OSGA Annual Lecture: Revolution and Dictatorship: The Violent Origins of Durable Authoritarianism

Professor Way’s lecture will be based on his book of the same name, co-written with Professor Steven Levitsky. He will explore why dictatorships born of social revolution—such as those in China, Cuba, Iran, the Soviet Union, and Vietnam—are extraordinarily durable, even in the face of economic crisis, large-scale policy failure, mass discontent, and intense external pressure. Few other modern autocracies have survived in the face of such extreme challenges. Drawing on comparative historical analysis, Professor Way will argue that radical efforts to transform the social and geopolitical order trigger intense counterrevolutionary conflict, which initially threatens regime survival, but ultimately fosters the unity and state-building that supports authoritarianism. Looking at a range of revolutionary and non-revolutionary regimes from across the globe, he will show why governments that emerge from violent conflict endure.