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    Context: I was watching V for Vendetta again the other day and it struck me that the film ended too early.

    If a sponteneous public uprising with no leader or hierachy was succesful at overthrowing a regime what would be the result?

    With no one to take charge or be put in charge would the result be simply anarchy?
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    Brief anarchy, and then a would-be leader (or more likely, several would-be leaders) would emerge.

    The aftermath of V's revolution, for example, would probably have seen Evey assuming the reins of power, willingly or otherwise. What she would have done about the vast intelligence services that had grown up in Norsefire's Britain I don't know, but I expect she would quickly have grown to find them very useful. Power corrupts.

    The film did indeed end far too early - it assumed that a few assassinations and a symbolic demolition or two were enough to bring about real, fundamental change in society. However, most of the organs of state (no pun intended) were still there, still functioning and represented the only remaining functional government. In the vacuum created by V's revolution they, too, would have been strong candidates to step in and take over the running of the country.

    V should perhaps have pushed for internal reform (by fair means or foul, admittedly) rather than trying to topple the entire edifice from outside. But that would have made a crap film.

    Anarchy is not a state of government in itself - it is what you get before, or between, governments. It is not stable. If the Anarchist movement were ever to succeed, society would simply start again from square one, a proto-feudal stage of development, and work its way back "up" towards more sophisticated forms of government. I don't usually like to ascribe to the Marxist view of history as an inevitable progression, but in this case the historical trend seems quite clear.
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    The result would be anarchy, yes - it was not an oversight by the script writers, but by design. Alan Moore's original V for Vendetta comic novel (Graphic novel, whatever) had a much stronger anarchist theme in it, than the film, but the ending of the film is a reflection of this anarchist vs fascist theme.
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    But suppose the revolution had destroyed the infrastructure of the state (not just the Parliament building). Suppose that that night the mob (which I think is a fair word) would have marched to the HQ of the security and intelligence services and destroyed them, killed all the Party leaders and ransacked and destroyed the major government offices. There would be no structure left, no one left of the previous government to step in and no member of the revolution to be placed into that role. Anarchy would have ensued followed by the formation of small gangs, then bigger gangs and so on as you said.

    Is it fair to say that the only workable revolution would be one in which one dictator is replaced by another who you hope will not be corrupted?
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    (Original post by gurk)
    The result would be anarchy, yes - it was not an oversight by the script writers, but by design. Alan Moore's original V for Vendetta comic novel (Graphic novel, whatever) had a much stronger anarchist theme in it, than the film, but the ending of the film is a reflection of this anarchist vs fascist theme.
    You know, I've always been intrigued by in the themes explored therein, I've heard interesting things; however I've never been able to bring myself to read a "graphic novel".
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    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    Is it fair to say that the only workable revolution would be one in which one dictator is replaced by another who you hope will not be corrupted?
    Pretty much. More significantly, this theoretical dictator is usually worse: look at the 'big men' of Africa.
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    (Original post by Libertin du Nord)
    Pretty much. More significantly, this theoretical dictator is usually worse: look at the 'big men' of Africa.
    Well he'd have to be because while the first dictator got there either via democracy or in a power vacuum the second one got there fighting against another dictator.
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    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    Context: I was watching V for Vendetta again the other day and it struck me that the film ended too early.

    If a sponteneous public uprising with no leader or hierachy was succesful at overthrowing a regime what would be the result?

    With no one to take charge or be put in charge would the result be simply anarchy?
    Wasn't the March 1917 Russian Revolution spontaneous?
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    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    Is it fair to say that the only workable revolution would be one in which one dictator is replaced by another who you hope will not be corrupted?
    If you replace the word "dictator" by "government", yes. Or are you saying that installing democracy in a country previously run by a dictatorship has to start, at least briefly, with a new dictator? That is to say, following the Thai (or 1990s-Russian) model, someone who takes up power and then, at least in theory, holds elections and steps down once the transition is safely underway?
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    I guess I should watch the film/read the grapic novel.

