Revolutionary wave

A revolutionary wave or revolutionary decade is a series of revolutions occurring in various locations within a similar time span. In many cases, past revolutions and revolutionary waves have inspired current ones, or an initial revolution has inspired other concurrent "affiliate revolutions" with similar aims.[1][2] The causes of revolutionary waves have been studied by historians and political philosophers, including Robert Roswell Palmer, Crane Brinton, Hannah Arendt, Eric Hoffer, and Jacques Godechot.[3]

Marxists see revolutionary waves as evidence that a world revolution is possible. For Rosa Luxemburg, "The most precious thing… in the sharp ebb and flow of the revolutionary waves is the proletariat's spiritual growth. The advance, by leaps and bounds, of the intellectual stature of the proletariat affords an inviolable guarantee of its further progress in the inevitable economic and political struggles ahead."[4]

The phrase "revolutionary wave" has also been used by non-Marxist writers and activists, including Justin Raimondo and Michael Lind, to describe discrete revolutions happening within a short time span.[5][6]


Mark N. Katz[7] identified six forms of revolution;

  • rural revolution
  • urban revolution
  • Coup d'état, e.g. Egypt, 1952
  • revolution from above, e.g. Mao's Great leap forward of 1958
  • revolution from without, e.g. the allied invasions of Italy, 1944 and Germany, 1945.
  • revolution by osmosis, e.g. the gradual Islamization of several countries.

These categories are not mutually exclusive; the Russian revolution of 1917 began with urban revolution to depose the Czar, followed by rural revolution, followed by the Bolshevik coup in November. Katz also cross-classified revolutions as follows;

  • Central; countries, usually Great powers, which play a leading role in a Revolutionary wave; e.g. the USSR, Nazi Germany, Iran since 1979.[8]
  • Aspiring revolutions, which follow the Central revolution
  • subordinate or puppet revolutions
  • rival revolutions, e.g. communist Yugoslavia, and China after 1969

Central and subordinate revolutions may support each other militarily, as for example the USSR, Cuba, Angola, Ethiopia, Nicaragua and other Marxist regimes did in the 1970s and 1980s.[9]

A further dimension to Katz's typology[10] is that revolutions are either against (anti-monarchy, anti-dictatorial, anti-communist, anti-democratic) or for (pro-fascism, pro-communism, pro-nationalism etc.). In the latter cases, a transition period is often necessary to decide on the direction taken.


There is no consensus on a complete list of revolutionary waves. In particular, scholars disagree on how similar the ideologies of different events should be in order for them to be grouped as part of a single wave, and over what period a wave can be considered to be taking place – for example, Mark N. Katz discussed a "Marxist-Leninist wave" lasting from 1917 to 1991, and a "fascist wave" from 1922 to 1945, but limits an "anti-communist wave" to just the 1989 to 1991 period.[11]

Pre-19th century

19th century

20th century

Vietnam War protests in Vienna, Austria (Greyscale)
Protests against the Vietnam War in Vienna, Austria, 1968

21st century

Potential revolutionary waves

Mark Katz theorises that Buddhism (in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indochina, Burma, Tibet) and Confucianism (to replace Marxism in China and promote unity with Chinese in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia) might be the revolutionary waves of the future. In the past, these religions have been passively acquiescent to secular authority; but so was Islam, until recently.[21]

Katz also suggests that nationalisms such as Pan-Turanianism (in Turkey, Central Asia, Xinjiang, parts of Russia), 'Pan-native Americanism' (in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay) and Pan-Slavism (in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus) could also form revolutionary waves.[22]

