Levitsky and Way: Revolutionary regimes are particularly resilient: unified parties, military-style discipline, repressive security forces, violence

PONARS Eurasia
13 Feb 2020

(Middle East Eye) US economic warfare against Iran gives the most repressive elements of the Iranian regime another lease on life. The clerical government in Iran celebrates another anniversary this week. It’s both an occasion for critics to call attention to the Islamic Republic’s perpetual legitimacy crisis, and for neutral observers to puzzle over the revolutionary government’s tenacity. 

Tehran’s opponents are correct in pointing out that its legitimacy crisis is at its deepest since 2009. Yet, there is little to indicate that the Islamic Republic is about to fall - or that it will be replaced with a democratic system if it does. [...]

Political scientists Steven Levitsky and Lucan Way argue that revolutionary regimes are particularly resilient because their violent struggle to take power creates powerful and loyal police and security forces with significant repressive capacities. 

Revolutionary regimes also tend to create “unified parties infused with military-style discipline”, while also polarising their societies, which serves to discredit any challenge to the regime “as a threat to the fundamental goals of the revolution”.

Finally, having violently overthrown a regime, revolutionary systems tend to be particularly apt at using violence to prevent the emergence of a counterrevolution. [...]

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