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  • 1. American Sociological Associationhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/2089714 .Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org..American Sociological Association is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access toAmerican Sociological Review.http://www.jstor.orgThis content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 2. AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEWFebruary, 1962 Volume 27, Number 1TOWARDA THEORYOF REVOLUTION*JAMESC. DAVIESCaliforniaInstituteof TechnologyRevolutionsare most likely to occur when a prolongedperiod of objective economicandsocial developmentis followed by a short periodof sharpreversal.People then subjectivelyfearthat groundgainedwith greateffortwill be quitelost; theirmoodbecomesrevolutionary.The evidencefrom DorrsRebellion,the RussianRevolution,and the Egyptian Revolutionsupportsthis notion; tentatively,so do data on othercivil disturbances.Variousstatistics-as on rural uprisings,industrialstrikes, unemployment,and cost of living-may serve ascrudeindexesof popularmood.More useful,thoughless easy to obtain,are direct questionsin cross-sectionalinterviews.The goal of predictingrevolutionis conceivedbut not yet bornormatured.IN exhortingproletariansof all nationsto unite in revolution, because theyhad nothing to lose but their chains,Marx and Engels most succinctly presentedthat theory of revolutionwhich is recognizedas their brain child. But this most famedthesis, that progressive degradation of theindustrial working class would finally reachthe point of despair and inevitable revolt,is not the only one that Marx fathered.In atleast one essay he gave life to a quite anti-thetical idea. He described,as a preconditionof widespreadunrest, not progressivedegra-dation of the proletariat but rather an im-provement in workers economic conditionwhich did not keep pace with the growingwelfare of capitalists and thereforeproducedsocial tension.A noticeableincreasein wagespresupposesa rapidgrowthof productivecapital. Therapid growth of productive capital bringsabout an equally rapid growth of wealth,luxury,socialwants,socialenjoyments.Thus,althoughthe enjoymentsof the workershaverisen, the social satisfactionthat they givehas fallen in comparisonwith the increasedenjoymentsof the capitalist,which are in-accessibleto the worker,in comparisonwiththe state of developmentof society in gen-eral. Our desiresand pleasuresspringfromsociety; we measurethem, therefore,by so-ciety andnot by the objectswhichserve fortheir satisfaction. Because they are of asocial nature,they are of a relativenature.Marxs qualification here of his more fre-quent belief that degradationproducesrevo-lution is expressed as the main thesis byde Tocqueville in his study of the FrenchRevolution. After a long review of economicand social decline in the seventeenth centuryand dynamic growth in the eighteenth, deTocqueville concludes:So it wouldappearthat the Frenchfoundtheir condition the more unsupportableinproportion to its improvement. . . . Revolu-tionsarenot alwaysbroughtaboutby a grad-ual declinefrom bad to worse.Nations thathave enduredpatiently and almost uncon-* Several people have made perceptive suggestionsand generous comments on an earlier version ofthis paper. I wish particularly to thank SeymourMartin Lipset, Lucian W. Pye, John H. Schaar,Paul Seabury, and Dwight Waldo.1 The Communist Manifesto of 1848 evidentlyantedates the opposing idea by about a year. SeeEdmund Wilson, To the Finland Station (AnchorBooks edition), New York: Doubleday & Co.(n.d.), p. 157; Lewis S. Feuer, Karl Marx andFriedrich Engels: Basic Writings on Politics andPhilosophy, N. Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1959,p. 1. The above quotation is from Karl Marx andFrederick Engels, "Wage Labour and Capital,"Selected Works in Two Volumes, Moscow: ForeignLanguages Publishing House, 1955, vol. 1, p. 94.SThis content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 3. 6 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEWsciously the most overwhelmingoppressionoften burstintorebellionagainsttheyokethemomentit beginsto growlighter.The regimewhichis destroyedby a revolutionis almostalways an improvementon its immediatepredecessor. . . . Evils which are patientlyenduredwhen they seem inevitablebecomeintolerablewhenoncetheideaof escapefromthem is suggested.2On the basis of de Tocqueville and Marx,we can chooseone of these ideas or the other,which makes it hard to decide just whenrevolutions are more likely to occur-whenthere has been social and economicprogressor when there has been regress. It appearsthat both ideas have explanatory and pos-sibly predictivevalue, if they are juxtaposedand put in the propertime sequence.Revolutions are most likely to occurwhena prolongedperiodof objectiveeconomicandsocial development is followed by a shortperiod of sharp reversal. The all-importanteffect on the minds of people in a particularsociety is to produce, during the formerpe-riod, an expectation of continued ability tosatisfy needs-which continue to rise-and,during the latter, a mental state of anxietyand frustrationwhen manifest reality breaksaway from anticipated reality. The actualstate of socio-economic development is lesssignificant than the expectation that pastprogress, now blocked, can and must con-tinue in the future.Political stability and instability are ulti-mately dependenton a state of mind,a mood,in a society. Satisfied or apathetic peoplewho arepoor in goods, status, and powercanremain politically quiet and their oppositescan revolt, just as, correlatively and moreprobably, dissatisfied poor can revolt andsatisfied rich oppose revolution.It is the dis-satisfiedstate of mind ratherthan the tangi-ble provision of "adequate"or "inadequate"supplies of food, equality, or liberty whichproduces the revolution. In actuality, theremust be a joining of forces between dissatis-fied, frustrated people who differ in theirdegree of objective, tangible welfare andstatus. Well-fed, well-educated, high-statusindividuals who rebel in the face of apathyamong the objectively deprived can accom-plish at most a coup detat. The objectivelydeprived, when faced with solid opposition2A. de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and theFrenchRevolution(trans.by John Bonner),N. Y.:Harper& Bros., 1856, p. 214. The Stuart Gilberttranslation,GardenCity: Doubleday & Co., Inc.,1955, pp. 176-177, gives a somewhatless pungentversionof the samecomment.LAncienregimewasfirst publishedin 1856.3 Revolutions are here defined as violent civildisturbancesthat cause the displacementof onerulinggroupby anotherthat has a broaderpopularbasisfor support.00Expected need satisfaction ,- -A, IActual need satisfaction An intolerable gapbetween what peoplewant and what they getZW/ A tolerable gap between_ what people want andwhat they getoj I | Revolution occurs atIAh1o, this time0 TIMEFIGURE1. NEEDSATISFACTiONANDREVOLUTIONThis content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 4. A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 7of people of wealth, status, and power, willbe smashed in their rebellion as were peas-ants and Anabaptists by Germannoblemenin 1525and East Germansby the Communistelite in 1953.Before appraising this general notion inlight of a series of revolutions,a word is inorderas to why revolutionsordinarilydo notoccur when a society is generally impover-ished-when, as de Tocqueville put it, evilsthat seem inevitable are patiently endured.They areenduredin the extremecasebecausethe physical and mental energies of peopleare totally employedin the processof merelystaying