On Classification of Revolutions: An Attempt at a New Approach


On Classification of Revolutions: An Attempt at a New Approach
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Author: Eduard E. Shults
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 18, Number 2 / September 2019

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30884/seh/2019.02.13

The article addresses one of the fundamental issues in the theory of revolutions – the problem of classification of revolutions. The existing approaches distinguish revolutions depending on their self-proclaimed mission-theory (formational, modernization, and civilizational) and peculiar features – alleged driving forces, ideological vector, etc. The author proposes to rely in systematization on the phenomenon itself, rather than on the theoretical basis that this phenomenon should correspond to. From our point of view, a comparative analysis of revolutions based on their algorithm allows determining their sort and type. We propose an approach to comparative analysis of revolutions which is based on two criteria related to the subject of research, namely: an algorithm of a revolution (stages, phases, and developmental vector) and the problems it resolves. Based on these principles, the author concludes that there are two sorts of revolutions, each of which is further subdivided into three types.

Eduard E. Shults, Moscow State Regional University more

From the very beginning revolutions manifested themselves as a civilization-scale phenomenon and attracted social thought and researchers across the world. With every revolutionary outbreak, the significance of revolutions would increase while the studies of revoluions became more and more relevant. The attempts to comprehend the differences and similarities between revolutions, i.e. to delineate a primary typology, appeared in the early eighteenth century and allowed making conclusions that the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England was in no way similar to its predecessor of the years 1640−1653. Following the onset of the Great French Revolution in the late eighteenth century, it was observed that it fundamentally differed from the two British and the American revolutions, which, in turn, were strikingly dissimilar from each other (Burke 1852: 366; Burke 1869: 80–81; Guizot 1854: 114–116). Meanwhile, the 1789–1799 events in France started to be referred to as a ‘Great Revolution’ (Burke 1852: 125).

A classification requires repeated occurrences of the same events which can be and should be compared with each other. Since the Reformation seems to be the most similar event in terms of its significance and scale prior to the first revolutions the latter would inevitably be compared to it, with the Reformation referred to as a religious revolution, and the revolutions in England, America and France, as political revolutions (Comte 1896: 189–190; Guizot 1854: 3; Tocqueville 2011: 19–20). In the 1820–1830s, the ideas concering political and social revolutions start to emerge in the European social thought, which considered the events related to state takeovers as political revolutions, while state reforms were regarded as social revolutions (Hörmann 2011: 62–65). These approaches were mostly associated with the desire to establish and demonstrate that political revolutions had a negative impact, while evolutionary progress by means of reforms is beneficial to countries and nations (Burke 1869: 80–81; Maistre 2003: 40; Tocqueville 2011: 13). However, this approach brought together revolutions, regular coup d'états, religious and civil wars, as well as state reforms. And it is only from the mid-nineteenth century that an in-depth examination of revolutions as an independent phenomenon became possible, since in addition to the first revolutions in England, the USA and France, a wave of revolutions swept through Europe: France in 1830 and 1848, Belgium in 1830, Switzerland in 1847–1848, revolutions of 1808–1814 in Spain and Portugal, 1820–1834 in Portugal, 1820–1823, 1834–1843, 1854–1856, 1868–1874 in Spain, 1821–1829 in Greece, revolutionary events in Germany in 1848–1849 and the events in Italy from 1848 onwards, when the country unification process became intertwined with revolutionary actions. This volume provided for analysis not only a quantitative component, but also various manifestations of the same phenomenon, which allowed to speak with great reason about different types of revolutions (not in the context of similar but fundamentally different phenomena).

The first reference to different types of revolutions was made by Karl Marx, who distinctly pointed out three of them, namely: bourgeois, proletarian (or communist) and a certain intermediate type, which later became known as bourgeois-democratic (i.e. 1848–1849 revolutions in Europe). For Marx, the shift in the mode of production (later denoted as social formation) became the key criterion for the classification of revolutions. The social class whose interests a revolution would serve was another characteristic of classification proposed by Marx, which allowed attributing all revolutions prior to 1848 to bourgeois revolutions, and the Paris Commune – to the proletarian one (Marx 1977a: 161; Marx 1977b: 66–67; Marx and Engels 1910: 12–15, 29; Marx and Engels 1977: 380–381).

