# Revolutions and Prosperity

or

Do we need revolutions for prosperity?

or

Is revolutions one of the factors that determine prosperity?

defn
Revolutions : Overthrowing the governments
Prosperity : Good living standards e.g. literacy and life expectancy.

Scope:
Only last 500 years

I have been thinking of this question for more than a month. I am still not confident about what is the right question to ask and how we can answer the right question.

It might also be a good idea if we limit ourselves to last 500 years so we do not consider anything that happened before that. Otherwise, countries have come up and down through out the history so it might be meaningless to look at last thousand years to answer this question.

I thought about going back and finding all revolutions that happened in the past and finding if revolutions brought better living standards and comparing it to possibility if the revolution did not occur. Other way will be comparing two similar countries: one that overthrew its government and one that did not.

Please refrain from unsubstantiated personal opinions or propaganda.

Unfortunately, currently I do not have sufficient time to study this myself so I thought I would put here.

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I think you can state categorically that every communist revolution in the 20th century resulted in a lower overall standard of living, if only for the ubiquity of large famines

the issue would hinge on the existing institutions (legal system, property rights, civil discourse etc) and whether they were preserved or not. The US had the common law system to fall back on and the UK which they revolted against was the among the most liberal political systems in existence during that time, so things really did not change that much. In contrast, Spanish colonialism was much more brutal and repressive and there were not stable civil institutions for Latin America to fall back on.

Egypt has better institutions than Libya where Quadafi ran a totalitarian regime - which bodes better for Egypt

russ_watters
Mentor
Is the question even relevant? The question implies to me that revolutions are about an attempt to increase prosperity. What if they have nothing to do with prosperity - is it a relevant question?

talk2glenn
In fairness to the OP, I think in political science economic hardship is considered a sufficient condition for revolution. Whatever the ostensible motivations, generally, poor people rebel and wealthy people don't.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Anatomy_of_Revolution

Brinton summarizes the revolutionary process as moving from "financial breakdown, [to] organization of the discontented to remedy this breakdown ... revolutionary demands on the part of these organized discontented, demands which if granted would mean the virtual abdication of those governing, attempted use of force by the government, its failure, and the attainment of power by the revolutionists. These revolutionists have hitherto been acting as an organized and nearly unanimous group, but with the attainment of power it is clear that they are not united. The group which dominates these first stages we call the moderates .... power passes by violent ... methods from Right to Left."

I read the question as, "do they make those poor people any better off?" The answer is, usually not.

According to Brinton, while "we must not expect our revolutions to be identical" (p. 226), three of the four (the English, French and Russian) began "in hope and moderation", reached "a crisis in a reign of terror," and ended "in something like dictatorship - Cromwell, Bonaparte, Stalin". The exception is the American Revolution, which "does not quite follow this pattern". (p. 24)

Is it possible that Entitlement programs (expanded in the 1960's) in the US have given a false sense of prosperity to millions of beneficiaries?

Is the question even relevant? The question implies to me that revolutions are about an attempt to increase prosperity. What if they have nothing to do with prosperity - is it a relevant question?

The Egyptians seemed to think so.

Is it possible that Entitlement programs (expanded in the 1960's) in the US have given a false sense of prosperity to millions of beneficiaries?

I wouldn't confuse a safety net with prosperity.

I wouldn't confuse a safety net with prosperity.

Unemployment is a safety net - lifelong participation in food, housing and medical is not (IMO).

Unemployment is a safety net - lifelong participation in food, housing and medical is not (IMO).

It sure as hell isn't anything a reasonable person would call prosperity either. I'm not arguing against abuses in these systems; they are MEANT to be safety nets.

It sure as hell isn't anything a reasonable person would call prosperity either. I'm not arguing against abuses in these systems; they are MEANT to be safety nets.

Let's think about that a minute. In the 1960's, the expansion of welfare was a dream come true to many - now - it seems it isn't good enough "to a reasonable person"??? :rofl:My turn to laugh (sorry).

Let's think about that a minute. In the 1960's, the expansion of welfare was a dream come true to many - now - it seems it isn't good enough "to a reasonable person"??? :rofl:My turn to laugh (sorry).

Not what I said: it isn't "PROSPERITY."

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Wikipedia said:
Prosperity is the state of flourishing, thriving, success, or good fortune. [1] Prosperity often encompasses wealth but also includes others factors which are independent of wealth to varying degrees, such as happiness and health.

Princeton said:
•an economic state of growth with rising profits and full employment
•the condition of prospering; having good fortune

Welfare is not that, unless you're engaged in MASSIVE fraud.

Not what I said: it isn't "PROSPERITY."

edit:
Welfare is not that, unless you're engaged in MASSIVE fraud.

If you recall, this started when I said "Is it possible that Entitlement programs (expanded in the 1960's) in the US have given a false sense of prosperity to millions of beneficiaries?" my bold

If you recall, this started when I said "Is it possible that Entitlement programs (expanded in the 1960's) in the US have given a false sense of prosperity to millions of beneficiaries?" my bold

...I don't see how the dole queue gives a false sense of Prosperity unless the word is to be butchered.

If a family receives $500 per month in food,$400 in rent subsidy, $1,500 in medical,$100 in transportation, $300 in utility subsidy, and$900 SSDI - total $3,700 per month =$44,000 per year PLUS EIC (if someone worked a few hour - maybe $1,000 per year?) of perhaps$5,000= $50,000 gross @ 20 years equals$1,000,000 - isn't it like winning the lottery?

If a family receives $500 per month in food,$400 in rent subsidy, $1,500 in medical,$100 in transportation, $300 in utility subsidy, and$900 SSDI - total $3,700 per month =$44,000 per year PLUS EIC (if someone worked a few hour - maybe $1,000 per year?) of perhaps$5,000= $50,000 gross @ 20 years equals$1,000,000 - isn't it like winning the lottery?

1 million USD for a family over 20 years, at the most? No, and I'm not arguing for or against it, but no matter how you flip it, that's still not prosperity.

1 million USD for a family over 20 years, at the most? No, and I'm not arguing for or against it, but no matter how you flip it, that's still not prosperity.

I said "false sense of prosperity" - IMO - the nation is starting to wake up and pay attention. Again IMO, if there's a "revolution" this time - it's going to be by the taxpayers and non-union people who are tired of hearing how bad unions and people on welfare have it - and aren't buying the line that only the "rich" people need to pay - again IMO.

russ_watters
Mentor
In fairness to the OP, I think in political science economic hardship is considered a sufficient condition for revolution. Whatever the ostensible motivations, generally, poor people rebel and wealthy people don't.
Really? Could you give some examples where economic hardship is by far the primary motivator for revolution? It certainly wasn't the prime mover in the recent Middle East revolutions. It wasn't for the American revolution either - heck, for the American revolution it was mostly rich people leading the revolution. But the reason was political oppression. At best I think it can sometimes be considered the final straw whereas the underlying problem is typically lack of freedom.

Economic hardship can certainly cause unrest, but how that manifests depends on the government. For example, in the US, intense dissatisfaction with the government's handling of economic matters led to wide swings in the electorate in consecutive elections. Why didn't we violently revolt instead? The answer is our government has a built-in mechanism for peacefully overthrowing it that dictatorships don't. So when they are annoyed about anything, the only recourse is to overthrow the government with physical force.

russ_watters
Mentor
The Egyptians seemed to think so.
They seemed to think what? That economic factors were enough to revolt? That's not how I saw the driver of the Egyptian revolution. The wiki seems to agree:
Grievances of Egyptian protesters focused on legal and political issues[10] including police brutality,[11] state of emergency laws,[11] lack of free elections and freedom of speech,[12] uncontrollable corruption,[12] as well as economic issues including high unemployment,[13] food price inflation,[13] and low minimum wages.[11][13] The primary demands from protest organizers are the end of the Hosni Mubarak regime, the end of Emergency Law (martial law), freedom, justice, a responsive non-military government, and management of Egypt's resources.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Egyptian_revolution

Yeah, economic factors are in there somewhere, but the primary driver was that they were sick of living in a dictatorship and saw a successful revolution next-door.

There is a reason democracies have wild elections and dictatorships have revolutions: people don't like living in oppressive dictatorships.

So to circle back to the questions in the OP:
There isn't necessarily any direct connection between revolution and prosperity.

...and the corollary: a lack of prosperity doesn't necessarily cause revolution. As I said above, I think revolutions are more strongly tied to the system of government than economic factors.
Do we need revolutions for prosperity?
Maybe yes, maybe no. Depends on if the current system of government is one that limits prosperity.
Is revolutions one of the factors that determine prosperity?
It can, but it doesn't have to.

If all these answers sound vague/noncomittal, it's because I don't think they are useful/relevant questions, as I discussed above and in my previous post. Rootx, I think a big part of the problem is that since you don't really believe in freedom, you have a hard time using the concept of freedom as an explanation/motivation for historical events. That's something you'll have to deal with in order to properly analyze these things - one must set aside their own motivations for the analysis and deal instead with the motivations of the people doing the doing.

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They seemed to think what? That economic factors were enough to revolt? That's not how I saw the driver of the Egyptian revolution. The wiki seems to agree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Egyptian_revolution

Yeah, economic factors are in there somewhere, but the primary driver was that they were sick of living in a dictatorship and saw a successful revolution next-door.

There is a reason democracies have wild elections and dictatorships have revolutions: people don't like living in oppressive dictatorships.

Hmmmm... yet the Saudis are able to bribe their citizenry into quiesence, as with most of the emirates.

Curious.

russ_watters
Mentor
Hmmmm... yet the Saudis are able to bribe their citizenry into quiesence, as with most of the emirates.

Curious.
Why is it curious? Make a point, don't beat around the bush.

Why is it curious? Make a point, don't beat around the bush.

... I'm sorry... I have to laugh so hard right now, I can barely type... brb in a few!

Oh, and my point is: you're wrong, and the 10+ Billion USD "giveaways" in SA are soicial bribes to keep the poplace placated. I'd think you'd be all over that, given your views on public... anything.

Oh, and the market thinks you're wrong too...
http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=662025&publicationSubCategoryId=200

Stability can be bought for a time... the thing is, Egypt didn't have the cash... well... Mubarak may have, but not the coffers.

Ist Klar, Ja? (Is clear, Yes?)

It certainly wasn't the prime mover in the recent Middle East revolutions

Considering Tunisia case:
The revolution was triggered as well caused by unemployment and poor economy of Tunisia as per following article (also see BBC article below). It also considers political suppression but I as read unemployment was prime mover. I can go and try to get more if you find this unsatisfactory.

Ali fled the country after high levels of unemployment
and inequalities resulted in widespread chaos and
social unrest.

While apparently stable, Tunisia’s political system has
suddenly revealed itself unsustainable. Taking a closer look, it becomes clear that this
is due to the regime’s increasing inability over the last decade to address the most
prominent socioeconomic challenges facing the country: youth unemployment and
growing regional disparities amid rising corruption.

with over 30
percent of the working age population between 15 and 24 unemployed, a figure
comparable to that in neighbouring Egypt (34 percent) and Algeria (31 percent), but
much higher than in Morocco (15 percent), Israel (18 percent), and Turkey (19 percent)
(See Figure 1).

http://www.iai.it/pdf/DocIAI/iaiwp1102.pdf [Broken]

BBC:
The riots were initially against the increasing numbers of unemployed, with the unemployment rate currently standing at around 15%, but rising food prices and frustrations with the ruling elite have since become additional issues.

China was well worried about a year ago when it was seeing lots of young people not finding any jobs and I think it prepared itself well. Arab nations didn't see this coming.

The biggest challenge facing China is not slowing growth but unemployment, which could trigger social unrest, a Chinese government minister has said.

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They seemed to think what? That economic factors were enough to revolt? That's not how I saw the driver of the Egyptian revolution. The wiki seems to agree: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Egyptian_revolution
.

The uprising of Egyptian people, forcing their president to resign, is a turning point in the country’s history. Millions of people crowding streets of Cairo were able to oust a 30-year regime in just 18 days. A major reason for frustration of Egyptian people with Hosni Mubarak was his failure to improve economic conditions. Indeed, widespread poverty, rapid inflation, and double-digit unemployment were the underlying reasons for this unprecedented revolt. Data tell the story well.

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Why is it curious? Make a point, don't beat around the bush.

OK... I made my point... care to make yours in a fashion that isn't shredded within moments of its inception?

@rootX: If being a dictator was what it took for revolution, there should be more revolutions. Where people can be appeased, it's calm. In Oman, which is less wealthy and powerful than SA, you have SOME unrest. In Iran you have a massively powerful security, so there are protests, but they're crushed.

This is not the "ideological awakening" that "hemi-peens" like Wolfowitz, or hopeless dreamers such as Russ would like it to be.

Of course, many factors are at play, but note, even in Libya they're already fighting for oil and land.

\$