Types of Revolution

Types of Revolution

Types of Revolution Jonathan Poland

A revolution is a sudden and significant change to the structure and foundations of a society, often involving conflict and upheaval. These changes can be political, social, cultural, or economic in nature, and can have far-reaching consequences for the people and institutions affected by them. Revolutions are typically marked by intense and often violent struggles, as different groups within a society seek to reshape it according to their own vision and interests. Despite the challenges and challenges that revolutions can pose, they can also lead to positive transformations and improvements in a society over time.


Revolutions that gain independence from a foreign imperialist power. Historically, there have been hundreds of such conflicts. The large number of independence movements in the period around WWI and WWII are largely credited with collapsing major empires such as the British Empire. The following are a few examples of revolutions that can be classified as independence movements.

Time Period
Imperialist Power
Revolution Summary

1568 – 1648
Spanish Empire
Eighty Years War (Independence of the Netherlands from Spain)

1775 – 1783
British Crown
American Revolution

1822 – 1824
Portuguese Empire
Brazilian War of Independence

1919 – 1921
United Kingdom
Irish War of Independence

1940 – 1944
Nazi Germany
French Resistance

1945 – 1949
Dutch Empire
Indonesian National Revolution

1946 – 1954
French Colonial Empire
First Indochina War (Independence of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from France)

Civil War

A civil war often result from domestic independence movements or political revolutions that are popularly resisted. These are tragic events whereby civility breaks down to such an extent that war erupts amongst people who used to be neighbors, coworkers, friends and family. For example:

1861 – 1865
American Civil War (United States)
Abolition of Slavery

1868 – 1869
Boshin War (Japan)
Westernization of Japan

1899 – 1901
Boxer Rebellion (China)
Revolution against foreign imperialist influence in China

1927 – 1949
Chinese Civil War

1950 – 1953
Korean War

1955 – 1975
Vietnam War

Power Struggle

A revolution that replaces one leadership structure with another without any remarkable changes to the political system. Thousands of these have occurred historically whereby one autocrat overthrows another. This can occur as a popular revolution or as a coup d’état that represents a seizure of power by a political faction often using military force. Globally, there were 457 coup attempts from 1950 to 2010 with 227 of these being successful in grabbing power. There is nothing in the definition of revolution that requires popular participation such that a coup d’état is a type of revolution.

Political Revolution

A revolution that seeks to completely replace a socioeconomic system.

1789 – 1799
French Revolution
Constitutional monarchy that included many of the principles that now underlie modern liberal democracies.

Russian Revolution

Young Turk Revolution (Ottoman Empire)
Restoration of multi-party politics and constitution

April Revolution (South Korea)
Democracy (overthrow of an autocratic regime)

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