Peoples' movements and protests




What will emerge from the next regime collapse?



Any suggestion for improvals can be mailed to the author


By Jan Wiklund



It is when class differences grow, and when the upper class shies away from contributing to common costs, that regimes break down. This is what Jack Goldstone claims after studying regime collapse in England, China and Turkey in the 17th century, in France in the 18th century and in Japan in the 19th century.

He naturally sees clear parallels in today's world.

However, such breakdowns can be more or less constructive. In some way, a regime is always reconstructed. It can happen like in China and Turkey: the upper class gets together and rebuilds the hierarchy, only much more rigid, under total control. It can happen as in Japan: subordinate and neglected elite groups build up a completely new rigid hierarchy. In all these cases, the immediate changes were very large – even in such a way that economic class differences actually decreased. But once the hierarchy was in place, the whole thing soon fell asleep again.

And it can happen as in England and France: marginalized elite groups collaborate with grassroots organized popular movements to create a common project.

In the latter two cases, the immediate changes in the hierarchy were very small. But the fact that marginalized elite groups and popular movements had cooperated guaranteed very big changes in the long run.

According to Goldstone.

But such collaborative projects are not so easy to achieve. Spontaneous popular uprisings almost always aim to restore something that once was (often with xenophobic undertones). But regime crises almost by definition require something new.

In England in 1640 and France in 1789, the marginalized elites achieved this by insisting on equality—we are all equal, we all have equal rights—and that this can be achieved by common struggle. And regardless of how much the principle was cheated in concrete situations, it always tended to return, forming a basis for new collaborative projects.

What will happen now, when the marginalized elite groups (i.e. those who have training in organizing regimes but are not allowed to do so) insist that we are all different – so-called identity politics – is an open question. So far, in any case, they have done poorly in gaining widespread trust.

Maybe for that reason.

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