- Why revolutions start in the middle-class
- How social disorder and new narratives are critical ingredients to regime change
- How the central State will react to being challenged
- Why the inevitable outcome of class conflict is an increasingly unstable social/economic order
In Part 1, we surveyed three conventional models the sources of social disorder/revolution and focused on the under-appreciated model of suppressed social mobility.
In this Part 2, we examine the other half of this dynamic: the systemic misalignment of aspirations and opportunities.
The Wellspring of Revolution: An Aspirational Middle Class
One of the great ironies of Marx's historical blueprint for revolution is that revolutionary leaders don't arise from the peasantry or proletariat as he anticipated but from a middle class with aspirations and expectations that are unfulfilled by the status quo–in other words, a society with low social mobility.
Marx was born into a wealthy middle-class family in Trier in the Prussian Rhineland (now Germany), and studied at the universities of Bonn and Berlin at a time when only the elite attended university.
Lenin was born into a wealthy middle-class family in Simbirsk, Russia. His interest in revolutionary socialist politics was sparked by his brother's execution in 1887. He was expelled from Kazan State University for participating in protests.
Mao Zedong was the son of a wealthy farmer in Shaoshan, Hunan. Influenced by the events of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 and May Fourth Movement of 1919, Mao converted to Marxism–Leninism while working at Peking University.
The building blocks of revolution are visible in each case: a middle-class upbringing of aspirations and higher education, and a grave injustice or movement aimed at rectifying social/economic/political injustice that acts as a trigger for revolutionary fervor and commitment.
The dynamic of revolution is coiled around the psychology of…