alive. The Minnesotastarvationstud-ies conducted during World War II 4 indi-cate clearly the constant pre-occupation ofvery hungry individuals with fantasies andthoughtsof food. In extremis,as the Minne-sota research poignantly demonstrates, theindividual withdrawsinto a life of his own,withdrawsfrom society, withdrawsfrom anysignificantkind of activity unrelatedto stay-ing alive. Reports of behavior in Nazi con-centration camps indicate the same preoc-cupation.5 In less extreme and barbarouscircumstances, where minimal survival ispossiblebut little more, the preoccupationofindividuals with staying alive is only miti-gated. Social action takes place for the mostpart on a local, face-to-face basis. In suchcircumstancesthe family is a-perhaps themajor-solidary unit 6 and even the localcommunity exists primarily to the extentfamilies need to act together to secure theirseparatesurvival.Suchwas life on the Amer-ican frontier in the sixteenth through nine-teenth centuries. In very much attenuatedform, but with a substantial degree of socialisolation persisting, such evidently is rurallife even today. This is clearly related to arelatively low level of political participationin elections.7 As Zawadzki and Lazarsfeldhave indicated,8preoccupationwith physicalsurvival, even in industrial areas, is a forcestrongly militating against the establishmentof the community-sense and consensus onjoint political action which are necessary toinduce a revolutionary state of mind. Farfrom makingpeople into revolutionaries,en-duringpoverty makes for concernwith onessolitary self or solitary family at best andresignationormute despairat worst.When itis a choice between losing their chains ortheir lives, people will mostly choose to keeptheirchains,a fact whichMarxseemsto haveoverlooked.9It is when the chains have been loosenedsomewhat,so that they can be cast off with-out a high probability of losing life, thatpeople are put in a condition of proto-rebelliousness. I use the term proto-rebel-liousnessbecausethe moodof discontentmaybe dissipated before a violent outbreak oc-curs. The causes for such dissipationmay benatural or social (including economic andpolitical). A bad crop year that threatens areturn to chronic hunger may be succeededby a year of natural abundance. Recoveryfrom sharp economic dislocation may takethe steam from the boiler of rebellions Theslow, grudging grant of reforms, which hasbeen the political history of Englandsince atleast the Industrial Revolution, may effec-tively and continuouslyprevent the degreeoffrustration that produces revolt.4The full report is Ancel Keys et al., TheBiology of Human Starvation,Minneapolis:Uni-versity of MinnesotaPress, 1950. See J. Brozek,"Semi-starvationand Nutritional Rehabilitation,"Journalof ClinicalNutrition, 1, (January, 1953),pp. 107-118for a brief analysis.5E. A. Cohen, Human Behavior in the Con-centrationCamp,New York: W. W. Norton&Co.,1953,pp. 123-125,131-140.6 For community life in such poverty, inMezzogiornoItaly, see E. C. Banfield,The MoralBasis of a BackwardSociety, Glencoe,Ill.: TheFree Press, 1958.The author emphasizesthat thenuclearfamilyis a solidary,consensual,moralunit(see p. 85) but even within it, consensusappearsto break down, in outbreaksof pure, individualamorality-notably between parents and children(seep. 117).7SeeAngusCampbellet al., TheAmericanVoter,New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1960, Chap. 15,"AgrarianPolitical Behavior."8B. Zawadzkiand P. F. Lazarsfeld,"The Psy-chological Consequences of Unemployment,"Journal of Social Psychology,6 (May, 1935), pp.224-251.9 remarkableand awesome exception to thisphenomenonoccurred occasionallyin some Naziconcentrationcamps,e.g., in a Buchenwaldrevoltagainstcapriciousrule by criminalprisoners.Dur-ing this revolt,one hundredcriminalprisonerswerekilled by political prisoners.See Cohen, op. cit.,p. 200.10See W. W. Rostow, "BusinessCycles,Harvests,and Politics: 1790-1850," Journal of EconomicHistory, 1 (November,1941), pp. 206-221 for therelation between economic fluctuation and theactivities of the Chartistsin the 1830sand 1840s.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 5. 8 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEWA revolutionarystate of mind requiresthecontinued, even habitual but dynamic ex-pectation of greater opportunity to satisfybasic needs, which may range from merelyphysical (food, clothing, shelter, health, andsafety from bodily harm) to social (the af-fectional ties of family and friends) to theneed for equal dignity and justice. But thenecessary additional ingredient is a persist-ent, unrelentingthreat to the satisfaction ofthese needs: not a threat which actuallyreturnspeopleto a state of sheersurvivalbutwhich puts them in the mental state wherethey believe they will not be able to satisfyone or more basic needs. Although physicaldeprivationin somedegreemay be threatenedon the eve of all revolutions, it need notbe the prime factor, as it surely was not inthe AmericanRevolution of 1775. The cru-cial factor is the vague or specific fear thatgroundgained over a long periodof time willbe quickly lost. This fear does not generateif there is continued opportunity to satisfycontinually emerging needs; it generateswhen the existing governmentsuppresses oris blamedfor suppressingsuch opportunity.Three rebellions or revolutions are givenconsiderable attention in the sections thatfollow: DorrsRebellionof 1842, the RussianRevolution of 1917, and the Egyptian Revo-lution of 1952. Brief mention is then madeof several other major civil disturbances,allof which appear to fit the J-curve pattern.1After consideringthese specificdisturbances,some general theoretical and researchprob-lems are discussed.No claim is made that all rebellionsfollowthe pattern, but just that the ones here pre-sented do. All of these are "progressive"revolutionsin behalf of greaterequality andliberty. The question is open whether thepatternoccursin suchmarkedlyretrogressiverevolutions as Nazism in Germany or the1861 Southernrebellionin the United States.It will surely be necessary to examine otherprogressiverevolutionsbefore one can judgehow universal the J-curve is. And it will benecessary,in the interestsof scientificvalida-tion, to examinecasesof seriouscivil disturb-ance that fell short of producing profoundrevolution-such as the Sepoy Rebellion of1857 in India, the PullmanStrike of 1894 inAmerica, the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 inChina,and the GreatDepressionof the 1920sand 1930s as it was experiencedin Austria,France,GreatBritain,and the United States.The explanationfor such still-bornrebellions-for revolutionsthat might have occurred-is inevitably morecomplicatedthan for thosethat come to term in the "normal"course ofpolitical gestation.DORRS REBELLION OF 1842Dorrs Rebellion12 in nineteenth-centuryAmericawas perhaps the first of many civildisturbancesto occurin Americaas a conse-quence,in part, of the IndustrialRevolution.It followed by three years an outbreak inEngland that had similarroots and a similarprogram-the Chartistagitation.A machine-operatedtextile industrywas first establishedin Rhode Island in 1790 and grew rapidly asa consequenceof domestic and internationaldemand, notably during the NapoleonicWars. JeffersonsEmbargo Act of 1807, theWar of 1812, and a high tariff in 1816 fur-ther stimulatedAmericanindustry.Rapid industrial growth meant the move-ment of people from farms to cities. In Mas-sachusetts the practice developed of hiringmainly the wives and daughters of farmers,whose incomewas thereby supplementedbutnot displaced by wages. In Rhode Islandwhole families moved to the cities and be-camecommittedto the factory system. Whentimes were good, industrialized familiesearnedtwo or three timeswhat they got fromthe soil; when the mills were idle, there wasnot enoughmoney for bread.13From 1807 to1815 textiles enjoyed great prosperity; from1834 to 1842 they suffereddepression,mostseverely from 1835 to 1840.Prosperityraisedexpectationsand depressionfrustratedthem,11 This curve is of course not to be confused withits prior and altogether different use by FloydAllport in his study of social conformity. See F. H.Allport, "The J-Curve Hypothesis of ConformingBehavior,"Journal of Social Psychology,5 (May,1934), pp. 141-183, reprinted in T. H. Newcomb& E. L. Hartley, Readingsin Social Psychology,N. Y.: Henry Holt & Co., 1947, pp. 55-67.12 I am indebted to Beryl L. Crowe for hisextensive research on Dorrs Rebellion while he wasa participant in my political behavior seminar atthe University of California, Berkeley, Spring 1960.13 Joseph Brennan, Social Conditions in IndustrialRhode Island: 1820-1860; Washington, D. C.:Catholic University of America, 1940, p. 33.