A counter-revolutionary or anti-revolutionary is anyone who opposes a revolution, particularly those who act after a revolution to try to overturn or reverse it, in full or in part.[1] The adjective, "counter-revolutionary," pertains to movements that would restore the state of affairs, or the principles, that prevailed during a prerevolutionary era.

A counter-revolution can be positive or negative in its consequences; depending, in part, on the beneficent or pernicious character of the revolution that gets reversed, and the nature of those affected. For example, the transitory success of Agis and Cleomenes of ancient Sparta in restoring the constitution of Lycurgus was considered by Plutarch to be counter-revolutionary in a positive sense. During the French Revolution the Jacobins saw the Counter-revolution in the Vendée as distinctly negative, whilst it was strongly supported by the exiled Royalists, the Catholic Church, and the people of the provinces.

The War in the Vendée was a royalist uprising that was suppressed by the republican forces in 1796.

England, France and elsewhere

In some ways, the supporters of Jacobitism may be placed in this category. The Jacobites were supporters of the Stuart house's claim to the English throne since 1688. The Jacobites survive to this day in their support for the Stuart family's claim to the English throne.

The word "counter-revolutionary" originally referred to thinkers who opposed themselves to the 1789 French Revolution, such as Joseph de Maistre, Louis de Bonald or, later, Charles Maurras, the founder of the Action française monarchist movement. More recently, it has been used in France to describe political movements that reject the legacy of the 1789 Revolution, which historian René Rémond has referred to as légitimistes. Thus, monarchist supporters of the Ancien Régime following the French Revolution were counter-revolutionaries, for example supporters of the Revolt in the Vendée and of the monarchies that put down the various Revolutions of 1848. The royalist legitimist counter-revolutionary French movement survives to this day, albeit marginally. It was active during the purported "Révolution nationale" enacted by Vichy France, though, which has been considered by René Rémond not as a fascist regime but as a counter-revolutionary regime, whose motto was Travail, Famille, Patrie ("Work, Family, Fatherland"), which replaced the Republican motto Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

After the French Revolution, anti-clerical policies and the execution of King Louis XVI led to the Revolt in the Vendee. This counter-revolution produced what is debated to be the first modern genocide. Monarchists and Catholics took up arms against the revolutionaries' French Republic in 1793 after the government asked that 300,000 Vendeans be conscripted into the Republican military. The Vendeans would also rise up against Napoleon's attempt to conscript them in 1815.

Many historians have held that the rise and spread of Methodism in Great Britain prevented the development of a revolution there.[2] In addition to preaching the Christian Gospel, John Wesley and his Methodist followers visited those imprisoned, as well as the poor and aged, building hospitals and dispensaries which provided free healthcare for the masses.[3] The sociologist William H. Swatos stated that "Methodist enthusiasm transformed men, summoning them to assert rational control over their own lives, while providing in its system of mutual discipline the psychological security necessary for autonomous conscience and liberal ideals to become internalized, an integrated part of the 'new men' ... regenerated by Wesleyan preaching."[4] The practice of temperance among Methodists, as well as their rejection of gambling, allowed them to eliminate secondary poverty and accumulate capital.[4] Individuals who attended Methodist chapels and Sunday schools "took into industrial and political life the qualities and talents they had developed within Methodism and used them on behalf of the working classes in non-revolutionary ways."[5] The spread of the Methodist Church in Great Britain, author and professor Michael Hill states, "filled both a social and an ideological vacuum" in English society, thus "opening up the channels of social and ideological mobility ... which worked against the polarization of English society into rigid social classes."[4] The historian Bernard Semmel argues that "Methodism was an antirevolutionary movement that succeeded (to the extent that it did) because it was a revolution of a radically different kind" that was capable of effecting social change on a large scale.[4]

In Italy, after being conquered by Napoleon's army in the late 18th century, there was a counter-revolution in all the French client republics. The most well-known was the Sanfedismo, reactionary movement led by the cardinal Fabrizio Ruffo, which overthrew the Parthenopean Republic and allowed the Bourbon dynasty to return to the throne of the Kingdom of Naples. A resurgence of the phenomenon happened during the Napoleon's second Italian campaign in the early 19th century. Another example of counter-revolution was the peasants rebellion in Southern Italy after the national unification, fomented by the Bourbon government in exile and the Papal States. The revolt, labelled as brigandage, resulted in a bloody civil war that lasted almost ten years.