In the twentieth – twenty-first centuries the Marxist researchers tended to rely on this classification system, which was significantly revised by the Soviet school of Marxism.

Vladimir Lenin attempted to modify the scheme proposed by Marx, introducing the ‘popular’ component to the concept of ‘bourgeois revolution’ (Lenin 1974: 421–422). It is the class composition that distinguishes ‘bourgeois’ from ‘popular bourgeois’ revolutions, the latter are characterized by an alliance between the poorest peasants and the proletarians (Lenin 1974: 421–422). According to Lenin, the Paris Commune and the Russian revolution of 1905–1907 may be attributed to this category (Lenin 1974: 421–422).

‘Popular bourgeois revolutions’ were now referred to as bourgeois-democratic. This became the major type of revolution during the imperialist period when socialist revolutions had neither occurred nor were successful, or when it appeared crucial to find a link to socialist revolution in the absence of a bourgeois revolution. The main features of this type of revolution are the following: participation of the majority of population, i.e. of workers and peasants, the existence of a revolutionary proletariat and of a powerful agrarian and peasant movement (see Konstantinov 1960: 203).

The term ‘popular-democratic revolution’ was a compromise, like in the case of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. The concept was introduced mainly to define the revolutions that occurred in the Eastern European and Third World countries in the twentieth century which did not conform to the then-existing classification system. This type of revolution, according to the more comprehensive Marxist definition, could be of a bourgeois democratic or socialist nature (see Konstantinov 1960: 203).

The Soviet Marxist classification of the twentieth-century revolutions recognized bourgeois, bourgeois-democratic, popular-democratic, and socialist (proletarian, communist) revolutions, as well as national-liberation revolutions. Due to the fact that national-liberation revolutions do not adhere to the classification criterion, namely, the change in production mode and formation, the sixteenth-century revolution in the Netherlands was classified as a bourgeois revolution, and the national liberation struggle of colonized nations – as a type of bourgeois democratic movement (see Konstantinov 1960: 203).

Thus, there is an apparent absence of a universal criterion of classification. This may result in incoherence and also contributes to a loss of meaning. If revolutions aim to change the mode of production (or formation), a question arises around the absence of revolutions during the transition from the primitive communal to the slave mode, and from slave to feudal (that is, if we accept the definition of the historic process as consisting of five modes of production that follow each other consecutively – primitive-communal, slave, feudal, capitalist and communist). If we choose to consider these transitions between formations, the bourgeois-democratic, popular-democratic and national-liberation revolutions remain unaccounted for.

The second issue concerns proletarian revolutions, which never occurred in the history of humankind if one accepts Marx's position as a definitive one. Marx claimed that proletarian revolutions occur when the proletariat becomes the largest class. That is, a proletarian revolution is ‘possible where with capitalist production the industrial proletariat occupies at least a significant position among the mass of the people’ (Marx 2000: 607).

The third issue similarly arises somewhat undeliberately: if bourgeois revolutions are a frequent occurrence in Europe, perhaps there is a pattern, and there are ‘goals and objectives’ (i.e. to actualize the issues which the previous revolution failed to resolve), and it is inaccurate to consider them anachronisms (as formulated by Marx [1977a: 161–162; 1919: 9, 134–135]) and downward revolutions (in Marx's term) merely due to the fact that they would not ‘attain the level’ of a socialist revolution, or to consider them simply a step towards a transition to a socialist revolution. But do they, in fact, belong to a different category of a revolution?

The approach based on the definition of ‘a revolutionary class’ is even more questionable. There was no revolution in history purely ‘bourgeois’ or ‘proletarian’. This is because there has never been a revolution where one class constituted the quantitative majority of the participants in the revolution (Shults 2018, 2019).

