What are revolutions?

What Does Revolution Mean

We explain what a revolution is and the types of revolutions that exist. Also, what is a political and social revolution and examples.

There have been many revolutions throughout the history of mankind.

What are revolutions?

A revolution is a change violent, sudden and permanent under the conditions of a system of any kind, ie a sudden rearrangement of the state of things. This term comes from the Latin revolutio ("to go around") and is applied especially to the political and social order of societies , to the scientific-technological paradigm and to other specific areas.

There is no consensus on what may or may not constitute a revolution in historical terms, but there have been many throughout the history of mankind , and have always had profound implications for local human existence, regional or global, so they are often eagerly studied by historians.

This use of the term should not be confused with the revolutions of a wheel or a car, since there it refers directly to the number of revolutions that an object makes on its axis in a specific period of time .

See also: Economic development

Types of revolutions

In an industrial revolution, new modes of production and forms of work emerge.

There are various criteria for classifying revolutions, depending on the area of study used for it. But broadly speaking we will talk about six different types:

  • Political revolutions. The change has to do with the mechanisms to exercise power and can generate new model of management of the state or the return of some other traditional.
  • Social revolutions. Starting from a new way of understanding society, a new way of conducting individual and collective relationships is imposed, generally due to the emergence of a new ruling class.
  • Economic revolutions. The modes of production and distribution of the goods and services of a society are drastically altered and rethought, either thanks to the discovery of new modes of production or by a change in the economic management model.
  • Scientific revolutions. There is a radical and profound change in the scientific paradigm in one or several areas of human knowledge, permanently altering what until then was considered scientific truth and what was not.
  • Technological revolutions. New technologies or new artifacts are incorporated into everyday life that generate an irreversible and considerable impact on society as a whole, allowing new relationships and significantly altering the human world.
  • Industrial revolutions. Extreme technological, social and economic changes create new modes of production and new forms of work, and this has repercussions on the financial, organizational, etc.

Political revolution

Political revolutions tend to be relatively bloodless.

When talking about a political revolution, it always refers to radical changes in the way of exercising and holding power . In this sense, political revolutions usually involve state institutions and are exercised by those who hold social and economic power. That is why they often serve as a lever for change in political structures, although this change can lead to the emergence of unexpected forces. In this sense, political revolutions tend to be relatively non-bloody, except in cases where they lead to social revolutions or armed conflicts .

A perfect example of a political revolution was the Cuban Revolution , in which Fidel Castro's militias took political control of Cuba in January 1959 and overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

Social revolution

Social revolutions are much bloodier than political revolutions.

A social revolution is usually generated when a political revolution also involves profound changes in the distribution of wealth , in access to goods or in the control of the means of production. It does not constitute a simple violent restructuring of political powers but also generates a violent restructuring of the fabric of society. In that sense, they can be much bloodier and bring much more social pain than political revolutions.

A good example of a social revolution was the French Revolution , which although initially had a purely political mood (converting the absolutist monarchy into a parliamentary monarchy), ended up as a guillotine of aristocrats and counterrevolutionaries, when the most radical factions of the The rebels seized power and aspired to a profound transformation of the French social fabric, eradicating their enemies through selective beheadings. The result of such social change would be the advent of Bonapartism, and later the establishment of the first modern democracy in the West.

Examples of revolutions

Some examples of revolutions in history are as follows:

  • Industrial Revolution . It is known by this name to the period of profound changes in the labor, productive and economic structure of the West, especially in Europe , from the irruption of automation and steam engines in the 18th and 19th centuries. The train, the steam boats, the machines in the factories were some of the advances that forever changed rural Europe and turned it into an order of industrialized countries. Thus the peasantry became a working class and capitalism was consolidatedas the prevailing economic model.
  • French Revolution . The French Revolution of 1789 was a political and social conflict that sought the fall of the absolutist monarchy of Louis XV, and its replacement by a monarchical system (initially, later republican). This system was controlled by a National Assembly, in which the Fundamental Rights of the Human Being were promulgated for the first time. During this period of tumult the aristocracy of France was eradicated and radical popular forces were unleashed that ruled violently (the so-called “Terror”) until Napoleon Bonaparte's coup in 1799.
  • Mexican Revolution . It is known by this name to an armed conflict with profound political and social repercussions, which took place in Mexico at the beginning of the 20th century. It arose from the fall of the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz in 1911 and the confrontation between various revolutionary factions to seize power in the country. This confrontation consisted of a succession of coups d'état and acivil war that lasted until 1917 (according to some authors until 1934), and resulted in the total renewal of the Mexican State and profound changes in the social fabric of the time.

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