Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Crane Brinton's Theory of Revolution

Historian Clarence Crane Brinton

It's been a while since my last post. I blame that on the fact that i've been extremely busy with assessment tasks and our latest history debate (that we won yesterday afternoon, WOO!), however I must admit I am glad to be back on track with my research. After I had decided to look at revolutions in general I thought it would be interesting to investigate Crane Brinton's theory of revolution, outlined and explored in his novel 'The Anatomy of Revolution' (I would like to possibly purchase this book). After initial research it seems that Brinton attempts to explain a revolution like a fever, in which the society would initially show symptoms, endure the fever (or revolution), and then reach some state of 'okness' (yes I just created a word). I call this state of 'okness' because Cowie states that a revolution can be a '180 degree revolution' - meaning that there is a complete reversal in both social and political ideals, or a '360 degree revolution' - meaning that the revolution has very much resulted in a society significantly similar to the one prior to the revolution. The fact that a 'revolution' can take on completely different results is quite interesting in itself. Brinton's theory explores a number of factors for revolution and the factors that are a result of a revolution. They are as follows:

Crane Brinton's Fever Chart of Revolution

Factors for Revolution

1. People from all social classes are discontented.
2. People feel restless and held down by unacceptable restrictions in society, religion, the economy or
the government.
3. People are hopeful about the future, but they are being forced to accept less than they had hoped
4. People are beginning to think of themselves as belonging to a social class, and there is a growing
bitterness between social classes.
5. The social classes closest to one another are the most hostile.
6. The scholars and thinkers give up on the way their society operates.
7. The government does not respond to the needs of its society.
8. The leaders of the government and the ruling class begin to doubt themselves. Some join with the
opposition groups.
9. The government is unable to get enough support from any group to save itself.
10. The government cannot organise its finances correctly and is either going bankrupt or trying to tax
heavily and unjustly.

Results of Revolution

1. Impossible demands made of government which, if granted, would mean its end. 
2. Unsuccessful government attempts to suppress revolutionaries.
3. Revolutionaries gain power and seem united.
4. Once in power, revolutionaries begin to quarrel among themselves, and unity begins to dissolve.
5. The moderates gain the leadership but fail to satisfy those who insist on further changes.
6. Power is gained by progressively more radical groups until finally a lunatic fringe gains almost
complete control.
7. A strong man emerges and assumes great power.
8. The extremists try to create a "heaven on earth" by introducing their whole program and by
punishing all their opponents.
9. A period of terror occurs.
10. Moderate groups regain power. The revolution is over.

I think that a good idea for my project would be to investigate Crane Brinton's theory and then attempt to apply it to three or four different revolutions. In order to look at this I would first have to find a way to distinguish revolutions and rebellions. Cowie states that the difference between the two is that a revolution always has a dramatic change in ideology or society at the time (it was a little more specific than that, but I forgot my book... so I will need to do a proper analysis once I am reunited with Cowie). I think it would be interesting to look at a number of revolutions and see how many of these factors can be applied to the revolution, and if the revolution indeed works like a 'fever' as Crane Brinton theorised.

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