Sunday, February 02, 2014

On "Coupvolutions"

In an old conference volume, Norman Daniel, who was in Iraq as the 1958 coup unfolded, has some reflections on coups and revolutions:
I suggest that it is a mistake to think that these are two incompatible categories.  A coup may or may not be followed and completed by a revolution; it is only one means to power and in itself quite neutral.  It is a myth that a revolution must begin with an act of 'the people'.  In that sense, 'the people' are themselves an ancient and benign myth; it is to 'the people' that revolutionaries, who by definition have usually not been elected, like to appeal, only to find that they have to educate their supporters into supporting them.  Whether power is seized by an army coup or by a militant party group makes very little difference; either may later prove fissiparous, but both are trained to act together and can dominate the masses.  We cannot disqualify coups from being revolutionary only because some coups have been reactionary, nor even because the prestigious French Revolution began with an experimental scramble for power which did nothing to make it more effective, and about which successive schools of historians dispute.



Blogger Dr. Koshary said...

Interesting tip! May need to dip into this one.

10:26 AM  

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