    But in the real world a leaderless revolution is more unlikely to happen. People often need a central figurehead to rally around, somebody who embodies their beliefs and inspires them to revolt.

    I mean, it can happen without a leader if the anti-authority sentiment is strong enough within the populous (French Revolution a good case in point). Yet generally revolutions need a strong leader to keep the revolutionary force as a single force, to stop it splintering into different, weaker forces which are far less efffective at achieving their aims.
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    If you replace the word "dictator" by "government", yes. Or are you saying that installing democracy in a country previously run by a dictatorship has to start, at least briefly, with a new dictator? That is to say, following the Thai (or 1990s-Russian) model, someone who takes up power and then, at least in theory, holds elections and steps down once the transition is safely underway?
    Well, someone will have to lead the country while arrangements are made for elections. And that person will be a dictator in as much as he won't have been elected and will inherit the infrastructure that his predecessor used to run the state. The hope is that he will go ahead with elections and uphold the rule of law, but he might not.
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    (Original post by shaf90)
    Wasn't the March 1917 Russian Revolution spontaneous?
    Hardly. The Bolsheviks caused it.
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    Hardly. The Bolsheviks caused it.
    The Bolsheviks didn't cause the March Revolution - indeed, they were caught unawares, most of them being out of the country, and not in a position to take advantage of it.

    The October revolution, however, they did cause.
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    Hardly. The Bolsheviks caused it.
    tut tut. obviously never did GCSE History
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    (Original post by shaf90)
    tut tut. obviously never did GCSE History
    Um, yes I did. It was some time ago, I admit, but I was under the impression that the February Revolution was instigated by the Bolsheviks who then, as Gurk says, couldn't really make much use of it.
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    V should perhaps have pushed for internal reform (by fair means or foul, admittedly) rather than trying to topple the entire edifice from outside. But that would have made a crap film.
    Haha, the thought of that is rather amusing.

    (Original post by V)
    "Something is rotten in the state of Britian...I propose gradual reform of the electoral laws and a referendum on a new constitution. Also, more bin collections.
    Anarchy is not a state of government in itself - it is what you get before, or between, governments. It is not stable. If the Anarchist movement were ever to succeed, society would simply start again from square one, a proto-feudal stage of development, and work its way back "up" towards more sophisticated forms of government. I don't usually like to ascribe to the Marxist view of history as an inevitable progression, but in this case the historical trend seems quite clear.[/QUOTE]

    Anarchy, in, as you said, a proto-feudal level can only exist in a power vacuum because by now the vestigages of 'the State' are so well constructed, so entrenched, that unless they were entirely dismantled in an absolute manner, they would continue to function on a - certainly reduced- level.

    The collapse of a society (a complex society, at least) has been observed as almost an impossibility in the modern, communicative world. Either V's Britian would have entered a period of massive collapse with the states around it (although their level of development is never explored) due to the relative 'equality' between the members of the peer-polity of states, or it would be swamped and overtaken by another super-state.

