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AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW

February, 1962 Volume 27, Number 1

TOWARD A THEORY OF REVOLUTION*


JAMES C. DAVIES
CaliforniaInstitute of Technology
Revolutions are most likely to occur when a prolonged period of objective economic and
social developmentis followed by a short period of sharp reversal.People then subjectively
fear that groundgainedwith great effort will be quite lost; their mood becomesrevolutionary.
The evidencefrom Dorr's Rebellion, the Russian Revolution, and the Egyptian Revolution
supports this notion; tentatively,so do data on other civil disturbances.Variousstatistics-
as on rural uprisings,industrial strikes, unemployment,and cost of living-may serve as
crude indexes of popularmood. More useful, though less easy to obtain, are direct questions
in cross-sectionalinterviews.The goal of predictingrevolutionis conceivedbut not yet born
or matured.

IN exhortingproletariansof all nations enjoyments of the capitalist, which are in-


to unite in revolution, because they accessibleto the worker,in comparisonwith
had nothing to lose but their chains, the state of developmentof society in gen-
eral. Our desires and pleasuresspring from
Marx and Engels most succinctly presented society; we measurethem, therefore,by so-
that theory of revolution which is recognized ciety and not by the objects which serve for
as their brain child. But this most famed their satisfaction. Because they are of a
thesis, that progressive degradation of the social nature,they are of a relative nature.'
industrial working class would finally reach Marx's qualification here of his more fre-
the point of despair and inevitable revolt, quent belief that degradation produces revo-
is not the only one that Marx fathered. In at lution is expressed as the main thesis by
least one essay he gave life to a quite anti- de Tocqueville in his study of the French
thetical idea. He described,as a precondition Revolution. After a long review of economic
of widespread unrest, not progressive degra- and social decline in the seventeenth century
dation of the proletariat but rather an im- and dynamic growth in the eighteenth, de
provement in workers' economic condition Tocqueville concludes:
which did not keep pace with the growing So it would appearthat the French found
welfare of capitalists and therefore produced their condition the more unsupportablein
social tension. proportion to its improvement. . . . Revolu-
tions are not alwaysbroughtaboutby a grad-
A noticeableincreasein wages presupposes ual decline from bad to worse. Nations that
a rapid growth of productivecapital. The have endured patiently and almost uncon-
rapid growth of productive capital brings
about an equally rapid growth of wealth, 1 The
luxury,socialwants,social enjoyments.Thus, Communist Manifesto of 1848 evidently
althoughthe enjoymentsof the workershave antedates the opposing idea by about a year. See
risen, the social satisfaction that they give Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station (Anchor
has fallen in comparisonwith the increased Books edition), New York: Doubleday & Co.
(n.d.), p. 157; Lewis S. Feuer, Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels: Basic Writings on Politics and
* Several people have made perceptive suggestions Philosophy, N. Y.: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1959,
and generous comments on an earlier version of p. 1. The above quotation is from Karl Marx and
this paper. I wish particularly to thank Seymour Frederick Engels, "Wage Labour and Capital,"
Martin Lipset, Lucian W. Pye, John H. Schaar, Selected Works in Two Volumes, Moscow: Foreign
Paul Seabury, and Dwight Waldo. Languages Publishing House, 1955, vol. 1, p. 94.
S
6 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW
sciously the most overwhelmingoppression effect on the minds of people in a particular
often burstinto rebellionagainstthe yoke the society is to produce, during the former pe-
momentit beginsto growlighter.The regime riod, an expectation of continued ability to
which is destroyedby a revolutionis almost
always an improvementon its immediate satisfy needs-which continue to rise-and,
predecessor. . . . Evils which are patiently during the latter, a mental state of anxiety
endured when they seem inevitable become and frustration when manifest reality breaks
intolerablewhenonce the idea of escapefrom away from anticipated reality. The actual
them is suggested.2
state of socio-economic development is less
On the basis of de Tocqueville and Marx, significant than the expectation that past
we can choose one of these ideas or the other, progress, now blocked, can and must con-
which makes it hard to decide just when tinue in the future.
revolutions are more likely to occur-when Political stability and instability are ulti-
there has been social and economic progress mately dependent on a state of mind, a mood,
or when there has been regress. It appears in a society. Satisfied or apathetic people
that both ideas have explanatory and pos- who are poor in goods, status, and power can
sibly predictive value, if they are juxtaposed remain politically quiet and their opposites
and put in the proper time sequence. can revolt, just as, correlatively and more
Revolutions are most likely to occur when probably, dissatisfied poor can revolt and
a prolongedperiod of objective economic and satisfied rich oppose revolution. It is the dis-
social development is followed by a short satisfied state of mind rather than the tangi-
period of sharp reversal. The all-important ble provision of "adequate"or "inadequate"
supplies of food, equality, or liberty which
2 A. de Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the produces the revolution. In actuality, there
FrenchRevolution (trans.by John Bonner), N. Y.: must be a joining of forces between dissatis-
Harper & Bros., 1856, p. 214. The Stuart Gilbert
translation, Garden City: Doubleday & Co., Inc., fied, frustrated people who differ in their
1955, pp. 176-177, gives a somewhat less pungent degree of objective, tangible welfare and
version of the same comment.L'Ancienregimewas status. Well-fed, well-educated, high-status
first publishedin 1856. individuals who rebel in the face of apathy
3 Revolutions are here defined as violent civil
among the objectively deprived can accom-
disturbancesthat cause the displacement of one
rulinggroup by anotherthat has a broaderpopular plish at most a coup d'etat. The objectively
basis for support. deprived, when faced with solid opposition

00

Expected need satisfaction ,- -

A,' I
Actual need satisfaction An intolerable gap
between what people
want and what they get

Z
\W/ A tolerable gap between
_ what people want and
what they get

oj I | Revolution occurs at
IAh1o, this time
0 TIME
AND REVOLUTION
FIGURE1. NEED SATISFACTiON
A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 7
of people of wealth, status, and power, will form, but with a substantial degree of social
be smashed in their rebellion as were peas- isolation persisting, such evidently is rural
ants and Anabaptists by German noblemen life even today. This is clearly related to a
in 1525 and East Germansby the Communist relatively low level of political participation
elite in 1953. in elections.7 As Zawadzki and Lazarsfeld
Before appraising this general notion in have indicated,8preoccupationwith physical
light of a series of revolutions, a word is in survival, even in industrial areas, is a force
order as to why revolutions ordinarily do not strongly militating against the establishment
occur when a society is generally impover- of the community-sense and consensus on
ished-when, as de Tocqueville put it, evils joint political action which are necessary to
that seem inevitable are patiently endured. induce a revolutionary state of mind. Far
They are enduredin the extremecase because from making people into revolutionaries,en-
the physical and mental energies of people during poverty makes for concern with one's
are totally employed in the process of merely solitary self or solitary family at best and
staying alive. The Minnesota starvation stud- resignation or mute despair at worst. When it
ies conducted during World War II 4 indi- is a choice between losing their chains or
cate clearly the constant pre-occupation of their lives, people will mostly choose to keep
very hungry individuals with fantasies and their chains, a fact which Marx seems to have
thoughts of food. In extremis, as the Minne- overlooked.9
sota research poignantly demonstrates, the It is when the chains have been loosened
individual withdraws into a life of his own, somewhat, so that they can be cast off with-
withdrawsfrom society, withdraws from any out a high probability of losing life, that
significantkind of activity unrelated to stay- people are put in a condition of proto-
ing alive. Reports of behavior in Nazi con- rebelliousness. I use the term proto-rebel-
centration camps indicate the same preoc- liousness because the mood of discontent may
cupation.5 In less extreme and barbarous be dissipated before a violent outbreak oc-
circumstances, where minimal survival is curs. The causes for such dissipation may be
possible but little more, the preoccupationof natural or social (including economic and
individuals with staying alive is only miti- political). A bad crop year that threatens a
gated. Social action takes place for the most return to chronic hunger may be succeeded
part on a local, face-to-face basis. In such by a year of natural abundance. Recovery
circumstances the family is a-perhaps the from sharp economic dislocation may take
major-solidary unit 6 and even the local the steam from the boiler of rebellions The
community exists primarily to the extent slow, grudging grant of reforms, which has
families need to act together to secure their been the political history of England since at
separatesurvival. Such was life on the Amer- least the Industrial Revolution, may effec-
ican frontier in the sixteenth through nine- tively and continuouslyprevent the degree of
teenth centuries. In very much attenuated frustration that produces revolt.
