Interesting social sciences/Sociology of revolution

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Sociology of revolution.

English subtitles exist in this video. Kustodiev's painting "Bolshevik" is on the cover

Peaceful reforms and social revolutions

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Pitirim Aleksandrovich Sorokin

There are two methods of the development of social structure:

  • peaceful reform,
  • social revolution.

The peaceful reform (from the Latin of reformo ‐ I transform) is such method of the development of social structure, under which the innovations are carried out on top by the Government by peaceful way.

Social revolution (from the Latin of revolution ‐ coup, changing) is such method of changing of social structure, under which the innovations are carried out from below frequently, by the way of mass disorders or armed seizing of power, by the way of the temporary destruction of the system of social control.

The emergence of a Civil War and enormous quantity of victims are the possible consequences of revolution. All reformers and revolutionaries speak usually, that they are the supporters of progressive development or establishing of order, but the result of reform or revolution can be different. Such result can be progress or regress or absence of the development of social structure. It is possible to speak about failure of reform or revolution in the case of regress or absence of development. For example, the Bolshevik Coup 1917 had led to the regress of social structure in Russia in reality, to the cancellation of great social inventions (market competition, economic control, representative democracy), to the cancellation of capitalism and to the construction of Asian formation in Russia. Yeltsin's reforms had restored these great social inventions and Yeltsin’s reforms are progressive. Sociology of revolution had created by Pitirim Sorokin.

Sociology of revolution

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This branch of sociology was developed by Thomas Hobbes to a certain extent earlier. Thomas Hobbes lived and created in the period of English revolution. In the opinion of Thomas Hobbes, “"the war of all against all" ('Bellum omnium contra omnes", a Latin phrase) begins in the period of revolution and of Civil War, when all men threaten to each man, when each man has the right on all things by right of strongman. “A man is a wolf to another man” ("Homo homini lupus est", a Latin proverb). [1] Pitirim Sorokin had generalized the data about the new revolutions, unknowns for Thomas Hobbes – French revolution, Russian revolution, German revolution, and so on.

Is revolution good or bad?

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Bolshevik (1920), Boris Kustodiyev's picture
Lev Trotsky on the poster of White Guard "The world and freedom under soviet power". 1919
French revolutionaries wearing 'Phrygian caps and tricolor cockades.

The theory of revolution was developed in Marxism also, but this Marxist ‐ Leninist theory has got out of scientific fashion after unsuccessful Marxist experiment in Russia today. Marxist justification of revolution was a kind of scholasticism, that is the pseudoscientific theory. Karl Marx considered revolution as the result of contradiction between the dynamic development of productive forces and the old relations of production. Relations of production can be reduced to property relations. Relations of production begin to prevent to the development of productive forces and relations of production convert into the fetters for productive forces. [2]

Vladimir Lenin wrote about revolution in work “Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder":

"The fundamental law of revolution, which has been confirmed by all revolutions and especially by all three Russian revolutions in the twentieth century, is as follows: for a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realise the impossibility of living in the old way, and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the “lower classes” do not want to live in the old way and the “upper classes” cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph. This truth can be expressed in other words: revolution is impossible without a nation-wide crisis (affecting both the exploited and the exploiters)." [3]

Vladimir Lenin's theory about the reasons for revolution, about the revolutionary situation resembles theory of Pitirim Sorokin partly, but theories of Vladimir Lenin and Pitirim Sorokin differ each other in the estimation of the value of such phenomenon as revolution sharply. Vladimir Lenin considered that revolution is good; revolution is holiday for those oppressed class, which dream to revenge and to plunder rich men (oppressor class) with impunity. Revolution is only method for such revolutionaries as Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and Vladimir Lenin to receive the power without the elections, without asking of will of the people because the Communists lost on the honest elections always. Karl Marx named the revolutions as “the locomotives of history”. [4]

Pitirim Sorokin and Thomas Hobbes considered that revolution is very bad. Pitirim Sorokin considered that the revolution is the serious social illness, which can lead to death of social organism suddenly. Pitirim Sorokin considered that revolution is the worse method of an improvement of the life of masses. The revolutionaries promise to masses “gold mountains” in the words, masses receive hunger, the epidemics and the executions of innocent people in reality. The negligible results of revolution are reached by enormous price.

