Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Overthrow of Tyranny


Plotting to overthrow a government is serious business for serious people. Please do not try any of these methods unless you are a trained professional.

So let us now look at the various ways in which we could presume to overthrow a government, with historical examples of course.


Revolution n. 1 a the forcible overthrow of government or social order, in favor of a new system. b (in Marxism) the replacement of one ruling class by another; the class struggle which is expected to lead to political change and the triumph of communism.

One of the marks of a revolution is that it comes from the people as an uncoordinated popular uprising. It is a popular term due to this veneer of being an effort of the masses, even if it was actually an orchestrated effort by a few plotters. It should also be noted that a revolution is, by is nature, generally a leftist form of takeover.

*Most respectable form of revolution as it's the people's uprising.
*The People will be less likely to depose you later

*Unorganized, difficult to orchestrate.
*The people can be unpredictable.
*Conditions (oppression, class struggle etc.) need to be right first.

Famous Revolutions

French Revolution - 1789
Briefly Successful - People overthrew the monarchy, executed Louis XVI in 1793. Failed to produce a stable government and was in turn overthrown by Napoleon in 1799.

Bolshevik Revolution - 1917
Successful - The Bolsheviks overthrew the Tzars in 1917 heralding a new age of perfect, communist, governance. Lasted until Yeltsin changed his mind about communism in the 1990's.

Civil War

Civil War n. war between citizens of the same country.

The civil war has rather gone out of fashion as a way of overthrowing a government (or other ruling party). Civil wars tend to start as a popular uprising with the backing of parts of the military. Unfortunately the rest of the military tend to disagree, leading to fighting between the two opposing factions.

*Some of the Army supports you.
*More likely to stay in power if you win due to the existence of some popular support.

*You might lose.
*The rest of the Army really doesn't like you.
*Half the country really doesn't like you.

Famous Civil Wars

English Civil War - 1642-49
Limited Success - The parliament opposed the monarch of the time (Charles I). Parliamentary forces won in 1646 and executed Charles I in 1649. All fell apart when Oliver Cromwell (head Parliamentarians) died and Charles II was restored to the throne.

Spanish Civil War - 1936-39
Successful - Nationalists rose up against the left-wing government. Eventually the Nationalists, led by Franco, won in July 1936. (Yes I am well aware that it was far more complicated than that, its just an example...)


Putsch n. an attempt at political revolution; a violent uprising.

The putsch is a relatively new concept of overthrow. Strictly a putsch is an uprising by a faction within a nation's armed forces.

*You've got part of an army.

*If the rest of the army is loyal to the government then they're going to be pissed and you're going to be screwed.

Famous Putsches

Libya - 1969
Very Successful - On September 1st 1969 King Idris was overthrown by a group of junior army officers. A twelve man Revolutionary Command Council was set up with Colonel Moammar Gaddafi as its leader. Gaddafi subsequently got a surprising promotion and is still in power to this day.


Liberation n. the act or an instance of liberation; the state of being liberated.

This would perhaps be best put in a more ironic node, "How to liberate the people by installing your own oppressive regime". In this case the liberating is being done by a foreign government who kindly offer to use their own military or diplomatic powers in the case that you say no.

*Your country grows significantly.

*'They' might not have wanted to see their country turn into a province and might try that revolt thing.

Famous Liberations

Russian Liberation of Hungary - 1947
Very Successful - In 1947 Russia made Hungary a kind offer of military force if King Michael decided not to make the 'right' choice of cabinet. Unsurprisingly, due to the slight disparity between the might of the Russian Army and that of Hungary's, King Michael decided that maybe the Soviet choice wasn't quite so bad has he'd first assumed. Russian influence ended in 1989 when the Communist system was abandoned.

Coup d'Etat

Coup d'Etat n. a violent or illegal seizure of power.

The coup is really the ultimate form of overthrowing the ruling powers. It combines the thrills of the revolution and the striking blow of the putsch with a media friendly image. If you felt that liberation and revolution were too left-wing for you, or that the putsch and pronunciamiento were a bit too nationalist then the coup is for you. It really is the deposing technique of the new millennium.

The essence of the coup is that it can be started with relatively few people and its uses the power of the government against itself. It exploits the predictability of the government to seize control of a small, yet vital, part of the governmental machine, which it then uses to overthrow the government and take control. Because of this the coup tends to be swift and decisive.

*None of that "will of the people" crap.
*Only needs a comparatively small number of people to pull off.
*Swift, has minimal effect on the rest of the populace.

*Gives other people ideas. They must be crushed.

Famous Coups

Syria - 1966
Fairly Successful - The ruling Ba'ath Party was overthrown by an extreme leftist faction headed by Salah Jadid. The coup was successful, largely due to a series of wise moves Jadid made in creating a puppet government. Jadid was overthrown in 1969 by Assad although he was still influential up until his arrest by Assad in November 1970.

I cribbed most of this from various articles out there sorry didn't get sources.


The Scavenger said...

Absolutely Beautiful !! More like a study guide for guys like us though. LOL I am more of a coup kinda guy myself. Wonder which one will mostly be used. You know, if things come to that. Great info and Thanks again BigBear. I'm writing a (Fictional) story that you may be interested in. Hope you can check in on it.

John said...

You left out "rebellion," as in the Whisky Rebellion.


theotherryan said...

The lines between most of these are muttled at best. "Liberation" a la ussr style is a good example that the line between liberation and invasion depend on who writes the book later on. Like terrorist vs freedom fighter. Iraq "liberated" Kuwait while back and I do not think the Kuwatis liked it much.

BigBear said...

Liberation is so hard to pin down. It truely depends on which side you are one. Basically trading oppression.

Dragon said...

I'm always partial to the rebellions led by Boudica and Vercingetorix...
Neither ended well , but they both hurt the romans real bad... They might have even hastened the fall of Rome. there are lessons in both cases. in Boudica's case,if your troops fall to looting before the battles won, shoot em. In Vercingetorix's case, never fail to maintain communications between your forces and always have an alternate plan.
Both of these Hero's failed at a key moment.
But that they are still remembered today,is initself a fitting tribute to the damage they did an "evil" empire. Dragon

The Other Mike S. said...

Re: revolutions generally being uncoordinated. Historically, perhaps, but with the Internet, it's much easier to communicate with those of like mind. Consider, though, the .GOV with their broad surveillance powers.

A government that is able to justify the Kelo decision, and has to even think twice about the meaning of the Second Amendment, would have no problem patching together a collusion or conspiracy charge.


Angry Oracle said...

"perfect communist governance"................ I hope to God that is sarcasm.

Mortgageboss said...

Yeah, Stalin was a great leader of Communist Russia. How many millions of his own people did he kill?

Anonymous said...

Russia was never a "communist" state. In fact, no nation in recent times has ever been communist (go read the textbook definition), instead they have been authoritarian dictatorships.
Communism only works well with a small populace in relative isolation....many early Christian communities were communist, as were most American Indian tribes.