State collapse, breakdown, or downfall is the complete failure of a mode of government within a sovereign state. Sometimes this brings about a failed state, as in Somalia and the final decade of Yugoslavia. More often, there is an immediate process of transition to a new administration, and basic services such as tax collection, defence, police, civil service, and courts are maintained throughout, as in South Africa following the failure of the apartheid system.
State collapse may coincide with economic collapse. State collapse is not always synonymous with societal collapse, which often is a more prolonged process, as in the fall of the western Roman Empire.
Not all attempts at regime change succeed in bringing about state collapse. The 16th-century Babington plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I of England, the 19th-century Decembrist revolt in Russia, and the 20th-century Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba failed.
History of the concept
For Aristotle (384–322 BC), the inherent dangers of democracy were, first, that conflict between the aristocracy and the poor was inevitable; and second, that it would usher in "mischief and corruption". Both processes would lead to collapse unless independent controls and separation of powers were enforced. The ancient Greek philosopher Polybius (c.200 – c.118 BC) asserted that all nations follow a cycle of; democracy, oligarchy, dictatorship, tyranny and collapse.
Islamic scholar Ibn Khaldun (1332 – 1406) also produced a general theory of state collapse. A "theological rationalist", he transformed the study of history into a "new science". In his eyes, dynasties repeatedly become "sedentary, senile, coercive, pompous, subservient to desire ... liable to divisions in the dynasty." Group feeling (asabiyyah, groupthink) disappears as the dynasty grows senile. Ibn Khaldun was fatalistic; "This senility is a chronic disease which cannot be cured because it is something natural". He observed that dynasties last for three generations before a new invading clique, "restless, alert and courageous", will cause the old to collapse in accordance with the principle in the Book of Exodus, chapter 20, verse four: God "visits the sins of the fathers onto their children, even unto the third and fourth generation of those that hate Him". Professor Geoff Mulgan discusses Ibn Khaldun in detail and agrees on the timescale: "There are obvious parallels between the lifespans of individuals and those of ruling groups."
J.J. Saunders, claiming in 1966 that "our age, like his, is one of misery", regrets that Ibn Khaldun had "no predecessors and no successors ... not until four centuries after his death did he rise from his long sleep." In 1868 French Arabists translated the Muqaddimah; "the world was amazed, but he remained a lonely pioneer without followers ... the world has yet to prove that history can exist independently of the theological setting that gives it meaning".
The Japanese philosopher Hajime Tanabe points to the quasi-religious role of the state to mediate between mortal individuals and the eternal universe, so that states regularly collapse; like religious figures, they must undergo a process of death and resurrection. In his view this may account for the perennial popularity of states because they regularly demonstrate their ability to transcend death.
According to psychologist Erich Fromm it is possible for an entire nation, if they all share the same vices and errors, to become insane—a "folie a millions". Inhuman treatment by the rulers inevitably leads to collapse;
Despots and ruling cliques can succeed in dominating and exploiting their fellow man ... but their subjects react ... with apathy, impairment of intelligence, initiative and skills ... or they react by the accumulation of such hate and destructiveness as to bring about an end to themselves, their rulers and their system. ... if man lives under conditions contrary to his nature and to human growth and sanity, he cannot help reacting.'
Mark Blyth alleges that a democracy can also collapse "if voters don't get what they want and merely affirm the status quo." In these circumstances, voters deprived of real choice may opt for the least democratic option.
Marina Ottaway discusses the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ottoman Empire in 1918, British India in 1947, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the collapse of South Africa's white supremacist government in 1993, of Czechoslovakia the following year, and of Yugoslavia. Harold Perkin sees "an acceleration of the process of collapse ... the [20th century] saw the collapse of seven great empires: Imperial China, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman Turkey, the Japanese empire, the British Empire, and Russia, twice". Furthermore, the 20th Century saw the collapse of the French and Portuguese Empires.
John Kenneth Galbraith regrets the "very slight" amount of research on political power in such cases. Power regularly passes to those who "assert the unknown with the greatest conviction... not necessarily related to intelligence." What we call "power" is, "in practice, the illusion of power." Discussing how the "powerless" Mahatma Gandhi brought about the collapse of militarily "powerful" British India, Galbraith reflects that power, mostly seen as a possession of states and their leaders, would be better viewed as a flow, into and away from "those instruments that enforce it".
