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Political Plasticity

A puzzling feature of political behavior is why change from dictatorship to democracy is extremely slow, difficult, and often unsuccessful, even following major revolutions that overthrow dictatorships. Consider what took place after revolutions in France (1778), Russia (1917), China (1949), and more recently in Iran (1979) and Egypt (2013) and other Arab Spring countries; shortly following the toppling of dictatorial regimes in these nations, dictatorship was reestablished under a new guise (e.g., in Russia, the dictatorship of the Tsar was replaced by the dictatorship of Stalin; in Iran, the dictatorship of the Shah was replaced by dictatorship of Khomeini). This lack of change led to the concept of political plasticity, introduced to help explain limits to malleability in political behavior, and particularly limits to ...

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