    The sudden allegorial decapitation of the Authoritarian State would not be enough to lead to total collapse, especially in such an advanced society. Unless V's Britian was on the more fragile end of a marginal economic collapse or if there was a real dessiccation of societal function it would be much more likely that the state could not collapse and entire Anarchy entire (or if it did, it would quikcly rebuild itself on economised lines...Britain would become a series of authorities based, I imagine, around old district, electoral lines and would interact with eachother as a peer-polity 'cluster'...or am I being too idealistic? In that case it could turn out like John Wyndham's Day of the Tryffid's and society could collapse into barbarous anarchy with man being preyed upon by genetically-engineered flora).
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    (Original post by Catsmeat)
    Anarchy, in, as you said, a proto-feudal level can only exist in a power vacuum because by now the vestigages of 'the State' are so well constructed, so entrenched, that unless they were entirely dismantled in an absolute manner, they would continue to function on a - certainly reduced- level.
    Indeed. The canon of post-apocalyptic fiction (which is, let's face it, largely what we're drawing on here) is replete with examples of remnants of governments continuing to function, or attempting to do so, after catastrophes.
    The collapse of a society (a complex society, at least) has been observed as almost an impossibility in the modern, communicative world. Either V's Britian would have entered a period of massive collapse with the states around it (although their level of development is never explored) due to the relative 'equality' between the members of the peer-polity of states, or it would be swamped and overtaken by another super-state.
    Yes, I hadn't thought of that. It would probably be Europe, because at least in the film adaptation the US is in the throes of a second Civil War.
    The sudden allegorial decapitation of the Authoritarian State would not be enough to lead to total collapse, especially in such an advanced society. Unless V's Britian was on the more fragile end of a marginal economic collapse or if there was a real dessiccation of societal function it would be much more likely that the state could not collapse and entire Anarchy entire (or if it did, it would quikcly rebuild itself on economised lines...Britain would become a series of authorities based, I imagine, around old district, electoral lines and would interact with eachother as a peer-polity 'cluster'...or am I being too idealistic? In that case it could turn out like John Wyndham's Day of the Tryffid's and society could collapse into barbarous anarchy with man being preyed upon by genetically-engineered flora).
    This temporary federal stage, with society devolving to the city-state level, seems quite likely. Certain long-range functions of society would collapse altogether - namely, those that can only be sustained by a national, or even an international, base. For example, medicines would rapidly become pretty scarce. With mass communications probably out (for the same reason), it would simply be impossible to hold the nation together as an entity in the short term.

    However, once things reached a state of equilibrium, the country would presumably return to the nation-state level quite quickly as the city-states banded together for mututal gain. I suspect that this would happen as rapidly as possible, because unlike with the unifications of Italy and Germany the attractive memory of the unified past would still be very fresh in the mind of society, if not surviving individuals.
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    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    Indeed. The canon of post-apocalyptic fiction (which is, let's face it, largely what we're drawing on here) is replete with examples of remnants of governments continuing to function, or attempting to do so, after catastrophes.
    Particuarly through emulation. A small group in this case might try to enact, on a reduced scale, the power structres that functioned under the old order by means of familiarity. So, for example, a group of 100-200 individuals would hold elections, form a parliament, councils and committees even if it were ultimately detrimental in the face of groups that were simply economising through 'tyranny'.

    To have all memory and knowledge of the old order removed would be interesting. Doris Lessing's Shikasta is emblematic of this; what were once perfectly functioning societies (the 'shaped cities') collapse because the link between themselves and Canopus (whilst retaining Biblical links can also represent the ideals and functions of statehood, for example) was confused and severed. The groups had no knowledge or memory of their previous lives and so were reduced to automatic cognitive and physical 'barbarism' (although the phrase is awkward and unfair) such as the protection of fire and resources.

    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    Yes, I hadn't thought of that. It would probably be Europe, because at least in the film adaptation the US is in the throes of a second Civil War.This temporary federal stage, with society devolving to the city-state level, seems quite likely. Certain long-range functions of society would collapse altogether - namely, those that can only be sustained by a national, or even an international, base. For example, medicines would rapidly become pretty scarce. With mass communications probably out (for the same reason), it would simply be impossible to hold the nation together as an entity in the short term.
    Yes, the devolution to the city-state would also seem quite appropriate. If, as you observe, medicine and other 'long range' or specialist resources were to slacken then you could see a rise in competition (groups may band together in hospitals, supermarkets and distribution centres and guard them in an isolationist manner).

    (Original post by Agent Smith)
    However, once things reached a state of equilibrium, the country would presumably return to the nation-state level quite quickly as the city-states banded together for mututal gain. I suspect that this would happen as rapidly as possible, because unlike with the unifications of Italy and Germany the attractive memory of the unified past would still be very fresh in the mind of society, if not surviving individuals.
    Yes, presumably. It depends how well the clusters of polities had remembered the mutual benefit of the previous whole and if there were any multilaterally recognised 'state' bodies still functioning and respected.

