An Ideological Explanation of How Revolutions Occur and Why They Result in New Oppressive Orders

The Freedom Center and Spring 2022 FC Talks series presents Allen Buchanan (University of Arizona) and Alex Motchoulski (University of Arizona).

Revolutionaries must solve a cooperation problem and a coordination problem. We argue that, under the conditions in which revolutions are now likely to occur, aspiring revolutionary leaders are better able to solve the cooperation and the coordination problems when they cultivate and exploit a certain kind of ideology, one that (1) presents the revolutionary struggle in Manichean terms, (2) confers extreme deference on those it identifies as the leaders of the revolution, and (3) includes a belief in the ubiquity of counter-revolutionary conspiracies that helps sustain participation in the face of apparent failures of leadership or other setbacks to the revolution. We then argue that this kind of revolutionary ideology empowers the revolutionary leadership to create a post-revolutionary regime that is oppressive. Lastly, we develop normative conclusions concerning the ethics of revolution and intervention in revolution, grounded in this explanatory framework.

Event Contacts
Kaveh Pourvand