It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct to the other way - in short, the period was so like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
(Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)
Before the mid-1980s it had never occurred to us that we might become interested in the theory of revolution. The idea for this book came about almost by accident.
It was in 1987 that the CPSU General Secretary, Mikhail Gorbachev, first declared perestroyka to be a revolution. At that time we were working at the Institute of Economics of the USSR Academy of Sciences. Gorbachev's remark aroused our interest, and so we tried to imagine what lay in store for our country if his declaration proved to be accurate. As working models we took two revolutions of which we had reasonable knowledge—the French Revolution of 1789 and the Russian Revolution of 1917. By comparing them and identifying their common features, we attempted to predict the outcome of perestroyka in the USSR. The results of our investigations, and the predictions we made on the strength of them, were presented in various academic papers and published in the journal Kommunist and the newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta (see Mau and Starodubrovskaya 1990 , 1991a , 1991b).
Any informed Westerners (and, currently, not only Westerners) who read our works at that time would most likely have been amused. We were unacquainted with foreign works on the theory of revolution (such literature was not readily available then), and we unwittingly almost completely reproduced the logic of the revolutionary process which Crane Brinton had described long before us in his well-known work The Anatomy of Revolution. Even the terms we used for some of the stages in the process coincided with his, such as 'dual power' and 'Thermidor'. However, although our research on the theory of revolution at that time proved to be largely a reinvention of the wheel, the prognoses we made on the basis of this research turned out to be much more interesting.
The following story is often recalled by those who were involved. One of
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Publication information: Book title: The Challenge of Revolution: Contemporary Russia in Historical Perspective. Contributors: Vladimir Mau - Author, Irina Starodubrovskaya - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2001. Page number: vii.
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