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Revolution, international counterrevolution and world order

Hirst, Catherine (2022) Revolution, international counterrevolution and world order. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004457


Why are some revolutions met with great power counterrevolution, while others are not? On the one hand, some revolutions face hostility and attempts at reversal by the great powers. Perhaps most prominently, the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia led to military intervention by the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), Japan and France in a bloody multiyear campaign. On the other hand, some revolutions are tolerated, or even supported, by the great powers. For example, the UK, the US and the USSR all supported Tito’s Communist Revolution in Yugoslavia between 1941 and 1944, providing (respectively) advisers, diplomatic support, and military aid. To answer the question of why, when and under what circumstances great powers engage in counterrevolution, and when they do not, this thesis presents a novel macro-historical dataset covering the period between 1900 and 2020. This dataset is the first to systematically map the determinants of great power counterrevolution. The dataset introduces a crucial but undertheorized variable: ‘order exit’. ‘Order exit’ is a profoundly destabilising act in which revolutionaries attempt to cleave their state from an existing international order. Revolutionaries that attempt to shift their state out of a great power order are more than twice as likely to face great power counterrevolution than those which don’t. The thesis augments this large-N analysis with three case studies that illustrate the main mechanisms linking ‘order exit’ with great power counterrevolution: the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), the Hungarian Revolution (1956) and the attempted Syrian Salafist Revolution (2012-2020). Taken together, these analyses provide two main insights: first, a comprehensive empirical account of post-1900 great power counterrevolution; and second, a set of theoretical resources for understanding the relationship between revolution, counterrevolution and international order(s).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2022 Catherine Hirst
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Supervisor: Lawson, George

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