ARY Special

Top Five Most Notable Revolutions of the World

As Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) are making the youth jump on their revolution and freedom from corrupt autocratic rule bandwagon in Pakistan. The debate about what is actually a revolution is on the rise in the country.

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On this day, when we are already celebrating our Independence Day and our youth is on the streets to bring a revolution they want.

Lets take a look at what actually is a revolution and the top five revolutions of the World.

A revolution (from the Latin revolutio, “a turnaround”) is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place over a relatively short period of time. It is mostly used to refer to political change.

Revolutions have occurred throughout human history and vary widely in terms of methods, duration and motivating ideology. Their results include major changes in culture, economy and socio-political institutions.

5. IRANIAN REVOLUTION

The Islamic Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran’s monarchy (Pahlavi dynasty) under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution. The first major demonstrations against the Shah began in January, 1978. Between August and December of 1978, strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country. The Shah left Iran for exile in mid-January of 1979, and the resulting power vacuum was filled two weeks later when Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians. The royal regime collapsed shortly after that, on February 11, when guerrillas and rebel troops took to armed street fighting and overwhelmed any troops still loyal to the Shah.

Iran voted, by national referendum, to become an Islamic Republic on April 1st, 1979, and later approved a new theocratic constitution whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country in December, 1979.

EFFECTS

The revolution was unusual and it created a lot of surprise throughout the world: it lacked many of the customary causes of revolution (defeat at war, a financial crisis, peasant rebellion, or disgruntled military); produced profound change at great speed; was massively popular; overthrew a regime heavily protected by a lavishly financed army and security service; and replaced a modernizing monarchy with a theocracy based on the Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists. Its outcome—an Islamic Republic “under the guidance of an 80-year-old exiled religious scholar from Qom”—was, as one scholar put it, “clearly an occurrence that had to be explained.”

4. THE CUBAN REVOLUTION

On March 10th, 1952, General Fulgencio Batista overthrew the president of Cuba, Carlos Prìo Socarrás, and canceled all elections.

This angered a young lawyer, Fidel Castro, and for the next seven years he led attempts to overthrow Batista’s government. On July 26th, 1953, Castro led an attack against the military barracks in Santiago, but he was defeated and arrested. Although Castro was sentenced to 15 years in prison, Batista released him in 1955 in a show of supreme power.

Castro did not back down and gathered a new group of rebels in Mexico. On December 2nd, 1956, he was again defeated by Batista’s army and fled to the Sierra Maestra. He began using guerrilla tactics to fight Batista’s armed forces, and, with the aid of other rebellions throughout Cuba, he forced Batista to resign and flee the country on January 1st, 1959. Castro became the Prime Minister of Cuba in February and had about 550 of Batista’s associates executed.

He soon suspended all elections and named himself “President for Life”, jailing or executing all who opposed him. He established a communist government with himself as a dictator and began relations with the Soviet Union.

EFFECTS

The Cuban revolution was a turning point in recent history. With Castro’s regime in place, Cuba became an important source of support for the global power of the Soviet Union, and thus affected the severity of the Cold War. Castro was involved in unsuccessful rebellions in Venezuela, Guatemala and Bolivia, which caused Cuba to isolate itself from the surrounding world. The communist regime in Cuba gave the U.S.S.R. an ally neighboring the United States during the Cold War, thus bringing the threat of nuclear war to an all time high.

3. RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

In 1917, two revolutions swept through Russia, ending centuries of imperial rule and setting in motion political and social changes that would lead to the formation of the Soviet Union. In March, growing civil unrest, coupled with chronic food shortages, erupted into open revolt, forcing the abdication of Nicholas II (1868-1918), the last Russian czar. Just months later, the newly installed provisional government was itself overthrown by the more radical Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924).

February Revolution: 1917

The February Revolution (known as such because of Russia’s use of the Julian calendar until February 1918) began on March 8, 1917 (or February 23 on the Julian calendar), when demonstrators clamoring for bread took to the streets in the Russian capital of Petrograd (now called St. Petersburg). Supported by huge crowds of striking industrial workers, the protesters clashed with police but refused to leave the streets. On March 10, the strike spread among all of Petrograd’s workers, and irate mobs destroyed police stations. Several factories elected deputies to the Petrograd Soviet, or council, of workers’ committees, following the model devised during the 1905 revolution.

