The Hannah Arendt Institute for the Study of Totalitarianism
is preparing a special number of its journal “Totalitarianism and Democracy”
focusing on the coloured revolutions happened in Eastern Europe and former Soviet Countries (see the rationale below).
The issue will come out in spring 2008 and the deadline is the 20 October, 2007 (for the first submission, articles will then be reviewed and the final submission date will be the 25 November)
Interested authors are invited to send an abstract (max 500 words) by the 20 of August to
Prof. Donnacha Ó Beacháin
email@example.com (back up address firstname.lastname@example.org)
Abel.Polese@mailbox.tu-dresden.de (back up address email@example.com)
Authors of accepted abstract will be notified by the 25 of August 2007.
English is preferred but articles in German can be accepted as well
Towards a theory of democratic revolutions? Some evidence from Eurasia 1998-2006
(NB contributions focusing on previous protest movements such as those in Czechoslovakia or the Baltic are very welcome, as long as they can show a connection between them and those that form the primary focus of our analysis)
Since 1998 the Eurasian geopolitical landscape has been affected by what have been labelled ‘colour revolutions’, referring to a number of socio-political transformations attempted, but not necessarily achieved, in a number of countries, namely: Slovakia (1998), Serbia (2000), Belarus (2001 and 2006), Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004), Kyrgyzstan (2005) and immediately sedated in Russia, Uzbekistan (2005), Azerbaijan (2005), and Kazakhstan (2005).
These events have certainly some elements in common with the second wave of revolutions, which occurred in Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic Countries in 1989-91 but they also possess some completely new features like the growing use of the Internet, humour and art to deliver a message, and the significant involvement of grassroots NGOs.
In some cases these ‘revolutions’ have led to a radical political and social change in the country, in other cases not. It is our belief that the ‘people’ factor is decisive in determining the nature of a revolution and popular attitudes are crucial for a successful movement. However, it is up to leaders to create the conditions for people to become aware and motivate them to act. How is it possible to create the conditions necessary for a revolution to happen and to be successful?
To answer this question one should go beyond the vision that sees economic and logistic support to the opposition as the main elements of a successful revolution. Likewise the opinion that ‘people stood up and fought for democracy’ should be examined and analyses should try to understand the relative importance of external aid and popular attitudes in determining the ‘success’ of a revolution. A revolution is ‘successful’ if it leads to a substantial change in the country. The easiest indicator of this change is a political one, however a social change might also be employed as an indicator of success, when it is measurable.
All the opposition movements made use of protest techniques developed over the years and often based on Gene Sharp’s theory of power (1973) and his a guidebook ‘from dictatorship to democracy’.
Some theoretical questions we want to answer are:
Why did the use of revolutionary tools not lead to the same result all over the post-communist space? Is it because those tools were used correctly in some cases and incorrectly in others or because ‘geography’ matters?
What was the role of the ruling elite in preventing the development of civil society and stymieing protests and to what degree was the role of the political opposition, external actors, and NGO networking important?
Is there a saturation point for the ‘coloured revolutions’ after which all attempts to use such techniques will be futile? Or is it the case that some ‘revolutions’ were not attempted in the right place or at the right moment?
By exploring these questions above and drawing from the experiences of these ‘revolutions’, we seek to spell out a theory of ‘coloured revolutions’ that can provide some common points for all the social changes that have occurred between 1998-2006. To do this, we welcome theory-generating contributions that focus on a country as case study or propose a comparative analysis of a number of countries.
Contributions should analyse one or more elements that have to be encountered when ‘organizing a revolution’. In particular we might divide the topics in the following way: (the list is not exhaustive and potential contributors are welcome to discuss with the editors a possible focus)
a) Ideology and a theoretical framework
The role of previous waves of revolutions
The reference texts of a revolution
The role of Gene Sharp’s ‘theory of power’, ‘from dictatorship to democracy’ and other ideological sources
b) The will to set up a revolutionary apparatus
The work of the Einstein Foundation in Eurasia
The role of foreign and domestic intelligence forces
The legacy of previous protest movements
Democratic ideology in regional context
Existence of a team of revolution makers at national and international level that has been operating in Eurasia and is extending its field of action to other regions
Relations with foreign foundations
Domestic fundraising: contact with local businessmen
Door to door fundraising: gathering goods other than money (labour force, commodities, ideas, services, ideological and physical support)
d) Training of activists
Contact with other successful protest movements
Relations with foreign foundations
Domestic trainings of activists
e) Coordination and cooperation of forces
Relations between the political and NGO forces before, during and after the political crisis
Networking between domestic NGOs
Relations between the political forces, national based and grassroots NGOs
f) Containing the influence of hostile actors
The role of external forces such as the EU, Russia and USA and their influence on civil society
Coping with a hostile environment and limiting the influence of the current regime
Alliances of the opposition and civil society with some major personalities of the ruling elite that subsequently/thereafter support the protest movements
g) Involving and motivating people
The People’s attitude, in a comparative historical and/or geographical perspective
Communication between the leaders and people to motive them
The relations between NGOs and “ordinary” people
Communication between active and passive strata of the population
h) Capacity to choose time and modality to carry out the revolution
The logistics of a revolution
How to prepare scenarios (optimistic and pessimistic) of a revolution
The right time to carry out a revolution
Donnacha Ó Beacháin, PhD
Department of Political Science,
Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research, 4 Abai St., Almaty 050100, Kazakhstan
firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Marie Curie Research Fellow
Hannah Arendt Institute for Research on Totalitarianism,
01062 Dresden, Germany
Abel.Polese@mailbox.tu-dresden.de / address firstname.lastname@example.org
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