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View Diary: The Left Drops the Ball (244 comments)

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  •  Historically speaking . . . (3+ / 0-)
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    TomP, DawnN, orlbucfan

    Either it peters out as it goes on and fewer and fewer people show up and eventually it gets too damned cold over the winter and it fizzles.

    Or it grows and grows.  And law enforcement gets nervous, so they send more and more enforcement in to harass the demonstrators.  They start to claim that merely occupying space and breathing air is against the law and round them up and take them off to prisons.

    Then you have another fork.  Either the demonstrators say, "okay, we got a rise out of The Man" and quit.  Or they come right back.  For every one that gets taken to jail, others come out of the woodwork.  This is more likely to happen if one or two innocent people get killed, and less likely to happen if a couple dozen are killed at once.  There is a certain calculus of individual survival that goes into these things.

    If larger and larger groups of demonstrators KEEP showing up, the rulers reach a point where they can no longer effectively rule unless they get rid of the demonstrators.  So they have to either throw some bones to the mob, or send in the army.

    If they throw bones, it's very important for the mob to have strong, tough leaders who can negotiate a real deal.  In the absence of good leadership, random assortments of dissatisfied people can be bought off for little but symbolic gestures.

    If they send in the army, then you have another fork.  Does the army shoot?  In most cases, it does, especially if it is a professional, mercenary force working for pay.  However, if it is predominantly lower-class troops with families experiencing the same problems causing the protests, then it is likely to go over to the protesters.  At that point, the government falls and you call it a revolution.

    This progression assumes that it remains nonviolent throughout and no mass breaks of discipline occur.  Violence makes it much more likely that troops will both be called in and will remain loyal to the government, shooting demonstrators.  If large-scale violence IS attempted, it must be sudden, overwhelming, and successful enough to scare the government into immediate capitulation, like storming a lightly-guarded prison (the Bastille) by a mob of thousands with no warning while the guards are half-dozing in the heat of late afternoon.

    Sum of a decade's worth of research, for what it's worth.  Successful revolutions start this way.  But 90% of successful beginnings never go anywhere.

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