Ideas and revolution

By Emma Lucas

Blyth describes how ideas and ideology can influence the development of institutions. In this blogpost I will apply his theory to the Marxist revolution in Russia during the first world war. 

“Agents must argue over, diagnose, proselytize, and impose on others their notion of what a crisis actually is before collective action to resolve the uncertainty facing them can take any meaningful institutional form.” That means that ideology influences the notion of when a situation is a economic crisis, which than means that ideology influences the perception of an institutions that has ‘failed’ and that has to be changed. 

In 1917 Russia was effected by economic downfall, bad governance and was losing in the first world war. (1) This caused civil unrest. First, the revolution focussed on overthrowing the Czar, since he was believed to be the main problem. Ideas influences this decision,  since having a Czar was seen as the institution that caused all the problems. The new moderate government, however, was overthrown after a few months by Lenin in the Bolshevik revolution. Lenin did not believe that the moderate government did enough to lead the country towards the Marxist state. After the revolution, Lenin lead Russia as the first Marist state in the world. 

Marxism is a very specific ideology, since it does not only refers to how the world should be, but also through which process this should be implemented. In the Russian revolution, there even was an ‘intervention’ when some thought that the new government did not follow the ‘blueprint’ for institutions from Marist theory enough in the form of a new revolution. This was a revolution that was caused by ideas about how wealth should be divided and after the institutions were designed based upon that ideology.