In the second half of the twentieth century there were made attempts to modernize the aforementioned classification system. One example is the proposition to expand it by introducing the concepts of ‘classic bourgeois revolutions’ that resolved ‘global issues’ of the appropriate century, and national revolutions, which ‘constitute specific manifestations of the same needs, but in a shape deformed by local conditions’, ‘great revolutions’ (which determine ‘the in-depth evolution of capitalism, while other, concurrent revolutions contribute to its expansion’), ‘inter-formation revolutions’ and ‘intra-formation revolutions’, which are subsequently subdivided into such types as: 1) inter-formation and intra-formation 2) inter-formation, inter-stage and intra-stage; and 3) inter-stage and intra-stage (Barg and Chernyak 1990: 221–222, 227, 231). This range of inter-formation, intra-formation and intra-stage revolutions, with its numerous subtypes and mixed types, leads to extremely complex constructions and, most importantly, does not contribute to a better understanding of either the phenomenon of revolution itself, or the different types thereof. Meanwhile, many of the questions which arise under the Marxist classification system remain unanswered.

Fundamentally new revolution classificating systems were proposed by the leading researchers in the sphere of revolution theory in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Eugen Rosenstock-Huesse distinguished four types of revolution: city (1400), state (1688), civilizational (1789 and world (1917) (Rosenstock-Huessy 2012: 5). Robert Michels divided them into ‘revolutionary’ and ‘reactionary’ (the latter included the fascist and Nazi takeover: Mussolini in 1922 and Hitler-Ludendorff-Putsch in 1923) (Michels 1925: 10–11).

Barrington Moore differentiated three types of revolutions: 1) bourgeois revolution (leads to ‘Western democracies’), 2) conservative revolution from above (leads to fascist regimes) and 3) peasant revolution (leads to communist states) (Moore 1974: 413–414). It is easily recognized the ‘classical revolution’ as the first type, Michels' idea on reactionary revolutions as the second type, and the concept of Western and Eastern revolutions as the third type.

George Pettee proposed five types of revolutions: 1) ‘private palace revolution’ (coup); 2) ‘public palace revolution’ (involving a larger number of people, but still a coup); 3) a revolt of a territory against the government installed by another country (Dutch Revolution, traditionally referred to as the Dutch Revolt, but which I consider to be a revolution; Polish revolutions); 4) great national revolutions (French and Russian revolutions); and 5) systemic revolution (with references to the ancient world and Reformation) (Pettee 1966: 15–17).

Perez Zagorin proposed six types of revolutions at the beginning of the modern age: 1) conspiracy and coup (limited mainly to actions taken by aristocrats and the urban elite); 2) city rebellion (lower classes confronting the city elite and authorities or urban dwellers confronting external royal and state authorities); 3) agrarian rebellion (peasants against their landlord and/or state authorities; 4) regional and separatist revolt (regions against the monarch and the capital); 5) kingdom-wide civil war; 6) millenarian rebellion (Zagorin 1982: 41–42).

Crane Brinton differentiated between three types of revolutions: classical (Great revolutions in England, France and Russia), ‘failed revolutions’ (1848 revolution in Europe and the Paris Commune), and ‘regional nationalist revolution’ (the American Revolution) (Brinton 1965: 24, 25). In summarizing the various approaches, John Foran, in his sociological encyclopedia article on revolutions, emphasized that the majority of researchers, who focus on approximately twenty cases of revolution, subdivide them into three types – classical, anti-colonial and reversed revolutions (Foran 2007: 3915).

Shmuel Eisenstadt drew a distinction between two types of revolution – ‘modern’ (Dutch, British, American and French) and ‘late modern’ of the nineteenth century, which accompany the modernization of other types of traditional societies (Eisenstadt 1978: 1, 173).

This approach was advocated by Eric Hobsbawm, who emphasized that ‘there may be a fundamental difference between revolutions of the bourgeois liberalism era (and perhaps earlier revo-lutions, if they are accepted as such), and revolutions of the twentieth century’ (Hobsbawm 1986: 26).

Let us note, that the classification of revolutions into ‘early’ or ‘late’ (modern, late modern, etc.) or revolutions of the seventeenth – nineteenth and twentieth century, is very much like the classification of revolutions in developed and underdeveloped countries, in the ‘East’ and ‘West’, in the Third World, and all others (Huntington 1968: 267–274; Foran 2005: 18–24; Laue 1964: 16; Selbin 1999: 2; Tucker 1969: 137–138).

Carl Friedrich suggested a distinction between the revolutions of the seventeenth – nineteenth centuries, which were aimed at establishing constitutional regimes, and the twentieth-century revolutions, whose main objective tended to be a change in political system. In addition, according to Friedrich, constitutional revolutions are ‘limited revolutions’, of which the post-WWII revolutions and revolutions in the colonial world are prime examples (Friedrich 1966: 7).

