This article is about revolution in the sense of a drastic change. For the video game system, see Nintendo Revolution, or for other meanings of the word, see revolution (disambiguation).

A revolution is a relatively sudden and absolutely drastic change. This may be a change in the social or political institutions over a relatively short period of time, or a major change in its culture or economy. Some revolutions are led by the majority of the populace of a nation, others by a small band of revolutionaries. Compare rebellion.


Social and political revolutions

Political revolutions are often characterised by violence, and the vast changes in power structures that can often result in further, institutionalised, violence, as in the Russian and French revolutions (with the "Purges" and "the Terror", respectively). A political revolution is the forcible replacement of one set of rulers with another (as happened in France and Russia), while a social revolution is the fundamental change in the social structure of a society, such as the Protestant Reformation or the Renaissance. However, blurring the line between these two categories, most political revolutions have basic philosophical or social underpinnings which drive the revolution. The most common of these underpinnings in the modern world have been liberal revolutions and Communist revolutions. In contrast, a coup d'état often seeks to change nothing more than the current ruler.

Some political philosophers regard revolutions as the means of achieving their goals. Most anarchists advocate social revolution as the means of breaking down the structures of government and replacing them with non-hierarchal institutions.
With Marxist communists there is a split between those who supported the USSR and other self-proclaimed 'communist states' and those who were/are critical of those states (some even rejecting them as non-communist, see state capitalism), for example trotskyists.
Generally the former take revolution to be one strategy, possibly accompanied by the use of electoral politics to take over, rather than overthrow, the institution of government, their aim being to create a centralised state to govern in the name of 'the workers'.
The later tend to have an idea much closer to that of the anarchists. Specifically they believe that democracy at a state level must be replaced by democracy at the level of the workplace. They believe that they are closer to the ideas of Karl Marx, who saw revolution as a process in which people would be fundamentally transformed by the experience of taking power over their own lives. The former generally accuse the later of being utopian.

Social and political revolutions are often "institutionalized" when the ideas, slogans, and personalities of the revolution continue to play a prominent role in a country's political culture, long after the revolution's end. As mentioned, Communist nations regularly institutionalize their revolutions to legitimize the actions of their governments. Some non-communist nations, like the United States, France, or Mexico also have institutionalized revolutions, and continue to celebrate the memory of their revolutionary past through holidays, artwork, songs, and other venues.

Ancient revolutions

Liberal revolutions

(known to Marxists as bourgeois revolutions,)

Some of these are Atlantic Revolutions

Color revolutions

Anarchist revolutions

  • Spanish Revolution -- (1936) -- Social upheaval that swept Spain in response to the anti-Republican insurgency of General Francisco Franco.
  • Anarchists had influence in many other revolutions, including the Mexican Revolution and the Russian Revolution, and rebellions like that in May 1968.

Socialist revolutions

Eastern European Anti-Communist revolutions

Islamist revolutions

Cultural, intellectual, and philosophical revolutions

Technological revolutions

(although these revolutions always have an influence on culture)

da:Revolution de:Revolution es:Revolución eo:Revolucio et:Revolutsioon fr:Révolution lv:Revolūcija lt:Revoliucija nl:Revolutie ja:革命 pl:Rewolucja ro:Revoluţie sv:Revolution zh:革命


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