7 See Angus Campbellet al., The AmericanVoter,
4 The full report is Ancel Keys et al., The New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1960, Chap. 15,
Biology of Human Starvation, Minneapolis: Uni- "AgrarianPolitical Behavior."
versity of Minnesota Press, 1950. See J. Brozek, 8B. Zawadzki and P. F. Lazarsfeld,"The Psy-
"Semi-starvationand Nutritional Rehabilitation," chological Consequences of Unemployment,"
Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1, (January, 1953), Journal of Social Psychology, 6 (May, 1935), pp.
pp. 107-118 for a brief analysis. 224-251.
5 E. A. Cohen, Human Behavior in the Con- 9 remarkableand awesome exception to this
centrationCamp,New York: W. W. Norton & Co., phenomenon occurred occasionally in some Nazi
1953, pp. 123-125, 131-140. concentrationcamps, e.g., in a Buchenwaldrevolt
6 For community life in such poverty, in against capriciousrule by criminalprisoners.Dur-
MezzogiornoItaly, see E. C. Banfield, The Moral ing this revolt, one hundredcriminalprisonerswere
Basis of a Backward Society, Glencoe, Ill.: The killed by political prisoners. See Cohen, op. cit.,
Free Press, 1958. The author emphasizesthat the p. 200.
nuclearfamily is a solidary,consensual,moral unit 10See W. W. Rostow, "BusinessCycles,Harvests,
(see p. 85) but even within it, consensusappears and Politics: 1790-1850," Journal of Economic
to break down, in outbreaks of pure, individual History, 1 (November, 1941), pp. 206-221 for the
amorality-notably between parents and children relation between economic fluctuation and the
(see p. 117). activities of the Chartistsin the 1830s and 1840s.
8 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW
A revolutionarystate of mind requires the how universal the J-curve is. And it will be
continued, even habitual but dynamic ex- necessary, in the interests of scientific valida-
pectation of greater opportunity to satisfy tion, to examine cases of serious civil disturb-
basic needs, which may range from merely ance that fell short of producing profound
physical (food, clothing, shelter, health, and revolution-such as the Sepoy Rebellion of
safety from bodily harm) to social (the af- 1857 in India, the Pullman Strike of 1894 in
fectional ties of family and friends) to the America, the Boxer Rebellion of 1900 in
need for equal dignity and justice. But the China, and the Great Depression of the 1920s
necessary additional ingredient is a persist- and 1930s as it was experienced in Austria,
ent, unrelenting threat to the satisfaction of France, Great Britain, and the United States.
these needs: not a threat which actually The explanation for such still-born rebellions
returnspeople to a state of sheer survival but -for revolutions that might have occurred-
which puts them in the mental state where is inevitably more complicated than for those
they believe they will not be able to satisfy that come to term in the "normal"course of
one or more basic needs. Although physical political gestation.
deprivationin some degree may be threatened
on the eve of all revolutions, it need not DORR'S REBELLION OF 1842
be the prime factor, as it surely was not in
Dorr's Rebellion 12 in nineteenth-century
the American Revolution of 1775. The cru-
America was perhaps the first of many civil
cial factor is the vague or specific fear that
disturbancesto occur in America as a conse-
ground gained over a long period of time will
quence, in part, of the Industrial Revolution.
be quickly lost. This fear does not generate
It followed by three years an outbreak in
if there is continued opportunity to satisfy
England that had similar roots and a similar
continually emerging needs; it generates
program-the Chartist agitation. A machine-
when the existing government suppresses or
operated textile industry was first established
is blamed for suppressingsuch opportunity.
in Rhode Island in 1790 and grew rapidly as
Three rebellions or revolutions are given
a consequence of domestic and international
considerable attention in the sections that
demand, notably during the Napoleonic
follow: Dorr's Rebellion of 1842, the Russian
Wars. Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807, the
Revolution of 1917, and the Egyptian Revo-
War of 1812, and a high tariff in 1816 fur-
lution of 1952. Brief mention is then made
ther stimulated Americanindustry.
of several other major civil disturbances, all
Rapid industrial growth meant the move-
of which appear to fit the J-curve pattern.'1
ment of people from farms to cities. In Mas-
After considering these specific disturbances,
sachusetts the practice developed of hiring
some general theoretical and research prob-
mainly the wives and daughters of farmers,
lems are discussed.
whose income was thereby supplementedbut
No claim is made that all rebellions follow
not displaced by wages. In Rhode Island
the pattern, but just that the ones here pre-
whole families moved to the cities and be-
sented do. All of these are "progressive" came committed to the factory system. When
revolutions in behalf of greater equality and times were good, industrialized families
liberty. The question is open whether the earned two or three times what they got from
pattern occursin such markedly retrogressive the soil; when the mills were idle, there was
revolutions as Nazism in Germany or the not enough money for bread.13From 1807 to
1861 Southernrebellionin the United States. 1815 textiles enjoyed great prosperity; from
It will surely be necessary to examine other 1834 to 1842 they suffered depression, most
progressive revolutions before one can judge severely from 1835 to 1840. Prosperity raised
expectations and depression frustrated them,
11 This curve is of course not to be confused with
its prior and altogether different use by Floyd 12 I am indebted to Beryl' L. Crowe for his
Allport in his study of social conformity. See F. H. extensive research on Dorr's Rebellion while he was
Allport, "The J-Curve Hypothesis of Conforming a participant in my political behavior seminar at
Behavior,"Journal of Social Psychology, 5 (May, the University of California, Berkeley, Spring 1960.
1934), pp. 141-183, reprinted in T. H. Newcomb 13 Joseph Brennan, Social Conditions in Industrial
& E. L. Hartley, Readings in Social Psychology, Rhode Island: 1820-1860; Washington, D. C.:
N. Y.: Henry Holt & Co., 1947, pp. 55-67. Catholic University of America, 1940, p. 33.
A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 9
particularly when accompanied by stubborn new constitution was "of no binding force
resistance to suffrage demands that first whatever" and any act "to carry it into
stirred in 1790 and recurred in a wave-like effect by force will be treason against the
pattern in 1811 and then in 1818 and 1820 state." The legislature passed what became
following suffrage extension in Connecticut known as the Algerian law, making it an
and Massachusetts. The final crest was offense punishable by a year in jail to vote
reached in 1841, when suffrage associations in the April election, and by life imprison-
met and called for a constitutional conven- ment to hold office under the People's Con-
tion.14 stitution.
Against the will of the government, the The rebels went stoutly ahead with the
suffragists held an election in which all adult election, and on May 3, 1842 inauguratedthe
males were eligible to vote, held a constitu- new government. The next day the People's
tional convention composed of delegates so legislature met and respectfully requestedthe
elected and in December 1841 submitted the sheriff to take possession of state buildings,
People's Constitution to the same electorate, which he failed to do. Violence broke out
which approvedit and the call for an election on the 17th of May in an attempt to take

People's Constitution; legislature calls it treason


z
2 Severe economic slump 1835-40

U- in
~~~~Prosperity l3~O7
?> ~~~~~~textiles=4

en~ First mechanized Increasing agitation cY


m;Ills
tetl f or suf f rage* 1
w

1785 1790 1800 1810 1820 1830 1840


FIGURE 2

of state officers the following April, to form over a state arsenal with two British cannon
a new government under this unconstitu- left over from the Revolutionary War. When
tional constitutions the cannon misfired,the People's government
These actions joined the conflict with the resigned. Sporadicviolence continued for an-
establishedgovernment.When asked-by the other month, resulting in the arrest of over
dissidents-the state supreme court rendered 500 men, mostly textile workers, mechanics,
its private judgment in March 1842 that the and laborers. The official legislature called
for a new constitutional convention, chosen
14 The persistent demand for suffrage may be by universal manhood suffrage, and a new
understood in light of election data for 1828 and constitution went into effect in January,
1840. In the former year, only 3600 votes were
cast in Rhode Island, whose total population was
1843. Altogether only one person was killed
about 94,000. (Of these votes, 23 per cent were in this little revolution, which experienced
cast for Jackson and 77 per cent for Adams, in violence, failure, and then success within the
contrast to a total national division of 56 per cent space of nine months.
for Jackson and 44 per cent for Adams.) All votes It is impossible altogether to separate the
cast in the 1828 election amount to 4 per cent of
the total Rhode Island population and 11 per cent experience of rising expectations among peo-
of the total U. S. population excluding slaves. In ple in Rhode Island from that among Amer-
1840, with a total population of 109,000 only 8300 icans generally. They all shared historically
votes-8 per cent-were cast in Rhode Island, in the struggle against a stubborn but ulti-
contrast to 17 per cent of the national population
excluding slaves.
mately rewarding frontier where their self-
15 A. M. Mowry, The Dorr War, Providence, confidence gained strength not only in the
R. I.: Preston & Rounds Co., 1901, p. 114. daily process of tilling the soil and harvesting
10 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW
the crops but also by improving their skill Russian intellectual life during the reign of
at self-government.Winning their war of in- Catherine the Great a hundred years before
dependence, Americans continued to press the revolution were necessary, lineal ante-
for more goods and more democracy. The cedents of the 1917 revolution.
pursuit of economic expectations was greatly Without denying that there was an ac-
facilitated by the growth of domestic and cumulation of forces over at least a 200-year
foreign trade and the gradual establishment period,'6 we may nonetheless date the final
of industry. Equalitarian expectations in upsurge as beginning with the 1861 emanci-
politics were satisfied and without severe pation of serfs and reaching a crest in the
struggle-in most Northern states-by suf- 1905 revolution.
frage reforms. The chronic and growing unrest of serfs
In Rhode Island, these rising expectations before their emancipation in 1861 is an
-more goods, more equality, more self-rule ironic commentary on the Marxian notion
-were countered by a series of containing that human beings are what social institu-
forces which built up such a head of steam tions make them. Although serfdom had
that the boiler cracked a little in 1842. The been shaping their personality since 1647,
textile depression hit hard in 1835 and its peasants became increasingly restive in the
consequences were aggravated by the Panic second quarter of the nineteenth century.'7
of 1837. In addition to the frustration of The continued discontent of peasants after
seeing their peers get the right to vote in emancipation is an equally ironic commen-
other states, poor people in Rhode Island tary on the belief that relieving one profound
were now beset by industrial dislocation in frustration produces enduring contentment.
which the machines that brought them pros- Peasants rather quickly got over their joy at
being untied from the soil after two hundred
perity they had never before enjoyed now
years. Instead of declining, rural violence
were bringing economic disaster. The ma-
increased.'8 Having gained freedom but not
chines could not be converted to produce
much free land, peasants now had to rent or
food and in Rhode Island the machine
buy land to survive: virtual personal slavery
tenders could not go back to the farm.
was exchanged for financial servitude. Land
When they had recovered from the pre- pressure grew, reflectedin a doubling of land
occupation with staying alive, they turned prices between 1868 and 1897.
in earnest to their demands for constitutional It is hard thus to tell whether the economic
reform. But these were met first with in- plight of peasants was much lessened after
difference and then by a growing intransi- emancipation. A 1903 government study in-
gence on the part of the government repre- dicated that even with a normal harvest,
senting the propertied class. Hostile action average food intake per peasant was 30 per
by the state supreme court and then the cent below the minimum for health. The
legislature with its Algerian law proved just only sure contrary item of evidence is that
enough to break briefly the constitutional the peasant population grew, indicating at
structure which in stable societies has the least increased ability of the land to support
measure of power and resilience necessary to life, as the following table shows.
absorb social tension.
16 There is an excellentsummaryin B. Brutzkus,
THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION OF 1917 "The Historical Peculiarities of the Social and
Economic Development of Russia," in R. Bendix
In Russia's tangled history it is hard to and S. M. Lipset, Class,Status, and Power, Glencoe,
decide when began the final upsurge of ex- Ill.: The Free Press, 1953, pp. 517-540.
17 Jacqueriesrose from an average of 8 per year
pectations that, when frustrated, produced in 1826-30 to 34 per year in 1845-49. T. G.
the cataclysmic events of 1917. One can Masaryk,The Spirit of Russia, London: Allen and
truly say that the real beginning was the Unwin, Ltd., 1919, Vol. 1, p. 130. This long,
slow modernization process begun by Peter careful, and rather neglected analysis was first
publishedin German in 1913 under the title Zur
the Great over two hundred years before the RussischenGeschichts-und Religionsphilosophie.
revolution. And surely the rationalist cur- 18Jacqueriesaveraged350 per year for the first
rents from France that slowly penetrated three years after emancipation.Ibid., pp. 140-141.
A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 11
TABLE 1. POPULATION OF EUROPEAN RUSSIA ceded the 1917 revolution. The administra-
(1480-1895) tion of justice before the emancipation had
Average Annual
largely been carried out by noblemen and
Population Increase Rate of landowners who embodied the law for their
in Millions in Millions Increase* peasants. In 1864 justice was in principle no
1480 2.1
longer delegated to such private individuals.
1580 4.3 2.2 1.05% Trials became public, the jury system was in-
1680 12.6 8.3 1.93% troduced, and judges got tenure. Corporal
1780 26.8 14.2 1.13% punishment was alleviated by the elimination
1880 84.5 57.7 2.15% of running the gauntlet, lashing, and brand-
1895 110.0 25.5 2.02%
ing; caning persisted until 1904. Public joy
* Computed as follows: dividing the increase by at these reforms was widespread. For the in-
the number of years and then dividing this hypo-
telligentsia, there was increased opportunity
thetical annual increase by the population at the
end of the preceding 100-year period. to think and write and to criticize established
Source for gross population data: Entsiklo- institutions, even sacrosanctabsolutism itself.
pedicheskii Slovar, St. Petersburg, 1897, vol. 40, But Tsarist autocracy had not quite aban-
p. 631. Russia's population was about 97%o rural doned the scene. Having inclined but not
in 1784, 91% in 1878, and 87% in 1897. See
Masaryk, op. cit., p. 162n. bowed, in granting the inevitable emancipa-
tion as an act not of justice but grace, it
The land-population pressure pushed sought to maintain its absolutist principle by
people into towns and cities, where the rapid conceding reformwithout accepting anything
growth of industry truly afforded the chance like democratic authority. Radical political
for economic betterment. One estimate of and economic criticism surged higher. Some
net annual income for a peasant family of strong efforts to raise the somewhat lowered
five in the rich blackearth area in the late floodgates began as early as 1866, after an
nineteenth century was 82 rubles. In con- unsuccessful attempt was made on the life
trast, a "good" wage for a male factory of AlexanderII, in whose name serfs had just
workerwas about 168 rubles per year. It was gained emancipation.When the attempt suc-
this difference in the degree of poverty ceeded fifteen years later, there was increas-
that producedalmost a doubling of the urban ing state action under Alexander III to limit
population between 1878 and 1897. The constantly rising expectations. By suppres-
number of industrial workers increased al- sion and concession, the last Alexander suc-
most as rapidly. The city and the factory ceeded in dying naturally in 1894.
gave new hope. Strikes in the 1880s were When it became apparent that Nicholas
met with brutal suppression but also with II shared his father's ideas but not his force-
the beginning of factory legislation, includ- fulness, opposition of the intelligentsia to ab-
ing the requirementthat wages be paid reg- solutism joined with the demands of peasants
ularly and the abolition of child labor. The and workers,who remainedloyal to the Tsar
burgeoning proletariat remained compara- but demanded economic reforms. Starting in
tively contented until the eve of the 1905 1904, there developed a "League of De-
revolutions liverance" that coordinatedefforts of at least
There is additional, non-economicevidence seventeen other revolutionary, proletarian,
to support the view that 1861 to 1905 was or nationalist groups within the empire. Con-
the period of rising expectations that pre- sensus on the need for drastic reform, both
political and economic, established a many-
19 The proportion of workers who struck from ringed circus of groups sharing the same tent.
1895 through 1902 varied between 1.7 per cent These groups were geographically distrib-
and 4.0 per cent per year. In 1903 the proportion
rose to 5.1 per cent but dropped a year later to 1.5
uted from Finland to Armenia and ideologi-
per cent. In 1905 the proportion rose to 163.8 per cally from liberal constitutionalists to revolu-
cent, indicating that the total working force struck, tionaries made prudent by the contrast be-
on the average, closer to twice than to once during tween their own small forces and the power
that portentous year. In 1906 the proportion of Tsardom.
dropped to 65.8 per cent; in 1907 to 41.9 per cent;
and by 1909 was down to a "normal" 3.5 per cent. Events of 1904-5 mark the general down-
[bid., p. 175n. ward turning point of expectations, which
12 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW
people increasingly saw as frustrated by the sorship and confiscation of prohibited pub-
continuation of Tsardom. Two major and re- lications. Trial of offenders against the
lated occurrencesmade 1905 the point of no Tsar was now conducted by courts martial.
return. The first took place on the Bloody Whereas there had been only 26 executions
Sunday of January 22, 1905, when peaceful of the death sentence, in the 13 years of
proletarian petitioners marched on the St. Alexander II's firm rule (1881-94), there
Petersburg palace and were killed by the were 4,449 in the years 1905-10, in six years
hundreds. The myth that the Tsar was the of Nicholas II's soft regimen.20
gracious protector of his subjects, however But this "white terror," which caused de-
surrounded he might be by malicious ad- spair among the workers and intelligentsia
visers, was quite shattered. The reaction in the cities, was not the only face of misery.
was immediate, bitter, and prolonged and For the peasants, there was a bad harvest
was not at all confined to the working class. in 1906 followed by continued crop failures
Employers, merchants, and white-collar of- in several areas in 1907. To forestall ac-
ficials joined in the burgeoning of strikes tion by the dumas, Stolypin decreed a series
which brought the economy to a virtual of agrarian reforms designed to break up the
standstill in October. Some employers even power of the rural communes by individual-
continued to pay wages to strikers. Univer- izing land ownership. Between these acts of
sity students and faculties joined the revo- God and government, peasants were so pre-
lution. After the great October strike, the occupied with hunger or self-aggrandizement
peasants ominously sided with the workers as to be dulled in their sensitivity to the
and engaged in riots and assaults on land- revolutionary appeals of radical organizers.
owners.Until peasants became involved, even After more than five years of degrading
some landowners had sided with the revolu- terror and misery, in 1910 the country ap-
tion. peared to have reached a condition of ex-
The other major occurrence was the dis- haustion. Political strikes had fallen off to
astrous defeat of the Russian army and navy a new low. As the economy recovered, the
in the 1904-5 war with Japan. Fundamentally insouciance of hopelessness set in. Amongst
an imperialist venture aspiring to hegemony the intelligentsia the mood was hedonism, or
over the people of Asia, the war was not re- despair that often ended in suicide. Indus-
garded as a people's but as a Tsar's war, to trialists aligned themselves with the govern-
save and spread absolutism. The military de- ment. Workersworked. But an upturn of ex-
feat itself probably had less portent than pectations, inadequately quashed by the
the return of shattered soldiers from a fight police, was evidenced by a recrudescenceof
that was not for them. Hundreds of thou- political strikes which, in the first half of
sands, wounded or not, returned from the 1914-on the eve of war-approached the
war as a visible, vocal, and ugly reminder peak of 1905. They sharply diminished dur-
to the entire populace of the weakness and ing 1915 but grew again in 1916 and became
selfishness of Tsarist absolutism. a general strike in February 1917.21
The years from 1905 to 1917 formed an Figure 3 indicates the lesser waves in the
almost relentless procession of increasing tidal wave whose first trough is at the end
misery and despair. Promising at last a con- of serfdom in 1861 and whose second is at
stitutional government,the Tsar, in October, the end of Tsardom in 1917. This fifty-six
1905, issued from on high a proclamation year period appears to constitute a single long
renouncing absolutism, granting law-making phase in which popular gratification at the
power to a duma, and guaranteeing freedom
20Ibid., p. 189n.
of speech, assembly, and association. The 21In his History of the Russian Revolution,
first two dumas, of 1906 and 1907, were Leon Trotsky presents data on political strikes
dissolved for recalcitrance. The third was from 1903 to 1917. In his Spirit of Russia, Masaryk
made pliant by reduced representation of presents comparable data from 1905 through 1912.
workersand peasants and by the prosecution The figures are not identical but the reported yearly
trends are consistent. Masaryk's figures are some-
and conviction of protestants in the first two. what lower, except for 1912. Cf. Trotsky, op. cit.,
The brief period of a free press was suc- Doubleday Anchor Books ed., 1959, p. 32 and
ceeded in 1907 by a reinstatement of cen- Masaryk, op.. cit. supra, p. 197n.
A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 13
termination of one institution (serfdom) and ended in death to the Tsar and Tsardom
rather quickly was replaced with rising ex- -but not to absolutism-when the Bolshe-
pectations which resulted from intensified in- viks gained ascendancy over the moderates
dustrializationand which were incompatible in October. A centuries-longhistory of abso-
with the continuation of the inequitable and lutism appears to have made this post-Tsarist
capriciouspower structure of Tsarist society. phase of it tragically inevitable.
The small trough of frustration during the
repression that followed the assassination of THE EGYPTIAN REVOLUTION OF 195 2
AlexanderII seems to have only briefly inter-
rupted the rise in popular demand for more The final slow upsurge of expectations in
goods and more power. The trough in 1904 Egypt that culminated in the revolution be-
indicates the consequencesof war with Japan. gan when that society became a nation in
The 1905-6 trough reflects the repression of 1922, with the British grant of limited inde-

War starts with Japan, 1904


Period of severe
repression
z Wor starts with
O / \ \
Germany, 1914
o ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Period
of
U. Assassination of economic
U)
rcvr~
_... Alexander IA, 1881 Period of civilian
U)
X /and military distress
o Emancipation of I
W serfs, 1861 First Marxist party founded in
z exile but in secret contact with o l r
Russia, 1883 eln.

1860 1870 1880 1890 1900 1910 1920


FIGuRE 3

January 22, and after, and is followed by pendence. British troops remained in Egypt
economicrecovery. The final downturn,after to protect not only the Suez Canal but also,
the first year of war, was a consequence of ostensibly, to prevent foreign aggression.The
the dislocations of the German attack on all presence of foreign troops served only to
kinds of concerted activities other than pro- heighten nationalist expectations, which were
duction for the prosecution of the war. Pa- excited by the Wafd, the political organiza-
triotism and governmental repression for a tion that formed public opinion on national
time smothereddiscontent. The inflation that rather than religious grounds and helped es-
developed in 1916 when goods, including tablish a fairly unified community-in strik-
food, became severely scarce began to make ing contrast to late-nineteenth century Rus-
workers self-consciously discontented. The sia.
conduct of the war, including the growing But nationalist aspirations were not the
brutality against reluctant, ill-provisioned only rising expectations in Egypt of the
troops, and the enormous loss of life, pro- 1920s and 1930s. World War I had spurred
duced the same bitter frustration in the industrialization,which opened opportunities
army.22When civilian discontent reached the for peasants to improve, somewhat, their way
breakingpoint in February, 1917, it did not of life by working for wages in the cities and
take long for it to spread rapidly into the also opened great opportunities for entrepre-
armed forces. Thus began the second phase neurs to get rich. The moderately wealthy
of the revolution that really started in 1905 got immoderately so in commodity market
speculation, finance, and manufacture, and
22 See Trotsky, op. cit., pp. 18-21 for a vivid the uprooted peasants who were now em-
picture of risingdiscontentin the army. ployed, or at any rate living, in cities were
14 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW
relieved of at least the notion that poverty home. Egyptian agitators began quoting the
and boredom must be the will of Allah. But Koran in favor of a just, equalitariansociety
the incongruity of a money-based modern and against great differences in individual
semi-feudality that was like a chariot with a wealth. There was an ominous series of
gasoline engine evidently escaped the atten- strikes, mostly in the textile mills, from
tion of ordinary people. The generation of 1946-8.
the 1930s could see more rapid progress, At least two factors stand out in the post-
even for themselves, than their parents had ponement of revolution. The first was the in-
even envisioned. If conditions remainedpoor, satiable postwar world demand for cotton
they could always be blamed on the British, and textiles and the second was the surge of
whose economic and military power remained solidarity with king and country that fol-
visible and strong. lowed the 1948 invasion of the new state of
Economic progress continued, though un- Israel. Israel now supplemented England as
evenly, during World War II. Conventional an object of deflected frustration. The dis-
exports, mostly cotton, actually declined, not astrous defeat a year later, by a new nation
even reaching depression levels until 1945, with but a fifteenth of Egypt's population,
but direct employment by Allied military was the beginning of the end. This little war
forces reached a peak of over 200,000 during had struck the peasant at his hearth, when a
the most intense part of the African war. shortage of wheat and of oil for stoves pro-
Exports after the war rose steadily until vided a daily reminder of a weak and cor-
1948, dipped, and then rose sharply to a rupt government.The defeat frustrated pop-
peak in 1951 as a consequenceof the Korean ular hopes for national glory and-with even
war. But in 1945 over 250,000 wage earn- more portent-humiliated the army and so-
ers 23 -probably over a third of the working lidified it against the bureaucracy and the
force-became jobless. The cost of living by palace which had profiteered at the expense
1945 had risen to three times the index of of national honor. In 1950 began for the
first time a direct and open propaganda at-
1937.24 Manual laborers were hit by unem-
tack against the king himself. A series of
ployment; white collar workers and profes-
peasant uprisings, even on the lands of the
sionals probably more by inflation than un- king, took place in 1951 along with some 49
employment. Meanwhile the number of mil- strikes in the cities. The skyrocketing de-
lionaires in pounds sterling had increased mand for cotton after the start of the Korean
eight times during the war.25 War in June, 1950 was followed by a collapse
Frustrations, exacerbated during the war in March, 1952. The uncontrollable or un-
by German and thereafter by Soviet propa- controlled riots in Cairo, on January 26,
ganda, were at first deflected against the 1952, marked the fiery start of the revolu-
British 26 but gradually shifted closer to tion. The officers'coup in the early morning
of July 23 only made it official.
23 C. Issawi, Egypt at Mid-Century: An Eco-
nomic Survey, London: Oxford University Press, OTHER CIVIL DISTURBANCES
-1954, p. 262. J. & S. Lacouture in their Egypt in
Transition, New York: Criterion Books, 1958, p. The J-curve of rising expectations followed
100, give a figure of over 300,000. Sir R. Bullard, by their effective frustration is applicable to
editor, The Middle East: A Political and Economic other revolutions and rebellions than just the
Survey, London: Oxford University Press, 1958, three already considered. Leisler's Rebellion
p. 221 estimates total employment in industry,
transport, and commerce in 1957 to have been in the royal colony of New York in 1689 was
about 750,000. a brief dress-rehearsalfor the AmericanRev-
24 International Monetary Fund, International olution eighty-six years later. In an effort
Financial Statistics, Washington, D. C. See monthly to make the colony serve the crown better,
issues of this report, 1950-53.
25 J. and S. Lacouture,op. cit., p. 99.
duties had been raised and -werebeing vigor-
26 England threatened to depose Farouk in Feb- ously collected. The tanning of hides in the
ruary 1942, by force if necessary, if Egypt did not
support the Allies. Capitulation by the government Axis in 1945, the prime minister was assassinated.
and the Wafd caused widespread popular dis- See J. & S. Lacouture, op. cit., pp. 97-98 and
affection. When Egypt finally declared war on the Issawi, op. cit., p. 268.
A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 15
colony was forbidden, as was the distillation land in 1772 28 may have hastened the matu-
of liquor. An embargo was placed on un- ration of colonial rebelliousness.
milled grain, which hurt the farmers. After a The curve also fits the French Revolution,
long period of economic growth and sub- which again merits more mention than space
stantial political autonomy, these new and here permits. Growing rural prosperity,
burdensome regulations produced a popular marked by steadily rising land values in the
rebellion that for a year displaced British eighteenth century, had progressed to the
sovereignty.27 point where a third of Frenchland was owned
The American Revolution itself fits the by peasant-proprietors.There were the begin-
J-curve and deserves more than the brief nings of large-scale manufacture in the fac-
mention here given. Again prolonged eco- tory system. Constant pressure by the bour-
nomic growth and political autonomy pro- geoisie against the state for reforms was met

z
0

o I War with Israel,


-9
/4~~~~~~~~~~~1948
U..
XI) Postwar unrest
Koreanwar
< Farouk takes throne and \ prosperity,1950-1
a British troops withdraw
W to Suez, 1936 War prosperity
z Egyptian indepen-
dence, 1922

1920 1930 1940 1950


IGU RE 4

duced continually rising expectations. They with considerable hospitality by a govern-


became acutely frustrated when, following ment already shifting from its old landed-
the French and Indian War (which had cost aristocratic and clerical base to the growing
England so much and the colonies so little), middle class. Counter to these trends, which
England began a series of largely economic would per se avoid revolution,was the feudal
regulationshaving the same purpose as those reaction of the mid-eighteenth century, in
directed against New York in the preceding which the dying nobility sought in numerous
century. From the 1763 Proclamation (clos- nagging ways to retain and reactivate its per-
ing to settlement land west of the Appala- quisites against a resentful peasantry and im-
chians) to the Coercive Acts of April, 1774 portunate bourgeoisie.
(which among other things, in response to But expectations apparently continued
the December, 1773 Boston Tea Party, rising until the growing opportunities and
closed tight the port of Boston), Americans prosperity rather abruptly halted, about
were beset with unaccustomed manifesta- 1787. The fiscal crisis of the government is
tions of British power and began to resist well known, much of it a consequence of a
forcibly in 1775, on the Lexington-Concord 1.5 billion livre deficit following interven-
road. A significantdecline in trade with Eng-
28 See U. S. Bureau of the Census, Historical
27See J. R. Reich, Leisler'sRebellion, Chicago: Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to
Universityof ChicagoPress, 1953. 1957, Washington,D. C., 1960, p. 757.
16 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW
tion against Britain in the American war of ing $5 per month at a time when $15 was
independence.The threat to tax the nobility considered a bare minimum wage.31
severely-after its virtual tax immunity- One negative case-of a revolution that did
and the bourgeoisie more severely may in- not occur-is the depression of the 1930s in
deed be said to have precipitated the revolu- the United States. It was severe enough, at
tion. But less well-known is the fact that least on economic grounds, to have produced
1787 was a bad harvest year and 1788 even a revolution. Total national private produc-
worse; that by July, 1789 bread prices were tion income in 1932 reverted to what it had
higher than they had been in over 70 years; been in 1916. Farm income in the same year
that an ill-timed trade treaty with England was as low as in 1900; manufacturingas low
depressed the prices of French textiles; that as in 1913. Constructionhad not been as low
a concurrent bumper grape crop depressed since 1908. Mining and quarrying was back
wine prices-all with the result of making at the 1909 level.82 For much of the popu-
desperate the plight of the large segment of lation, two decades of economic progress had
the population now dependent on other pro- been wiped out. There were more than spo-
ducers for food. They had little money to radic demonstrationsof unemployed, hunger
buy even less bread. Nobles and bourgeoisie marchers, and veterans. In New York City,
were alienated from the government by the at least 29 people died of starvation. Poor
threat of taxation; workers and some peas- people could vividly contrast their own past
ants by the threat of starvation. A long condition with the present-and their own
period of halting but real progress for vir- present condition with that of those who
tually all segments of the populationwas now were not seriously suffering. There were
abruptly ended in consequenceof the govern- clearly audible rumbles of revolt. Why, then,
ment's efforts to meet its deficit and of eco- no revolution?
nomic crisis resulting from poor crops and Several forces worked strongly against it.
poor tariff policy.29 Among the most depressed, the mood was
The draft riots that turned the city of one of apathy and despair,like that observed
New York upside down for five days in in Austria by Zawadzki and Lazarsfeld. It
July, 1863 also follow the J-curve. This was not until the 1936 election that there
severe local disturbance began when con- was an increasedturnout in the national elec-
scription threatened the lives and fortunes tion. The great majority of the public shared
of workingmenwhose enjoyment of wartime a set of values which since 1776 had been
prosperity was now frustrated not only by official dogma-not the dissident program of
military service (which could be avoided by an alienated intelligentsia. People by and
paying $300 or furnishing a substitute- large were in agreement,whether or not they
neither means being available to poor had succeeded economically, in a belief in
people) but also by inflation.30 individual hard work, self-reliance, and the
promise of success. (Among workers, this
Even the riots in Nyasaland, in February
non-class orientation had greatly impeded
and March, 1959, appear to follow the pat-
the establishment of trade unions, for ex-
tern of a period of frustration after expecta-
ample.) Those least hit by the depression-
tions and satisfactions have risen. Nyasaland the upper-middle class businessmen, clergy-
workers who had enjoyed the high wages men, lawyers, and intellectuals-remained
they were paid during the construction of rather solidly committed not only to equali-
the Kariba dam in Rhodesia returnedto their tarian values and to the established economic
homes and to unemployment,or to jobs pay- system but also to constitutional processes.
There was no such widespread or profound
29 See G. Lefebvre, The Coming of the French alienation as that which had cracked the
Revolution, Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1947, pp. 101-109, 145-148, 196. G. Le Bon, The 81 E. S. Munger, "The Tragedy of Nyasaland,"
Psychology of Revolution, New York: G. Putnam's American Universities Field Staff Reports Service,
Sons, 1913, p. 143. vol. 7, no. 4 (August 1, 1959), p. 9.
30 The account by Irving Werstein, July 1863, 32 See U. S. Bureau of the Census, Historical
New York: Julian Messner, Inc., 1957, is journal- Statistics of the United States: 1789-1945, Wash-
istic but to my knowledge the fullest yet available. ington, D. C.: 1949, p. 14.
A THEORY OF REVOLUTION 17
loyalty of the nobility, clergy, bourgeoisie, probability of a revolution occurring in a
armed forces, and intelligentsia in Russia. society where there is the continued, unim-
And the national political leadership that peded opportunity to satisfy new needs, new
emergedhad constitutionalismalmost bred in hopes, new expectations. Would Dorr's re-
its bones. The major threat to constitutional-bellion have become such if the established
ism came in Louisiana; this leadership was electorate and government had readily ac-
unable to capture a national party organiza- ceded to the suffragedemands of the unprop-
tion, in part because Huey Long's arbitrari- ertied? Would the Russian Revolution have
ness and demagogy were mistrusted. taken place if the Tsarist autocracy had,
The major reason that revolution did not quite out of character, truly granted the
nonetheless develop probably remains the popular demands for constitutional democ-
vigor with which the national government racy in 1905? Would the Cairo riots of Jan-
attacked the depressionin 1933, when it be- uary, 1952 and the subsequent coup actually
came no longer possible to blame the gov- have occurred if Britain had departed from
ernment. The ambivalent popular hostility Egypt and if the Egyptian monarchy had
to the business community was contained by established an equitable tax system and in
both the action of government against the other ways alleviated the poverty of urban
depression and the government's practice of masses and the shame of the military?
publicly and successfully eliciting the co- The other half of the sense of the notion
operation of businessmen during the crucial has to do with the improbability of revolu-
months of 1933. A failure then of cooperation tion taking place where there has been no
could have intensified rather than lessened hope, no period in which expectations have
popular hostility to business. There was no risen. Such a stability of expectations pre-
longer an economic or a political class that supposes a static state of human aspirations
could be the object of widespread intense that sometimes exists but is rare. Stability
hatred because of its indifferenceor hostilityof expectations is not a stable social con-
to the downtrodden.Had Roosevelt adopted dition. Such was the case of American In-
a demagogic stance in the 1932 campaign dians (at least from our perspective) and
and gained the loyalty to himself personally perhaps Africans before white men with
of the Army and the F.B.I., there might have Bibles, guns, and other goods interrupted
been a Nazi-type "revolution," with a pot- the stability of African society. Egypt was
pourri of equalitarian reform, nationalism, in such a condition, vis-a-vis modern aspira-
imperialism, and domestic scapegoats. Be- tions, before Europe became interested in
cause of a conservatism in America stem- building a canal. Such stasis was the case in
ming from strong and long attachment to Nazi concentration camps, where conform-
a value system shared by all classes, an anti-ism reached the point of inmates cooperating
capitalist, leftist revolution in the 1930s iswith guards even when the inmates were
very difficult to imagine. told to lie down so that they could be shot.33
But in the latter case there was a society
SOME CONCLUSIONS with externally induced complete despair,
and even in these camps there were occasional
The notion that revolutions need both a rebellions of sheer desperation.It is of course
period of rising expectations and a succeed- true that in a society less regimented than
ing period in which they are frustrated qual- concentration camps, the rise of expecta-
ifies substantially the main Marxian notion tions can be frustrated successfully, thereby
that revolutions occur after progressive deg- defeating rebellion just as the satisfaction
radation and the de Tocqueville notion that of expectations does. This, however, requires
they occur when conditions are improving. the uninhibited exercise of brute force as it
By putting de Tocqueville before Marx but was used in suppressing the Hungarian re-
without abandoning either theory, we are bellion of 1956. Failing the continued ability
better able to plot the antecedents of at
least the disturbances here described. 33 Eugen Kogon, The Theory and Practice of
Half of the general, if not common, sense Hel, New York: Farrar, Straus & Co., 1950, pp.
of this revised notion lies in the utter im- 284-286.
18 AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICALREVIEW
and persistent will of a ruling power to use of a people. It was surely the sense for the
such force, there appears to be no sure way relevance of such data that led Thomas Ma-
to avoid revolution short of an effective, saryk before the first World War to gather
affirmative,and continuous response on the facts about peasant uprisings and industrial
part of establishedgovernmentsto the almost strikes and about the writings and actions of
continuouslyemergingneeds of the governed. the intelligentsia in nineteenth-century Rus-
To be predictive, my notion requires the sia. In the present report, I have used not
assessmentof the state of mind-or more pre- only such data-in the collection of which
cisely, the mood-of a people. This is always other social scientists have been less assidu-
difficult, even by techniques of systematic ous than Masaryk-but also such indexes as
public opinion analysis. Respondents inter- comparative size of vote as between Rhode
viewed in a country with a repressivegovern- Island and the United States, employment,
ment are not likely to be responsive. But exports, and cost of living. Some such in-
there has been considerable progress in dexes, like strikes and cost of living, may be
gathering first-hand data about the state of rather closely related to the mood of a
mind of peoples in politically unstable cir- people; others, like value of exports, are
cumstances. One instance of this involved much cruder indications. Lest we shy away
interviewing in West Berlin, during and from the gathering of crude data, we should
after the 1948 blockade, as reported by bear in mind that Durkheim developed his
Buchanan and Cantril. They were able to remarkable insights into modern society in
ascertain, however crudely, the sense of large part by his analysis of suicide rates.
security that people in Berlin felt. There was He was unable to rely on the interviewing
a significant increase in security after the technique. We need not always ask people
blockade.34 whether they are grievously frustrated by
Another instance comes out of the Middle their government; their actions can tell us
Eastern study conducted by the Columbia as well and sometimes better.
University Bureau of Applied Social Re- In his Anatomy of Revolution, Crane Brin-
search and reported by Lerner.35By directly ton describes "some tentative uniformities"
asking respondentswhether they were happy that he discovered in the Puritan, American,
or unhappy with the way things had turned French, and Russian revolutions.87The uni-
out in their life, the interviewers turned up formities were: an economically advancing
data indicating marked differencesin the fre- society, class antagonism, desertion of intel-
quency of a sense of unhappiness between lectuals, inefficientgovernment,a ruling class
countriesand between "traditional,""transi- that has lost self-confidence,financial failure
tional," and "modern" individuals in these of government, and the inept use of force
countries.36There is no technical reason why against rebels. All but the last two of these
such comparisonscould not be made chron- are long-range phenomena that lend them-
ologically as well as they have been geo- selves to studies over extended time periods.
graphically. The first two lend themselves to statistical
Other than interview data are available analysis. If they serve the purpose, tech-
with which we can, from past experience, niques of content analysis could be used to
make reasonable inferences about the mood ascertain trends in alienation of intellectuals.
Less rigorous methods would perhaps serve
84 W. Buchanan, "Mass Communication in better to ascertain the effectiveness of gov-
Reverse," InternationalSocial Science Bulletin, 5
(1953), pp. 577-583, at p. 578. The full study is W.
ernment and the self-confidence of rulers.
Buchananand H. Cantril,How Nations See Each Because tensions and frustrationsare present
Other, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1953, at all times in every society, what is most
esp. pp. 85-90. seriously needed are data that cover an ex-
83 Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional
Society, Glencoe,Ill.: Free Press, 1958. tended time period in a particular society,
86 Ibid., pp. 101-103. See also F. P. Kilpatrick& so that one can say there is evidence that
H. Cantril,"Self-AnchoringScaling, A Measure of
Individuals' Unique Reality Words," Journal of
Individual Psychology, 16 (November, 1960), pp. 37 See the revised edition oft 1952 as reprinted

158-173. by Vintage Booksj Inc., 1957, pp. 264-275.


MASS SOCIETYAND EXTREMIST POLITICS 19
tension is greater or less than it was N cial science inescapably are harder to solve.
years or months previously. We therefore are still not at the point of
We need also to know how long is a long being able to predict revolution, but the
cycle of rising expectations and how long is closer we can get to data indicating by in-
a brief cycle of frustration. We noted a brief ference the prevailing mood in a society, the
period of frustrationin Russia after the 1881 closer we will be to understandingthe change
assassination of Alexander II and a longer from gratification to frustration in people's
period after the 1904 beginning of the Russo- minds. That is the part of the anatomy, we
Japanese War. Why did not the revolution are forever being told with truth and futility,
occur at either of these times rather than in in which wars and revolutions always start.
1917? Had expectations before these two We should eventually be able to escape the
times not risen high enough? Had the subse- embarrassmentthat may have come to Lenin
quent decline not been sufficiently sharp and six weeks after he made the statement in
deep? Measuring techniques have not yet Switzerland, in January, 1917, that he
been devised to answer these questions. But doubted whether "we, the old [will] live to
their unavailability now does not forecast see the decisive battles of the coming revo-
their eternal inaccessibility. Physicists de- lution." 38
vised useful temperature scales long before
they came as close to absolute zero as they 38Quoted in E. H. Carr, A History of Soviet
have recently in laboratory conditions. The Russia, vol. 1, The Bolshevik Revolution: 1917-
far more complex problems of scaling in so- 23, London: Macmillan,1950, p. 69.

MASS SOCIETY AND EXTREMIST POLITICS


JOSEPH R. GUSFIELD
Universityof Illinois
Theoriesof mass politics attempt to explain the sources of political extremismby character-
istics of mass societies.Such theoriesare criticizedon the groundsthat they assumeadherence
to democraticnorms underpluralistconditionseven when such normsfrustrateintensely held
values. Mass politics theories ignore the cultural cohesion necessary to sustain democratic
politics. Conditions of mass societies also provide support to democratic political norms
through the consequencesof mass communications,equalitarianism,and bureaucratization
for national societies. Isolation from mass culture accentuates local sources of extremist
response.

A DOMINANT streamof thoughtin cur- democratic political movements. Mass poli-


rent political sociology explains many tics is the form of political action unique to
contemporary anti-democratic move- mass societies. As modern democratic socie-
ments as products of a distinctive social or- ties become mass societies, we may then an-
ganization-Mass Society. Writers who uti- ticipate that political crises are likely to
lize this approach have maintained that generate extremist, anti - democratic re-
modern, Western societies increasingly show sponses. Leading advocates of this theory
characteristics of mass organization which of "mass politics," in whole or part, are
sharply differ from the features of such so- Hannah Arendt, Erich Fromm, Karl Mann-
cieties in the nineteenth and earlier centuries. heim, William Kornhauser, Robert Nisbet,
Mass societies, in this view, demonstrate a and Philip Selznick.1 This paper is a critical
form of politics in which traditional socio-
logical concepts, such as class or culture, are ' The following relevant writings embody the
theory of mass politics: Hannah Arendt, The
not relevant to an understanding of the Origins of Totalitarianism,New York: Harcourt,
sources, genesis, or careers of extremist, anti- Brace and Co., 1954; Erich Fromm, Escape From

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