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 6. A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 9particularly when accompaniedby stubbornresistance to suffrage demands that firststirred in 1790 and recurredin a wave-likepattern in 1811 and then in 1818 and 1820following suffrage extension in Connecticutand Massachusetts. The final crest wasreached in 1841, when suffrageassociationsmet and called for a constitutional conven-tion.14Against the will of the government, thesuffragistsheld an electionin which all adultmales were eligible to vote, held a constitu-tional convention composed of delegates soelected and in December 1841 submitted thePeoples Constitutionto the same electorate,which approvedit and the call for an electionnew constitution was "of no binding forcewhatever" and any act "to carry it intoeffect by force will be treason against thestate." The legislature passed what becameknown as the Algerian law, making it anoffense punishable by a year in jail to votein the April election, and by life imprison-ment to hold office under the Peoples Con-stitution.The rebels went stoutly ahead with theelection,and on May 3, 1842inauguratedthenew government.The next day the Peopleslegislaturemet and respectfullyrequestedthesheriff to take possession of state buildings,which he failed to do. Violence broke outon the 17th of May in an attempt to takePeoples Constitution; legislature calls it treasonz2 Severe economic slump 1835-40U- ~~~~Prosperityin l3~O7?> ~~~~~~textiles=4en~ First mechanized Increasing agitation cYtetlm;Ills f or suf f rage* 1w1785 1790 1800 1810 1820 1830 1840FIGURE 2of state officersthe following April, to forma new government under this unconstitu-tional constitutionsThese actions joined the conflict with theestablishedgovernment.Whenasked-by thedissidents-the state supremecourt renderedits private judgmentin March 1842 that theover a state arsenalwith two British cannonleft over from the RevolutionaryWar. Whenthe cannonmisfired,the Peoplesgovernmentresigned.Sporadicviolence continuedfor an-other month, resulting in the arrest of over500 men, mostly textile workers,mechanics,and laborers. The official legislature calledfor a new constitutional convention, chosenby universal manhood suffrage, and a newconstitution went into effect in January,1843. Altogether only one person was killedin this little revolution, which experiencedviolence, failure, and then success within thespace of nine months.It is impossiblealtogether to separate theexperienceof rising expectationsamong peo-ple in Rhode Island from that among Amer-icans generally. They all shared historicallythe struggle against a stubborn but ulti-mately rewarding frontier where their self-confidence gained strength not only in thedaily processof tilling the soil and harvesting14 The persistent demand for suffrage may beunderstood in light of election data for 1828 and1840. In the former year, only 3600 votes werecast in Rhode Island, whose total population wasabout 94,000. (Of these votes, 23 per cent werecast for Jackson and 77 per cent for Adams, incontrast to a total national division of 56 per centfor Jackson and 44 per cent for Adams.) All votescast in the 1828 election amount to 4 per cent ofthe total Rhode Island population and 11 per centof the total U. S. population excluding slaves. In1840, with a total population of 109,000 only 8300votes-8 per cent-were cast in Rhode Island, incontrast to 17 per cent of the national populationexcluding slaves.15 A. M. Mowry, The Dorr War, Providence,R. I.: Preston & Rounds Co., 1901, p. 114.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 7. 10 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEWthe crops but also by improving their skillat self-government.Winning their war of in-dependence, Americans continued to pressfor more goods and more democracy. Thepursuitof economicexpectationswas greatlyfacilitated by the growth of domestic andforeign trade and the gradual establishmentof industry. Equalitarian expectations inpolitics were satisfied and without severestruggle-in most Northern states-by suf-frage reforms.In Rhode Island, these rising expectations-more goods, more equality, more self-rule-were countered by a series of containingforces which built up such a head of steamthat the boiler crackeda little in 1842. Thetextile depression hit hard in 1835 and itsconsequenceswere aggravated by the Panicof 1837. In addition to the frustration ofseeing their peers get the right to vote inother states, poor people in Rhode Islandwere now beset by industrial dislocation inwhich the machines that broughtthem pros-perity they had never before enjoyed nowwere bringing economic disaster. The ma-chines could not be converted to producefood and in Rhode Island the machinetenders could not go back to the farm.When they had recovered from the pre-occupation with staying alive, they turnedin earnestto theirdemandsfor constitutionalreform. But these were met first with in-difference and then by a growing intransi-gence on the part of the governmentrepre-senting the propertied class. Hostile actionby the state supreme court and then thelegislature with its Algerianlaw proved justenough to break briefly the constitutionalstructure which in stable societies has themeasureof powerand resiliencenecessary toabsorb social tension.THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF 1917In Russias tangled history it is hard todecide when began the final upsurge of ex-pectations that, when frustrated, producedthe cataclysmic events of 1917. One cantruly say that the real beginning was theslow modernizationprocess begun by Peterthe Great over two hundredyears before therevolution. And surely the rationalist cur-rents from France that slowly penetratedRussian intellectual life during the reign ofCatherinethe Great a hundredyears beforethe revolution were necessary, lineal ante-cedents of the 1917 revolution.Without denying that there was an ac-cumulationof forcesover at least a 200-yearperiod,6 we may nonetheless date the finalupsurgeas beginningwith the 1861 emanci-pation of serfs and reaching a crest in the1905 revolution.The chronic and growing unrest of serfsbefore their emancipation in 1861 is anironic commentary on the Marxian notionthat human beings are what social institu-tions make them. Although serfdom hadbeen shaping their personality since 1647,peasants became increasingly restive in thesecond quarter of the nineteenth century.7The continued discontent of peasants afteremancipation is an equally ironic commen-tary on the belief that relievingone profoundfrustration produces enduring contentment.Peasants