Econometrica: Jan 1985, Volume 53, Issue 1

Rationalizing Revolutionary Ideology

https://doi.org/0012-9682(198501)53:1<85:RRI>2.0.CO;2-#
p. 85-108

John E. Roemer

Revolution is viewed as a two person game, between Lenin and the Tsar, who compete for support of coalitions of the population. The payoff is the probability of revolution, which Lenin seeks to maximize and the Tsar to minimize. Lenin's strategies are income distribution proposals; the Tsar's strategies are lists of penalties which members of the population will pay should they join Lenin and their bid for revolution fail. The probabilities of revolution depend on the strategies which the two revolutionary entrepreneurs propose. There is an equilibrium pair of strategies; the task is to study with properties it has. In particular, it is shown that various "tyrannical" aspects of the Tsar's strategy, and "progressive" aspects of Lenin's strategy need not flow from ideological precommitments, but are simply good optimizing behavior, given their respective goals in this game. Thus apparently ideological positions of Lenin and the Tsar are provided with microfoundations of a sort. The paper thus aims to: (i) study revolutions as strategic games, and more generally to (ii) be a case study of the rational evolution of apparently ideological behavior.

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