On the Success and Progressiveness of (Some) Modern Restorations

Zenonas Norkus, Institute of Sociology and Social Work, Faculty of Philosophy, Vilnius University

Among all forms of historical macrodynamics, restorations are least researched (important exception: Robert A. Kann, The Problem of Restoration (1968)). Meanwhile, two greatest (in the sense of the impact on the course of history) modern revolutions – the French (1789) and the Russian (1917) – both ended by restorations. There is deeply entrenched habit to consider “revolution” as dominant positive term, and to associate “restoration” with reaction doomed to fail. This is one of the legacies French revolution, because in the traditional (pre-modern) societies there was no difference between revolutions and restorations. However, also in modern societies most revolutions are followed by restorations. The idea of restoration is not just to restore status quo before revolution, but to install the improved version of the original system, which is safe against the recurrence of revolution. Therefore, ultimate success of restored social system is proved, if it lasts longer than original and intermediate social systems. Restored post-communist capitalism still did not outlive state socialism, which did last in Eastern European countries 40 (1948-1989) and in former republics of the Soviet Union more than 60 (1929-1991) years. Longer duration of restored social system in comparison with original and intermediate systems is only one yardstick for assessing the success of restorations. The chances of recurrence of revolutions are decreased by better economic and social performance of restored social system in comparison with intermediate and original systems which means its partial (if it performs better than one of them) or complete (if it is better than both of them) progressiveness. This idea is illustrated by examples by cross-temporally comparing the growth of output during first three decades of restored capitalism (1989-2018), three last decades of state socialism (1960-2018) and 25 years of original capitalist system (1913-1938 in Eastern Europe, 1884-1913 in Russia).

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 Presented in Session 131. Events and Crisis in Concept and Practice I