The imperial government was forced to resign, and the Duma formed a provisional government that peacefully vied with the Petrograd Soviet for control of the revolution. On March 14, the Petrograd Soviet issued Order No. 1, which instructed Russian soldiers and sailors to obey only those orders that did not conflict with the directives of the SovietThe next day, March 15, Czar Nicholas II abdicated the throne in favor of his brother Michael (1878-1918), whose refusal of the crown brought an end to the czarist autocracy.

Bolshevik Revolution: 1917

In the aftermath of the February Revolution, power was shared between the weak provisional government and the Petrograd Soviet. Then, on November 6 and 7, 1917 (or October 24 and 25 on the Julian calendar, which is why this event is also referred to as the October Revolution), leftist revolutionaries led by Bolshevik Party leader Vladimir Lenin launched a nearly bloodless coup d’état against the provisional government. The Bolsheviks and their allies occupied government buildings and other strategic locations in Petrograd, and soon formed a new government with Lenin as its head.

Lenin became the virtual dictator of the first Marxist state in the world. His government made peace with Germany, nationalized industry and distributed land, but beginning in 1918 had to fight a devastating civil war against anti-Bolshevik White Army forces. In 1920, the anti-Bolsheviks were defeated, and in 1922 the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was established.

2. AMERICAN REVOLUTION

The American Revolution was a political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century, in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America. They first rejected the authority of the Parliament of Great Britain to govern them from overseas without representation, and then expelled all royal officials.

By 1774, each colony had established a Provincial Congress, or an equivalent governmental institution, to form individual self-governing states. The British responded by sending combat troops to re-impose direct rule. Through representatives sent in 1775 to the Second Continental Congress, the new states joined together, initially, to defend their respective self-governance and manage the armed conflict against the British, known as the American Revolutionary War.

Ultimately, the states collectively determined that the British monarchy, due to its acts of tyranny, could no longer legitimately claim their allegiance. They then severed ties with the British Empire in July, 1776, when the Congress issued the Declaration of Independence, rejecting the monarchy on behalf of the new nation. The war ended with effective American victory in October, 1781, followed by formal British abandonment of any claims to the United States with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

EFFECTS

The American Revolution initiated a series of social, political and intellectual transformations in early American society and government. Americans rejected the oligarchies common in aristocratic Europe at the time, championing, instead, the development of republicanism based on the Enlightenment understanding of liberalism. Among the significant results of the revolution was the creation of a representative government responsible to the will of the people. However, sharp political debates erupted over the appropriate level of democracy desirable in the new government, with a number of Founders fearing mob rule. Many fundamental issues of national governance were settled with the ratification of the Constitution of the United States in 1788.

1. THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

The French Revolution (1789–1799) was a period of radical social and political upheaval in both French and European history. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed within three years.

French society underwent an epic transformation as feudal, aristocratic and religious privileges evaporated under a sustained assault from liberal political groups and the masses on the streets. Old ideas about hierarchy and tradition succumbed to new Enlightenment principles of citizenship and inalienable rights.

The French Revolution began in 1789 with the convocation of the Estates-General in May. The first year of the Revolution witnessed members of the Third Estate proclaiming the Tennis Court Oath in June, the assault on the Bastille in July, the passage of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in August, and an epic march on Versailles that forced the royal court back to Paris in October. The next few years were dominated by tensions between the various liberal assemblies and a conservative monarchy intent on thwarting major reforms. A republic was proclaimed in September, 1792, and King Louis XVI was executed the next year

EFFECTS

The modern era has unfolded in the shadow of the French Revolution. The growth of republics and liberal democracies, the spread of secularism, the development of modern ideologies, and the invention of total war all mark their birth with the Revolution.

Subsequent events whose roots can be traced back to the Revolution include the Napoleonic Wars, two separate restorations of the monarchy, and two additional revolutions as modern France took shape. During the following century, France would be governed at one point or another as a republic, as a constitutional monarchy and as two different empires.

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