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Human Relationships Have Always Been Dynamic. Change And

adaptability have gone hand in hand with the passage of time for human
society. Systems have been developed to regulate, direct and control
the resources of this society. The systems are referred to as
governments and the resources as the populace or inhabitants and
forces of production. A government must be dynamic in its nature
reflecting the change in society. At times these systems have resisted
the necessity to adapt with its components (Society) creating a
deficit between the system and those it regulates. As the deficits
develop, they cause instability, and could lead to revolution.1
Theories have been developed to explain the systemic
phenomenon called revolution. This paper will discuss three modern
theories and apply them to the English revolution of 1640. The first
theory, developed by Carl Marx (Marxism), will address the economic
evolution in English society. This theory will emphasize and explain
how the shift from a feudal/mercantile system to capitalism affected
English society. The second, called the Resource Mobilization Theory
(RMT) developed by Charles Tilly, will explain how the English
organizations (the Crown and the Parliament) effectively obtained,
amassed and managed resources. Samuel Huntington’s, “Institutional
Theory”, will argue that the existing government at that time was
unable to incorporate the demands and personnel that the
socio-economic changes created.

Marxism was formulated in the 19th century. Carl Marx and his
associate Frederick Engels observed the socio-economic changes that
were transpiring in Britain. England was the dominant world power and
had the largest industrialized economy during the 1800’s. The
development of the factory and the institution of the assembly line
created a large demand for workers. This demand was satiated by
migrating peasant from the rural areas in England and Ireland to
developing urban centers. As these urban centers or cities evolved
using industry as the economic backbone for the population, a large
number of factory workers were accumulated to operate the machinery in
horrid conditions. These workers, which would be termed as the
peasantry under a feudal system, were now the working class or
proletariat. They entered cities with hopes of bettering their lives
and survival. Though revolution never took place in England during
this period, it allowed Marx to study industrialization, urbanization
and imperialism.

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The theory of Marxism has three basic concepts: historic
materialism, forces of production and relations of production.

Historic materialism is defined as a society’s past performance and
present capabilities of satisfying the basic means of life.

Humankind’s basic needs of eating, drinking and shelter need to be met
properly. The forces of production (technology, capital, the
infrastructure of society, etc.) are important for the simple fact of
who ever controls them controls the society. The last aspect of
Marxism, the relations of production, deals directly with the
relationships between classes of people (the aristocracy, the
middle-class and the working class).2
Marxism includes a predictive analysis of socio-economic
structures. Using history, logic and the dynamic nature of humankind
as guidelines, Carl Marx attempts to map out a sequence of events
which will eventually lead to utopia (anarchy). In his work, Das
Capital, Marx details the six steps. These steps are primitive
socialism, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, communism and then
anarchy. The evolution of the English economic system during the 16th
and 17th centuries points to a shift from feudalism to capitalism.

This shift is exemplified by the enclosures. The landlords began to
fence their property in the common land areas. The “commons” were
large plots of grazing and farmable lands that were used by both
farmers and artisans. When the land-owners and manorial lords began to
partition these lands the concept of private ownership of property was
introduced to the socio-economic system.3
During the time period of the 16th and 17th centuries the
crown’s economic base began a gradual decline. This economic shrinkage
came to a spearhead during the reign of Charles I. The monarchy
favored a monopoly market system over a competitive one. The purpose
for this position was for taxation and control of the profits. As the
artisan and merchant populations increased, the policy of the crown
began conflicting with economic growth. This created instability in
three areas. First, the English monarchy needed money to support its
army which insures social compliance. The second area of contention
was the restraints and interference the Crown initiated on the rising
middle-class. Thirdly, the rise of the bourgeoisie created competition
for the state sanctioned monopolies, reducing its profit.

Howard Erskine-Hill refutes Marxism. He states that neither …

“the ‘rise of the gentry’ … ideas concerning resistance to rulers
… nor even the narrowing financial base of the Tudor and Stuart
monarchy … determined the outbreak of the Civil War … They are
circumstances . . . contributing to an outcome which was not
Jack A. Goldstone, in his work Revolutions, argues that once
historical data is carefully examined Marxism falls short. The Marxist
reasons for the revolution are factors, but its scope of analysis is
to narrow.

“…the neo-Marxist view… with its focus on elite politics
and the failings of Charles I run into difficulties when confronted
with evidence.”5
An example of this “evidence” that Goldstone refers to, are the
enclosures. The land owners had support from the farmers who resided
on the land. The parties that were affected by enclosure movement were
the artisans and merchants. These merchant and artisan, or rather
Marxism rising bouroeisie, were the unfortunate targets of this
policy. The rising English Bourgeoisie used the land to satisfy there
needs for resources (i.e. wood for fire and craftsmanship). Thus, a
new theory must be introduced to explain the factors leading to and
the Revolution itself.