ratherquickly got over their joy atbeing untied from the soil after two hundredyears. Instead of declining, rural violenceincreased.8Having gained freedom but notmuch free land, peasants now had to rent orbuy land to survive: virtual personalslaverywas exchanged for financial servitude. Landpressuregrew,reflectedin a doublingof landprices between 1868 and 1897.It is hardthus to tell whetherthe economicplight of peasants was much lessened afteremancipation.A 1903 governmentstudy in-dicated that even with a normal harvest,average food intake per peasant was 30 percent below the minimum for health. Theonly sure contrary item of evidence is thatthe peasant population grew, indicating atleast increasedability of the land to supportlife, as the followingtable shows.16 Thereis an excellentsummaryin B. Brutzkus,"The Historical Peculiarities of the Social andEconomic Developmentof Russia,"in R. Bendixand S. M. Lipset,Class,Status,andPower,Glencoe,Ill.: The Free Press, 1953,pp. 517-540.17 Jacqueriesrose from an averageof 8 per yearin 1826-30 to 34 per year in 1845-49. T. G.Masaryk,The Spirit of Russia,London:Allen andUnwin, Ltd., 1919, Vol. 1, p. 130. This long,careful, and rather neglected analysis was firstpublishedin Germanin 1913 under the title ZurRussischenGeschichts-und Religionsphilosophie.18Jacqueriesaveraged350 per year for the firstthreeyearsafter emancipation.Ibid., pp. 140-141.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 8. A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 11TABLE 1. POPULATION OF EUROPEAN RUSSIA(1480-1895)Average AnnualPopulation Increase Rate ofin Millions in Millions Increase*1480 2.11580 4.3 2.2 1.05%1680 12.6 8.3 1.93%1780 26.8 14.2 1.13%1880 84.5 57.7 2.15%1895 110.0 25.5 2.02%* Computed as follows: dividing the increase bythe number of years and then dividing this hypo-thetical annual increase by the population at theend of the preceding 100-year period.Source for gross population data: Entsiklo-pedicheskii Slovar, St. Petersburg, 1897, vol. 40,p. 631. Russias population was about 97%oruralin 1784, 91% in 1878, and 87% in 1897. SeeMasaryk, op. cit., p. 162n.The land-population pressure pushedpeopleinto towns and cities, wherethe rapidgrowthof industry truly affordedthe chancefor economic betterment. One estimate ofnet annual income for a peasant family offive in the rich blackearth area in the latenineteenth century was 82 rubles. In con-trast, a "good" wage for a male factoryworkerwas about 168 rublesper year. It wasthis difference in the degree of povertythatproducedalmosta doublingof the urbanpopulation between 1878 and 1897. Thenumber of industrial workers increased al-most as rapidly. The city and the factorygave new hope. Strikes in the 1880s weremet with brutal suppression but also withthe beginning of factory legislation, includ-ing the requirementthat wages be paid reg-ularly and the abolition of child labor. Theburgeoning proletariat remained compara-tively contented until the eve of the 1905revolutionsThereis additional,non-economicevidenceto support the view that 1861 to 1905 wasthe period of rising expectations that pre-ceded the 1917 revolution. The administra-tion of justice before the emancipation hadlargely been carried out by noblemen andlandownerswho embodied the law for theirpeasants. In 1864 justice was in principlenolonger delegated to such private individuals.Trials becamepublic, the jury system was in-troduced, and judges got tenure. Corporalpunishmentwas alleviatedby the eliminationof runningthe gauntlet, lashing, and brand-ing; caning persisted until 1904. Public joyat these reformswas widespread.For the in-telligentsia, there was increased opportunityto thinkand write and to criticizeestablishedinstitutions,evensacrosanctabsolutismitself.But Tsarist autocracyhad not quite aban-doned the scene. Having inclined but notbowed, in granting the inevitable emancipa-tion as an act not of justice but grace, itsought to maintainits absolutist principlebyconcedingreformwithout acceptinganythinglike democratic authority. Radical politicaland economic criticism surged higher. Somestrong efforts to raise the somewhatloweredfloodgates began as early as 1866, after anunsuccessful attempt was made on the lifeof AlexanderII, in whosenameserfshad justgained emancipation.When the attempt suc-ceeded fifteen years later, there was increas-ing state action underAlexanderIII to limitconstantly rising expectations. By suppres-sion and concession, the last Alexandersuc-ceeded in dying naturally in 1894.When it became apparent that NicholasII sharedhis fathersideas but not his force-fulness, oppositionof the intelligentsiato ab-solutismjoinedwith the demandsof peasantsand workers,who remainedloyal to the Tsarbut demandedeconomicreforms.Startingin1904, there developed a "League of De-liverance"that coordinatedeffortsof at leastseventeen other revolutionary, proletarian,or nationalistgroupswithin the empire.Con-sensus on the need for drastic reform, bothpolitical and economic, established a many-ringedcircusof groupssharingthe same tent.These groups were geographically distrib-uted from Finland to Armeniaand ideologi-cally fromliberalconstitutionaliststo revolu-tionaries made prudent by the contrast be-tween their own small forces and the powerof Tsardom.Events of 1904-5 mark the general down-ward turning point of expectations, which19 The proportion of workers who struck from1895 through 1902 varied between 1.7 per centand 4.0 per cent per year. In 1903 the proportionrose to 5.1 per cent but dropped a year later to 1.5per cent. In 1905 the proportion rose to 163.8 percent, indicating that the total working force struck,on the average, closer to twice than to once duringthat portentous year. In 1906 the proportiondropped to 65.8 per cent; in 1907 to 41.9 per cent;and by 1909 was down to a "normal" 3.5 per cent.[bid., p. 175n.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 9. 12 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEWpeople increasinglysaw as frustratedby thecontinuationof Tsardom.Two majorand re-lated occurrencesmade 1905 the point of noreturn. The first took place on the BloodySunday of January 22, 1905, when peacefulproletarian petitioners marched on the St.Petersburg palace and were killed by thehundreds.The myth that the Tsar was thegracious protector of his subjects, howeversurroundedhe might be by malicious ad-visers, was quite shattered. The reactionwas immediate, bitter, and prolonged andwas not at all confinedto the working class.Employers, merchants, and white-collar of-ficials joined in the burgeoning of strikeswhich brought the economy to a virtualstandstill in October. Some employers evencontinued to pay wages to strikers. Univer-sity students and faculties joined the revo-lution. After the great October strike, thepeasants ominously sided with the workersand engaged in riots and assaults on land-owners.Until peasantsbecameinvolved,evensome landownershad sided with the revolu-tion.The other major occurrencewas the dis-astrousdefeat of the Russian army and navyin the 1904-5 warwithJapan.Fundamentallyan imperialist venture aspiring to hegemonyover the people of Asia, the war was not re-gardedas a peoples but as a Tsars war, tosave and spreadabsolutism.The military de-feat itself probably had less portent thanthe return of shattered soldiers from a fightthat was not for them. Hundreds of thou-sands, wounded or not, returned from thewar as a visible, vocal, and ugly reminderto the entire populace of the weakness andselfishness of Tsarist absolutism.The years from 1905 to 1917 formed analmost relentless procession of increasingmisery and despair.Promisingat last a con-stitutional government,the Tsar, in