A large group of American political scientists and sociologists led by recognized authorities in the field of revolution theory, Jack Goldstone and Ted Garr, encourage historians to examine the revolutions of the ‘late twentieth century’ as different forms of conflict, clarifying that these are not ‘classical’ revolutions that follow the model (template) of the French, Russian and Chinese revolutions, but, in fact, conform to an alternative pattern (Goldstone et al. 1991: 3). Jack Goldstone identifies four types of revolutions: ‘great revolutions’, ‘political revolutions’, ‘social revolutions’ and ‘revolutions of the elite’. The chosen definition and approach in turn determines the result, and hence Goldstone (along with many of his colleagues) examines not only revolutions, but also a wide range of events which may be similar, yet are unrelated to the phenomenon of revolution (peasant wars, civil wars, political coups, etc.) (Goldstone 2000: 400–401; 2001: 141–143. See also: Tilly 2006: 162, 164, 165, 167–168, 169–170).

Samuel Huntington disagreed with classifying revolutions by dividing them into ‘great’ ones and those of a more limited scale (Huntington 1968: 308). Instead, he distinguishes between revolutions on the basis of a sequence and a balance of three components (phases) of any revolution: 1) forced destruction of the existing political institutions, 2) mobilization of new groups into politics and 3) creation of new political institutions. He thus proposed dividing ‘Western’ from ‘Eastern’ revolutions (Huntington 1968: 267–274).

The revolutions discussed here are, once again, those that took place prior to the twentieth century, that is, the so-called ‘classical revolutions’ and the twentieth-century revolutions in the Third-world countries. It should be noted that the term ‘Eastern revolution’ is inaccurate since revolutions that followed this pattern also occurred in the Western hemisphere – i.e. in Latin America.

Thus, it may be said that there currently exists no revolution classification whatsoever; moreover, the existing systems have the same shortcomings: they do not preserve the universal classification criterion and are not applicable to all revolutions, and what is more, events unrelated to this phenomenon often fall into the revolution category. In fact, the approach based on a critical distinction between ‘early’ and ‘late’ revolutions, revolutions in the so-called developed countries and in the Third-world countries (whether Western or Eastern) and the expansion of the list of revolutions due to similar expressions of mass radical forms of social protest cause us to question the very existence of revolution as a consolidated phenomenon. It is for this reason that, despite a period of almost 200 years of revolution analysis and classification, the Marxist approach appears to be the most systematic. While it is limited in numerous areas, it is more robust than competing concepts.

The problem of classification of revolutions is currently of great importance for the theory of revolution. A common feature of all approaches is that revolutions are classified according to their mission and distinctive features (the theories of formation, modernization and civilization, i.e. Western, Eastern, Third-World revolutions), according to the alleged driving force (‘revolution from below’, ‘palace revolution’, ‘people's revolution’, ‘peasant revolution’, ‘proletarian revolution’, etc.) and according to the ideological vector (passive, conservative, etc.). In all these approaches, the theoretical foundation used by the researcher is more important than correraltion with actual historical events, and cases that are incongruent with the concept are usually simply omitted. In other words, the proposals made in recent decades have failed to introduce anything conceptually new.

Let us modify the traditional research methods. I will approach the classification of revolutions not using the theories accounting the purpose of revolutions, their causes and consequences or their distinguishing features, but rather by considering a revolution as a phenomenon and object of investigation: that is, by analyzing the algorithm (the course, stages) and the time sequence of a revolution. The issues apparently resolved during a revolution are an additional criterion. For example, if the revolutionary events occur in the course of a national liberation struggle, it would be reasonable to consider it to be a national-liberation revolution. If the revolution occurs in a country for the first time and is aimed at resolving major issues which is reflected in the scale of social confrontation, its duration and the succession of various stages within one revolution, it would make sense to consider it a basic revolution. If a revolution occurs in a country where a revolution has already occurred, and which aims at transformation of certain conditions, then it is a correcting revolution. In my opinion, the first criterion derives from the second and, in fact, there is one criterion - tasks to be solved (which is complicated by cultural and historical peculiarities). The ‘problems resolved’ are a more theoretical construct, and within one type of revolution, the algorithms are largely similar. Furthermore, this criterion is the most demonstrable and verifiable. Therefore, I propose these two criteria.

