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What Makes a Revolution? Burma's Revolt of 1988 and a Comparative Analysis of the Revolutions of the Late 1980s

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This paper describes the Burmese revolt of 1988, compares it with other uprisings and revolutions in Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe and analyzes it through the lenses of several important theories of revolution. It analyzes the actions of the state and of the opposition, paying careful attention to psychological factors and the structure of the state and the opposition. It shows how these factors impacted the revolt of 1988 and how they might affect a future revolution in Burma. It concludes that current theories of revolutions can be used to describe much of what happened in Burma but miss the critical point that revolutions are often driven forward by actors who have abandoned conventional notions of rationality. It also concludes that, while a revolution in Burma is not likely to occur in the immediateterm, unless serious political change occurs (perhaps even if serious political change occurs), more political turmoil, uprisings and perhaps revolution are almost inevitable.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 1999

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