A revolutionary wave is a series of revolutions occurring in various locations in a similar time period. In many cases, past revolutions and revolutionary waves may inspire current ones, or an initial revolution inspires other concurrent "affiliate revolutions" with similar aims. Historians and political philosophers have studied the causes of revolutionary waves, including Robert Roswell Palmer, Crane Brinton, Hannah Arendt, Eric Hoffer and Jacques Godechot. The concept is important to Marxists, who see revolutionary waves as evidence that a world revolution is possible. For Rosa Luxemburg, "The most precious thing...in the sharp ebb and flow of the revolutionary waves is the proletariat's spiritual growth. The advance by leaps and bounds of the intellectual stature of the proletariat affords an inviolable guarantee of its further progress in the inevitable economic and political struggles ahead." However, the phrase also has been used by non-Marxist activists and writers, including Justin Raimondo and Michael Lind, to describe numbers of revolutions happening within a short period of time. Various examples of revolutionary waves are cited.
18th and 19th century
- The wave of Atlantic Revolutions occurring at the end of the 18th century, including the American Revolution (1776), the French Revolution (1789), the Haitian Revolution (1791) and the Batavian Revolution (1795). Later, the Latin American wars of independence, including the various Spanish American wars of independence of 1810–1826 were often seen as inspired at least in part by the American and French Revolutions in terms of their liberal Enlightenment ideology and aims, are counted as the second part of the Atlantic Wave.
- The Revolutions of 1820, such as the Decembrist revolt in Russia and the Greek War of Independence.
- The Revolutions of 1830, such as the July Revolution in France and the Belgian Revolution.
- The Revolutions of 1848 throughout Europe, following the February Revolution in France.
- The Revolutions of 1905–11 in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War, including the Russian Revolution of 1905, the Argentine Revolution of 1905, the Persian Constitutional Revolution, the Young Turk Revolution, the Greek Goudi coup, the Monegasque Revolution, the 5 October 1910 revolution in Portugal, the Mexican Revolution, and the Xinhai Revolution in China involved nationalism, constitutionalism, modernization, and/or republicanism targeting autocracy and traditionalism.
- The Revolutions of 1917–23 in the aftermath of World War I, including the Russian Revolution and the emergence of an international communist party alliance in the Soviet–let Comintern, the collapse of the major territorial empires of continental Europe, the first protest of the Indian independence movement organized by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, as well as other nationalist, populist and socialist uprisings and protests worldwide.
- Post-World War II communist revolutions in East Asia and Southeast Asia including the 1949 victory of the Maoists in decades-long Chinese Civil War; the establishment of a communist state in North Korea and the subsequent Korean War; the success of the Viet Minh and the communist North Vietnamese regime through the First Indochina War; the failed uprisings by the Huks in the Philippines and by communists in the Malayan Emergency; and the Indonesian National Revolution in 1949.
- Waves of revolution in Africa, cresting in the 1970s, including the communist revolutions and pro-Soviet military coups in Somalia, the Congo-Brazzaville, Benin and Ethiopia; the fight of the communist parties allied under CONCP against the Portuguese Empire in the Portuguese Colonial War; as well as the anti-apartheid struggle, the South African Border War and the Rhodesian Bush War (in what is now known as Zimbabwe).
- Arab nationalist movements in the 1950s and 1960s, inspired especially by Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt.
- The Cuban Revolution in 1959 preceded communist revolutionary waves in the mid-1960s to mid-1970s including the Cultural Revolution in China, the Vietnam War (or Second Indochina War), the Cambodian Civil War and Laotian Civil War, and the efforts of the New People's Army in the Philippines.
- The African-American Civil Rights Movement (1955–1968) organized successful nonviolent protests against government and private discrimination. Continuing unrest in African-American communities led to the multi-city riots during the “Long Hot Summer of 1967” and the various 1968 riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr..
- During the 1960s and 1970s period, youth movements worldwide included opposition to the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, the worldwide counterculture of the 1960s, the New Left movement and the Protests of 1968, including the May 1968 protests in France.
- 1979 saw a Castroite/Guevarist movement take power in the Nicaraguan Revolution; Vietnam-backed Cambodian insurgents drive Pol Pot out of power (followed by the brief Sino-Vietnamese War as China invaded northern Vietnam in response); the Iranian Revolution which brought an end to the regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and established the Islamic Republic of Iran; and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to defend the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen guerrilla movement and Arab and Muslim volunteers.
- The Revolutions of 1989 dissolved the communist Soviet Union by the end of 1991, resulting in Russia and 14 countries declaring their independence from the Soviet Union: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan. Communism soon was abandoned by other countries, including Albania, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, East Germany, Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Somalia, the Congo-Brazzaville, Angola, Mozambique, Benin, Mongolia, and South Yemen.
- The Colour revolutions in the former Soviet Union, Lebanon and Yugoslavia.
- The Arab Spring, which started in Tunisia in December 2010 and then spread to Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Djibouti, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Mali, the Western Sahara, Israel, and the Palestinian territories by May 2011. Protests around the world have been seen as part of the impact of the Arab Spring.
- Mark N. Katz, Revolution and Revolutionary Waves, Palgrave Macmillan (October 1, 1999)
- Nader Sohrabi, Revolution and Constitutionalism in the Ottoman Empire and Iran, Cambridge University Press, 2011 p. 74, 83, 87, 90, 94, 96, ISBN 0-521-19829-1, ISBN 978-0-521-19829-5
- *Colin J. Beck, Dissertation submitted to Stanford University Department of Sociology graduate Ph.D program, March 2009, "Ideological roots of waves of revolution," ProQuest, 2009, p. 1-5, ISBN 1-109-07655-X, 9781109076554.
- Note: Colin J. Beck also wrote The Ideological Roots of Waves of Revolution, BiblioBazaar, 2011, ISBN 1243608560, 9781243608567
- Rosa Luxemburg, Gesammelte Werke, quoted in Tony Cliff Rosa Luxemburg, 1905 and the classic account of the mass strike in Patterns of mass strike, International Socialism 2:29, Summer 1985, p.3-61.
- Justin Raimondo, The Revolutionary Wave: Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen – is the West next?, Antiwar.com, January 28, 2011.
- Michael Lind, Vietnam, the necessary war: a reinterpretation of America's most disastrous military conflict, Simon and Schuster, 2002 p 37 ISBN 0-684-87027-4, ISBN 978-0-684-87027-4
- Colin J. Beck, "Ideological roots of waves of revolution," p. 161.
- Deborah Jerome, Can Tunisia Spark a Revolutionary Wave?, Council on Foreign Relations analysis brief, January 18, 2011.
- Mark Kosman, Is revolution back on the agenda?