Let us establish the general systemic concepts. According to the scientific definition, genus denotes a group that includes several similar groups with common characteristics. All constituents of the ‘revolution’ genus share essential common features. There are also differing features which, however, are not the defining ones. Sorts are subdivided into types, that is, models that a group of objects or events conforms to.

The analysis of all revolutions (more than sixty revolutions, two dozen revolution-like events, and several dozen cases when countries have avoided this social phenomenon for various reasons, were analyzed) leads us to conclude that revolutions can be divided into two sorts: basic and correcting (see, Shults 2016). Basic revolutions produce major changes and drive transformations. Correcting revolutions occur when previous revolutions fail to achieve the intended results; so due to various circumstances, there occurs a sharp reversal to pre-revolutionary state of affairs or the revolutions themselves ‘go the wrong way’ (too far to the right or left). The following are examples of correcting revolutions: 1) Glorious Revolution in England in 1688; 2) French Revolutions of 1830 and 1848 (both intended to limit and depose monarchies and conduct democratization); 3) Revolution of 1952 in Bolivia; 4) April Revolution of 1960 in Korea; 5) Carnation Revolution in Portugal – correction of the ‘right bend’; 6) Islamic Revolution of 1978 in Iran (liquidation of Shah regime); 7) 1989–1991 Revolutions in Eastern Europe (‘velvet revolutions’), which returned these countries to the developmental path which they had abandoned because of the ‘socialist system’; 8) Revolution of 1991 in Russia – the elimination of revolutionary changes that had shifted too far to the left, etc. There occurred no revolution of this type in Germany, since the government was overthrown after WWII and the ‘right bends’ became obsolete. Similar actions (eliminating the need for a correcting revolution) were taken by occupational forces in a number of other countries, including Japan and Italy.

The basic revolutions are subdivided into three types: national-liberation, classical and mixed revolutions.

There is no agreement as to whether national-liberation revolutions should indeed be considered as revolutions, or simply national liberation movements and wars for independence. However, here I treat them as full-blown revolutions, since all three necessary components are present: social protest, coup d'état (a foreign state's dominion is overthrown) and radical changes in society (the political system and social structure of a society is altered). Of course, not all national liberation movements can be considered national-liberation revolutions. For example, the Hussite movement in Bohemia (the Great Peasants' War) possessed strong national liberation characteristics. However, only the movements which managed to succed and subsequently implement cardinal social reforms can be defined as revolutions.

Thus, national-liberation revolutions are national liberation movements that are accompanied by revolutionary changes in society, this being most common type of revolution. Two of the first four revolutions belonged to this type – the Dutch and the American Revolutions.

National-liberation revolutions contribute to the resolution of a sociopolitical evolution issue along with overthrowing of an occupation regime or a domestic government that is dependent on a foreign state. One may attribute to national-liberation revolutions the following events: the Dutch and American Revolutions, revolutions in Spain and Portugal in 1808–1814, in Greece in 1821–1829, in Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, and Argentina in 1810–1826 (Spanish-American wars of independence), in the Philippines in 1896–1898, the Irish Revolution in 1919–1923 (until 1922, followed by civil war in 1922–1923), revolutions in Morocco in 1953–1956, in Tunis in 1952–1957, in Algeria in 1954–1962, the Vietnamese revolution in 1945–1975, and several others. The Dominican national-liberation revolution is a complicated case, stretching over a significant period of time and comprising the following phases: 1) fight for independence from Spain, which ended in 1821; 2) fight for independence from Haiti – the revolt of 1844; 3) struggle against the new Spanish occupation (1861–1865) and two USA occupations in 1916 and 1965.

The American Revolution possesses a number of distinctive characteristics. It could hardly be a classic bourgeois revolution, since the feudal relations never existed in the country. However, it was split into two parts – the North and the slave-owning South. The revolution failed to solve the issue of social relations in the South, which did not correspond to the country's development level, and a century later this became grounds for the war. These are the two parts of the American Revolution: the first one is related to the national liberation movement, while the second was concerned with eliminating slavery and the modernization of social structure. The Dutch Revolution, along with the overthrow of the Spanish dominion, altered the country's whole structure and can thus be considered as a bourgeois revolution to the same extent as the British or French Revolutions. These features of the Dutch and American Revolutions are projected onto all national-liberation revolutions of the twentieth century which were directed against colonial regimes.