Few political scientists credibly predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union or agreed on its causes. No one predicted the Arab spring. Though many writings study particular cases of state collapse in isolation, there appears to be no contemporary text which compares events on a global historical basis and identifies common features.
Martin Wight, like Saunders, deplored the "demonic concentrations of power" of the defeated countries in the two world wars. A devout Christian, he saw their "triumphant self-destruction" as "Antichrist moments". He disliked the modern secular tendency to view politics as a succession of questions (the Eastern question, the two-state solution) with "solutions" which are devoid of moral content, because
The members of international society are, on the whole, immortals. States do die or disappear occasionally, but mostly they outlive the span of human life. They are partnerships of the living with posterity ... A society of immortals will be looser than one of mortals ... there are moral difficulties about indicting a whole nation, because (to do so) would make the passive majority suffer for the acts of the criminal minority, and future generations for the sins of the fathers.
Regarding the idea of a state being immortal, the nation called Russia has survived the collapse of two different political systems: Imperial Russia, a monarchy, in 1917; and the Soviet Union, a communist totalitarianism, in 1991. Likewise, though Germany, ruled by the Nazi Party, was defeated in 1945 and the nation, Germany, was dismembered, it was resurrected in 1990.
Christopher Booker describes a fantasy cycle of Wishful thinking in politics in which a 'dream stage' of optimism and expansion is followed by 'frustration' and 'nightmare' stages and a final 'explosion into reality'.
Examples of state collapse through civil war include: the War of the Roses in 15th-century England; the Thirty years war (1618–48); the Irish Civil War (1916-22); the Chinese Communist Revolution (1949); and the Cuban Revolution (1958). State collapses through revolutions, not featuring civil war, took place in Imperial China (1911), in Russia (1917), and in Iran (1979). Collapse through Coups d'etat occurred in Egypt (1952), in Iraq (1958), and in Libya (1969). Negotiated surrenders of power took place in the English Commonwealth (1660); and in the collapse of the Soviet Union (1991), when it fragmented into fifteen independent states.
Medieval England was the scene of several violent dynastic collapses: the fall of the West Saxon kings, when William the Conqueror defeated Harold Godwinson in 1066; the civil war known as The Anarchy from 1139-1153 between Stephen and Empress Matilda, a time when 'Christ and his saints were asleep', which ended the Norman line of kings; the reign of the last Angevin, John, King of England, known as 'Lackland' for his military incompetence in losing Anjou; the tyranny of the last Plantagenet monarch, Richard II, who was defeated by Henry, duke of Lancaster, later Henry IV; the destruction of the Lancastrian dynasty during the Wars of the Roses, and especially at the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471; and the battle of Bosworth, which saw the end of Richard III and the Yorkist line
The Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864) was a civil war in China between the established Manchu-led Qing dynasty and the Christian millenarian movement of the Heavenly Kingdom of Peace. It was the second-worst conflict in history; 20-30 million died over 15 years. In 1858-60 the Qing dynasty effectively collapsed as France and the UK invaded and imposed unequal treaties. In 1864 the Taiping regime also collapsed and the dynasty was reshaped in the Tongzhi Restoration.
The partition of India in 1947 led to the creation of two independent nations, India and Pakistan. The partition displaced between 10 and 12 million Sikhs, Hindus and Moslems, creating overwhelming refugee crises; there was large-scale violence, with estimates of loss of life accompanying or preceding the partition disputed and varying between several hundred thousand and two million.
Failed attempts at reform in the Soviet Union, a standstill economy, and defeat in the war in Afghanistan led to a general feeling of discontent, especially in the Baltic republics and Eastern Europe. Greater political and social freedoms, instituted by the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev's policies of Glasnost and Perestroika encouraged open criticism of the communist regime. The dramatic drop of the price of oil in 1985 and 1986 profoundly influenced actions of the Soviet leadership. The Reagan administration in the 1980s placed Pershing II missiles in western Europe in order to escalate the Cold War, overstretch the USSR economy and bring about its downfall because 'they can't sustain military spending the way we can'. The Soviet Union finally collapsed in 1991 when Boris Yeltsin seized power in the aftermath of a failed coup that had attempted to topple Gorbachev. Soviet nuclear weapons were all reassigned to Russia;
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia collapsed in the 1990s, when its six socialist republics broke apart to become separate countries; though Slovenia seceded peacefully, civil wars broke out in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, then part of Serbia. Ethnic cleansing and genocide erupted, including the Srebrenica massacre and Bosnian genocide.
The apartheid system in South Africa ended through negotiations between the governing National Party, the African National Congress, and other political organizations, resulting in South Africa's first non-racial election, which was won by the African National Congress. Concerns were raised about the future of its nuclear weapons but they were dismantled.
Potential for instability
In a totalitarian state or an ideocracy, individuals may develop a closed mind and an authoritarian personality, making them more likely to resist threats to the incumbent regime. Psychologists speak of a "Masada complex" that may drive fanatics to a suicidal, violent last-ditch stand. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has commented that "History teaches that dangers are never greater than when empires break up."
The new regime gains power, not through the truth of its doctrines and promises, but through its ability to organize and absorb the frustrated masses. As Pope Francis warned in 2017, "in times of crisis, we lack judgement". The timidity of the old regime contrasts with the boldness of those in rebellion against it; "Where power is not joined with faith in the future, it is used mainly to ward off the new and preserve the status quo. On the other hand, extravagant hope, even when not backed by actual power, is likely to generate reckless daring." "The frustrated see in a general downfall an approach to the brotherhood of all. Chaos, like the grave, is a haven of equality."
According to political scientists, in an ideocracy there must be a ruthless charismatic leader: "the leader is the movement", and all individuals are required to submit to, and worship him. "Followers who lead barren, insecure, frustrated lives obey the leader, not through faith in his vision of a 'Promised land', but because he leads them away from their unwanted selves". When collapse threatens he may insist on a "fight to the finish".
Hitler, according to Walter Langer had a Messiah complex and saw himself as the "Saviour of Germany" who performed "miracles" with the economy. He was unnaturally fond of his mother, to the extent that Germany became a "mother symbol". His drive to destroy (the Jews, communism, Europe) was an unconscious attempt to resolve his Oedipus complex and the injustices of his childhood. He "dismantled the German state ... and replaced it with a war machine". He was swept along by a tide of events.
Mussolini, according to Denis Mack Smith, "was an actor, playing the part that Italians wanted him to be". He was vindictive, sadistic, impulsive, proud and cruel, full of "demonic wilfulness" and did not know right from wrong. When in 1944 he led a puppet state in northern Italy, he "divided Italy in two and initiated 18 months of terrible civil war." Ken Livingstone has compared Slobodan Milosevic to Hitler for his racism and expansionist goals. Saddam Hussein, who also suffered from a Messiah complex, was similar: "Hitler was not one of a kind. As long as millions of people passionately long for his return, it is only a matter of time until their wish is fulfilled."
Nicolae Ceaușescu "went mad" as early as 1971 according to John Sweeney, when, "blind to his own Messianism", he attempted to recreate North Korean totalitarianism in Romania. He "played the king" and the role of "chosen one" and "saviour". Czar Nicholas II by contrast was deferential. Acceding at an early age, 26, he was untrained in governance. Grand Duke Vladimir's son Cyril was a rival candidate for the throne. Liberals and revolutionaries challenged his autocracy. By 1916 he had become apathetic, dominated by the Czarina and Rasputin, a "Christ in the image of the rejected and agonizing monarchy".
In the case of the USSR, a Marxist Revolutionary wave had formed in which several subordinate regimes in Eastern Europe and Africa collapsed almost simultaneously with the central power. Mikhail Gorbachev saw the USSR as "on the way to civil war" and tried to conciliate both reformers and hardliners. He and F.W. De Klerk in South Africa focused on acknowledging and managing decline, rather than "heroically" attempting to deny it. They have enjoyed better reputations, although in China, Gorbachev is seen as a dismal failure who capitulated to the West.
Sequence of events
Buildup to collapse
State collapse is often a gradual process of slow, imperceptible, generational change. Only the courageous are prepared for speaking truth to power; the majority 'go with the flow', as with Jewish passivity in the face of the creeping corruption of Nazi Germany.
Collapse is often preceded externally by war, and internally by overpopulation and repression. As Paul Kennedy points out, 'Nations in decline instinctively spend more on "security" and thus compound their long-term dilemma.' In the case of a revolution the crisis is reached when 'the old regime is no longer able to mobilise force'.
Either the incumbent regime itself, or an extremist reactionary group dissatisfied with its performance, may attempt to postpone or avoid collapse by regenerating popular support; 'At the end of a dynasty there often appears some show of power giving the impression that the dynasty's senility has been made to disappear. It lights up brilliantly just before it is extinguished, like a candle which leaps up brilliantly just before it is put out.'
