View Full Version : The Algebra of Revolution

08-17-2007, 01:49 PM
ISN Security Watch, 16 Aug 07: The Algebra of Revolution (http://www.isn.ethz.ch/news/sw/details.cfm?id=17994)

How many protesters in the streets does it take to bring an authoritarian government down? What is more conducive to a democratic revolution's success: the support of the majority or the decisive actions of a minority? Can an active but small group achieve change even if their support by the "passive" majority is very low? And - vice-versa - can a government stay in power even if a majority of the population is against it?

These questions are raised by the success of the celebrated - and feared - "color revolutions" in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine, and by the failure of the model to replicate itself in Belarus and Azerbaijan. Many different groups seek answers to them: observers, analysts and political scientists who wish to understand and draw lessons from these transnational political experiences; civil-society activists and organisations which attempt to provide resources of thinking and tools of change for people on the ground; and politicians, both those who seek to foment revolution and those who are eager to prevent and stifle it.

This article offers a model which - without aspiring to an exhaustive explanation - proposes a new way of evaluating the factors at work during a revolutionary situation, if not of forecasting its outcome; as well as introducing a different viewpoint and language in understanding the revolutionary process.....

08-18-2007, 03:23 AM
There are some recently developed tools that directly address this question. They are available on the A Force More Powerful website (http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org/), and focus on a careful analysis of several case studies dating back to WWII in which nonviolent action fomented successful revolutions (loosely used). These case studies are described in a documentary film and a book, and an epistemic computer game allows for some fairly sophisticated examination of how different strategies might work under different circumstances. There are no simple answers, but the material they present does provide the basis for more rigorous thinking about some of the factors in the Algebra of Revolution.