Sunday, January 13, 2013

What Causes Revolutions? (China, The Russian Revolution, de Tocqueville)


This very short article should be a thought provoking one for many.  It is worth the minute to read and the hours to ponder.
V/R
Dave

What Causes Revolutions?
JANUARY 13, 2013


A surprising number of people in China have been writing and talking about “revolution”.  First came word, in November, that China’s new leaders have been advising their colleagues to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic book on the French Revolution, L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution (The Old Regime and the Revolution), which subsequently has shot to the top of China’s best seller lists.  

Just this past week, Chinese scholar Zhao Dinxing, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago, felt the need to publish an article (in Chinese) laying out the reasons China won’t have a revolution (you can read an English summary here).  Minxin Pei, on the other hand, thinks it will.

In the midst of this debate, I happened across an interesting set of passages in retired Harvard professor Richard Pipes’ slender volume Three “Whys” of the Russian Revolution.  The first “why” he asks is “Why did Tsarism fall?”, an event that few saw coming:

If you read the Russian and foreign press before 1917, or memoirs of the time, you find that hardly anyone expected the downfall of tsarism either.  On the contrary, people believed that tsarism would survive for a long time to come … For had not tsarism weathered all onslaughts and all crises [including the 1905 uprising], and emerged from them intact?
(Continued at the link below)

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