Over the past century, democracy spread around the world in turbulent bursts of change, sweeping across national borders in dramatic cascades of revolution and reform. Aftershocks offers a new global-oriented explanation for this wavelike spread and retreat—not only of democracy but also of its twentieth-century rivals, fascism and communism.
Seva Gunitsky argues that waves of regime change are driven by the aftermath of cataclysmic disruptions to the international system. These hegemonic shocks, marked by the sudden rise and fall of great powers, have been essential and often-neglected drivers of domestic transformations. Though rare and fleeting, they not only repeatedly alter the global hierarchy of powerful states but also create unique and powerful opportunities for sweeping national reforms—by triggering military impositions, swiftly changing the incentives of domestic actors, or transforming the basis of political legitimacy itself. As a result, the evolution of modern regimes cannot be fully understood without examining the consequences of clashes between great powers, which repeatedly—and often unsuccessfully—sought to cajole, inspire, and intimidate other states into joining their camps.
Seva Gunitsky is assistant professor of political science at the University of Toronto.
"The conclusion is especially strong and provocative, speculating that though democracy has advantages that prevent crises from becoming so severe they threaten stability, autocratic capitalism may be a viable alternative if democracy fails to provide security and prosperity for its people."--Choice
"Ambitious and lucid, Aftershocks offers an alternative way to view twentieth-century global history, and is a book that belongs in the company of works by Gilpin and Ikenberry. In our own time of global power shifts, Gunitsky's fundamental claim--that hegemonic transitions explain the spread and contraction of democracy across entire regions--is vitally important and impossible to ignore."--John M. Owen IV, University of Virginia
"By delving into how international dynamics shape the spread of democracy and autocracy over time, Gunitsky presents a much-needed theoretical and empirical synthesis for anyone interested in international relations and domestic politics. As the world faces changing global powers and declining support for democracy, Gunitsky's book is essential reading with significant practical implications."--Susan D. Hyde, University of California, Berkeley
"Aftershocks examines the role of international factors in shaping the rise and fall of regime types. Contending that a regime cannot be understood in purely domestic terms, Gunitsky explores the nature of global influences and how they work. This book has a big historical sweep and is filled with well-chosen examples."--Peter Gourevitch, University of California, San Diego
"Aftershocks makes a strong and creative theoretical argument while providing a wide variety of convincing evidence. This is a really great book."--Jon Pevehouse, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations vii
Preface and Acknowledgments ix
1 Introduction: A Century of Shocks and Waves 1
2 From Crests to Collapses: The Sources of Failure in Democratic Waves 33
3 The Alchemy of War 60
4 A Low Dishonest Decade 101
5 Two Ways of Life 152
6 The Winds from the East 198
7 Conclusion: Beyond the Great Plateau 231
Appendix 1: Regime Classifications, 1900–2000 245
Appendix 2: Regime Impositions 247