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Revolutionary Movements

An author and a well-known scholar James DeFronzo (who is notorious for his profound study of fundamentalism and Islamism and their role in the unease on the global arena) determines five solid characteristics of a revolution.

First of all, a country experiences anxiety and unrest; in most cases it leads to uprisings that become increasingly less controlled by the state officials; people are divided into fractured groups and largely frustrated.    

Another necessary condition is availability of opposing elite groups, or a group of people who share the revolutionary positions enough to provide representation for them at higher levels (in most cases this also implies financial support of the insurgent team). The elite groups must have a higher level of education, the capability of “seeing the bigger picture” and exploit their connections. All of this makes the elite much more powerful and influential than the average population, that can also have controversial points of view inside the community.

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The third condition naturally relates to bridging the aforementioned strata and is characterized by unifying the classes and nullifying the differences between them. In other words, there must be a motivation that brings together the masses and the influential stratum.

With these three conditions, the next necessary circumstance is such a position of the central administrative power that it cannot fully perform its functions. In order for a revolution to ignite, the official power structures in a country have to be paralyzed or temporarily disabled (or in a state of internal discontent).

The final and very important condition is the position of external powers, for example, the international community, the key regional and global actors and the international organizations etc. These actors need either to express support to the pre-revolutionary events or at least to remain neutral and allow everything to go its way. DeFronzo denoted this as “a permissive or tolerant world context” (DeFronzo, p.21).

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Sometimes (in certain social and political circumstances that imply an external interference) revolutionary circles can form alliances with state or non-state political powers of other countries. When confronted by a significant threat, groups have a choice: they can either balance or bandwagon. Balancing is defined as allying with others against the prevailing threat; bandwagoning refers to alignment with the source of danger (later described as the Stockholm syndrome).

The role of the peasantry in a revolution was studied profoundly by DeFronzo and his colleagues: the peasantry heavily influenced revolutionary processes in China, the former Soviet Union, the French revolution and a number of other international events. DeFronzo underlines the fact that for the peasantry, as a demographic phenomenon, is relatively hard to be involved in revolutionary processes. In his opinion, it is due to their natural and understandable conservatism. They usually have little knowledge about the events on a global scale (at least it used to be so, before the information and communication revolution of the latest decades). According to DeFronzo, “A peasant society, conversely, would not be receptive to revolutionary goals because of the peasantry’s ties to tradition, sense of powerlessness, and relative ignorance of the world beyond the village” (p.112). They believe that pursue of revolutionary goals would lead to a construction of a utopia-like society and it is doomed to be a failure when encountering real-life circumstances. It is believed that property inequality has to be eradicated in order to discourage envy, violence, greed, lawlessness and other flaws of human society. These exact beliefs have enabled the elites to manipulate peasants. In fact, similar attempts to do so have been taken throughout the course of the history: there are examples of failed experiments, such as the Soviet Union and those that still prove to be functional, for instance, Sweden with its “social welfare” system. However, in Sweden the relative equality is achieved by means of an enormously strict taxation law, so there is little stimulus except to aspire for a higher income. Thus, the perfect formula for property relationships would be “everyone works at the top of his/her abilities for the sake of the common good, and then he/she takes what he/she needs for life, within reasonable limits” (Baggins, 2013). A very important detail is to be adhered to: there is a need of an absolutely free and unrestricted flow of information within the state, so as to know what has been spent and for what reasons. That would ensure the transparency of social and political dealings in the country.

Also, a relatively passive attitude of the peasantry to current political issues in all countries is partly explained by a society`s moral compass. For example, not everyone is ready to join armed groups to defend some sort of ideological direction. A moral dilemma is a very common thing to happen. Moral obligation at the times of warfare is not absolute, but rather relative. It is a matter of free will and a personal choice of any individual. It is ethical for a person to refuse to serve his/her country. The reasons may be some doubts as to the fairness of a cause, doubts as to the legitimacy of the government officials who orchestrate the warfare, a personal health state, and the presence of relatives or close friends on the territory of the opponent, or pacifism as a system of beliefs. The government often tries to identify itself with citizens and makes the population identify itself with the power structures.

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The world has survived a lot of insurgencies worldwide. Basically, such rebellions mostly happened and prospered in the economically weak areas. As a rule, such insurgencies occurred due to the high levels of corruption or someone’s interest in a war. A successful society should bear as much decentralization as possible, because any exercise of authority inevitably leads to oppression of one group of people by others. At the same time, economic life should be governed by the principle of mutual profitability – to encourage ties between communities and ensure that conflicts would be disadvantageous to all parties of the economic process.

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