Many revolutions of the other types still possessed national liberation features, which in turn influenced their ideologies, driving forces and charcter. For example, the majority of Latin American and Southeast Asian revolutions in the twentieth century possessed national liberation features: there was political dependence on other states since the countries in question were either colonies (Spanish, Portuguese, etc.) or were heavily economically dependent on foreign states, which affected their political freedom (i.e. Cuba). All the Chinese revolutions between 1911 and 1949 were, in part, directed against the foreign domination of the Western countries, and then against the Japanese occupation. The revolutions in Eastern Europe outside the USSR in 1989–1991 also possessed national liberation features, since there was an outside force (the USSR) that limited the independence of these countries.

The following revolutions can be attributed to the classical type: the British revolution (1640–1653), French (1789–1799), Russian (1905–1922), Chinese (1911–1949), Turkish (1908–1923), Iranian (1905–1911), German (1918–1923), and a number of others. Meiji Ishin (1868–1869) can be also classified as classical.

It is a widely-held opinion that all of the so-called ‘classical revolutions’ are similar, that is, that they develop according to the same laws and follow almost identical patterns (Baczko 1994: xii, 259; Brinton 1965: 206, 258, 272; Fitzpatrick 2008: 2; Ortega y Gasset 2002: 87–88). However, this is contested by those who claim that ‘late’, or ‘Eastern’ revolutions differ from the classical ones (Huntington 1968: 266–267; Hobsbawm 1989: 277–279; Friedrich 1966: 7). Our research demonstrates that all revolutions share common features and that analogies can indeed be drawn, but also highlights that type should be taken into account, since the greatest number of similarities are found within one type.

Within the type that we denote as ‘classical revolutions’, many researchers distinguish the so-called ‘great revolutions’. This name is usually employed in referring to three revolutions – British, French and Russian (Brinton 1965: 24, 25; Eisenstadt 1978: 173; Pettee 1966: 15–17). The term ‘great’ reveals the impact of these revolutions on world history, and it is clearly a relative. This list may be extended with the addition of Dutch Revolution, which was the first in a series of revolutions, the American Revolution, which inspired the Great French Revolution, the Japanese, which provided an example of modernization for an enormous number of countries, and the Turkish, which changed the Muslim world's conception of political and social evolution of an Islamic state. The Chinese Revolution had great significance for the Far Eastern and Southeast Asian states, just as the Mexican and the subsequent Cuban revolutions did for both American continents. The Latin American national-liberation revolutions against Spanish colonial rule cardinally altered the world map and have led to a full deconstruction of the colonial system within just over a century. Basically, this list can be expanded considerably due to the relatively subjective nature of the classifying criterion and the fact that, for each of the countries and nations, their revolution became one of the most significant and landmark moments in history.

Several revolutions which possess national liberation features, or which occurred under the strong influence of neighboring states or revolutionary wars, should be classified as ‘mixed’. These include the majority of Latin American and Southeast Asian revolutions and the Belgian (1830) and Swiss (1847–1848) revolutions (since both were of a national-liberation type and occurred under the strong influence of revolutions in neighboring France in 1830 and 1848, respectively). Moreover, the Swedish (1809), Norwegian (1814, influenced by the Great French revolution and Napoleonic Wars), Finnish revolution (1918, a national-liberation revolution affected by the Russian revolution, since the monarchy, which Finland was a part of, had ceased to be), and a number of others, are also classified as mixed.

Borderline cases are present in any system of classification. For example, the revolutions in Egypt (1952), Iraq (1958) and Libya (1969) resemble correcting revolutions in terms of their characteristics; however, they were in fact the first revolutions in these countries due to the ‘diffused’ quality of national-liberation revolutions (they were prevented by political means, but the acts which granted independence did not resolve other social issues). They can therefore be allocated to the mixed type of basic revolution.

