Advertisement

The Age of Paradox: the Anti-revolutionary Revolutions of 1989–91

  • Richard Sakwa
Chapter
Part of the Themes in Focus book series (TIF)

Abstract

The end of the revolution has been proposed many times before, and such announcements have invariably proved premature. As Fred Halliday notes, the year 1989 gave the idea of revolution a ‘special contradictory confirmation’: it marked the 200th anniversary ‘of the emergence of the modern, and modernist, concept of revolution during the French revolution’; but it was a year that began ‘with sage warnings on how revolution was no longer a relevant concept, [but] it ended with the collapse of the communist regimes in a process that should, by all but the most dogmatically teleological of criteria, be termed “revolutionary”’.2 These were indeed revolutions, but revolutions of a special type.

Keywords

Civil Society French Revolution Russian Revolution Communist Revolution Moral Absolutism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Ivan Turgenev, ‘On Belinsky’, in G. Gibian (ed.), The Portable Nineteenth-Century Russian Reader (London, 1993), p. 390.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    F. Halliday, ‘Revolutions and the International’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 24, 2 (1995), p. 279.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 4.
    R. Koselleck, Critique and Crisis: Enlightenment and the Pathogenesis of Modern Society (Oxford, 1988).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    The major works of these authors include: C. Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution, revised edn (New York, 1965);Google Scholar
  5. T. R. Gurr, Why Men Rebel (Princeton, NJ, 1970);Google Scholar
  6. S. P. Huntington, Political Order in Changing Societies (New Haven, Conn., 1968);Google Scholar
  7. B. Moore, Jr, Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (London, 1969);Google Scholar
  8. C. Tilly, From Mobilization to Revolution (New York, 1978);Google Scholar
  9. T. Skocpol, States and Social Revolutions (Cambridge, 1979);CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. M. S. Kimmel, Revolution: a Sociological Interpretation (Cambridge, 1990);Google Scholar
  11. J. A. Goldstone, Revolution and Rebellion in the Early Modern World (Berkeley, Calif., 1991).Google Scholar
  12. 7.
    C. Tilly, European Revolutions, 1492–1992 (Oxford, 1993).Google Scholar
  13. 8.
    Cf. A. Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Oxford, 1990).Google Scholar
  14. 9.
    The characterization is by E. Voegelin, From Enlightenment to Revolution (Durham, NC, 1975), p. 167.Google Scholar
  15. 11.
    A. Walicki, Marxism and the Leap to the Kingdom of Freedom: the Rise and Fall of the Communist Utopia (Stanford, Calif., 1995).Google Scholar
  16. 14.
    N. Harding, The Marxist-Leninist Detour’, in J. Dunn (ed.), Democracy: the Unfinished Journey, 508 BC to AD 1993 (Oxford, 1993), pp. 155–88.Google Scholar
  17. 15.
    R. H. Dix, ‘Eastern Europe’s Implications for Revolutionary Theory’, Polity, 24, 2 (Winter 1991), pp. 227–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 16.
    Andrew Arato, ‘Interpreting 1989’, Social Research, 60, 3 (Fall 1993), p. 611.Google Scholar
  19. 18.
    E. Bernstein, The Preconditions for Socialism, edited by H. Tudor (Cambridge, 1993), p. 6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 19.
    M. Gorbachev, Perestroika: New Thinking for our Country and the World (London, 1987), pp. 55–9.Google Scholar
  21. 20.
    T. Garton Ash, ‘Reform or Revolution?’, New York Review of Books, 27 October 1988, pp. 47–56;Google Scholar
  22. 21.
    R. Dahrendorf, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe (London, 1990), p. 22.Google Scholar
  23. 22.
    See M. Forsyth, Reason and Revolution: the Political Thought of the Abbé Sieyès (Leicester, 1987), pp. 98–102.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    The Meiji restoration has often been compared with the ‘great’ revolutions, giving rise, despite the traditionalist rhetoric, to profound processes of social, political and economic transformation, but failing to generate new patterns of autonomous political organisation, see S. N. Eisenstadt, ‘Frameworks of the Great Revolutions: Culture, Social Structure, History and Human Agency’, International Social Science Journal, 133 (August 1992), p. 389.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    see also H. Webb, The Japanese Imperial Institution in the Tokugawa Period (New York, 1968).Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    J. Habermas, ‘What Does Socialism Mean Today? The Rectifying Revolution and the Need for New Thinking on the Left’, New Left Review, 183 (September/October 1993), pp. 3–21;Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    On peasant revolutions, see the classic work by E. Wolf, Peasant Wars of the Twentieth Century (London, 1971).Google Scholar
