Failed Liberalism and the Seeds of Revolution: Russian and Chinese Constitutional Reform at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
Morrissette, Jason Jessee
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At the turn of the twentieth century, the imperial regimes of Russia and China underwent periods of political and constitutional reform unprecedented in the long histories of both states. This paper explores the conceptualization of Weberian legitimacy as it applies to these turn-of-the-century trends of political reform in Russia and China. I argue that both external and internal challenges to the legitimacy of the traditional power structures in each state gave rise to and, in effect, necessitated these reforms. Moreover, I contend that the failure of these political reforms to establish meaningful norms of representative government in Russia and China further exacerbated the challenges to the legitimacy faced by each state and subsequently fomented the revolutions that ultimately brought these periods of constitutional reform to an end. In a brief epilogue, the paper examines the possible parallels between these periods at the turn of the twentieth century and contemporary power structures and challenges to legitimacy in these states.
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