Revolution

The Battle of Tunis

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The revolt in Tunisia has sent shivers down the spines of dictators across the region. Anne Alexander looks at the roots of the revolution and considers its broader implications, while Tunisian activists Héla Yousfi and Fathi Chamki give their accounts of the uprising and Dominic Kavakeb examines the role of the internet

There is no doubt that the uprising in Tunisia has cast a chill over the dictatorships of the Middle East while millions around the region have been inspired by the hope that their struggles against unemployment, poverty and corruption can break the machine of state repression. Street protests and cyber-activism have (albeit belatedly) caught the imagination of the global media, but the unfolding revolutionary process in January 2011 shows clearly that something more profound has shifted in Tunisia.

Revolutionary Lessons: Should we aim to smash the state?

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Can students challenge the state? Jack Farmer explores the issues.

As the "Day X" student protests unfolded before Christmas, a series of impressions were left in their wake: the sight of teenagers chanting and charging around central London; the smell of placards burning in the freezing air; the sound of breaking glass.

Toussaint L'Ouverture: The Gilded African

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Locked in an Alpine castle, Toussaint L'Ouverture died in April 1803 having led the slave insurrection of Saint-Domingue and challenged French domination of the Caribbean.

It was a cruel irony to take this great leader from his Caribbean island and incarcerate him through a freezing winter.

Born a slave around 1743, Toussaint enjoyed a degree of privilege as a house slave and coachman and was taught to read and write. At 33 he was given his freedom and adopted the name L'Ouverture ("opening"). Like others he must have anticipated that the French Revolution of 1789 would liberate the slaves. Instead wealthy planters remained in control of an island vital to the French economy.

60th anniversary of the Chinese revolution: A great leap forward?

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Post-revolutionary China needed rapid industrialisation to meet the demands of the middle class and compete with other capitalist states, but it was the workers and peasants who paid the price. Simon Gilbert continues our series on the revolution's sixtieth anniversary

By the time of the 1949 revolution China had been dominated for over a hundred years by foreign powers. Its economic development had been held back and its corrupt political systems propped up. Not surprisingly, then, the twin objectives of national independence and modernisation (meaning industrialisation) were central to the ideas of the layer of frustrated middle class intellectuals who monopolised political thinking from the end of the 19th century.

1989-2009: celebrations muted by the disappointments of the present

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What happened to the illusions that free market capitalism would bring democracy, social justice and equality to the societies of Eastern Europe? Mike Haynes reports

British tourists are commonplace in the former Soviet bloc today. Cheap flights take you to Prague or Budapest. You can spend a weekend in the Baltic states or even make it to Moscow and St Petersburg. The beer is cheap. For stag nights and last minute flings the prostitutes are numerous and cheap. It is easy to combine a visit to some of the finest sights with some of the worst. And many do. Out of sight, out of mind.

In Western Europe migrants from these countries are common. We meet them every day working in bars and hotels, on the farms and in the factories. Supermarkets in

1989-2009: the revolutions that brought down Stalinism

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Mass social movements swept across Eastern Europe 20 years ago, toppling repressive Stalinist regimes that had claimed to be socialist. Mark L Thomas introduces our coverage of the anniversary as he remembers the tumultuous events of 1989

As 1989 began, the one-party states that littered Eastern Europe seemed impregnable, as by and large they had done for the previous four and half decades. Yet by the end of the year, one after another, they had been swept away or were rapidly heading that way. By Christmas Day 1989, when the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was tried and executed followed a dramatic uprising (all beamed across the world on television), everything had changed utterly.

When China threw off imperialism

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The 60th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution will be marked by the customary orchestrated celebrations in Tiananmen Square. In the first of a short series on China, Charlie Hore looks at how the revolution came about and its impact on the world.

The years after the Second World War saw national liberation struggles spread rapidly across Asia and Africa, ousting the old colonial empires and weakening the power of imperialism. The 1949 revolution in China was the first, and biggest, of these struggles, and it was to provide an inspiration for many other battles against imperialism.

R is for Revolution

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"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven!" English poet William Wordsworth's reaction to the fall of the Bastille in 1789 conveys the exhilaration of those precious moments when the masses overthrow an old society and build a fresh one.

Such events must be distinguished from superficial change. Under capitalism there is a constant turnover of rulers, technology, family structures and ideas. The microchip has superceded the spinning jenny; Barack Obama follows George Bush; even the banks are nationalised - but capitalism continues. Revolution means change at the most fundamental level. States are transformed, ruling classes are replaced by new ones, production and distribution are radically altered. Nothing stays the same.

Revolutionary Horizons

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Forrest Hylton and Sinclair Thomson

Some years before the French Revolution, Bolivia's indigenous masses, the Aymara, the Quechua and others, rose up. The names of the heroes of the 1780-1 rebellion - Tomás Katari, Tupaj Amaro and Tupaj Katari - still echo through Bolivia, where two thirds of the population define themselves as indigenous.

A rich history of revolution

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What can an internet-surfing generation learn from the struggle of workers, soldiers and peasants 90 years ago? Abbie Bakan celebrates the Russian Revolution of October 1917

Since the success of the Russian workers' revolution in October 1917, every period of radicalisation and social transformation brings back this moment of history as a reference point.

Today a new generation has challenged neoliberalism and war across the globe, and activists are once again engaging in hours of discussion about how to change the world. Many who have not thought about politics before are asking new questions, surfing websites, listening to speakers and reading everything they can find. Over and over again the lessons of the Russian Revolution enter the mix.

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