Review: Theory, risk assessment, and internal war–A framework for the observation of revolutionary potential

4 Star, Insurgency & Revolution

4.0 out of 5 stars MA Thesis on Predicting Revolution, Still Relevant,

March 22, 2005
Robert David Steele

EDIT of 20 Dec 07 to note that the thesis is free online as a PRD, at oss.net under Robert Steele, Early PapersI am quite surprised to find my 1976 Lehigh University MA thesis on predicting revolution to be listed by Amazon. I do believe that Amazon is quite right to focus on dissertations as marketable products, as they are generally ten years or more ahead of the normal publishing world, and many good efforts fail to reach the market for various reasons including lazy professors who do not help their students publish especially trenchant works.

This was my first serious effort at writing, and suffers from a big of hyperbole, but on balance, as a life-long student of emerging threats and unconventional revolutionary turmoil, I believe it remains relevant.

The thesis creates a new original matrix. Along the top are the dimensions within which revolution can occur: Political-Legal, Soci-Economic, Ideo-Cultural, Techno-Demographic, and Natural-Geographic.

Down the side are the psychological aspects of populations as originally examined by Charles Hampden-Turner in his superb book “Radical Man.” These are perception, identity, competence, investment, suspension, extroversion, transcendence, synergy, and complexity.

Having created an original framework (in 1975, publishing in the Spring of 1976), I then examined the English-language literature on causes of revolution, and filled in roughly a third of the matric–common things like over-concentration of wealth, major catastrophe followed by inept government response, etcetra. I then created a typpology for qualifying revolutions, large and small, filled in the rest of the matrix with new clarifications previously not well understood, and finally I operationalized the whole thing–established specific measureable indicators for each box in the matrix.

A quarter-century later–and over 3,000 additional books and 40 plus countries visited later–I believe this approach remains best in class and useful to strategic communications, and public diplomacy as well as foreign aid. If the USA had a grand strategy for promoting democracy, legitimacy, stabiilty, and reconstruction, this matrix would be helpful to ensuring that a balanced approach is followed in which all of the instruments of national power are utilized, and a coherent approach to security and prosperity is taken across each of the dimensions within which a revolution can be catalyzed.

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See Also:

1976 thesis on revolution (Lehigh University)
1976 graphic on the preconditions of revolution

1992 paper on revolution (Marine Corps University)

2008 Legitimate Grievances (US Internal)
2008 Legitimate Grievances (Anti-US Global)
2010  Preconditions of Revolution in the USA TodayParadigms of Failure