In the Austro-Hungarian empire, another revolt took place against Napoleon called the Tyrolean Rebellion in 1809. Led by a Tyrolean innkeeper by the name of Andreas Hofer, 20,000 Tyrolean Rebels fought successfully against Napoleon's troops. However, Hofer was ultimately betrayed by the Treaty of Schönbrunn, which led to the disbandment of his troops and was captured and executed in 1810.

The supporters of Carlism during the 19th century to the present day are perhaps the oldest surviving counter-revolutionary group in Spain. Supporters uphold the legitimist view of royal succession, as well as regional autonomy under the monarchy, tradition and Catholicism. The Carlist cause began with the First Carlist War in 1833 and continues to the present.

Kronstadt attack
Red Army troops attack Kronstadt sailors in March 1921.

The White Army and its supporters who tried to defeat the Bolsheviks after the October Revolution, as well as the German politicians, police, soldiers and Freikorps who crushed the German Revolution of 1918–1919, were also counter-revolutionaries. General Victoriano Huerta, and later the Felicistas, attempted to thwart the Mexican Revolution in the 1910s.

In the late 1920s, Mexican Catholics took up arms against the Mexican Federal Government in what became known as the Cristero War. The President of Mexico, Plutarco Elias Calles, was elected in 1924. Calles began carrying out anti-Catholic policies which caused peaceful resistance from Catholics in 1926. The counter-revolution began as a movement of peaceful resistance against the anti-clerical laws. In the Summer of 1926, fighting broke out. The fighters known as Cristeros fought the government due to its suppression of the Church, jailing and execution of priests, formation of a nationalist schismatic church, state atheism, Socialism, Freemasonry and other harsh anti-Catholic policies.

The Spanish Civil War was in some respects, a counter-revolution. Supporters of Carlism, monarchy, and nationalism (see Falange) joined forces against the (Second) Spanish Republic in 1936. The counter-revolutionaries saw the Spanish Constitution of 1931 as a revolutionary document that defied Spanish culture, tradition and religion. On the Republican side, the acts of the Communist Party of Spain against the rural collectives can also be considered counter-revolutionary.

More recently, the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion into Cuba was conducted by counter-revolutionaries who hoped to overthrow the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro. In the 1980s, the Contra-Revolución rebels fighting to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua. In fact, the Contras received their name precisely because they were counter-revolutionaries.

The Black Eagles, the AUC, and other paramilitary movements of Colombia can also be seen as counter-revolutionary. These right-wing groups are opposition to the FARC, and other left-wing guerrilla movements.

Some counter-revolutionaries are former revolutionaries who supported the initial overthrow of the previous regime, but came to differ with those who ultimately came to power after the revolution. For example, some of the Contras originally fought with the Sandinistas to overthrow Anastasio Somoza, and some of those who oppose Castro also opposed Batista.

Plinio Correa de Oliveira has by far expanded on the idea of Revolution and Counter-Revolution.


The anti-communist Kuomintang party in China used the term "counter-revolutionary" to disparage the communists and other opponents of its regime. Chiang Kai-shek, the Kuomintang party leader, was the chief user of this term.

