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Revolution Strategy and Tactics


In the scenario presented for this essay, the author is an advisor to a revolutionary movement. It is based in a country ruled by a dictator, and the rebels have already attempted an assault on the presidential palace. The uprising has failed, and the government’s oppression has become more severe. However, the low effectiveness of the country’s intelligence services led to low rebel arrest rates and significant resentment for the population. The goal of the author is to provide advice on the possible tactics and strategies for another, more successful revolution.

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Organization and Bases

Up until the present, the rebels have been successfully hiding in impoverished neighborhoods. The locations would serve as reasonable grounds to plan operations and communicate with other groups as well as the general populace. As a consequence, the organization would have to be non-centralized and consist of numerous independent cells, as there is no guarantee the members in different towns would have the ability to communicate without interruptions consistently.

Nevertheless, the rebellion should have a clear leader figure that will come into the spotlight when the uprising begins. Schneider states that the residents of less combative regions did not mobilize against Pinochet’s regime when the local rebellion leaders attempted to persuade them (273). However, they chose to become actively involved once a central organization sent out a call to action. In the scenario, Taylor Young would be the primary leader, and his group would be the non-partisan coalition.

Universities may serve as significant support centers, as the scenario mentions current opposition to the government and the low likelihood for the appearance of informants. Zhao describes the role of the crowded and rigidly organized campus environment in the formation of protests and movements (1519). However, students tend not to hold significant amounts of power, and any cooperation should leverage their strengths, such as theoretical knowledge and the ability to follow modern trends.

However, towns are not suitable for large-scale preparations, as the government can likely trace the flow of goods and use them to locate the rebel activity centers. The scenario suggests the existence of mountain passes that the military and the police are unwilling to navigate. Areas with significant amounts of space should be located in these mountains, and the rebellion should organize staging grounds there. They can be used to stockpile resources and weapons should the situation require them as well as for training purposes.

Recruitment Strategies

Active recruitment to the rebellion would be difficult, as the government is conducting constant surveillance and arrest people who act suspiciously. However, the issue can be circumvented via agreements with existing organizations. According to Morris, organizational and community forces are at the core of protests, as they can provide the locations and strategies to previously neutral but dissatisfied parties, enticing them into speaking out (764). The rebellion should seek to contact other dissident groups and establish cooperation with them.

Factory workers may be a significant force and possess considerable resources, but the insurgency should avoid provoking them into action. In the scenario, the mayor of the industrial city is using legal tactics to suppress factory protests, which Barkan considers highly effective (562). The factories should join the rebellion after the public uprising begins, but their aid may be regarded as unreliable due to the present racism issues.

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The use of social networks has not been successful in the past because the postings could be traced to a relatively small group of students. However, the platform is a powerful tool for the spreading and dissemination of information. Johnston describes the use of social media by ISIS to recruit the oppressed but neutral population members (84). Although the organization’s goals and methods are heinous, it has succeeded in organizing a large-scale rebellion against an authoritarian regime.

Avoiding Informants

The recruiting strategy described above does not involve the active conversion of neutral population members. This strategy significantly lowers the chance that informants would enter the organization from the outside and provide the regime with information on the rebel movements. However, it is still possible that people would pretend to oppose the government and try to obtain information about upcoming gatherings, which they would later transmit to the police or the military forces. The leader should also consider the possibility of existing members deciding to change their allegiance and betray the organization.

The rebels can address this concern by tightly controlling information and preventing leaks. In the ideal scenario, the gatherings should appear to be spontaneous, and the leaders should maintain anonymity unless they are confident that every attendee is trustworthy. Furthermore, in preparation for a possible betrayal by an existing organization member, the insurgency should operate on a strict cell basis, with the members of each cell knowing only the pertinent information and being unable to identify other cell members or activities.

Greatest Risk-Takers

The people who are likely to choose to participate in the most dangerous activities can be separated into two categories. The first category is the active members, who know that the government would have them executed if they were caught or if the rebellion failed and therefore are less afraid of provoking its anger. The second category would be the young, fervent supporters of the resistance, who often tend to act boldly.

The number of risky operations should be minimized, but they are often unavoidable in a revolutionary environment. The category that should be used depends on the importance of the mission. Experienced members are less likely to fail at their tasks, but they may be recognized by the government forces in more public operations and tend to possess significant amounts of vital information. On the other hand, newer recruits endanger the organization less if they are captured, but they are more likely to run into complications and fail.

Effective Tactics

The regime of the country is highly influential, as it possesses control over the military. The rebellion cannot oppose the government by force on its own, and an information campaign is unlikely to significantly affect the dictator’s strength unless the whole country is thrown into a large-scale civil war. However, that scenario is undesirable because it will lead to a lengthy conflict and massive losses of life. As such, the rebellion should seek support from parties that would be interested in the demise of the authoritarian regime.

The possibility of support from financial or other forces within the country is low. In the scenario, the business owners are satisfied with the government, and a revolution would ruin the image of the country, which they want to maintain as their goal is to secure a position in the international market. With the financial and military sectors being firmly aligned with the government and the industrial sector workers being in disarray, the rebels should look elsewhere for aid.

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Although the workers in the country are not helpful, the international unions that are concerned about their welfare may assist the rebels. The scenario mentions the factory owners’ fear that labor unions in other countries will begin demonstrations in solidarity with their employees. Furthermore, indigenous workers are forced to endure extremely harsh conditions, which makes it possible that members of the same race in other countries would organize a boycott. Providing these organizations with relevant information and having them take measures would be an appropriate strategy that may force business owners to reconsider their stance on the government.

The scenario mentions the growing dissatisfaction of the Church with the oppression of the citizens by the regime. Depending on the size of the denomination in question, a statement of denouncement from the Church’s leader or leaders could have a significant impact on the international perception of the situation. In the ideal scenario, other, more powerful nations would be alerted to the circumstances by the publicity generated by the organizations mentioned above and demand changes from the regime.


It will be difficult to forcefully oppose the nation’s regime, as it holds the military power and has a competent intelligence service. Furthermore, it has the support of the business owners and the financial sector, who are uninterested in significant changes. The rebellion should use a decentralized, cell-based model, avoid active recruitment, cooperate with other like-minded organizations, and attempt to spread relevant information to international organizations that may call global attention to the situation.

Works Cited

Barkan, Steven E. “Legal Control of the Southern Civil Rights Movement.” American Sociological Review, vol. 49, no. 4, 1984, pp. 552-565

Johnston, Steve. “The Islamic State’s Tactics in Syria: Role of Social Media in Shifting a Peaceful Arab Spring into Terrorism.” 2017 Fort Leavenworth Ethics Symposium: The Ethics of Future Warfare, 2017, pp. 77-92.

Morris, Aldon. ”Black Southern Student Sit-in Movement: An Analysis of Internal Organization.” American Sociological Review, vol. 46, no. 6, 1981, pp. 744-767.

Schneider, Cathy. “Radical Opposition Parties and Squatters Movements in Pinochet’s Chile.” Escobar, Arturo. The making of social movements in Latin America: Identity, strategy, and democracy, edited by Arturo Escobar and Sonia E. Alvarez, Routledge, 2018, pp. 260-275.

Zhao, Dingxin. “Ecologies of Social Movements: Student Mobilization during the 1989 Prodemocracy Movement in Beijing.” The American Journal of Sociology, vol. 103, no. 6, 1998, pp. 1493-1529.

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