly in the countries that are not ready for democracy.[60]

As a whole, we find that the revolutions of the 20th century did not push the World System in any single particular direction. Although capitalism of various kinds has become the dominant economic system, and democracy has spread, the world is still characterized by major authoritarian regimes (in China and Russia) confronting liberal constitutional ones (in Europe, North America). The major clear accomplishment of the 20th century revolutions has been to fully dismantle both traditional empires (e.g., China, Russia, the Ottoman, Austria-Hungary) and colonial ones, giving rise to a large number of new independent states. Yet the majority of those new states have not yet proven stable. Revolutionary movements based on nationalism, aspirations for democracy, religious ideals, and ethnic identity remain widespread, paving the way for further waves and lines of revolution in the 21st century.


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* This research has been supported by the Russian Science Foundation (Project № 23-18-00535).

[1] Mark R. Beissinger (2017) gives his own calculation of the number of revolutionary episodes in the 20th century, which are more broadly defined. Of course, the number of episodes greatly surpasses the number of revolutions: 1900–1949 an average of 2.44 new episodes per year, 1950–1984 an average of 2.80 new episodes per year, 1985–2014 an average of 4.10 new episodes per year (3.47 per year, if we exclude the collapse of communism). As one may notice, in the second half of the 20th century the annual number of new episodes increased in comparison with its first half. According to our calculations, the number of revolutionary events that began in the first half is not much less than those in the second half of the 20th century (70 and 76, respectively, see Appendix1, Fig 1). However, the number of revolutionary years in the first half is noticeably smaller than those in the second half of the 20th century (214 and 315, respectively – see Appendix 2, Fig 3a). Yet, in our opinion, this does not indicate a more revolutionary character of the second half of the 20th century. The matter is in the increased number of states in the world as well as in more accurate statistics for the second half than the first half. The latter fact also explains a considerably increased number of revolutionary episodes in the late 20th – early 21st centuries. Also, while the number of revolutions increases, their scale on average diminishes.

[2] Here it is relevant to mention Shmuel Eisenstadt's idea that every society modernizes according to its own cultural essence (Eisenstadt 1978).

[3] Egalitarianism in respect of religion, nationality, etc. as well as equal rights and duties (e.g., in taxation, access to education, positions in state services, etc.).

[4] Of course, this statement needs further verification. Yet, it is worth pointing that the earlier revolutions of the 16th – 18th centuries were distinguished by their duration and making up whole epochs, like the Reformation in Germany or France, the Dutch, English, and French revolutions; and even the American revolution lasted for quite a long period from 1776 to 1887.

[5] Therefore, the pattern of the 20th-century revolutions has proved overwhelmingly more destructive than its historical predecessors (Dunn 1989: xvii).

[6] A similar situation was observed during Cromwell's dictatorship (1649–1658) after the English revolution and to a certain extent during Napoléon's reign (until about 1807); the latter period was naturally connected with the French revolution.

[7] The longer duration of the 20th-century revolutions is probably related to the peripheral character of many of them. An indirect evidence for this is the long-lasting revolutions that occurred in
the periphery and semi-periphery in the 19th centuries, in particular, the wars for independence of the Spanish colonies in Latin America and also some other revolutions (e.g., the popular revolts in Spain in 1834–1843 or in Greece in 1821–1829). Since in the 20th century revolutions moved far from the World System core, there were many cases when revolutions began not in capitals but in provinces. Such cases are known as peripheral advance revolutions (see Huntington 1968; Goldstone 2014: 27–29), which in 19th century were observed mostly in Latin America.