The Kuomintang had several influences left upon its ideology by revolutionary thinking. The Kuomintang, and Chiang Kai-shek used the words "feudal" and "counter-revolutionary" as synonyms for evil, and backwardness, and proudly proclaimed themselves to be revolutionary.[6] Chiang called the warlords feudalists, and called for feudalism and counter-revolutionaries to be stamped out by the Kuomintang.[7][8][9][10] Chiang showed extreme rage when he was called a warlord, because of its negative, feudal connotations.[11]

Chiang also crushed and dominated the merchants of Shanghai in 1927, seizing loans from them, with the threats of death or exile. Rich merchants, industrialists, and entrepreneurs were arrested by Chiang, who accused them of being "counter-revolutionary", and Chiang held them until they gave money to the Kuomintang. Chiang's arrests targeted rich millionaires, accusing them of communism and counter-revolutionary activities. Chiang also enforced an anti-Japanese boycott, sending his agents to sack the shops of those who sold Japanese made items and fining them. He also disregarded the internationally protected International Settlement, putting cages on its borders in which he threatened to place the merchants. The Kuomintang's alliance with the Green Gang allowed it to ignore the borders of the foreign concessions.[12]

A similar term also existed in the People's Republic of China, which includes charges such collaborating with foreign forces and inciting revolts against the government. According to Article 28 of the Chinese constitution, The state maintains public order and suppresses treasonable and other counter-revolutionary activities; It penalizes actions that endanger public security and disrupt the socialist economy and other criminal activities, and punishes and reforms criminals.[13]

The term received wide usage during the Cultural Revolution, in which thousands of intellectuals and government officials were denounced as "counter-revolutionaries" by the Red Guards. Following the end of the Cultural Revolution, the term was also used to label Lin Biao and the Gang of Four.

Usage of the term

The word counter-revolutionary is often used interchangeably with reactionary; however, some reactionary people use the term counter-revolutionary to describe their opponents, even if those opponents were advocates of a revolution. In general, the word "reactionary" is used to describe those who oppose a more long-term trend of social change, while "counter-revolutionaries" are those who oppose a very recent and sudden change.

The clerics who took power following the Iranian Revolution became counter-revolutionaries; after the revolution the Marxists were driven out of power by the mullahs. Thousands of political prisoners who opposed the Islamist regime were killed especially during the 1988 Massacre of Iranian Prisoners.

Sometimes it is unclear who represents the revolution and who represents the counter-revolution. In Hungary, the 1956 uprising was condemned as a counter-revolution by the ruling Communist authorities (who claimed to be revolutionary themselves). However, thirty years later, the events of 1956 were more widely known as a revolution.

Footnotes and references

  1. ^ W M Verhoeven, Claudia L Johnson, Philip Cox, Amanda Gilroy, Robert Miles (29 September 2017). Anti-Jacobin Novels, Part I. Taylor & Francis. p. 64. ISBN 9781351223331.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ Hobsbawm, Eric (1957). "Methodism and the Threat of Revolution in Britain". History Today. 7 (5). Historians have held that religious Revivalism in the late eighteenth century distracted the minds of the English from thoughts of Revolution.
  3. ^ Maddox, Randy L.; Vickers, Jason E. (2010). The Cambridge Companion to John Wesley. Cambridge University Press. p. 179. ISBN 9780521886536.
  4. ^ a b c d Swatos, William H. (1998). Encyclopedia of Religion and Society. Rowman Altamira. p. 385. ISBN 9780761989561.
  5. ^ Thomis, Malcom I.; Holt, Peter (1 December 1977). Threats of Revolution in Britain 1789–1848. Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 132. ISBN 9781349158171.
  6. ^ Jieru Chen, Lloyd E. Eastman (1993). Chiang Kai-shek's secret past: the memoir of his second wife, Chʻen Chieh-ju. Westview Press. p. 19. ISBN 0-8133-1825-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  7. ^ Kai-shek Chiang (1947). Philip Jacob Jaffe, ed. China's destiny & Chinese economic theory. Roy Publishers. p. 225. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  8. ^ Simei Qing (2007). From allies to enemies: visions of modernity, identity, and U.S.-China diplomacy, 1945-1960. Harvard University Press. p. 65. ISBN 0-674-02344-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  9. ^ Kai Shew Chiang Kai Shew (2007). China's Destiny and Chinese Economic Theory. READ BOOKS. p. 225. ISBN 1-4067-5838-8. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  10. ^ Hongshan Li, Zhaohui Hong (1998). Image, perception, and the making of U.S.-China relations. University Press of America. p. 268. ISBN 0-7618-1158-3. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  11. ^ Jieru Chen, Lloyd E. Eastman (1993). Chiang Kai-shek's secret past: the memoir of his second wife, Chʻen Chieh-ju. Westview Press. p. 226. ISBN 0-8133-1825-4. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  12. ^ Hannah Pakula (2009). The last empress: Madame Chiang Kai-Shek and the birth of modern China. Simon and Schuster. p. 160. ISBN 1-4391-4893-7. Retrieved 2010-06-28.
  13. ^ "Constitution of the People's Republic Of China (Adopted on December 4, 1982)". Retrieved 2009-05-09.