Following the national liberation movements directed against foreign rule and advocating change within the countries, civil wars erupted in a number of countries which on several occasions did not coincide with the revolution itself. The key example is, of course, the USA, where the national-liberation revolution and the civil war were separated by almost a century. The list continues with Uruguay, Columbia, Honduras, Costa-Rica, Salvador, the Philippines and Algeria. New revolutions occurred in a number of countries after the national-liberation revolutions, i.e. Bolivia (1952) and Nicaragua (1979). After the national-liberation revolution in 1810–1821 Mexico underwent revolutions in 1854–1867 and 1910–1920.

In Portugal, the national liberation war of 1808–1814 developed into the revolution of 1820–1834 (a revolt in Lisbon and Porto in 1820, which brought a temporary junta to power and led to the creation of the Cortes and the adoption of the Portuguese constitution in 1822, following the Spanish constitution of 1812). A constitutional monarchy was established in Portugal, which later slipped into an absolutist regime. In 1910, another revolution occurred in Portugal, which eliminated the monarchy and led to critical shifts in the political and social structure. The Portuguese military coup in 1926 resembled a classical reaction to the Directory of the Great French Revolution (corruption became the scourge of the First Republic in Portugal), and the 1926–1974 regime closely approaches the definition of a Bonapartist regime. Once it was over, a peaceful succession of power occurred in 1974: the Carnation Revolution on April 25, 1974 was a military coup that led to the transfer of power to political parties and then to democratization.

Similar events occurred in Spain. In 1808–1813, a national-liberation revolution against Napoleon took place there. The year 1812 witnessed the adoption of the Spanish constitution, but in 1813 the Spanish monarchy was restored in an absolutist form. Consequently, during the whole nineteenth century, Spain was disturbed by civil wars, military revolts and coup d'états. The revolution of 1820–1823 was suppressed by the French army, and the monarchy was restored there again. The third attempt led to the long-lasting civil war of 1834–1843, whereby the 1812 constitution was restored, but consequently revised, and the monarch dismissed the undesirable government. The revolutionary attempt in 1854–1856 also failed, while the revolution of 1868–1874 resulted in the monarch's getaway. Eventually, however, the monarchy was restored and the Cortes were dissolved.

Three wars took place before Cuba succeeded in gaining independence from Spain – the Ten Years' War (1868–1878), the Little War (1879–1880) and the War for Independence (1895–1898). The first two wars were lost, and the third one was catalyzed by interference from the USA and the Spanish-American War of 1898. Consequently, Cuba became more dependent on the USA, but the colonial regime was disbanded. In addition, this prolonged struggle led to a change in conditions, and as the result of liberation, Cuba was rid of the monarchy and slavery. However, the incompleteness of social change and the semi-colonial dependence on the USA led to the Cuban Revolution of 1953–1959.

The aforementioned Spanish, Portuguese and Mexican revolutions are difficult to classify. None of the Spanish or Portuguese revolutions of the nineteenth century have followed the classical pattern. There were several revolutionary attempts during this period, and, in addition, there were national-liberation revolutions in both countries. It follows that both the Spanish revolution of 1931–1939 and the Portuguese revolution of 1910 should have been correcting. Instead, however, these revolutions followed a classical pattern, albeit with a certain time delay. (They consist of periods which resemble the moderates, Jacobins, Thermidor, Directory and Bonapartism.) The Mexican Revolution of 1854–1867, which occurred after the national-liberation revolution, could be classified as classical were it not for foreign intervention. It is a manifestation of what would have happened if the coalition had captured Paris in 1794, which would have seen the revolution fight intervening forces in an occupied country, and then implement reforms. This would have made it a classical revolution evolving according to a different sequence of events, determined by the domination of the occupying forces and the duration of the struggle against them.

Correcting revolutions are similar in many ways, with varying intensities of struggle between society and the authorities. There are also three types of correcting revolutions, classified into the following types: ‘barricades’ (France in 1830 and 1848), ‘demonstrations’ (‘velvet’) and ‘military coup’ (‘Glorious revolution’, ‘Carnation revolution’).

