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George Lawson, ‘Revolutions and the International’, Theory and Society, 44(4) 2015: 299-319.
Although contemporary theorists of revolution usually claim to be incorporating international dynamics in their analysis, “the international” remains a residual feature of revolutionary theory. For the most part, international processes are seen either as the facilitating context for revolutions or as the dependent outcome of revolutions. The result is an analytical bifurcation between international and domestic in which the former serves as the backdrop to the latter’s causal agency. This article demonstrates the benefits of a fuller engagement between revolutionary theory and “the international. “It does so in three steps: first, the article examines the ways in which contemporary revolutionary theory apprehends “the international”; second, it lays out the descriptive and analytical advantages of an “intersocietal” approach; and third, it traces the ways in which international dynamics help to constitute revolutionary situations, trajectories, and outcomes. In this way, revolutions are understood as “intersocietal” all the way down.