See also


  1. ^ Mark N. Katz, Revolution and Revolutionary Waves, Palgrave Macmillan (October 1, 1999)
  2. ^ Nader Sohrabi, Revolution and Constitutionalism in the Ottoman Empire and Iran, Cambridge University Press, 2011 pp. 74, 83, 87, 90, 94, 96, ISBN 0-521-19829-1, ISBN 978-0-521-19829-5
  3. ^ *Colin J. Beck, Dissertation submitted to Stanford University Department of Sociology graduate Ph.D program, March 2009, "Ideological roots of waves of revolution," ProQuest, 2009, pp. 1-5, ISBN 1-109-07655-X, 9781109076554.
    • Note: Colin J. Beck also wrote The Ideological Roots of Waves of Revolution, BiblioBazaar, 2011, ISBN 1-243-60856-0, 9781243608567
  4. ^ Rosa Luxemburg, Gesammelte Werke (Collected Works), quoted in Tony Cliff, "Rosa Luxemburg, 1905 and the classic account of the mass strike" in "Patterns of mass strike", International Socialism, vol. 2, no. 29 (Summer 1985), pp. 3-61.
  5. ^ Justin Raimondo, The Revolutionary Wave: Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen – is the West next?,, January 28, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Michael Lind, Vietnam, the Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict, Simon and Schuster, 2002 p 37 ISBN 0-684-87027-4, ISBN 978-0-684-87027-4
  7. ^ Mark N Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p4
  8. ^ Mark N Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p13
  9. ^ Mark Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p 86
  10. ^ Mark N Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p12
  11. ^ a b c d Mark N. Katz , "Cycles, waves and diffusion", in: Jack A. Goldstone, The Encyclopedia of Political Revolutions, pp. 126-127
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Colin A. Beck, "The World-Cultural Origins of Revolutionary Waves: Five Centuries of European Contention", Social Science History, vol.35, no.2, pp.167-207
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i Laurence Cox and Alf Gunvald Nilson, "What Makes a Revolution?", Ceasefire, 30 September 2014
  14. ^ a b Mark Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p 22
  15. ^ Michael M. Seidman, The Imaginary Revolution: Parisian Students and Workers in 1968
  16. ^ the term was first used circa 1932 and has greatly increased in use since 1980 according to Google ngram
  17. ^ Christian Right Wikipedia article
  18. ^ all founding dates from relevant Wikipedia articles
  19. ^ Ahmed Rashid, Taliban, IB Tauris, 2000, chapter one
  20. ^ Mark Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, chapter 4
  21. ^ Mark Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p 138
  22. ^ Mark Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p 139

External links

2011 Omani protests

The 2011 Omani protests were a series of protests in the Persian Gulf country of Oman that occurred as part of the revolutionary wave popularly known as the "Arab Spring".The protesters demanded salary increases, lower living costs, the creation of more jobs and a reduction in corruption. Protests in Sohar, Oman's fifth-largest city, centered on the Globe Roundabout. The Sultan's responses included the dismissal of a third of the governing cabinet.

Arab Spring

The Arab Spring (Arabic: الربيع العربي) was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across the Middle East in late 2010. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low standard of living, beginning with protests in Tunisia (Noueihed, 2011; Maleki, 2011). In the news, social media has been heralded as the driving force behind the swift spread of revolution throughout the world, as new protests appear in response to success stories shared from those taking place in other countries (see Howard, 2011). In many countries, the governments have also recognized the importance of social media for organizing and have shut down certain sites or blocked Internet service entirely, especially in the times preceding a major rally (see The Telegraph, 2011). Governments have also scrutinized or suppressed discussion in those forums through accusing content creators of unrelated crimes or shutting down communication on specific sites or groups, such as through Facebook (Solomon, 2011; Seyid, 2011).The effects of the Tunisian Revolution spread strongly to five other countries: Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, where either the regime was toppled or major uprisings and social violence occurred, including riots, civil wars or insurgencies. Sustained street demonstrations took place in Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Iranian Khuzestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan. Minor protests occurred in Djibouti, Mauritania, the Palestinian National Authority, Saudi Arabia, and the Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. A major slogan of the demonstrators in the Arab world is ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ an-niẓām ("the people want to bring down the regime").The wave of initial revolutions and protests faded by mid-2012, as many Arab Spring demonstrations were met with violent responses from authorities, as well as from pro-government militias, counter-demonstrators and militaries. These attacks were answered with violence from protestors in some cases.

Large-scale conflicts resulted: the Syrian Civil War; the Iraqi insurgency and the following civil war; the Egyptian Crisis, coup, and subsequent unrest and insurgency; the Libyan Civil War; and the Yemeni Crisis and following civil war.A power struggle continued after the immediate response to the Arab Spring. While leadership changed and regimes were held accountable, power vacuums opened across the Arab world. Ultimately it resulted in a contentious battle between a consolidation of power by religious elites and the growing support for democracy in many Muslim-majority states. The early hopes that these popular movements would end corruption, increase political participation, and bring about greater economic equity quickly collapsed in the wake of the counter-revolutionary moves by foreign state actors in Yemen and of the Saudi-UAE-linked military deep state in Egypt, the regional and international military interventions in Bahrain and Yemen, and the destructive civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.Some have referred to the succeeding and still ongoing conflicts as the Arab Winter. As of May 2018, only the uprising in Tunisia has resulted in a transition to constitutional democratic governance.