  28. 29.
    For example, J. M. Colomer and M. Pascual, ‘The Polish Games of Transition’, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 27, 3 (September 1994), pp. 275–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 30.
    A. Michnik, ‘A New Evolutionism’, in Letters from Prison and Other Essays (Berkeley, 1985), pp. 135–48.Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    G. Konrad, Antipolitics: an Essay (San Diego, 1984).Google Scholar
  31. 32.
    D. Selbourne, Death of the Dark Hero: Eastern Europe, 1987–90 (London, 1990), p. 236.Google Scholar
  32. 33.
    G. Konrad, Antipolitics (San Diego, 1984), p. 129.Google Scholar
  33. 37.
    T. Garton Ash, ‘Does Central Europe Exist?’, in G. Schopflin and N. Wood (eds), In Search of Central Europe (Oxford, 1989), pp. 200–1.Google Scholar
  34. 38.
    T. Skocpol, Social Revolutions in the Modern World (Cambridge, 1994), p. 203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 40.
    J. de Maistre, ‘Supposed Dangers of Counter-Revolution’, in Considerations on France (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 83–105 at p. 105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 41.
    A. Horvâth and A. Szakolczai, The Dissolution of Communist Power: the Case of Hungary (London, 1992);Google Scholar
  37. 42.
    R. Khasbulatov, The Struggle for Russia (London, 1993), p. 181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 43.
    M. Weber, The Russian Revolutions, translated and edited by G. C. Wells and P. Baehr (Oxford, 1995), pp. 23–4.Google Scholar
  39. 44.
    M. Kundera, ‘The Tragedy of Central Europe’, New York Review of Books, 26 April 1984.Google Scholar
  40. 45.
    See in particular S. M. Frank, ‘Etika nigilizma’, in Vekhi: sbornik statei o russkoi intelligentsii (Moscow, 1909; reprinted Frankfurt, 1967), pp. 175–210.Google Scholar
  41. 47.
    A. Solzhenitsyn et al., From Under the Rubble (London, 1974).Google Scholar
  42. 50.
    For an updated version of her arguments covering perestroika, see G. E. Schroeder, ‘The Soviet Economy on a Treadmill of Perestroika: Gorbachev’s First Five Years’, in A. Dallin and G. W. Lapidus (eds), The Soviet System in Crisis: a Reader of Western and Soviet Views (Boulder/Oxford, 1991), pp. 376–82.Google Scholar
  43. 51.
    O. Rumyantsev, Osnovy konstitutsionnogo stroya Rossii (Moscow, 1994), pp. 159–60.Google Scholar
  44. 52.
    F. D. Colburn, The Vogue of Revolution in Poor Countries (Princeton, NJ, 1994).Google Scholar
  45. 53.
    Capitalism, of course, is still prone to crises, but the immediate prospects of an ideology based on the abolition of private property and the market would appear to be slim. For an excellent debate on the subject, see A. Shtromas (ed.), The End of ‘isms’? Reflections on the Fate of Ideological Politics after Communism’s Collapse (Oxford, 1994).Google Scholar
  46. 56.
    L. Holmes, The End of Communist Power (Oxford, 1993), p. xi and passim.Google Scholar
  47. 58.
    M. Glenny, The Rebirth of History: Eastern Europe in the Age of Democracy (London, 1990).Google Scholar
  48. 63.
    See R. Sakwa, ‘The Revolution of 1991 in Russia: Interpretations of the Moscow Coup’, Coexistence, 29, 4 (December 1992), pp. 27–67.Google Scholar
  49. 64.
    F. Fukuyama, ‘The End of History?’, The National Interest (Summer 1989), pp. 3–18.Google Scholar
  50. 66.
    L. A. Gordon and A. K. Nazimova, ‘Perestroika in Historical Perspective: Possible Scenarios’, Government and Opposition, 25, 1 (Winter 1990) pp. 16–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 67.
    For example B. Kagarlitsky, Restoration in Russia: Why Capitalism Failed, translated by R. Clarke (London, 1995).Google Scholar
  52. 68.
    D. Erebon, Michel Foucault (London, 1991), p. 284.Google Scholar
  53. 73.
    P. Wagner, A Sociology of Modernity: Liberty and Discipline (London, 1993).Google Scholar
  54. 74.
    H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, 7th edn (Oxford, 1983), p. 847, outline a number of meanings: we here use the term more in the sense suggested by Hippocrates and Demosthenes.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard Sakwa 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Sakwa

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations