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Crises of Old Regimes

The change of political regimes is traditionally accompanied by profound socioeconomic changes that are the major driving forces of any revolution and consistent structural changes in the society. In this regard, it is possible to refer to the American Revolution, the Russian Revolution and the Islamic Revolution in Iran. In fact, these revolutions marked radical change of the ruling regime and were driven by socioeconomic and political factors, which led the ruling regimes to profound crises and provoked revolutions.

The American Revolution was the result of the growing tension between colonists and the British. Great Britain exploited American colonies and set the strict control over trade with American colonies. As a result, colonists turned out to be in a disadvantageous position for they could trade with the British solely. In addition, the control of Britain over American colonies was perceived by colonists as unjust. Colonists grew dissatisfied with the political and economic control from the part of the British. At the same time, the economy of American colonies was boosting as industrial revolution was about to begin. In such a situation, colonists could not afford the unjust regime established by the British. The British, in their turn, could not maintain control over the colonies because the military and economic potential of colonies grew stronger. The accumulation of financial, material, technological and military resources in colonies allowed Americans to launch the rebellion against repressive policies of the British regime in America. As a result, the American Revolution started being provoked by Boston Tea Party and led to the overthrow of the British regime and the establishment of the independent American state, the USA.

The situation in Russia prior to the Revolution of 1917 was characterized by the growing social tension and antagonism of the ruling elite and huge masses of workers and deprived layers of Russian society. The roots of the Revolution of 1917 may be traced back to the beginning of the century. In fact, it was the epoch when the Russian Empire suffered from the numerous internal problems which were consistently aggravated by the involvement of Russia in international military conflicts, such as Russian-Japanese War in 1905 and World War I. In such a situation, the views of the ruling monarch of Russia, Nicholas II, and the revolutionaries namely Bolsheviks headed by Lenin varied dramatically. Eventually, the inability of Nicholas II to meet the expectations of people and change the situation in Russia consistently led to the growing popularity of revolutionary ideas promoted by Bolsheviks that resulted in the Russian Revolution of 1917.

In fact, the necessity of changes of socio-economic and political life in Russia, at the beginning of the 20th century, were evident and even the ruling monarch, Nicholas II, perfectly realized the necessity of the implementation of large scale reforms that could improve the situation in the country and ease the social tension. However, the monarch still remained devoted to principles of absolutism and he did not really agree to democratize Russia because this would lead to the loss of the power by Russian Emperor and the end of his rule. Obviously, Nicholas II could not refuse from the traditional Russian autocracy and the unlimited power he, as a monarch, had over his people.

However, the state policy did not lead to any significant socio-economic changes, which were necessary for Russia and because of which the revolutionary movement grew in power. For instance, in 1905 the first attempt of the Revolution occurred on January 9, when a peaceful demonstration of people demanded improvement their socio-economic position, including democratic liberties, such as freedom of speech, universal and compulsory public education, equality of all people before the law; elimination of poverty and measures against oppression of labor by capital. Not a single basic demand of Russian people was met in the Manifestos.

Bolsheviks laid emphasis on the necessity of radical economic changes and the inability of trade-unions to improve the situation and protect the rights of working people. Lenin, the leader of the Russian Revolution supposed to modernize Russia through the establishment of the eligible power, the liberation of workers, who should take power over their factories, and abolition of private property along with the substitution of monarchy by republic,.The beginning of World War I and failures of Russian army led to the dramatic deterioration of the socio-economic and political situation accelerated the revolutionary changes in the country resulted in the Revolution of 1917. In fact, it was a coup d’état conducted by Bolsheviks who took power in St.-Petersburg and gradually take control over the entire country. In the result of the Revolution, the ruling royal regime was overthrown and the Communist regime was established.

The Islamic Revolution in Iran developed on the similar ground as revolutions in the USA and Russia. To put it more precisely, Iranian society could not afford the regime established by the Shah of Iran, who established the total control over all aspects of social, economic and political life. The consistent deterioration of the socioeconomic situation in Iran was aggravated by the accelerated westernization of Iran launched by the Shah. In such a situation, the westernization became a pretext for the revolution because western norms and traditions were absolutely hostile to Iranians. The failure of economic reforms launched by the Shah aggravated the socioeconomic situation in the country. Iranians grew dissatisfied with the forced westernization that contradicted to their traditional lifestyle. As a result, they rebelled against the ruling regime. However, their ultimate goal was not only cultural changes and restoration of the traditional Islamic lifestyle of Iranians but also and mainly qualitative socio-cultural changes that could improve the position of Iranians. Therefore, socioeconomic factors became the major driver of the Islamic Revolution, whereas cultural changes were just pretext for the revolution.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the downfall of old regimes in the US, Russia and Iran, i.e. the rule of the British in the US, the rule of Nicholas II in Russia, and the Shah in Iran, was caused by the aggravating socioeconomic situation. The population grew dissatisfied with the deterioration of the socioeconomic situation. At the same time, the political or revolutionary power appeared that called to rebel and suggested the program of changes that could improve the life of the population after the downfall of the existing regime. As a result, when the population reached the point when they were ready to rebel any pretext could be used from Boston Tea Party in the USA to westernization in Iran.


Works cited:

Lih, Lars. Lenin Rediscovered: What is to be Done? in Context. Brill Academic Publishers, 2005.
Unit 1. Retrieved on December 13, 2011 from http://faculty.unlv.edu/pwerth/Course-reader-100-1.pdf
Unit 2. Retrieved on December 13, 2011 from http://faculty.unlv.edu/pwerth/Course-reader-100-2.pdf
Unit 3. Retrieved on December 13, 2011 from http://faculty.unlv.edu/pwerth/Course-reader-100-3.pdf