Revolutions and Historical Process


Author: Grinin, Leonid
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 18, Number 2 / September 2019

DOI: https://doi.org/10.30884/seh/2019.02.14

Although there occurred numerous revolutions in the ancient world and in the Middle Ages, their historical role was relatively small. Starting from the Modern period, the role of revolutions as historical engines increased dramatically, which was connected with the started industrial era and emerging technologies, with development of capitalist relations, to which the revolutions opened the way in the struggle against absolutism and obsolete social relations. The article considers the role of revolutions in the long-term historical process and the World-System's development as well as analyzes the changing importance of revolutions from ancient times to the present day. The author shows why the nature of revolutions has changed and their significance has sharply increased since the beginning of the sixteenth century, that is with the started Early Modern period and the Industrial revolution. The author also explains how and why the role of revolutions as the most important driving force of historical process and progress started to decline against the background of the increasing role of more legitimate and less expensive forms of societal transformations. The contemporary role of revolutions and their usage as a geopolitical weapon are also examined. The author also defines the correlation between developing technologies, globalization, and the role of revolution in historical process. While considering these aspects he also addresses some points related to the theory of revolution and makes some predictions regarding the future role of revolutions for the development of societies and the World-System in general.

Leonid E. Grinin, Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow more