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History and Revolutions - Essay Example

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Historical study is liberating for other reasons. The central value of historical understanding is that it transforms historical givens into historical contingencies. It enables us to see the structures in which we live and the inequality people experience as only one among many other possible experiences.
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History and Revolutions
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History and Revolutions

Download file to see previous pages... Historical events, properly understood, should therefore enlighten not only in terms of the chronology of particular events, but on the impact a particular event had both in the local history of a particular society, and the wider world history of the human race.
Revolutions, like other historical phenomenon, are no different. As John Gates suggests, given the countless studies and surveys regarding revolutions, a proper historical understanding of the phenomenon assumes that revolutions "evolve[s] over time, changing as a result of changes in the political, social, and economic circumstances" in which they develop in, must be fully understood (1986, p. 535). Thus, in illustrating the historical importance of revolutions, this essay will argue that revolutions, as an historical phenomenon, is a crucial process that contributed to the emergence and consolidation of the modern world by altering a society's political, economic, and social structures at the local level, and consequently introducing new ideas, institutions, and ideals for the world in the international level.
Revolutions have always been associated with change. According to Huntington1, (1968) it is a modernizing concept resulting to political modernization and development (p. 265). He argues that they are most likely to occur in societies that experienced "some social and economic development" where "political modernization and political development have lagged behind the processes of social and economic change," limiting the phenomenon to transitional states, which are neither highly traditional nor highly modern (Huntington, 1968, p. 265). Thus, Huntington makes the distinction between Western revolutions in France and Russia from Eastern revolutions in China and Vietnam based on the type of old regimes. On the other hand, in Barrington Moore's Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, he distinguishes between three types of modernization processes2 different societies underwent through revolutions (Zagorin, 1973, pp. 39-40).
Both typologies present an important aspect of revolutions - they presented revolutions in light of the modernizing process it is part of. As both scholars argue, revolutions bring about modernization, however, the degree and type of modernization and development following a revolution are contingent on the type of regime preceding it and the manner that the revolution took place. Thus, Moore situates revolutions as a "decisive point of conflict" in the historical process that yields important systemic consequences determining the type of institutions that emerge after the revolutionary stage (Zagorin, 1973, p. 40). This concept of revolution echoes the proper historical understanding of revolutions through time.
By treating revolutions as more than just a separate event at some point in time, but as a point within the continuum of world history, a better understanding of the phenomenon's larger historical value is achieved. In this case, "the significance of the French revolution in world history lies in its having with a powerful blast cleared the way for a new era in the life of continental Europe" (Elbaki, 1976, p. 218). Considering the immediate outcomes of the French revolution of 1789 one can see minimal improvements in the industrial and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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