Charles Tilly, in his work, Political Conflict Theory,
introduce the theory of “Resource Mobilization”(RMT). The two aspects
of RMT are government and those who contend with the government for
power. Power is defined as control of the resources. The resources are
capital, means of production and personnel. 6 There are three
characteristics to the RMT7 that help further explain the revolution.

First, two or more organizations (government included) must claim the
right to rule and control government. The conflict between the Crown
and the Parliament during the 1640’s meet this criteria. King Charles
I during his rule attempted to close the rift between Catholics and
Protestants. This policy was disturbing to the English populace.

However, the brunt of this new policy was felt in Scotland and
perceived was a direct assault on their religious organizations. The
Scots rebelled and amassed a army to invade England an emancipate
themselves from Charles I’s authority. The King needed to acquire
funds to raise an army so he called Parliament into session.

After 6 years of silence, Parliament was aggressive against
the crown. Instead of strong support for the King, they came with a
list of grievances which needed to be addressed.8 It is this
aggression which characterizes an organization contending for power in
the government. The second characteristic, is the commitment of a
significant amount of the population to each organization. In January
1642, the King attempted to arrest five MP’s (Members of Parliament).

Having failed, the King traveled north to an important port which was
also a military stronghold, as well. Parliament denied him access.

This was a definite sign of the waning power of the King. Charles I
traveled to Nottingham to raise his standard. People began to rally
behind the King. Parliament severely underestimated the influence of
the Charles I and the idea of the monarchy. A significant amount of
people rallied behind the King and the Civil War soon followed9.

The third, and the most applicable, is the incapacity of
and/or the unwillingness of the government to suppress the challenges
for power. The King was desirous to put down the Scots, and eventually
Parliament, after it was called into session (long Parliament). He was
incapable in raising an army earlier without Parliament’s
appropriation of the necessary funds to pay an army.10 Therefore, the
opponents of the Crown were given space to develop and acquire
resources. Resource Mobilization Theory focuses on the leadership of
both the revolutionary organization and the government in power. The
three above stated characteristics of England in the 1640’s, only
emphasizes the short term factors for the revolution The fact that
Parliament is actually part of the government provides a complication
in the application of RMT. However, Parliament was struggling against
the King to acquire more control over resources. The King showed
himself as a bungling statesman in dealing with parliaments demands
and grab for power. This is a classic example that shows what happens
when “carrot ideas”11 are implemented without discretion and
supervision. It could be argued that Charles I lack of sensitivity to
the people was the cause for this lack of discretion.

Even with the application of two theories, a satisfactory
explanation of both the factors leading to the uprising and the
revolution itself are lacking. A third theory must be brought to this
case study. Samuel Huntington’s, “Institutional theory”, argues that
there are inherent tensions between political and economic
developments. If there are large economic changes in society then
there must be political change to guide the modifications which are
taking place, as well as, incorporating new social developments.12
England’s Crown during the 17th century was lacking in ability
to be dynamic. Trade and production began to increase so did the
population. This increase created a middle-class in England. The
middle-class consisted of artisans, merchants, land owners and
landlords (these classifications are not all inclusive). Competition
between the middle-class and state encouraged monopolies became
evident during this time. There was a definite power shift away from
property to the people. 13
Another long term factor lies within the King’s policy toward
the Catholics. This relaxing of tensions between the Protestants and
Catholics was not viewed as favorable by the rising gentry
(Middle-class). A form of Protestantism referred to as Puritanism was
the main belief system of the gentry. This was an extremely
conservative sect of protestantism, religious toleration was not
acceptable to them14. This was another social development which
Charles I “over-looked”.

Institutionalization was never a reality in British politics
during this period in history. The organizations that existed in the
English monarchy during the early 1600’s were unable to promote value
and stability. The system became rigid and unadapting to the demands
for change made by new socio-economic factors. The constant attempts
by both the Crown and the Parliament to subordinate one another
removed their ability to reach a compromise. Thus, there is not one
theory that can be used to satisfy all of the causal factors,
institutional developments and socio-economic changes of the English
revolution of 1640. Marxism addressed the changes the English economy
made creating capitalist markets and free trade. It maps out the
general factors which helped lead to capture and execution of the King
of England, Charles I. Resource Mobilization Theory argued in more
specific terms, defining that the organization which controls the
resources has the power. It clarifies the power struggle between the
Crown and the Parliament. Short term factors, present before and
during the revolution, were emphasized by RMT. The last theory
presented by this paper was Institutional Theory. It explained, in
long term factors, the causes leading to the revolution by discussing
the rise of the gentry, economics and religious intolerance.

There is no single theory to explain every relevant factor
present in revolution. However, the application of a select number or
combination of theoretical approaches, helps to establish a proper
framework for analysis of revolutions. Despite all of the ground
breaking research and theorizing being done on revolution, it still
remains a phenomenon and can not be predicted.


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