Non-Democratic Revolutions and Attempts at State Breakup: Is There a Connection?
Katz, Mark N., World Affairs
Not all revolutions are followed by attempts at state breakup (much less successful ones). This pattern has occurred, though, in many states where there are regionally dominant minorities (groups that are a minority in a country as a whole but form a majority in a particular region) or where there are otherwise distinct regional identities.
This article argues that a revolution in a country containing regionally dominant minorities or otherwise distinct regional identities that does not deliver on democratic promises can eventually lead to a vigorous attempt at state breakup. The article begins with the elaboration of a five-stage theory explaining how this type of revolution leads to an attempt at state breakup. It then examines four case studies--Russia, Yugoslavia, Indonesia, and Iraq--in light of this theory. Finally, it discusses the implications of this theory for other countries with regionally dominant minorities that have experienced nondemocratic revolutions but no efforts at actual democratization.
REVOLUTION AND STATE BREAKUP: THEORIZING THE CONNECTION
There are many countries that have first experienced revolution and subsequent attempts at state breakup. These include: the U.S., China, Russia, Yugoslavia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ethiopia, Czechoslovakia, and Sudan.
This pattern of revolution followed by attempted state breakup has occurred with sufficient frequency to raise the question as to whether there is a relationship between these two events.
The argument against the connection between these two events is straightforward. Many countries have experienced a revolution. Many countries have also experienced attempts at state breakup. Some countries have experienced both, but there is no necessary connection between these two events.
The argument supporting the connection between revolution and state breakup is more complex. To begin, there is a tremendous degree of variation in the revolutions listed above that make them very difficult to compare. Some revolutions were violent, whereas others were nonviolent (or largely so). In addition, some were democratic, whereas others were nondemocratic. Further, the attempt at state breakup followed soon after the revolution in some cases, and after many years or even decades in others. Some attempts at state breakup, of course, were successful, while others were not. Finally, some of these attempts occurred peacefully, while others were violent.
Given the great variation in these cases, it would be difficult to devise an all-encompassing theory of revolution and state breakup. Different theories are needed to explain different cases. Indeed, there may be no necessary connection between these two events in some cases. This article does not, therefore, provide a general theory applicable to these cases.
Instead, this article provides a theory that explains revolution followed by an attempt at state breakup meeting two specific criteria: 1) a revolution occurring in states where regionally dominant minorities or otherwise distinct regional identities exist and where the revolutionary regime claims to be democratic and inclusive but is not; and 2) an attempt at state breakup later taking place when a serious attempt at democratization is being or has recently been made.
For cases that satisfy these two criteria, this article proposes the following theory:
1. When a revolution occurs in states where there are regionally dominant minorities or otherwise distinct regional identities, among those seeking political change are those who want the existing state to remain intact but also those who want to break it up by obtaining independence for a regionally dominant minority.
2. Revolutionary forces opposed to state breakup seek a combination of continuity and change. They seek to change the regime. They often seek to change the nature of society, or even of the human being. …