Democratic Ideals and Reality: A Study in the Politics of by Halford John Mackinder

By Halford John Mackinder

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One way to minimize resistance is to make it unattractive. The recalcitrant must be persuaded of the national, social, and personal costs of opposing the revolution. In the struggle to create the new regime, revolutionary leaders learn the value of small groups for reinforcing the commitment of followers who are scrutinized for even the slightest lapse in devotion or discipline (Brinton 1965, 150-60). Early on, local networks of small revolutionary organizations exist alongside, but independent of, the state apparatus.

At the same time, the breakdown of old political institutions can make the leaders of other states confident that revolution has weakened the state in which it has occurred. Second, transnational links forged in response to the revolutionary ideology can make both sides doubt that compromise will reverse unfavorable political trends. The time has now come to validate the empirical usefulness of these ideas. The Purpose of Comparison To test the plausibility of the argument in this book, I compare three revolutions in history that were catalysts for costly wars between states.

Yet to revolutionaries war can accelerate consolidation of the new regime. One way they can achieve this is by decisively defeating the enemy on the battlefield. Another is by means of the process of war itself: even if it is indecisive, it provides a justification for improving the coercive and extractive capacities of the state, increasing centralization, and encouraging nationalist convictions in the society. All result in a stronger state. The new leadership may also expect the process of war to threaten the domestic legitimacy of foreign regimes as unacceptable levels of wartime resources are extracted from their societies.

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