[8] Let us point that the Spanish revolution was, perhaps, the first case when the upheavals were triggered by the accusation of the authorities in the manipulation with results of elections. Later, especially closer to our time, this motive more frequently comes to the fore. The Spanish revolution also revealed a new type of nationalism which appealed not to the fact that a certain nation has no desired rights but to the fact that a certain nation gives disproportionately much in the common pot. In Catalonia and the Basque Country the political, commercial and cultural elites considered that their rights were violated by Madrid and they became ‘milk cows’ for the monarchy (Shubin 2016). The same ideas live until now in Catalonia. In the late 20th century the same slogan was used by the Yugoslavian republics (by Slovenia, in particular) and in the USSR (the Baltic republics, Ukraine).

[9] Following Crane Brinton, some of them may be called territorial-nationalist revolutions, like the revolution in the North American colonies (Brinton 1965: 24). Probably, the last revolution of this kind in the 20th century was the one called in a related documentary the Coconut Revolution on Bougainville Island included in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville of Papua New Guinea. The revolution was headed by the so-called Bougainville Revolutionary Army and it started in 1988. In 1997 the insurgents were defeated, yet through the mediation of New Zealand the negotiations were continued until in 2001 there was adopted an agreement. So in 2005 the Bougainville Island got autonomy yet the problems with separatism still exist. At the end of 2019, a referendum was held in Bougainville with a choice between greater autonomy within Papua New Guinea and full independence. More than 98 % voters voted for independence.

[10] The worshipping of a state is vividly expressed by Mussolini in ‘creating a new political regime’ based on the principle ‘Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state’ (quoted in Graziosi 2005: 178). As Alain Touraine (1998) notes, almost everywhere the power of money was substituted for the power of a state.

[11] Here one can also mention the failed Shia revolt in Iraq in 1991 as well as the Islamist revolutionary rebellions in Syria in 1976–1982. In this country the military engaged the Sunni, mostly the members of Muslim Brothers (the terrorist organization is banned in Russia), who organized several uprising in different places. They stopped after the governmental troops took Syrian city Hama in 1982.

[12] The Catholics wanted to leave the United Kingdom and join united Ireland; yet, all they achieved was equality in representation and some governmental structures.

[13] However, this case is difficult for an unambiguous classification, as in this case the mass mobilization did occur before the change of regime. Perhaps, it could be defined as a hybrid religious-national liberation revolution.

[14] For more details see Grinin 2022f.

[15] About world-system events that launched other revolutionary waves see Grinin 2022g.

[16] The 2000 Bulldozer Revolution in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (then comprising Serbia and Montenegro) ousted Slobodan Milošević from the position of the President of state. About this revolution see also Khodunov 2022a and Filin; Khodunov, and Koklikov 2022b.

[17] Speaking objectively, counterrevolutions and revolutions sometimes can solve similar tasks. In this respect, the modernization in France under Napoleon III or in Spain under Franco was equally or even more successful than if they had been fulfilled by revolutionary governments.

[18] About analogues of revolutions in general, as well as those of the 21st century see Goldstone et al. 2022a.

[19] About revolutionary epochs in general, as well as those of the 21st century see Goldstone et al. 2022a.

[20] The most recent examples – the Yellow Vests movement in France in 2018–2019; the anti-government protests in Chile in 2019 and Poland in 2020 (see Goldstone et al. 2022a). These are pure protest movements with mass mobilization.

[21] They attacked railway stations and post offices, destroyed railways and lines of communication, exploded bridges, etc. More than 2,000 protesters were killed and 60,000 were imprisoned (Alaev et al. 2010: 402).

[22] With the help of Japan in 1942 there was even created the Indian National Army (headed by Rash Behari Bose) which established the provisional government in Singapore occupied by Japan. This government declared war on Britain and in 1944 its troops landed in India but were defeated.

[23] On revolutionary movements without revolutions in general, as well as those of the 21st century see Goldstone et al. 2022a.

[24] In the core, revolutions occurred only in defeated Germany and Austro-Hungary in 1918, in Northern Ireland in 1969 (we do not consider Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece as a part of the ‘core’ until they joined the EU).

[25] Yet, figuratively speaking, there was also a path of state modernization without liberalization, as was successfully manifested in Japan and later in Turkey.