October,1905, issued from on high a proclamationrenouncingabsolutism, granting law-makingpower to a duma, and guaranteeingfreedomof speech, assembly, and association. Thefirst two dumas, of 1906 and 1907, weredissolved for recalcitrance. The third wasmade pliant by reduced representation ofworkersand peasants and by the prosecutionand convictionof protestantsin the first two.The brief period of a free press was suc-ceeded in 1907 by a reinstatement of cen-sorship and confiscation of prohibited pub-lications. Trial of offenders against theTsar was now conducted by courts martial.Whereas there had been only 26 executionsof the death sentence, in the 13 years ofAlexander IIs firm rule (1881-94), therewere4,449 in the years 1905-10, in six yearsof Nicholas IIs soft regimen.20But this "white terror,"which caused de-spair among the workers and intelligentsiain the cities, was not the only face of misery.For the peasants, there was a bad harvestin 1906 followed by continued crop failuresin several areas in 1907. To forestall ac-tion by the dumas, Stolypin decreeda seriesof agrarianreformsdesignedto breakup thepower of the rural communesby individual-izing land ownership.Between these acts ofGod and government,peasants were so pre-occupiedwith hungeror self-aggrandizementas to be dulled in their sensitivity to therevolutionary appeals of radical organizers.After more than five years of degradingterror and misery, in 1910 the country ap-peared to have reached a condition of ex-haustion. Political strikes had fallen off toa new low. As the economy recovered, theinsouciance of hopelessness set in. Amongstthe intelligentsia the mood was hedonism,ordespair that often ended in suicide. Indus-trialists aligned themselves with the govern-ment. Workersworked.But an upturnof ex-pectations, inadequately quashed by thepolice, was evidenced by a recrudescenceofpolitical strikes which, in the first half of1914-on the eve of war-approached thepeak of 1905. They sharply diminisheddur-ing 1915 but grewagain in 1916 and becamea generalstrike in February 1917.21Figure 3 indicates the lesser waves in thetidal wave whose first trough is at the endof serfdom in 1861 and whose second is atthe end of Tsardom in 1917. This fifty-sixyear periodappearsto constitutea singlelongphase in which popular gratification at the20 Ibid., p. 189n.21In his History of the Russian Revolution,Leon Trotsky presents data on political strikesfrom 1903 to 1917. In his Spirit of Russia, Masarykpresents comparable data from 1905 through 1912.The figures are not identical but the reported yearlytrends are consistent. Masaryks figures are some-what lower, except for 1912. Cf. Trotsky, op. cit.,Doubleday Anchor Books ed., 1959, p. 32 andMasaryk, op.. cit. supra, p. 197n.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 10. A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 13termination of one institution (serfdom)rather quickly was replaced with rising ex-pectationswhichresultedfromintensifiedin-dustrializationand which were incompatiblewith the continuationof the inequitable andcapriciouspowerstructureof Tsarist society.The small trough of frustration during therepressionthat followed the assassinationofAlexanderII seemsto have only brieflyinter-rupted the rise in popular demand for moregoods and more power. The trough in 1904indicatesthe consequencesof warwith Japan.The 1905-6 troughreflects the repressionofWar starts with Japan, 1904Period of severerepressionz Wor starts withO / Germany, 1914o ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~PeriodofU. Assassination of economicU)rcvr~_... Alexander IA, 1881 Period of civilianU)X /and military distresso Emancipation of IW serfs, 1861 First Marxist party founded inz exile but in secret contact with o l rRussia, 1883 eln.1860 1870 1880 1890 1900 1910 1920FIGuRE 3January 22, and after, and is followed byeconomicrecovery.The final downturn,afterthe first year of war, was a consequence ofthe dislocationsof the Germanattack on allkinds of concertedactivities other than pro-duction for the prosecution of the war. Pa-triotism and governmental repression for atimesmothereddiscontent.The inflationthatdeveloped in 1916 when goods, includingfood, became severely scarce began to makeworkers self-consciously discontented. Theconduct of the war, including the growingbrutality against reluctant, ill-provisionedtroops, and the enormous loss of life, pro-duced the same bitter frustration in thearmy.22Whencivilian discontentreachedthebreakingpoint in February, 1917, it did nottake long for it to spread rapidly into thearmed forces. Thus began the second phaseof the revolutionthat really started in 1905and endedin death to the Tsar and Tsardom-but not to absolutism-when the Bolshe-viks gained ascendancy over the moderatesin October.A centuries-longhistory of abso-lutismappearsto havemadethis post-Tsaristphase of it tragicallyinevitable.THE EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION OF 1952The final slow upsurge of expectations inEgypt that culminatedin the revolutionbe-gan when that society became a nation in1922, with the British grant of limited inde-pendence. British troops remainedin Egyptto protect not only the Suez Canal but also,ostensibly, to preventforeignaggression.Thepresence of foreign troops served only toheightennationalistexpectations,whichwereexcited by the Wafd, the political organiza-tion that formed public opinion on nationalratherthan religiousgroundsand helped es-tablish a fairly unifiedcommunity-in strik-ing contrast to late-nineteenth century Rus-sia.But nationalist aspirations were not theonly rising expectations in Egypt of the1920s and 1930s. World War I had spurredindustrialization,which openedopportunitiesfor peasantsto improve,somewhat,theirwayof life by workingfor wages in the cities andalso opened great opportunitiesfor entrepre-neurs to get rich. The moderately wealthygot immoderately so in commodity marketspeculation, finance, and manufacture, andthe uprooted peasants who were now em-ployed, or at any rate living, in cities were22 See Trotsky, op. cit., pp. 18-21 for a vividpictureof risingdiscontentin the army.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 11. 14 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEWrelieved of at least the notion that povertyand boredommust be the will of Allah. Butthe incongruity of a money-based modernsemi-feudality that was like a chariotwith agasoline engine evidently escaped the atten-tion of ordinary people. The generation ofthe 1930s could see more rapid progress,even for themselves, than their parents hadeven envisioned.If conditionsremainedpoor,they could always be blamedon the British,whoseeconomicand militarypowerremainedvisible and strong.Economic progresscontinued, though un-evenly, during World War II. Conventionalexports,mostly cotton, actually declined,noteven reaching depression levels until 1945,but direct employment by Allied militaryforcesreacheda peak of over 200,000 duringthe most intense part of the African war.Exports after the war rose steadily until1948, dipped, and then rose sharply to apeak in 1951 as a consequenceof the Koreanwar. But in 1945 over 250,000 wage earn-ers23 -probably over a third of the workingforce-became jobless. The cost of living by1945 had risen to three times the index of1937.24 Manual laborerswere hit by unem-ployment; white collar workers and profes-sionals probably more by inflation than un-employment. Meanwhile the number of mil-lionaires in pounds sterling had increasedeight times duringthe war.25Frustrations, exacerbated during the warby Germanand thereafter by Soviet propa-ganda, were at first deflected against theBritish26 but gradually