Atlantic Revolutions

The Atlantic Revolutions were a revolutionary wave in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It was associated with the Atlantic World during the era from the 1770s to the 1820s.

It took place in both the Americas and Europe, including the United States (1775–1783), France and French-controlled Europe (1789–1814), Haiti (1791–1804), Ireland (1798) and Spanish America (1810–1825). There were smaller upheavals in Switzerland, Russia, and Brazil. The revolutionaries in each country knew of the others and to some degree were inspired by or emulated them.Independence movements in the New World began with the American Revolution, 1775–1783, in which France, the Netherlands and Spain assisted the new United States of America as it secured independence from Britain. In the 1790s the Haitian Revolution broke out. With Spain tied down in European wars, the mainland Spanish colonies secured independence around 1820.In long-term perspective, the revolutions were mostly successful. They spread widely the ideals of liberalism, republicanism, the overthrow of aristocracies, kings and established churches. They emphasized the universal ideals of the Enlightenment, such as the equality of all men, including equal justice under law by disinterested courts as opposed to particular justice handed down at the whim of a local noble. They showed that the modern notion of revolution, of starting fresh with a radically new government, could actually work in practice. Revolutionary mentalities were born and continue to flourish to the present day.The common Atlantic theme breaks down to some extent from reading the works of Edmund Burke. Burke firstly supported the American colonists in 1774 in On American Taxation, and took the view that their property and other rights were being infringed by the crown without their consent. In apparent contrast, Burke distinguished and deplored the process of the French revolution in Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), as in this case property, customary and religious rights were being removed summarily by the revolutionaries and not by the crown. In both cases he was following Montesquieu's theory that the right to own property is an essential element of personal freedom.

Feudal fascism

Feudal fascism, also revolutionary-feudal totalitarianism, were official terms used by the post-Mao Zedong Communist Party of China to designate the ideology and rule of Lin Biao and the Gang of Four during the Cultural Revolution.

History of anarchism

The history of anarchism begins with the first humans walking on earth. Prehistoric society existed without formal hierarchies, pretty close to anarchist principles. The first traces of anarchist thought can be spotted in ancient Greece and China where numerous philosophers questioned the necessity of the state and declare the moral right of the individuals to decide for themselves. During the Middle Ages, few religious sects espoused some libertarian thoughts, and at Enlightenment, the rise of rationalism and science yielded in the birth of the modern anarchist movement.

Modern anarchism was a significant part of the worker's movement at the end of the 19th century. Modernism, industrialization, reaction to capitalism and mass migration helped anarchism flourish and be spread around the globe. The major tendencies of anarchism as a social movement has been represented by anarcho-collectivism, anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a literary phenomenon. As the worker's movement was growing, the clash among anarchists and Marxist communists was becoming inevitable and the two currents split at the fifth congress of the First International in 1872. The events that followed didn't help to heal the gap. Anarchists participated enthusiastically in the Russian Revolution but as soon as Bolsheviks established their authority, anarchists were harshly suppressed most notable in Kronstadt and in Ukraine. Anarchism's most salient moment was the Spanish Revolution which ended in the defeat of anarchist and their allies. Anarchism as a movement seemed dead after World War II. However, in the 1960s anarchism re-emerged in various forms, particularly within the anti-globalization movement.

Human rights reports on the Bahraini uprising of 2011

Many human rights reports were published about the Bahraini uprising of 2011, a campaign of protests, and civil disobedience in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain that is considered part of the revolutionary wave of protests dubbed the Arab Spring. At least 14 human rights reports were issued by 18 different parties: Amnesty International, International Crisis Group, Doctors Without Borders, Physicians for Human Rights, Human Rights First, Independent Irish figures, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Without Frontiers, Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Bahrain Youth Society for Human Rights, Bahrain Human Rights Society, Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Front Line Defenders, Gulf Centre for Human Rights, Index on Censorship, International Media Support and the Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC) of PEN International.

Latin American wars of independence

The Latin American wars of independence were the revolutions or a revolutionary wave, that took place during the late 18th and early 19th centuries and resulted in the creation of a number of independent countries in Latin America. These revolutions followed the American and French Revolutions, which had profound effects on the British, Spanish, Portuguese, and French colonies in the Americas. Haiti, a French slave colony, was the first to follow the United States; the Haitian Revolution lasted from 1791 to 1804, when they won their independence. The Peninsular War with France, which resulted from the Napoleonic occupation of Spain, caused Spanish Creoles in Spanish America to question their allegiance to Spain, stoking independence movements that culminated in the wars of independence, which lasted almost two decades. At the same time, the Portuguese monarchy relocated to Brazil during Portugal's French occupation. After the royal court returned to Lisbon, the prince regent, Pedro, remained in Brazil and in 1822 successfully declared himself emperor of a newly independent Brazil. Cuban independence was fought against Spain in two wars (Ten Years and Little War). Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule until the Spanish–American War in 1898.