Further reading

External links

715 Incident

The 715 Incident (Chinese: 七一五事变), known by the Communist Party of China (CPC) as the 715 counter-revolutionary coup (Chinese: 七一五反革命政变), and as the Wuhan–Communist split (Chinese: 武汉分共) by the Kuomintang (KMT), occurred on 15 July 1927. Following growing strains in the coalition between the KMT government in Wuhan and the CPC, and under pressure from the rival nationalist government led by Chiang Kai-shek in Nanjing, Wuhan leader Wang Jingwei ordered a purge of communists from his government in July 1927.

Army of Condé

The Army of Condé (French: Armée de Condé) was a French field army during the French Revolutionary Wars. One of several émigré field armies, it was the only one to survive the War of the First Coalition; others had been formed by the Comte d'Artois (brother of King Louis XVI) and Mirabeau-Tonneau. The émigré armies were formed by aristocrats and nobles who had fled from the violence in France after the August Decrees. The army was commanded by Louis Joseph de Bourbon, Prince de Condé, the cousin of Louis XVI of France. Among its members were Condé's grandson, the Duc d'Enghien and the two sons of Louis XVI's younger brother, the Comte d'Artois, and so the army was sometimes also called the Princes' Army.

Financial difficulties forced Condé to appeal to foreign courts for support. Although the Army fought in conjunction with the Austrian army, many of the generals in Habsburg service distrusted Louis Joseph and policy makers in Vienna considered the army and its officers unreliable. Furthermore, conflicting goals of the French royalists and the Habsburgs frequently placed Louis Joseph at odds with the Habsburg military leadership.

Armée des Émigrés

The Armée des Émigrés (English: Army of the Émigrés) were counter-revolutionary armies raised outside France by and out of Royalist Émigrés, with the aim of overthrowing the French Revolution, reconquering France and restoring the monarchy. These were aided by royalist armies within France itself, such as the Chouans, and by allied countries such as Great Britain. They fought, for example, at the sieges of Lyon and Toulon.

They were formed from:

noblemen volunteers, either descendants of the ancient royal family or not, who had fled France

troops raised by these nobles through subsidies from other European monarchies, or through their own means

units of the French army which had also emigrated, such as the 4th Hussar RegimentEven Napoleon I said of them "True, they are paid by our enemies, but they were or should have been bound to the cause of their King. France gave death to their action, and tears to their courage. All devotion is heroic".

Article 58 (RSFSR Penal Code)

Article 58 of the Russian SFSR Penal Code was put in force on 25 February 1927 to arrest those suspected of counter-revolutionary activities. It was revised several times. In particular, its Article 58-1 was updated by the listed sub-articles and put in force on 8 June 1934.

This article introduced the formal notion of the enemy of workers: those subject to articles 58-2 — 58-13 (those under 58-1 were "traitors", 58-14 were "saboteurs").

Penal codes of other republics of the Soviet Union also had articles of similar nature.

Brunswick Manifesto

The Brunswick Manifesto was a proclamation issued by Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, commander of the Allied Army (principally Austrian and Prussian), on 25 July 1792 to the population of Paris, France during the War of the First Coalition. The Brunswick Manifesto threatened that if the French royal family were harmed, then French civilians would be harmed. It was said to have been a measure intended to intimidate Paris, but rather helped further spur the increasingly radical French Revolution and finally led to the war between revolutionary France and counter-revolutionary monarchies.

