From the Finland Station: The Graying of Revolution in the Twentieth Century

From the Finland Station: The Graying of Revolution in the Twentieth Century

From the Finland Station: The Graying of Revolution in the Twentieth Century

From the Finland Station: The Graying of Revolution in the Twentieth Century

Excerpt

Some fifty years ago, while still a college student, I came across a book that captivated me completely, as it captivated so many other members of my generation. Crane Brinton's Anatomy of Revolution, a comparative study of the English Revolution of the 1640s, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution, was written with such grace and elegance, such discernment and understanding, that I found it irresistible. The author sought to invest his findings with a quasi-scientific objectivity, to underpin his conclusions with a rigorous methodology; but the enormous popularity of the work rested primarily on his urbanity and sophistication, on the analytical sharpness of his mind, and the polished smoothness of his style. As with all important ventures in scholarship, what gave the book its significance was not technique but insight.

Though clearly influenced by Brinton, my own work is nevertheless different from his in important respects. It does not pretend to match his elegance and urbanity, his cool detachment and worldly skepticism. But I do feel that the time has come to examine in comparative perspective some of the revolutions that have taken place in various parts of the world since his day. Those he had studied were, with the exception of the Russian Revolution, largely political in nature. They sought to shift the locus of dominance from one powerful group in society to another, replacing a less representative with a more representative system of government. Although they pro-

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