shifted closer tohome. Egyptian agitators began quoting theKoranin favor of a just, equalitariansocietyand against great differences in individualwealth. There was an ominous series ofstrikes, mostly in the textile mills, from1946-8.At least two factors stand out in the post-ponementof revolution.The first was the in-satiable postwar world demand for cottonand textiles and the second was the surge ofsolidarity with king and country that fol-lowed the 1948 invasion of the new state ofIsrael. Israel now supplementedEngland asan object of deflected frustration. The dis-astrous defeat a year later, by a new nationwith but a fifteenth of Egypts population,was the beginningof the end. This little warhad struck the peasant at his hearth,when ashortage of wheat and of oil for stoves pro-vided a daily reminderof a weak and cor-rupt government.The defeat frustratedpop-ular hopes for national glory and-with evenmore portent-humiliated the army and so-lidified it against the bureaucracy and thepalace which had profiteeredat the expenseof national honor. In 1950 began for thefirst time a direct and open propagandaat-tack against the king himself. A series ofpeasant uprisings, even on the lands of theking, took place in 1951 along with some 49strikes in the cities. The skyrocketing de-mandfor cotton after the start of the KoreanWarin June, 1950was followedby a collapsein March, 1952. The uncontrollableor un-controlled riots in Cairo, on January 26,1952, marked the fiery start of the revolu-tion. The officerscoup in the early morningof July 23 only made it official.OTHER CIVIL DISTURBANCESThe J-curveof risingexpectationsfollowedby their effective frustrationis applicabletootherrevolutionsand rebellionsthan just thethree already considered.Leislers Rebellionin the royal colony of New Yorkin 1689 wasa briefdress-rehearsalfor the AmericanRev-olution eighty-six years later. In an effortto make the colony serve the crown better,duties had been raisedand-werebeing vigor-ously collected. The tanning of hides in the23 C. Issawi, Egypt at Mid-Century: An Eco-nomic Survey, London: Oxford University Press,-1954, p. 262. J. & S. Lacouture in their Egypt inTransition, New York: Criterion Books, 1958, p.100, give a figure of over 300,000. Sir R. Bullard,editor,The MiddleEast: A Politicaland EconomicSurvey, London: Oxford University Press, 1958,p. 221 estimates total employment in industry,transport, and commerce in 1957 to have beenabout 750,000.24 International Monetary Fund, InternationalFinancial Statistics, Washington, D. C. See monthlyissues of this report, 1950-53.25 J. andS. Lacouture,op. cit., p. 99.26 England threatened to depose Farouk in Feb-ruary 1942, by force if necessary, if Egypt did notsupport the Allies. Capitulation by the governmentand the Wafd caused widespread popular dis-affection. When Egypt finally declared war on theAxis in 1945,the prime ministerwas assassinated.See J. & S. Lacouture, op. cit., pp. 97-98 andIssawi, op. cit., p. 268.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 12. A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 15colony was forbidden,as was the distillationof liquor. An embargo was placed on un-milledgrain,which hurt the farmers.After along period of economic growth and sub-stantial political autonomy, these new andburdensomeregulations produced a popularrebellion that for a year displaced Britishsovereignty.27The American Revolution itself fits theJ-curve and deserves more than the briefmention here given. Again prolonged eco-nomic growth and political autonomy pro-z0War with Israel,o I/4~~~~~~~~~~~1948-9U..XI) Postwar unrestKoreanwar< Farouk takes throne and prosperity,1950-1a British troops withdrawW to Suez, 1936 Warprosperityz Egyptianindepen-dence, 19221920 1930 1940 1950IGU RE 4duced continually rising expectations. Theybecame acutely frustrated when, followingthe Frenchand Indian War (which had costEnglandso much and the colonies so little),England began a series of largely economicregulationshaving the same purposeas thosedirectedagainst New York in the precedingcentury. From the 1763 Proclamation (clos-ing to settlement land west of the Appala-chians) to the Coercive Acts of April, 1774(which among other things, in response tothe December, 1773 Boston Tea Party,closed tight the port of Boston), Americanswere beset with unaccustomed manifesta-tions of British power and began to resistforcibly in 1775, on the Lexington-Concordroad.A significantdeclinein tradewith Eng-land in 177228 may have hastened the matu-ration of colonial rebelliousness.The curve also fits the French Revolution,which again merits moremention than spacehere permits. Growing rural prosperity,markedby steadily rising land values in theeighteenth century, had progressed to thepoint wherea thirdof Frenchland was ownedby peasant-proprietors.Therewerethe begin-nings of large-scale manufacturein the fac-tory system. Constant pressureby the bour-geoisie against the state for reformswas metwith considerable hospitality by a govern-ment already shifting from its old landed-aristocraticand clerical base to the growingmiddle class. Counterto these trends, whichwould per se avoid revolution,was the feudalreaction of the mid-eighteenth century, inwhich the dying nobility sought in numerousnaggingways to retainand reactivateits per-quisites againsta resentfulpeasantryand im-portunate bourgeoisie.But expectations apparently continuedrising until the growing opportunities andprosperity rather abruptly halted, about1787. The fiscal crisis of the governmentiswell known, much of it a consequence of a1.5 billion livre deficit following interven-27See J. R. Reich, LeislersRebellion,Chicago:Universityof ChicagoPress,1953.28 See U. S. Bureau of the Census, HistoricalStatistics of the United States, Colonial Times to1957, Washington,D. C., 1960,p. 757.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 13. 16 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEWtion against Britain in the Americanwar ofindependence.The threat to tax the nobilityseverely-after its virtual tax immunity-and the bourgeoisiemore severely may in-deed be said to have precipitatedthe revolu-tion. But less well-known is the fact that1787 was a bad harvest year and 1788 evenworse; that by July, 1789 bread prices werehigher than they had been in over 70 years;that an ill-timed trade treaty with Englanddepressedthe prices of French textiles; thata concurrent bumper grape crop depressedwine prices-all with the result of makingdesperatethe plight of the large segment ofthe populationnow dependenton other pro-ducers for food. They had little money tobuy even less bread. Nobles and bourgeoisiewere alienated from the government by thethreat of taxation; workers and some peas-ants by the threat of starvation. A longperiod of halting but real progress for vir-tually all segmentsof the populationwas nowabruptlyendedin consequenceof the govern-ments efforts to meet its deficit and of eco-nomic crisis resulting from poor crops andpoor tariffpolicy.29The draft riots that turned the city ofNew York upside down for five days inJuly, 1863 also follow the J-curve. Thissevere local disturbance began when con-scription threatened the lives and fortunesof workingmenwhose enjoyment of wartimeprosperity was now frustrated not only bymilitary service (which could be avoided bypaying $300 or furnishing a substitute-neither means being available to poorpeople) but also by inflation.30Even the riots in Nyasaland, in Februaryand March, 1959, appear to follow the pat-tern of a period of frustrationafter expecta-tions and satisfactionshave risen.Nyasalandworkers who had enjoyed the high wagesthey were paid during the construction ofthe