Catholic and Royal Army

The Catholic and Royal Armies (French: Armées catholique et royale) is the name given to the royalist armies in western France composed of insurgents during the war in the Vendée and the Chouannerie, who opposed the French revolution, hence they were counterrevolutionary by definition. They were also known as the "Red Army" on account of their emblem: the Sacred Heart.


A counter-insurgency or counterinsurgency (COIN) is defined by the United States Department of State as "comprehensive civilian and military efforts taken to simultaneously defeat and contain insurgency and address its root causes". An insurgency is a rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents. It is

the organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify or challenge political control of a region. As such, it is primarily a political struggle, in which both sides use armed force to create space for their political, economic and influence activities to be effective.

Counter-insurgency campaigns of duly-elected or politically recognized governments take place during war, occupation by a foreign military or police force, and when internal conflicts that involve subversion and armed rebellion occur. The most effective counterinsurgency campaigns

integrate and synchronize political, security, economic, and informational components that reinforce governmental legitimacy and effectiveness while reducing insurgent influence over the population. COIN strategies should be designed to simultaneously protect the population from insurgent violence; strengthen the legitimacy and capacity of government institutions to govern responsibly and marginalize insurgents politically, socially, and economically.

Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit

The Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit or CRWU was the common name for the First Meridian Squadron, the unit's formal name, which had been disbanded in 2000. It was the only special forces group of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, and was the brainchild of former Military Commander and former Prime Minister, Major-General Sitiveni Ligamamada Rabuka.The unit had gained notoriety in Fiji for being involved in the Fijian 2000 coup d'état and the subsequent court martial of the renegade CRW soldiers involved, as well as being accused of attempting to assassinate Frank Bainimarama after he took power by overthrowing the illegal, civilian, Fijian government that took power from Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry in the 2000 Fijian coup d'état. Its founding officer Ilisoni Ligairi had also gained notoriety alongside his unit for participating in the mutinies.

Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit Court Martial, Fiji

The mutiny that took place at Fiji's Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Suva on 2 November 2000 resulted in the death of four loyal soldiers. Four of the rebels were subsequently beaten to death after the rebellion had been quelled. A total of 42 soldiers from the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit, who sympathized with George Speight, whose own civilian coup d'état had been put down by the military in July, were subsequently convicted of involvement in the mutiny. Among those convicted was Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, the Qaranivalu of Naitasiri, one of Fiji's most senior chiefs.

Dezső Pattantyús-Ábrahám

Dezső Pattantyús-Ábrahám de Dancka (10 July 1875 – 25 July 1973) was a conservative Hungarian politician who served as Prime Minister and temporary Minister of Finance of the second counter-revolutionary government in Szeged for one month in 1919. His government commissioned Miklós Horthy to Supreme Commander of the National Army.

Gyula Károlyi

Gyula Count Károlyi de Nagykároly (7 May 1871 in Baktalórántháza – 23 April 1947) was a conservative Hungarian politician who served as Prime Minister of Hungary from 1931 to 1932. He had previously been Prime Minister of the counter-revolutionary government in Szeged for several months in 1919. As Prime Minister, he generally tried to continue the moderate conservative policies of his predecessor, István Bethlen, although with less success.

Joseph-Geneviève de Puisaye

Joseph-Geneviève, comte de Puisaye (6 March 1755 – 13 September 1827) was a minor French nobleman who fought as a counter-revolutionary during the French Revolution, leading two unsuccessful invasions from England. He later led a group of French royalists to settle in Upper Canada, but returned to England after a few years, when that effort proved largely unsuccessful. He remained in England until his death in 1827.

János Kintzig

János Kintzig was a Hungarian politician, who served as Minister of Agriculture in the Counter-revolutionary Government of Arad and Szeged during the Hungarian Soviet Republic.

Lajos Pálmai

Lajos Pálmai (1866–1937) was a Hungarian politician, who served as Minister of Justice in the Counter-revolutionary Government of Arad during the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Later he worked as a notary public for the Diet of Hungary between 1926 and 1936.