Revolutionary base area

In Mao Zedong's original formulation of the concept of people's war, a revolutionary base area is a local stronghold that the revolutionary force conducting the people's war should attempt to establish, starting from a remote area with mountainous or forested terrain in which its enemy is weak.

This kind of base helps the revolutionary conducting force to exploit the few advantages that a small revolutionary movement has—broad-based popular support can be one of them—against a state's power with a large and well-equipped army.

Revolutions of 1820

The Revolutions of 1820 were a revolutionary wave in Europe. It included revolutions in Spain, Portugal and Italy for constitutional monarchies, and for independence from Ottoman rule in Greece. Unlike the revolutionary wave in the 1830s, these tended to take place in the peripheries of Europe.

Revolutions of 1830

The Revolutions of 1830 were a revolutionary wave in Europe which took place in 1830. It included two "romantic nationalist" revolutions, the Belgian Revolution in the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the July Revolution in France along with revolutions in Congress Poland and Switzerland. It was followed eighteen years later, by another and possibly even stronger wave of revolutions known as the Revolutions of 1848.

Revolutions of 1917–1923

The Revolutions of 1917–1923 were a period of political unrest and revolts around the world inspired by the success of the Russian Revolution and the disorder created by the aftermath of World War I. The uprisings were mainly socialist or anti-colonial in nature and were mostly short-lived, failing to have a long-term impact. Out of all the revolutionary activity of the era, the revolutionary wave of 1917–1923 mainly refers to the unrest caused by World War I in Europe.

Romantic nationalism

Romantic nationalism (also national romanticism, organic nationalism, identity nationalism) is the form of nationalism in which the state derives its political legitimacy as an organic consequence of the unity of those it governs. This includes, depending on the particular manner of practice, the language, race, culture, religion, and customs of the nation in its primal sense of those who were born within its culture. This form of nationalism arose in reaction to dynastic or imperial hegemony, which assessed the legitimacy of the state from the top down, emanating from a monarch or other authority, which justified its existence. Such downward-radiating power might ultimately derive from a god or gods

(see the divine right of kings and the Mandate of Heaven).

Among the key themes of Romanticism, and its most enduring legacy, the cultural assertions of romantic nationalism have also been central in post-Enlightenment art and political philosophy. From its earliest stirrings, with their focus on the development of national languages and folklore, and the spiritual value of local customs and traditions, to the movements that would redraw the map of Europe and lead to calls for self-determination of nationalities, nationalism was one of the key issues in Romanticism, determining its roles, expressions and meanings.

Historically in Europe, the watershed year for romantic nationalism was 1848, when a revolutionary wave spread across the continent; numerous nationalistic revolutions occurred in various fragmented regions (such as Italy) or multinational states (such as the Austrian Empire). While initially the revolutions fell to reactionary forces and the old order was quickly re-established, the many revolutions would mark the first step towards liberalization and the formation of modern nation states across much of Europe.

Russian Army (1917)

In 1917, the Russian Army formally ceased to be the Imperial Russian Army when the power in Russia was transferred from the Empire to the Provisional Government.

After the February Revolution the systems of command and of supply of the army were disrupted. The army became tired of World War I.

The revolutionary wave influenced the Army, and it was swept with the processes of democratization and the single line of command was questioned. The Order No. 1 issued by the Petrograd Soviet instructed soldiers and sailors to obey their officers and the Provisional Government only if their orders did not contradict the decrees of the Petrograd Soviet. The interpretation of the Order, both at the time and by the historians has been a matter of controversy. While many scholars agree that the order severely disrupted the army discipline, John Boyd argued that in fact, the order's intention was to restore the discipline and it clearly stated that it was to be applied only to the troops off the front lines. While the order did not call for the democratic election of the officers, it has been a widespread misinterpretation.