    Wow. Somebody should really conduct a holistic study into 'post-apocalyptic' society and present it to government, form a think-tank and plan for the worst. I think they would have to construct a series of models based around the seemingly 'empirical' data of actual social collapses and Wellsian style literature. That's assuming the prescence of 'something from Mars' ("but the chances of something coming from Mars are a million to one they say...but still they come" :rolleyes:. Agh, now I'm humming The Moody Blues).
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    (Original post by Catsmeat)
    Yes, the devolution to the city-state would also seem quite appropriate. If, as you observe, medicine and other 'long range' or specialist resources were to slacken then you could see a rise in competition (groups may band together in hospitals, supermarkets and distribution centres and guard them in an isolationist manner).
    Probably. Again, the post-apocalyptic science fiction library is our guide here - the plucky heroes do usually, after a longer or shorter period of agonising, start to plunder the ruins of civilisation. I could list examples, but actually I can't think of a novel of this kind in which it does not happen.

    And of course, those who gained control of the medical supplies, or other crucial substances with a similarly labour-intensive method which now existed in finite amounts, would have a massive leg-up on the ladder to becoming locally powerful, as occurs with the Smokers and oil supplies in Waterworld.

    Also on the subject of who would sink and who would float, figuratively speaking, I think Libertarians would do rather well, because they'd be more likely already to have guns And of course a fairly common staple of this sort of story is that of the Army, or bits of it, taking control of regions and ruling them from the barrel of a gun.
    Yes, presumably. It depends how well the clusters of polities had remembered the mutual benefit of the previous whole and if there were any multilaterally recognised 'state' bodies still functioning and respected.
    I think they'd remember the benefit very, very acutely when they realised what they had lost - transport and communication networks, medicine, education, most trade and commerce, the rule of law, art, science... Virtually everything that we consider to comprise civilised society is reliant on a very large pyramid of support, be it from a large nation-state or from trade between several.

    People would miss all this stuff pretty badly, and in addition their loyalty to their new city- or town-states would not have had time to grow very strong - certainly not to usurp their loyalty to their old nation - so I think the probability is that most people would work towards the restoration of the normality they remembered, or something near, as quickly as they could.
    Wow. Somebody should really conduct a holistic study into 'post-apocalyptic' society and present it to government, form a think-tank and plan for the worst. I think they would have to construct a series of models based around the seemingly 'empirical' data of actual social collapses and Wellsian style literature. That's assuming the prescence of 'something from Mars' ("but the chances of something coming from Mars are a million to one they say...but still they come" :rolleyes:. Agh, now I'm humming The Moody Blues).
    It would be dismissed as financially frivolous scaremongering by most people, who haven't read any sci-fi; those who have read a little would start to panic about the security of their own personal place in the Bunker :rolleyes:;* and those who have read a lot probably wouldn't hear about it at all because they're too busy having LAN parties to watch the news.

    That said, I believe both the Western and Soviet governments had major contingency plans for the worst-case nuclear-holocaust scenario (plans parodied in Dr Strangelove), and when Levy-Schumacher drew politicans' attention to the threat of interstellar crap crashing into the Earth some process was begun to look at the possibility of doing something about it (not Armageddon-stylee, I fear :p:). So it's not all bad news.

    *Actually, there are already conspiracy theories floating around about bunkers of this kind - largely originating from, and believed in by, just that group of people: Those who have read enough sci-fi to get the crazy ideas into their heads, but not enough for the novelty to have worn off.
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    The revolutions in Eastern Europe in '89 and some of the other post-soviet states since where quite often fairly 'leaderless'. The Wall came down, for example, because of a late-night slip-up at a press conference by an East German official who didn't make the nature of the easing of East German border controls clear (the original intention had, I think, been to let people leave, but not come back, and only under certain conditions). The people then just went and did it...
 
 
 
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