Special Air Service

The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950. The unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action and hostage rescue. Much of the information and actions regarding the SAS is highly classified, and is not commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to the sensitivity of their operations.The corps currently consists of the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component under operational command of United Kingdom Special Forces, as well as the 21st (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) and the 23rd Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve), which are reserve units under operational command of the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.The Special Air Service traces its origins to 1941 and the Second World War. It was reformed as part of the Territorial Army in 1947, named the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Artists Rifles). The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, which is part of the regular army, gained fame and recognition worldwide after its televised rescue of all but one of the hostages held during the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege.

Women in the French Revolution

Historians since the late 20th century have debated how women shared in the French Revolution and what long-term impact it had on French women. Women had no political rights in pre-Revolutionary France; they were considered "passive" citizens, forced to rely on men to determine what was best for them. That changed dramatically in theory as there seemingly were great advances in feminism. Feminism emerged in Paris as part of a broad demand for social and political reform. The women demanded equality to men and then moved on to a demand for the end of male domination. Their chief vehicle for agitation were pamphlets and women's clubs, especially the Society of Revolutionary Republican Women. However, the Jacobin (radical) element in power abolished all the women's clubs in October 1793 and arrested their leaders. The movement was crushed. Devance explains the decision in terms of the emphasis on masculinity in wartime, Marie Antoinette's bad reputation for feminine interference in state affairs, and traditional male supremacy. A decade later the Napoleonic Code confirmed and perpetuated women's second-class status.

Yakut revolt

The Yakut revolt (Russian: Якутский мятеж, Yakutskiy myatezh) or the Yakut expedition (Russian: Якутский поход, Yakutskiy pokhod) was the last episode of the Russian Civil War. The hostilities took place between September 1921 and June 1923 and were centred on the Ayano-Maysky District of the Russian Far East.

A formidable rising flared up in this part of Yakutia in September 1921. About 200 White Russians were led by Cornet Mikhail Korobeinikov. In March 1922 they established the Provisional Yakut Regional People's Government in Churapcha. On 23 March Korobeinikov's "Yakut People's Army," armed with six machine guns, took the major town of Yakutsk. The Red Army garrison was decimated.

In April, the White Russians contacted the Provisional Priamurye Government in Vladivostok, asking for help. On 27 April, the Soviets declared the Yakut ASSR and sent an expedition to put down the uprising. In summer 1922, the Whites were ousted from Yakutsk and withdrew to the Pacific coast. They occupied the port towns of Okhotsk and Ayan and again asked Vladivostok for reinforcements.

On 30 August, the Pacific Ocean Fleet, manned by about 750 volunteers under Lieutenant General Anatoly Pepelyayev, sailed from Vladivostok to assist the White Russians. Three days later, this force disembarked in Ayan and moved upon Yakutsk. By the end of October, when Pepelyayev occupied the locality of Nelkan, he learned that the Bolsheviks had wrested Vladivostok from the White Army and the Civil War was over.

When the Soviet Union was formed on 30 December 1922, the only Russian territory still controlled by the White Movement was the region of the Pepelyayevshchina ("пепеляевщина"), that is, Ayan, Okhotsk, and Nelkan. A unit of Bolsheviks under Ivan Strod was sent against Pepelyayev in February. On 12 February, they defeated the Pepelyayevists near Sasyl-Sasyg; in March the White Army was ousted from Amga.

On 24 April 1923 the ships Stavropol and Indigirka sailed from Vladivostok for Ayan. They contained a contingent of the Red Army under Stepan Vostretsov. Upon his arrival in Ayan on 6 April, Vostretsov learnt that Pepelyayev had evacuated to Nelkan. The remainder of the White Army were defeated near Okhotsk on 6 June and near Ayan on 16 June. The general, 103 White officers, and 230 soldiers were taken prisoner and transported to Vladivostok.

Zoltán Szabó (Minister of Defence)

Zoltán Szabó de Kisjolsva (18 July 1858 – 3 November 1934) was a Hungarian politician and military officer, who served as Minister of Defence in the counter-revolutionary government against the Hungarian Soviet Republic.

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