Saving Hope (book)

Saving Hope: The Long Way to the Arab Spring (Arabic: إنقاذ الأمل: الطريق الطويل إلى الربيع العربي‎) is a 2013 non-fiction book by Bahraini cultural critic Nader Kadhim. Written in Arabic, it is the ninth book by Kadhim, who works as a Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Bahrain. Written in two stages, before and during the Arab Spring, the book discusses this wave of protests from two sides; the past and the future. The past is divided into three waves, each of them corresponding to an era of hope and aspiration. First is the enlightenment wave, followed by the revolutionary wave and finally the democratic wave. The author then tackles the Arab Spring and argues that it is not the time for celebration, but an important station in the long way towards democracy.

The book was positively received by reviewers in several Bahraini media outlets such as Al-Wasat, Al Ayam and al-Bilad. In addition, the pan-Arab Al-Hayat and Kuwaiti Al Rai newspapers gave it favorable reviews. There were mild criticisms for the book, mainly concerned with its scope. Every critic thought it should have expanded more on a certain aspect.

The Rough Guide to Arabic Revolution

The Rough Guide To Arabic Revolution is a world music compilation album originally released in 2013 featuring music relating to the contemporaneous Arab Spring revolutionary wave. Part of the World Music Network Rough Guides series, the album contains two discs: a compilation Disc One featuring protest songs ranging from traditional music to Arabic hip hop, and a "bonus" Disc Two highlighting Ramy Essam, whose song "Irhal" (Leave) is widely considered the anthem of the Egyptian Revolution.Disc One features four Egyptian tracks, four Palestinian tracks, two Tunisian, and one each from Libya, Lebanon, and the UK. The album was compiled by Daniel Rosenberg, who also wrote the sleeve notes. The compilation was produced by Phil Stanton, co-founder of the World Music Network.

Ukrainian Christian Democratic Party

Ukrainian Christian Democratic Party (Ukrainian: Українська християнсько-демократична партія, Ukrayinska Khrystyianska Demokratychna Partiya; UKhDP) is a small political party of Ukrainian SSR and Ukraine. It became a progenitor of the two other parties of christian democracy such Christian Democratic Party of Ukraine and Christian Democratic Union. The party became a powerful force in Ukraine during the 1989 revolutionary wave in Europe and contributed greatly to the revival of such Ukrainian cultural organizations as Prosvita, Association of the Ukrainian Language, Plast as well as the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

In 1992 most of the party was transformed into the Christian Democratic Party of Ukraine of Vitaliy Zhuravsky, while the remnants existed until 2002 and according to some sources were merged with the Ukrainian Republican Party Sobor.

Ukrainian People's Republic

The Ukrainian People's Republic, or Ukrainian National Republic (abbreviated to УНР, UNR), a predecessor of modern Ukraine, was declared on 10 June 1917 following the February Revolution in Russia. It initially formed part of the Russian Republic, but proclaimed its independence on 25 January 1918. During its short existence the republic went through several political transformations - from the socialist-leaning republic headed by the Central Council with its general secretariat to the national republic led by the Directorate and by Symon Petliura. Between April and December 1918 the Ukrainian People's Republic did not function, having been overthrown by the Ukrainian State of Pavlo Skoropadsky.

From late 1919 the UNR operated as an ally of the Second Polish Republic, but by then the state de facto no longer existed in Ukraine. The 18 March 1921 Treaty of Riga between the Second Polish Republic, Soviet Russia (acting also on behalf of Soviet Belarus) and of Soviet Ukraine sealed the fate of the Ukrainian People's Republic.After the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917, many governments formed in Ukraine – most notably the Ukrainian People's Republic (based in Kiev) and the Ukrainian People's Republic of Soviets (1917–1918, based in Kharkiv) and its Soviet successors. These two entities, plus the White Movement, Poland, Green armies and the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine, fought constantly with each other, which resulted in many casualties among Ukrainians fighting in a Ukrainian civil war (1917-1921) as part of the wider Russian Civil War of 1917-1922. The Soviet Union would (after the 1921 Treaty of Riga) extend control over what would ultimately become the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and (in 1922) a founding member of the Soviet Union.

World revolution

World revolution is the Marxist concept of overthrowing capitalism in all countries through the conscious revolutionary action of the organized working class. These revolutions would not necessarily occur simultaneously, but where and when local conditions allowed a revolutionary party to successfully replace bourgeois ownership and rule, and install a workers' state based on social ownership of the means of production. In most Marxist schools, such as Trotskyism, the essentially international character of the class struggle and the necessity of global scope are critical elements and a chief explanation of the failure of socialism in one country.

The end goal of such internationally oriented revolutionary socialism is to achieve world socialism, and later, stateless communism.

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