[26] It is connected with the high social status of the military; they considered themselves as a peculiar and independent social group. But in general, the causes seem rather complicated and need further research. Charles Tilly speaks about ‘the rise of the military’ in the Third World (Tilly 1992). On the role of military in revolution outcomes see also Rasler et al. 2022.

[27] As a result there were created Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia), Poland, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and other; besides, the borders of the then-existing states were changed.

[28] Along with successful revolutions one should also mention the failed revolutions and movements, e.g. in Ukraine, Caucasian region, and Central Asia.

[29] The so-called Monégasque Revolution in Monaco led to the establishment of constitutional monarchy. For tiny Monaco the revolution did not bring any serious consequences unlike for Portugal.

[30] In this region revolutions were often caused by the aspirations to overthrow dictatorships (at that time the revolutions were actually typically military coups) and in a more or less long period of time (from a year to two decades) a subsequent military coup would bring to power another military regime or a dictator. That was the case of the Bolivian national revolution in 1952 (see below). The revolution in Guatemala in 1944 is also a vivid example since the civil war ended here only in 1996 (see below), so this period can be called an epoch of disturbances.

[31] There were also many episodes of different struggles with government under Maoist slogans and with support from China (at least for a certain time) with involvement of the Chinese population of different countries in the guerrilla wars (lasting for decades), rebellions and terror attacks in Thailand, Malaysia, in the Philippines and other countries including India. Many thousands of the so-called Naxalites operate in Indian states starting from 1967 up to the present.

[32] In Poland the strike of 1980–1981 and creation of Independent Self-governing Labour Union ‘Solidarity’ led to removing of Edward Gierek from power and later to imposing of martial law (Bunce 1989).

[33] About the strong religious aspect of Iranian revolution see Grinin 2022a: Section 6.4.

[34] On the Russian Revolution of 1917–1921 see Grinin 2022a.

[35] On October 21, 1918 the German-speaking deputies of the Reichsrat declared themselves the temporal national Assembly of German-Austria.

[36] The events of this period in Chile can be considered as a democratic revolution which failed to transform into a socialist revolution. Yet, here the peculiar features of Latin American revolutions manifested to the full so they were accompanied with military coups and countercoups.

[37] In 1944–1945 several successful and failed uprisings against the Nazi occupants took place in Europe: the Warsaw Uprising, the Liberation of Paris, the Slovak National Uprising, the Prague uprising, the April insurrection in Italy and some others.

[38] Let us also point to the attempts of communist revolutions or the rise of communist movements in other countries where the Soviet troops were absent: in Greece (see below), the communist revolt in the South Korean Jeju Province-island in 1948–1949; the guerrilla communist movement in Malaya and the Philippines after 1948 and in some other places (there was also the participation of the communists in the civil war in Burma/Myanmar). About the Maoist movements see also below.

[39] About these revolutions as well as about the US support of different dictatorship regimes see Midlarsky and Roberts 1991; Goldstone 2001; Halliday 1999; Snyder 1999, 2001; Pastor 2001; Parsa 2000; Dix 1984; Liu 1988; Goodwin and Skocpol 1989; Farhi 1990.

[40] At that, the analogue of revolution in Portugal, the so-called Carnation Revolution, provided opportunities to stop wars for independence in Angola and Mozambique. This event also launched the transition to democratic rule in a number of countries: Brazil, Greece, and even Spain (see Huntington 1993).

[41] Beissinger (2017) shows that in 1946–1994 the number of military coups surpasses even the number of revolution episodes (not to speak about revolutions) by two-four times. Yet, in the end of the century the number of military coups considerably decreased (for the analysis of military coups in different regions after WWII see Tilly 1996; Huntington 1993).

[42] In 1968 student protests and strikes were held in Belgrade, yet they would cease by themselves soon.

