Assignment 3: Are there common themes that throw legitimacy into crisis? Draw on your readings to discuss the reasons for the revolutions in France, Russia and Iran.
This essay identifies common themes that throw legitimacy into crisis through a comparison of the causes of the French, Russian and Iranian revolutions. As stipulated in the Social Contract, as explained by John Locke, society has the right to overthrow the authority through revolution when the contract is in breach. Therefore, legitimacy ensures political stability and must be lost before a revolution can occur. Recognising factors or conditions that threaten the legitimacy of a regime allows the prediction of revolutions in the future. According to Goldstone, there are three conditions which in combination lead to a revolution; namely, when the state is in crisis; the elites are alienated from the state and in conflict with one another; and when there is potential for mass mobilisation (Emirbayer and Goodwin, 1996: 358-374). All three of these conditions apply to the revolutions in France and Russia, creating many similarities in the roots of these two revolutions. In France, constitutional and financial crises lead to a state of instability which saw desperate actions by ministers in response to rising demands of the population fail. Relative deprivation was evident through revolts by the peasantry and the growth of the bourgeoisie; similar to the case of the Russian revolution. Neither governments owned a strong army, thus the use of force to maintain power was not viable. On the other hand, the circumstance in Iran had not seen war or suffered economic collapse prior to the revolution. Accounts of relative deprivation were eminent; however it was the attempts of a well-organised opposition with deep cultural roots in the population that propagated the revolution. The masses could identify with the opposition as its principles were...
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