Karibadamin Rhodesiareturnedto theirhomes and to unemployment,or to jobs pay-ing $5 per month at a time when $15 wasconsidered a bare minimum wage.31Onenegativecase-of a revolutionthat didnot occur-is the depressionof the 1930s inthe United States. It was severe enough, atleast on economicgrounds,to have produceda revolution. Total national private produc-tion income in 1932 revertedto what it hadbeen in 1916. Farmincome in the same yearwas as low as in 1900; manufacturingas lowas in 1913. Constructionhad not been as lowsince 1908. Mining and quarryingwas backat the 1909 level.82For much of the popu-lation, two decadesof economicprogresshadbeen wiped out. There were more than spo-radic demonstrationsof unemployed,hungermarchers,and veterans. In New York City,at least 29 people died of starvation. Poorpeople could vividly contrast their own pastcondition with the present-and their ownpresent condition with that of those whowere not seriously suffering. There wereclearly audiblerumblesof revolt. Why, then,no revolution?Several forces worked strongly against it.Among the most depressed, the mood wasone of apathy and despair,like that observedin Austria by Zawadzki and Lazarsfeld. Itwas not until the 1936 election that therewas an increasedturnoutin the nationalelec-tion. The great majority of the public shareda set of values which since 1776 had beenofficialdogma-not the dissidentprogramofan alienated intelligentsia. People by andlargewere in agreement,whetheror not theyhad succeeded economically, in a belief inindividual hard work, self-reliance, and thepromise of success. (Among workers, thisnon-class orientation had greatly impededthe establishment of trade unions, for ex-ample.) Those least hit by the depression-the upper-middleclass businessmen,clergy-men, lawyers, and intellectuals-remainedrathersolidly committed not only to equali-tarianvaluesand to the establishedeconomicsystem but also to constitutional processes.There was no such widespreador profoundalienation as that which had cracked the29 See G. Lefebvre, The Coming of the FrenchRevolution, Princeton: Princeton University Press,1947, pp. 101-109, 145-148, 196. G. Le Bon, ThePsychology of Revolution, New York: G. PutnamsSons, 1913, p. 143.30 The account by Irving Werstein, July 1863,New York: Julian Messner, Inc., 1957, is journal-istic but to my knowledge the fullest yet available.81 E. S. Munger, "The Tragedy of Nyasaland,"American Universities Field Staff Reports Service,vol. 7, no. 4 (August 1, 1959), p. 9.32 See U. S. Bureau of the Census, HistoricalStatistics of the United States: 1789-1945,Wash-ington, D. C.: 1949, p. 14.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 14. A THEORYOF REVOLUTION 17loyalty of the nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie,armed forces, and intelligentsia in Russia.And the national political leadership thatemergedhadconstitutionalismalmostbredinits bones.The majorthreatto constitutional-ism came in Louisiana; this leadership wasunable to capturea national party organiza-tion, in part because Huey Longs arbitrari-ness and demagogywere mistrusted.The major reason that revolution did notnonetheless develop probably remains thevigor with which the national governmentattacked the depressionin 1933, when it be-came no longer possible to blame the gov-ernment. The ambivalent popular hostilityto the businesscommunitywas containedbyboth the action of government against thedepressionand the governmentspractice ofpublicly and successfully eliciting the co-operationof businessmenduring the crucialmonthsof 1933.A failurethen of cooperationcould have intensified rather than lessenedpopular hostility to business. There was nolonger an economic or a political class thatcould be the object of widespread intensehatredbecauseof its indifferenceor hostilityto the downtrodden.Had Roosevelt adopteda demagogic stance in the 1932 campaignand gained the loyalty to himself personallyof the Armyand the F.B.I., theremight havebeen a Nazi-type "revolution,"with a pot-pourri of equalitarian reform, nationalism,imperialism, and domestic scapegoats. Be-cause of a conservatism in America stem-ming from strong and long attachment toa valuesystem sharedby all classes, an anti-capitalist, leftist revolution in the 1930s isvery difficultto imagine.SOME CONCLUSIONSThe notion that revolutions need both aperiod of rising expectations and a succeed-ing periodin which they are frustratedqual-ifies substantially the main Marxian notionthat revolutionsoccur after progressivedeg-radationand the de Tocqueville notion thatthey occur when conditions are improving.By putting de Tocqueville before Marx butwithout abandoning either theory, we arebetter able to plot the antecedents of atleast the disturbanceshere described.Half of the general,if not common, senseof this revised notion lies in the utter im-probability of a revolution occurring in asociety where there is the continued, unim-peded opportunityto satisfy new needs, newhopes, new expectations. Would Dorrs re-bellion have become such if the establishedelectorate and government had readily ac-ceded to the suffragedemandsof the unprop-ertied? Would the Russian Revolution havetaken place if the Tsarist autocracy had,quite out of character, truly granted thepopular demands for constitutional democ-racy in 1905? Would the Cairoriots of Jan-uary, 1952 and the subsequentcoup actuallyhave occurredif Britain had departed fromEgypt and if the Egyptian monarchy hadestablished an equitable tax system and inother ways alleviated the poverty of urbanmasses and the shame of the military?The other half of the sense of the notionhas to do with the improbability of revolu-tion taking place where there has been nohope, no period in which expectations haverisen. Such a stability of expectations pre-supposes a static state of human aspirationsthat sometimes exists but is rare. Stabilityof expectations is not a stable social con-dition. Such was the case of American In-dians (at least from our perspective) andperhaps Africans before white men withBibles, guns, and other goods interruptedthe stability of African society. Egypt wasin such a condition, vis-a-vis modernaspira-tions, before Europe became interested inbuilding a canal. Such stasis was the case inNazi concentration camps, where conform-ism reachedthe point of inmatescooperatingwith guards even when the inmates weretold to lie downso that they could be shot.33But in the latter case there was a societywith externally induced complete despair,and even in thesecampstherewereoccasionalrebellionsof sheerdesperation.It is of coursetrue that in a society less regimented thanconcentration camps, the rise of expecta-tions can be frustratedsuccessfully, therebydefeating rebellion just as the satisfactionof expectationsdoes. This, however,requiresthe uninhibited exercise of brute force as itwas used in suppressing the Hungarian re-bellion of 1956. Failing the continuedability33 Eugen Kogon, The Theory and Practice ofHel, New York: Farrar,Straus & Co., 1950, pp.284-286.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 15. 