Pitirim Sorokin proposes other methods of improvement of the life of masses and reconstruction of the social organization:

• The peaceful reforms, which do not suppress main instincts of man.

• Scientific research must precede to practical experiment.

• Experiment should be conducted on a small social scale at first.

• Reforms must be conducted with help of lawful and constitutional means.

The conclusion: These canons are observed even when building bridges and raising livestock. The model is made before the building of bridge. The inhabitant of distant planet, who observed the cataclysms of Russian revolution, could conclude that the cows and bridges are valued more expensively on the Earth than human life. [5]

The reasons of revolution

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Moscow October, 1993. The burned facade of the House of Soviets

Pitirim Sorokin named two reasons for the revolution:

• the growth of repression of main instincts of the majority of population. [6]

• the disorganization of power and social control.[7]

Why does the suppression of main instincts lead to the revolution always? Because it forces man to look for exit from the desperate situation. The hunger weakens the brakes, which retain man from the theft, eating of low - quality food from the dustbin, robbery and murder. The law - abiding citizen becomes by thief and bandit because of the hunger, worker becomes by beggar, the believer man ceases to be fasted and aristocrat goes to the market to sell trousers. The complete disappearance of brakes in the behavior of people can lead to the disintegration of the society, when man breaks "clothes" of civilized behavior completely and this man convert into the beast, which is permitted all (the murder, violence, robbery).[8]

The kinds of the suppressed instincts as the first reason for the revolution:

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The hunger as the suppression of digestive instinct. Hunger preceded all revolutions, especially the hunger on the background of aristocratic gluttony on the feasts. For example, February revolution 1917 in Russia had begun spontaneously because of the bread queues for the cheap bread on the background of the restaurants, in which the aristocrats feasted. Nobody prepared the February revolution, and Vladimir Lenin was in the emigration in Switzerland and Vladimir Lenin had learned about the beginning of revolution in Russia from the newspapers. Emperor of Russia Nikolai 2 was in the headquarters of army into Mogilev and Nikolai 2 had missed the beginning of revolution. [9]

The increase of poverty as the suppression of the impulse of property. The proletariat was poor as “church rat” in Russia. History had laid of proletariat on “the bed from the nails”. The revolutionary armies were composed most frequently from the poor layers, which have nothing to lose, but which can acquire all. Soldiers of revolutionary army are poor people and slave always. [10] The marshals of revolutionary army are losers from elite, whose legal career did not turn out because of different reasons and this losers were ready to walk to power on the corpses. For example, the legal career of Vladimir Lenin of jurist did not turn out because of his brother Alexander Ulyanov, who prepared assassination attempt to Alexander III of Russia, Alexander Ulyanov was arrested and executed in 1887. Vladimir Lenin was threw out from everywhere after that, and it was necessary to forget about successful legal career though Vladimir Lenin was a son of the nobleman of the inspector of popular schools of the Simbirsk province Ilya Nikolaevich Ulyanov. Legal career of Leon Trotsky did not turn out because of to Jewish nationality and epilepsy, although his father was rich farmer and large tenant of land in the Kherson province. Joseph Stalin was born from “poor class”, his father was shoemaker, his father suffered alcoholism and his father beat son frequently, Joseph Stalin had grown by such spiteful and vindictive for this reason. Joseph Stalin was expelled from the theological Seminary for the absence on the examination. Joseph Stalin had six criminal records for the extortion and robbery (for “the expropriation”) and five escapes from the exiles. Stalin’s distinctive features, known from the police dossier are six finger on left foot, “dried” left hand, pimples on the face as the consequence of the previous disease by smallpox. Thus Joseph Stalin was a spiteful invalid, which became by tyrant. Thus, Joseph Stalin, in contrast to Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, had the origin from the lowest social layer.

The unsuccessful war and state terror as the suppression of the instinct of self ‐ preservation. Unsuccessful wars precede revolutions. War converts soldiers into raging crowds of mad men. Specifically, this had occurred with the Russian soldiers in 1917 and with the German soldiers in 1918. Soldiers throw front and attack the government with the fury. Examples of these revolutions: Paris Commune after the Franco‐Prussian War, Jacquerie in France and Wat Tyler's Rebellion in England after Hundred Years' War, the Civil war (Time of Troubles) in Russia after Livonian War, revolution 1905 in Russia after Russo‐Japanese war, February revolution 1917 in Russia in the end of World War I, “Perestroika” of Mikhail Gorbachev and reform of Boris Yeltsin after Soviet – Afghan War. Despotic regimes “are pregnant" by revolution because of state’s terror constantly. [11]

The censorship and the prohibition of the migration as the suppression of the impulse of freedom. Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky had glorified the October revolution because of the censorial prohibitions on his publications before the revolution.

The representatives of such nationality, as Jews had the following limitations in the rights in Russia before October coup:

a). Prohibition of the migration from western regions to central Russia existed (Pale of Settlement).

b). Prohibition to be elected by mayor existed, that is prohibition to be elected by the elective head of the municipal administration.

c). Quota for Jews existed under the entering into the university ‐ 5%.

d). Prohibition existed to have an earth in private property.

Therefore many Jews had become by revolutionaries and many Jews considered revolution as the form of fight for their national equality of rights. For example, such Bolsheviks, as Leon Trotsky (birth name is Lev Davidovich Bronstein), Yakov Sverdlov, Lev Kamenev (born Leo Rosenfeld), Grigory Zinoviev (born Hirsch Apfelbaum, known also under the name Ovsei-Gershon Aronovich Radomyslsky) were Jews. Such Menshevik, as Julius Martov (born Yuliy Osipovich Tsederbaum) was Jew. Such leaders of the combat organization of Socialist Revolutionary Party and provocateur as Yevno Azef was Jew. Even grandfather of Vladimir Lenin according to the mother was christened Jew on the name Srul Moshevich Blank (Israil Moiseevich Blank). Such leaders of Soviet secret police agencies in Russia as Genrikh Yagoda, Moisei Uritsky were Jews. Jew Yakov Yurovsky directed by the shooting of ex‐Emperor Nicholas II of Russia and his family.

The estate’s restrictions as the suppression of the instinct of self-expression. The estate’s restrictions prevented people from the bottoms to occupy the status corresponding to their talents. Therefore the innate ruler, who became simple workers, will become by the leader of secret organization, “Cicero” will become by propagandist. [12]

These are the authentic reasons for revolution, but pretext can be completely different (the quarrel around the religious dogmas or convocation of Estates General in France). Ideology determines selection of the slogans (“holy earth”, “true faith”, “republic” or “socialism”). Ideology determines the selection of popular heroes ‐ Jesus Christ, Jan Hus, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Martin Luther, Karl Marx, Leo Tolstoy or Karl Liebknecht. Ideology determines the selection of basic idea (interpretation of gospel, national idea, the theory of surplus value or capitalist exploitation). Ideology determines the selection of emblem (“red Phrygian cap” as symbol of the French revolution, “black shirt” is form of the Italian fascists of Benito Mussolini, “red star” as sign of membership in the Red Army).[13]

What social groups and why do become by revolutionary at first of all?

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Those estates and social groups will be most revolutionary, which have the largest quantity of suppressed instincts and, on the contrary, those estates and social groups will be by the enemies of revolution, which have no suppressed instincts completely or which have a small quantity of suppressed instincts. Therefore it was easy for Bolsheviks to carry away by revolutionary ideas of soldiers and workers, but aristocrats were against revolution always. There were 95% of population on the side of the revolution in February 1917, and then separate social groups have begun to oppose against escalation of revolution eventually and gradually and this separate social groups have begun to demand of establishing of social order. Even peasants and sailors have risen against Bolsheviks in Kronstadt In 1921. The Soviet government has held the power in these conditions only thanks to terrible fatigue from cataclysms of civil war and concessions in the form of the New Economic Policy.[14]

The disorganization of power and social control as the second reason for revolution

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The disorganization of power and social control means the incapacity of government to crush the rebellion, to remove the conditions, which cause the dissatisfaction of population, to cleave the mass on the part and to set them against each other according to the principle "divide and rule", to direct an energy output of masses to other not revolutionary course according to the principle "to open the valve so that the boiler would not explode". The atmosphere of pre-revolutionary epochs shocks observer with weakness of the powers and with degeneration of the elite always. Chronicler Ipuwer wrote about the weakness of power of pharaohs on the eve of the Egyptian revolution of the epoch of average kingdom: "There is no steersman in the country. Where is steersman? Or is steersman asleep? His strength is nowhere to be seen". The same situation was in Russia in 1917. There was not one sane and imperious minister, decrepit Ivan Goremykin, incompetent Boris Stürmer, mad Alexander Protopopov and mad Vasily Virubov are the entire gallery of mediocre rulers and cynical dwarfs, this is the result of the complete degeneration of elite. History "endures" cruel and injurious governments until they are able to govern by state, but history pronounces a severe verdict to powerless and parasitic governments. The degeneration of elite becomes inevitable, when elite converts into the caste, when social " channels " are switched off and way is closed to upward for the innate rulers with help of artificial barriers on the way of circulation into the members of elite. Talented premier-minister Sergei Witte was exposed to disgrace more than once by Nicholas II of Russia. When revolutionary explosion occurs, then pitiless revolutionary broom clears out entire social rubbish (aristocrats — degenerates). "Upstarts" from the bottoms rush to upward on the social ladder through the enormous crack in the social sieve of selection. This sieve exists on each floor of social ladder during the normal period of existence of society, when revolution doesn't exist in society. Therefore, new elite builds the new "sieve" at the second stage of revolution, under protection of which the upstarts, who has reached the social top, merge with the remainders of the old aristocracy, which are left for transfer of experience of social control over people. New Bolshevist "sieve" let up only those who "from the machine" or "from a plow" and new Bolshevist "sieve" rejected all others down.[15]

It is possible to draw the conclusion that the revolution is advantageous to bandits and usurpers of authority without the elections, and revolution is not advantageous for all other social groups. Merit of the President of Russia Boris Yeltsin not only that Boris Yeltsin has undertaken reforms necessary for Russia, but also that Boris Yeltsin has crushed two attempts of communists to seize power with help of an army and KGB mutiny in 1991 and with help of the organization of mass riots and the armed seizure of power in 1993.

Success of Bolsheviks in 1917 can be explained also with the fact that a difficult process of change of elite existed in Russia, as well as in other advanced countries. The power passed from hands of noblemen to hands of businessmen gradually, and the power was intercepted at this turning point suddenly by usurpers of the power, like the racketeer Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin. Vladimir Lenin lived many years in Paris on the stolen money and money of the German intelligence.

The second stage of revolution

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Wladimir Wladimirowitsch Putin

Revolution has two stages. There is a mad energy output at the first stage of revolution, but the person is not the perpetual motion machine therefore mass apathy and fatigue comes sooner or later. The vigorous group or the tyrant can seize power at the second stage of revolution easily, using this weakness. Vigorous group or the tyrant can restore an old regime. Reasons generating this stage, are strengthening of hunger, crime, requisitions, epidemics, "wars of all against all". People face a dilemma: or to die, continuing revolutionary uproar, or to bring an order at any cost. Examples "creators of an order" are Vladimir Lenin, Maximilien de Robespierre, John Zizka, Oliver Cromwell, Augustus, Napoleon, Vladimir Putin, who are able to restore order by "iron fist" after the period of revolutions or reforms. Society which isn't capable to develop with help of peace reforms, is compelled to pay a tribute for revolution at a rate of considerable part of the population.[16] It is possible to draw a conclusion that peace reform is much better, than a social revolution.

Citations and references

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  1. Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan, or the Matter, Forme & Power of a Connonwealth, Ecclesiasticall and Civil. Chapter 13. Of the natural condition of mankind, as concerning their felicity, and misery. Page 96.
  3. Vladimir Lenin. “Left-Wing” Communism: an Infantile Disorder. “Left - Wing” Communism in Great Britain.
  4. Karl Marx. The Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850. Part III: Consequences of June 13, 1849. Page 62.
  5. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 1. The perversion of human behavior in revolution. Pages 14-15.
  6. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 367.
  7. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 397.
  8. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 372.
  9. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 372-374.
  10. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 374-375.
  11. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 375-377.
  12. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 381.
  13. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 382-383.
  14. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 385-397.
  15. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 397-407.
  16. Pitirim A. Sorokin. The sociology of revolution. Chapter 17. The causes of revolution. Pages 408-413.