Revolution as a Political Category

  • John DunnEmail author
Part of the Radical Theologies and Philosophies book series (RADT)


How should we understand why revolutions occur and have the consequences they do? How far does the category of revolution itself deepen or impede understanding of either their causes or outcomes? The great historical upheavals that lent weight to revolution as a political category, in France in 1789 and in Russia in 1917, each took place under a necessitarian banner: the triumph of enlightenment or the elimination of class oppression. In both cases, the outcome belied this optimistic assessment without detracting from the scale of their historical impact across the globe. The French Revolution spawned the category of professional revolutionary, and the Russian Revolution, under its aegis, set the terms for world history for at least half a century. Because neither transformation in due course eventuated as imagined, the idea that revolutions have either necessitated outcomes or intrinsically self-validating objectives has lost credibility. The collapse of regimes will certainly continue to occur. What is in question is whether the re-creation of regimes in the wake of collapse can still align professional revolutionaries with oppressed populations in shared belief and struggle.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.King’s CollegeCambridgeUK

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