18 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEWand persistent will of a ruling power to usesuch force, there appearsto be no sure wayto avoid revolution short of an effective,affirmative,and continuous response on thepartof establishedgovernmentsto the almostcontinuouslyemergingneedsof the governed.To be predictive, my notion requires theassessmentof the state of mind-or morepre-cisely, the mood-of a people.This is alwaysdifficult, even by techniques of systematicpublic opinion analysis. Respondents inter-viewedin a countrywith a repressivegovern-ment are not likely to be responsive. Butthere has been considerable progress ingathering first-handdata about the state ofmind of peoples in politically unstable cir-cumstances. One instance of this involvedinterviewing in West Berlin, during andafter the 1948 blockade, as reported byBuchanan and Cantril. They were able toascertain, however crudely, the sense ofsecuritythat people in Berlin felt. There wasa significant increase in security after theblockade.34Anotherinstance comes out of the MiddleEastern study conducted by the ColumbiaUniversity Bureau of Applied Social Re-searchand reportedby Lerner.35By directlyaskingrespondentswhetherthey werehappyor unhappy with the way things had turnedout in their life, the interviewersturned updataindicatingmarkeddifferencesin the fre-quency of a sense of unhappiness betweencountriesand between"traditional,""transi-tional," and "modern" individuals in thesecountries.36There is no technicalreasonwhysuch comparisonscould not be made chron-ologically as well as they have been geo-graphically.Other than interview data are availablewith which we can, from past experience,make reasonableinferences about the moodof a people. It was surely the sense for therelevanceof such data that led Thomas Ma-saryk before the first World War to gatherfacts about peasant uprisingsand industrialstrikes and about the writingsand actions ofthe intelligentsia in nineteenth-centuryRus-sia. In the present report, I have used notonly such data-in the collection of whichother social scientists have been less assidu-ous than Masaryk-but also such indexes ascomparativesize of vote as between RhodeIsland and the United States, employment,exports, and cost of living. Some such in-dexes, like strikes and cost of living, may berather closely related to the mood of apeople; others, like value of exports, aremuch cruder indications. Lest we shy awayfrom the gathering of crude data, we shouldbear in mind that Durkheim developed hisremarkableinsights into modern society inlarge part by his analysis of suicide rates.He was unable to rely on the interviewingtechnique. We need not always ask peoplewhether they are grievously frustrated bytheir government; their actions can tell usas well and sometimes better.In his Anatomyof Revolution,CraneBrin-ton describes "some tentative uniformities"that he discoveredin the Puritan, American,French, and Russian revolutions.87The uni-formities were: an economically advancingsociety, class antagonism,desertion of intel-lectuals,inefficientgovernment,a rulingclassthat has lost self-confidence,financialfailureof government, and the inept use of forceagainst rebels. All but the last two of theseare long-range phenomena that lend them-selves to studies over extended time periods.The first two lend themselves to statisticalanalysis. If they serve the purpose, tech-niques of content analysis could be used toascertaintrendsin alienationof intellectuals.Less rigorousmethods would perhaps servebetter to ascertain the effectiveness of gov-ernment and the self-confidence of rulers.Because tensionsand frustrationsarepresentat all times in every society, what is mostseriously needed are data that cover an ex-tended time period in a particular society,so that one can say there is evidence that84 W. Buchanan, "Mass Communication inReverse,"InternationalSocial Science Bulletin, 5(1953), pp. 577-583,at p. 578.The full study is W.Buchananand H. Cantril,How Nations See EachOther,Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1953,esp. pp. 85-90.83 Daniel Lerner, The Passing of TraditionalSociety, Glencoe,Ill.: Free Press, 1958.86 Ibid., pp. 101-103.See also F. P. Kilpatrick&H. Cantril,"Self-AnchoringScaling,A MeasureofIndividualsUnique Reality Words,"Journal ofIndividualPsychology, 16 (November, 1960), pp.158-173.37 See the revised edition oft 1952 as reprintedby VintageBooksjInc., 1957,pp. 264-275.This content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
  • 16. MASSSOCIETYAND EXTREMISTPOLITICS 19tension is greater or less than it was Nyears or months previously.We need also to know how long is a longcycle of rising expectations and how long isa brief cycle of frustration.We noted a briefperiodof frustrationin Russia after the 1881assassination of Alexander II and a longerperiodafter the 1904 beginningof the Russo-Japanese War. Why did not the revolutionoccur at either of these times rather than in1917? Had expectations before these twotimes not risen high enough?Had the subse-quent decline not been sufficientlysharp anddeep? Measuring techniques have not yetbeen devised to answer these questions. Buttheir unavailability now does not forecasttheir eternal inaccessibility. Physicists de-vised useful temperature scales long beforethey came as close to absolute zero as theyhave recently in laboratory conditions. Thefar more complex problems of scaling in so-cial science inescapably are harder to solve.We therefore are still not at the point ofbeing able to predict revolution, but thecloser we can get to data indicating by in-ference the prevailingmood in a society, thecloserwe will be to understandingthe changefrom gratification to frustration in peoplesminds. That is the part of the anatomy, weare foreverbeing told with truth and futility,in which wars and revolutions always start.We should eventually be able to escape theembarrassmentthat may have come to Leninsix weeks after he made the statement inSwitzerland, in January, 1917, that hedoubted whether "we, the old [will] live tosee the decisive battles of the coming revo-lution."3838Quotedin E. H. Carr, A History of SovietRussia, vol. 1, The Bolshevik Revolution: 1917-23, London: Macmillan,1950,p. 69.MASS SOCIETY AND EXTREMIST POLITICSJOSEPH R. GUSFIELDUniversityof IllinoisTheoriesof masspoliticsattempt to explainthe sourcesof politicalextremismby character-istics of masssocieties.Such theoriesare criticizedon the groundsthat they assumeadherenceto democraticnormsunderpluralistconditionsevenwhensuch normsfrustrateintenselyheldvalues. Mass politics theoriesignore the culturalcohesion necessaryto sustain democraticpolitics. Conditionsof mass societies also provide support to democraticpolitical normsthrough the consequencesof mass communications,equalitarianism,and bureaucratizationfor national societies. Isolation from mass culture accentuateslocal sources of extremistresponse.A DOMINANT streamof thoughtin cur-rent political sociology explains manycontemporary anti-democratic move-ments as products of a distinctive social or-ganization-Mass Society. Writers who uti-lize this approach have maintained thatmodern,Western societies increasingly showcharacteristics of mass organization whichsharply differ from the features of such so-cieties in the nineteenthand earliercenturies.Mass societies, in this view, demonstrate aform of politics in which traditional socio-logical concepts, such as class or culture, arenot relevant to an understanding of thesources,genesis, or careersof extremist,anti-democratic political movements. Mass poli-tics is the form of political action unique tomass societies. As modern democratic socie-ties become mass societies, we may then an-ticipate that political crises are likely togenerate extremist, anti - democratic re-sponses. Leading advocates of this theoryof "mass politics," in whole or part, areHannah Arendt, Erich Fromm, Karl Mann-heim, William Kornhauser, Robert Nisbet,and Philip Selznick.1This paper is a critical The following relevant writings embody thetheory of mass politics: Hannah Arendt, TheOriginsof Totalitarianism,New York: Harcourt,Brace and Co., 1954; Erich Fromm,EscapeFromThis content downloaded from on Tue, 14 May 2013 15:59:41 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions