Monday 19 June 2023

How revolutions happen and will Putin survive?


'This seems the almost invariable pattern, whether in the fall of far-flung empires or in revolutions within single states. No one expected a French Revolution that would bring Louis XVI to the guillotine. No one expected an upper-class rebellion in Palermo in 1848 to turn the whole of Europe upside down. Who thought the suicide of a street trader in Tunisia in 2010 could do the same to the Arab world? The German empire collapsed in 1918 only months after it had nearly won the First World War. Despite emerging victorious from the Second World War, the French and British empires began unravelling just as Paris and London were planning new colonial partnerships.'
Robert Tombs in the Daily Telegraph on June 11 on how revolutions happen.

He wonders how long Putin will last - the truth is that he might last till he dies in his bed or might not. Historians cannot know any more than anyone else.

Dr Tombs imagines Putin losing power, while China, Japan, Turkey and others take over Asian possessions conquered by Russia in the 19th century.
'The Russian people’s best chance of a brighter future would be as a post-imperial democratic nation-state, rejecting the imperial ambitions of Putin and his like.'

In other words a future like Kemal Ataturk's Turkey, exactly when this is in danger of being subsumed by Erdogan's neo-Ottomanism. 

How long will the American empire last is a bigger and more important question.


  1. The Arab world has netted out about the same, actually.

  2. Hell of a historian commenting the events of a culture he has obviously zero knowledge about.
    Give him only 6 months of living in Ru - he’ll radically change his mind about everything he comments now.
    Keep on dreaming, pal!

  3. IMHO the notion that Prighozin has been anything but totally loyal to Putin is far fetched, and unsupported by evidence. Much more likely that Putin is at war with his general staff, who are watching the destruction of the Russian Army in Ukraine, rather unhappily, one supposes. No, this episode was Putin forestalling a coup, not being the victim of one.

  4. The USA is a democratic nation state , and only an “empire “ in that its soft power has some “dominion” globally. But nobody is force fed Papa John pizza or Coca Cola. It currently isn’t that “shining city on a hill” because its west and east coast elite has completely lost its moral compass- ironically to Marxism (albeit a peculiarly middle class western strain of the bacillus.).
    However, there are echoes of the Roman Empire’s decline and fall in the US and the West and the EU project seems like a farcical attempt to recreate imperium .
    I agree the best hope for a brighter future for Russians resides in a post imperial democratic nation state.
    Empires always fail and collapse - and part of it is different ethic groups ultimately don’t have sufficient glue to hold them together in an imperial entity. Russian ultra nationalist dreams of a Euro Asian imperium are as ridiculous as the American post civil war one of civic patriotism and American just by allegiance to flag and Constitution. What makes a nation is tribe , religion and blood kinship. What will destroy America is the incompatibility of races.