Counter-revolution, order and international politics Academic Article uri icon


  • Every social revolution has elicited some form of counter-revolutionary response from the international system. The impulse to reverse revolutionary transformation has much to tell us about the dynamics of social revolution as well as the nature of international order. The purpose of this article is to investigate the relationship between counter-revolution and international order. First it establishes a basic conceptual framework of international counter-revolution and argues that counter-revolution should be understood as more than just an active opposition to revolution and also examines the motives of counter-revolutionaries. Second, using two interpretations of the international system – those of Henry Kissinger and Raymond Aron – the article draws several conclusions about the international tendency to attempt to overturn revolution and concludes that there exist international systemic pressures, of a non-neorealist kind, which provide the basis for international order. These pressures not only produce order but, at certain times, impel states to counter radical transformations in parts of the world which seem, at first glance, to have little consequence for the functioning of international order.

publication date

  • January 2004