Revolution, or coup d'état?
An example of the lack of precision in the scientific analysis of social developments is found in Hall (1983):
- "In political revolutions one sometimes feels that the coup succeeds because the forces of conservatism have lost conviction and so have lost courage."
The Encyclopaedia Britannica (1995) operates more scientifically when it defines revolution as
- "a fundamental departure from any previous historical pattern. A revolution constitutes a challenge to the established political order and the eventual establishment of a new order radically different from the preceding one."
But it, too, starts from the aspect of violence; the first sentence of its definition reads
- "Revolution, in social and political science, a major, sudden, and hence typically violent alteration in government and in related associations and structures."
As a consequence, it also blurs the distinction between progressive revolutions and reactionary coups d'état:
- "A strictly political revolution, independent of social transformation, ... may be merely a change in political authority (as in many coups d'état) or a somewhat broader transformation of the structures of power."
Hall, A. R. (1983) The Revolution in Science 1500 - 1750. Longman, London.
Encyclopaedia Britannica 15th ed. (1995) revolution.