[43] Later, in the 1970s – 1980s this movement weakened and was replaced by growing Islamism (see Grinin, Korotayev, and Tausch 2019).

[44] Military coups took place in other Middle Eastern countries: Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan, but they cannot be described as analogues of revolutions.

[45] A rather famous example is the communist movement with Maoist bias called ‘The Shining Path’ in Peru which launched a guerrilla war in many regions of the country starting from 1980. In the early 1990s the movement was suppressed but it actually exists until present (about the movement see McClintock 1998).

[46] Let us also note that the positive meaning of the notion of revolution was strongly misused to denote almost every coup and antigovernment actions, like it is in case with the Black Power Revolution (or February revolution) in Trinidad and Tobago in 1970. The above-mentioned military coup that ousted Perón was called ‘the liberation revolution’.

[47] The first attempt of a revolution failed in 1953; however, Batista's government set the Castro brothers free along with other prisoners, the brothers emigrated and prepared a new attempt of revolution following the peripheral advance model which turned a success.

[48] That was not unusual situation for Latin America (since the USA actively interfered with the events) when political forces consolidated against the background of some agreements. That was the case in Columbia.

[49] The military coup of 1989 overthrew the 35-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner after which the coup plotters organized general elections. Thus, it was actually an analogue of democratic revolution.

[50] It is worth mentioning as an interesting event the overthrowing of the Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier (known as ‘Baby Doc’) in 1986. A number of protest demonstrations against him were taking place since 1984. This event launched a revolutionary epoch in Haiti, which was complicated by the 2010 Haitian catastrophic earthquake and, perhaps, this epoch continues to the present day.

[51] Unfortunately, this phenomenon did not completely disappear. E.g., in 2009 a military coup occurred in Honduras.

[52] The massacres of the Arab population took place during this revolution.

[53] In fact, the trigger for events in Zaire was the civil war in neighboring Ruanda between Hutu and Tutsi, the famous Rwandan genocide of 1994. As a result, large numbers of Tutsi refugees came to Zaire, and after the victory in the civil war by the Tutsi forces, the Hutu refugees, who feared revenge from the Tutsi victors fled there. In total, 1.5–2 million people moved to the eastern regions of Zaire, whose arrival provoked an internal conflict in Zaire.

[54] In 1988 and 1989 the Hungarian leaders closely consulted the Spanish leaders concerning the maintaining of democracy. And in April 1989 the Spanish delegation arrived at Budapest as counsellors (Huntington 1993).

[55] In 1989, massive pro-democracy student protests also occurred in Beijing in Tiananmen Square, with lesser protests in other cities. However, the conditions for revolution were lacking in China, and the authorities violently suppressed the protests, which thus had no serious consequences.

[56] In 1989 most parts of the population were hardly anti-communist since socialism in Yugoslavia was much more liberal than in other socialist countries. However, during the split of the country into separate states the destruction of socialism started, and eventually the communists remained in power only in Serbia and Montenegro (later they would lose power there as well).

[57] E.g., the so-called Log Revolution in Croatia in 1990–1995 when the Serbs living in Croatia started struggle for their national rights. The result was the creation of the Republic of Serbian Krajina – the Serbian autonomous territory. Later the military operations of the Croatians destroyed this state entity.

[58] In the case of Kosovo one may speak about a national liberation revolution. In Kosovo after the restriction of autonomy in 1989 numerous protest actions started; they actually launched the split process from Yugoslavia.

[59] On the problems that led to the revolution in Serbia in 2000, as well as some detail on the revolutionary events in the republics of former Yugoslavia see Khodunov 2022a, 2016, 2017.

[60] It is interesting that failed (defeated) revolutions could turn beneficial for a number of countries since on the one hand, the continuity of regime was not broken, while, on the other hand, it was forced to serious changes. That was the case with 1905–1907 revolution in Russia (for the idea that such revolutions are far less costly for a society see Beissinger 2017).