The government decrees on the disbandment of the chamber of representatives, on the tightening of electoral rights and the limitation of the freedom of speech culminated in the erection of barricades in Paris, France on July 27, 1830. On July 28, soldiers began to join the insurgents, and on August 2, the king signed a renunciation in favor of his grandson. In 1848 in France, the government decided to prohibit the ‘banquet campaign’ (which advocated election system reform), which caused dissent among Parisians and the subsequent erection of barricades. The authorities capitulated, and the country became a republic. The course of events according to the ‘classical model’ was halted, due to the fact that the June revolt was suppressed. This correcting revolution pattern is also apparent in Bolivia. The social protest in Bolivia, including the worker and peasant protest movement, intensified in 1946–1951. The annulment of election results saw a peak in the protests, which led to a military revolt of the workers' militia groups and their battles with the army on April 9–11, 1952.

These examples are similar to a number of others, but they are characterized by a more intense confrontation and mass engagement. This is perhaps because they occurred earlier in history. The ‘April Revolution’ of 1960 in South Korea took place in the form of students and urban dwellers' demonstrations in March and April, which were directed against the regime and the manipulation of election results. These protests led to an attempt at a crackdown, the dictator's escape, new elections and changes introduced to the political system. All correcting revolutions in Eastern Europe in 1989–1991 followed a similar chain of events.

The third pattern includes the aforementioned cases of military coups supported by the people. The first example of this type is the ‘Glorious revolution’. The ‘Glorious revolution’ (1688) is the first example of a ‘correcting revolution’. It includes the confrontation between the parliament and the king, which occurred in 1640–1649, the military conflict between the armies of the king and the claimant to the throne, and minimal engagement of the population. The revolution was intended, once again, to fight absolutism, which was returning to the English political system.

Curiously, the German revolution of 1918–1823 resembles both the classical Russian revolution in its February – September segment, and the French revolution of 1848: a lack of trust in the sovereign, military revolt, the monarch's renunciation and flight abroad, followed by the proclamation of a Presidential republic. However, in the case of Germany, instead of one ‘June revolt’ (the January 1919 Spartacist uprising was analogous to the June 1848 uprising in France), new attempts at both ‘right’ and ‘left’ revolts followed (1920–1923).

Thus, regardless of the fact that research studies continue to postulate that the Great French Revolution became a template for other revolutions, certain significant clarifications are required. Not only the Great French Revolution, but also the French revolutions of 1830 and 1848, were reproduced numerous times all over the world. However, the Great French Revolution was so revolutionary in spirit, that is, centered around the very notion of revolution, that it began to serve as a yardstick – a standard against which all other revolutions were measured.

All revolutions share common features and therefore can be attributed to a genus of events. I think that there are two sorts of revolutions – basic and correcting. Basic revolutions are usually the main ones – the first revolutions in countries that demonstrate the possibility of change and its vector. Correcting revolutions occur when basic revolutions fail in performing certain changes and subsequent reforms. Three types are defined under the heading of basic revolution – national-liberation, classical and mixed. The category of correcting revolution also comprises three types: the ‘barricade’ revolutions (France in 1830 and 1848), ‘demonstrations’ (‘velvet’) and ‘military coup’ (‘Glorious revolution’, ‘Carnation revolution’, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, etc.).

A basic revolution may be the only revolution in a country, or it may be accompanied by a correcting revolution, or even several of the latter type; it may also follow a national-liberation revolution. National-liberation revolutions may evolve into basic (including the classical type). Correcting revolutions may occur both after basic and national-liberation revolutions. When a revolution is not completed or ‘goes the wrong way’ (e.g., becomr extremely ‘left-wing’ or ‘right-wing’), the further impulses occur until the required social and political processes take place. In this way, the ‘Glorious revolution’ of 1688 in England was perdetermined by the 1640–1653 revolution; it took France the whole nineteenth century and two more revolutions (in 1830 and 1848) to cope with the consequences of the 1789–1799 events. After the prolonged revolution of 1905–1922 and almost 70 years of modernization and preservation, another revolution ensued in Russia in 1991. History is saturated with examples of this sort.

Such an approach to classification of revolutions enables us, first of all, to introduce a universal classifying criterion, namely, the algorithm of revolutions, which encompasses all the revolutions of the past, and, secondly, to provide an explanation for differences in the characteristics of revolutions (phases, timeframes, intensity of social confrontation etc.).Thirdly, based on the inductive method, it enables us to move from particulars to generalizations, namely to the general theory of revolutions, and to focus attention on the theoretical underpinnings of the revolutionary genesis.

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