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Various Factors Leading to Revolution

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Revolutionary war refers to the seizure of political power by the use of armed forces. Not everyone would accept such a simple definition, and indeed the term has other connotations: that the seizure of power is by a popular or broad-based political movement that the seizure entails a fairly long period of armed conflict, and that power is seized in order to carry out a well-advertised political or social program. Revolutionary war is also distinguished by what it is not. It is not “war” in the general understood sense of the word, not international war or war between nations, with its usual (though not invariable) expectation that fighting will lead, sooner or later, to some negotiated settlement between the belligerent powers. Revolutionary wars occur within nations, and have as their aim the seizure of power. But once the definition moves beyond this simple distinction between the international ‘war’ and ‘revolutionary war’, clarity way to murkiness.

This shows that revolutions are complex processes that emerge from the social order becoming frayed in many areas at once. There are popularly five known causes that can lead to an unstable social equilibrium which are; economic or fiscal strain, alienation and opposition, widespread popular anger at injustice, a persuasive shared narrative of resistance and favourable international relations.

Firstly, the economic or fiscal strain which can be seen as one of the causes can be linked to the Industrial Revolution. The first Industrial Revolution (1760-1870) was that phenomenal economic transformation in Europe when the people change from their basic agrarian-cum-handicraft based economy to an industrial one, dominated by mass production of capital goods, equipment and machinery. The first Industrial Revolution started in England in 1760. And, aware of their strategic head start in the acquisition of their new technology, the British prohibited the exportation of manufactured products or the transfer of their nascent skills. However, this restriction was broken by two Britons, William and John Cockerill, who could not resist the lucrative opportunities of marketing their products in continental Europe.

The Industrial Revolution transformed economies that had been based on agriculture and handicrafts into economies based on large-scale industry, mechanized manufacturing, and the factory system. New machines, new power sources, and new ways of organizing work made existing industries more productive and efficient. New industries also arose, including, in the late 19th century, the automobile industry. The primary features of these revolutions were; the discovery and use of new basic materials such as iron, steel, coal, petroleum and electricity, the invention of the steam engine, and the internal combustion engine, steamship, automobile, airplane, telegraphy and radio as well as the spinning jenny and other powerful looms, the mass production of food encouraged by the emergence of a new working class, a wider distribution of wealth; the growth of cities and the decline in the value of land as a source of wealth now being challenged by rapid industrialization and international trade. Another thing that happened was the shift from the oligarchical ownership of the means of production to the people-oriented through sale or appropriation of shares in the second Industrial Revolution. In general, The Industrial Revolution increased the overall amount of wealth and distributed it more widely than had been the case in earlier centuries, helping to enlarge the middle class. However, the replacement of the domestic system of industrial production, in which independent crafts persons worked in or near their homes, with the factory system and mass production consigned large numbers of people, including women and children, to long hours of tedious and often dangerous work at subsistence wages. Their miserable conditions gave rise to the trade union movement in the mid-19th century.

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Secondly, opposition of the people can be seen as a major cause that can lead to revolution. The minority and low class of Russia had endured centuries of oppression. 75% of the Russian population was made up of poor peasants who, prior to 1861, were called serfs. After finally being emancipated in 1861, the peasants were given land, but were required to pay for it. However, 25% of Russia’s land still elongated to 1.5% of the population. The quality of life failed to improve for Russia’s poor. Peasants made little money, and revolts and labor strikes among peasants were common. They had practically no voice at all in government affairs. The high levels of inequality in Russia prevailed, and the common people resented the wealthy aristocracy for this. While the wealthy upper class lived lives of luxury, the common people endured deplorable living and working conditions and hopelessly suffered in poverty. Furthermore, the people angered by Tsar Nicholas II’s refusal to reform and oppression of the low class, in January of 1905, a group of 150,000 people led by the radical priest Georgy Apollonovich Gapon went to the tsar’s Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to protest. The tsar’s troops opened fire on the crowd, killing thousands of peaceful protestors in the streets. Strikes and riots broke out throughout the country in outraged response to the massacre.

The third reason is widespread popular anger against injustice. A good example is the French revolution of 1989. The French Revolution was basically a war of injustice. The middle class believed that in order to gain equality they had to get rid of the privileges that were stopping the progress of their rise in society. To do this they had to gain power within the government and make changes, such as, improving the tax system, creating a fair system of production where profits went to the producer, improving the whole economic system of the government, and plus many more.

A shared idea on resistance is also one of the causes that will be discussed in this term paper. In a situation where is a wide spread of a certain ideology or misconception, it may also lead to a revolution. A good example is the Revolutions of 1848, known in some countries as the Spring of Nations, People’s spring, springtime of the Peoples, or the Year of Revolution, were a series of political upheavals throughout Europe in 1848. It remains the most widespread revolutionary wave in European history. The revolutions were essentially bourgeois revolutions and democratic and liberal in nature, with the aim of removing the old monarchical structures and creating independent nation-states. The revolutions spread across Europe after an initial revolution began in France in February. Over 50 countries were affected, but with no significant coordination or cooperation among their respective revolutionaries. Some of the major contributing factors were widespread dissatisfaction with political leadership, demands for more participation in government and democracy, demands for freedom from press, other demands made by the working class, the upsurge of nationalism, and the regrouping of established government forces.

Conflicts between states can also be seen as a reason. A good example can be seen in the Cuban revolution also known as Bay of Pigs. It was an armed revolt conducted by Fidel Castro’s revolutionary 26th of July revolution and its allies against the military dictatorship of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. The revolution began in July 1953, and continued sporadically until the rebels finally ousted Batista on 31 December 1958, replacing his government with a revolutionary socialist state. 26 July 1953 is celebrated in Cuba as the Day of the Revolution. The 26th of July Movement later reformed along communist lines, becoming the Communist party in October 1965. The Cuban Revolution had powerful domestic and international repercussions. In particular, it transformed Cuba’s relationship with the United States, although efforts to improve diplomatic relations have gained momentum in recent years. In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, Castro’s government began a program of nationalism, centralization of the press and political consolidation that transformed Cuba’s economy and civil society. The revolution also heralded an era of Cuban intervention in foreign military conflicts, including the Angolan Civil War and the Nicaraguan revolution. Several Escambray mountains, which were repressed by the Revolutionary government.

In conclusion, we can see that various factors can lead to revolution. These causes can either be caused by one’s personal feeling and interpretations, it can be caused by the society as well as the government, it can also be caused by inter relations with other states of the world.


  1. Peter Paret, & Gordon, A.C, Felix Gilbert. (1998). Makers of Modern Strategy (2nd ed.) Oxford, Great Britain: Clarendon Press.
  2. Brigadier General Momah, S. (1994).Global Strategy. Lagos, Nigeria: Vista Books Limited.
  3. Gizachew, T. (2014, September 18). Social Revolutions. Retrieved from
  4. The Editors of Encyclopedia Britanncia. French Revolution. Retrieved from

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Various Factors Leading to Revolution. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from
“Various Factors Leading to Revolution.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
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