Democracy Paradox
Democracy Paradox
Sep 21, 2020
George Lawson on Revolution
Play • 55 min

This is the second part of the three episode arc called "Resistance, Revolution, Democracy." George Lawson joins to discuss revolutions. His book, Anatomies of Revolution, offers both a historical framework to understand revolutions, but also analyzes them in their own unique context. We talk about all kinds of revolutions from history and current events. George brings up famous revolutions like the French and American Revolutions, but is also comfortable discussing the protests in Belarus or Tunisia and the Arab Spring.

Last week's episode introduced the idea of civil resistance. Erica Chenoweth explained how nonviolent campaigns were more likely than violent uprisings to overthrow authoritarian regimes. But George Lawson recognizes revolutions face a second challenge in how they choose to govern. Contemporary civil resistance campaigns find this next challenge particularly difficult because they represent broad coalitions with diverse options.

This is a fun conversation that is wide ranging. But there is no clear solution for how to transition from a successful revolution to successful governance. The next episode with Jonathan Pinckney offers a blueprint for how civil resistance campaigns can transition From Dissent to Democracy.

George Lawson is a Professor of International Relations at the Australian National University. He was previously Associate Professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science. His work is oriented around the relationship between history and theory, with a particular interest in global historical sociology.

Thanks to Apes of the State for permission to use their tracks "The Internet Song" and "Bill Collector's Theme Song." You can find their music on Spotify or their Bandcamp.

Please visit my blog at I have written 70 reviews of both classic and contemporary works of political science with an emphasis on democracy. This week I reviewed From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology. Please visit the website and read my book reviews. And don't forget to subscribe to keep up with future episodes.

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