To do so they may have to take 'heroic' measures; 'Throughout history there have always been in the event of defeat two paths of action; the one aims at saving enough of the substance as possible. the other at leaving behind a stirring legend.' According to Piekalkiewicz and Penn, they may rethink or adapt the ideology, or replace it by a completely new set of ideals. For example, in Poland, according to Piekalkiewicz and Penn, communist ideocracy failed in 1980; the recognition of Lech Walesa's Solidarity Trade Union led to a military coup and authoritarian military rule.
According to Sabrina Ramet, regenerative changes occurred in Yugoslavia in the 1980s when the communist ideology was replaced by a nationalist drive for a Greater Serbia and by an anti-bureaucratic revolution in support of Slobodan Milosevic The Young Turk coup of 1908, the 1991 Soviet coup d'etat attempt, and the financial/industrial reforms of Sergei Witte in Imperial Russia, were all aimed at regenerating causes which were nearing collapse.
When collapse - whether through civil war, revolution, coup d'état, or military defeat and/or invasion - becomes unavoidable and immediate, law and order may break down. There may be Ethnic cleansing or Genocide. Hitler ordered the killing of invalids, Gypsies, Russians and Jews in the Final solution. In Ottoman Turkey, estimates for the death toll in the Armenian genocide vary between 300,000 and 1.5 million.
When Ottoman Turkey collapsed at the end of World War I, it lost territory, including what became Syria, Iraq and Palestine; the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire gave rise to Czechoslovakia, Hungary and the Austrian Republic, while Slovenia and Croatia became part of Yugoslavia. Nazi Germany in 1945 fragmented into East and West Germany, while Pomerania and Silesia became part of Poland
In 1946, the Diet ratified a new Constitution of Japan The new constitution drafted by Americans allowed access and control over the Japanese military through MacArthur and the Allied occupation on Japan. "The political project drew much of its inspiration from the U.S. Bill of Rights, New Deal social legislation, the liberal constitutions of several European states and even the Soviet Union."
Recovery from collapse is often improved by formal or informal efforts at justice, such as the Nuremberg trials and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Africa). Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein were also tried in court, but Mussolini and Colonel Gaddafi were murdered by mobs.
The collapse of the Ottomans in 1918 had long-term consequences, 'triggering most of the problems that plague the Middle East today.' Hegemony in the Middle East has been subject to quarrels between British, French, Zionist, American, Arab nationalist, Saudi and Iranian interests ever since.
Hitler, says Sebastian Haffner, 'whether we like it or not', created many features of the postwar world, including the state of Israel, the end of European empires, the division of Germany, and the joint hegemony of the US and USSR.
States allegedly at risk of collapse
Paul Stares and Helia Aghani suggest that Saudi Arabia could lapse into a succession crisis and civil war if Mohammed bin Salman's accession is contested after the death of his aging father, king Salman. Lebanon and Jordan could collapse following the influx of refugees from Syria and the resultant burden on infrastructure.
In 2003, Colonel Gaddafi of Libya agreed to dismantle his nuclear and chemical weapons programme. In 2011 he was deposed and murdered. This is the reason, according to Forbes magazine, for North Korea to seek to guarantee its security and invulnerability through continuing its nuclear weapons programme. Tom Embury-Dennis claims that North Korea could collapse "within a year" as new US sanctions take effect. In Venezuela, protests and riots against the authoritarian rule of Nicolas Maduro have steadily increased since 2014, while the economy and social infrastructure have worsened.
Emmanuel Todd, one of the first to predict the fall of the USSR, now predicts the collapse of the US in his book After the Empire: The Breakdown of the American Order. According to Iranian general Reza Naqdi, the US will collapse by 2035 and the Trump presidency is hastening that process. Margaret McMillan has compared President Trump to Mussolini, on the grounds that President Trump similarly seeks attention, makes grand gestures, plays the 'strong man' and seeks out enemies.
Nigel Lawson predicts that the European Union will become a federal superstate; also likely to collapse, according to the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, journalist Stephen Pollard, German economist Thorsten Polleit, and a leaked German Government contingency plan.
S Daniel Abraham anticipates the collapse of Israel, where Palestinians will soon outnumber Jews, if the Palestinian problem is not resolved; Iqbal Jassat compares the situation to apartheid in South Africa. In Pakistan, Islamic militants are allegedly infiltrating the military and nuclear weapons systems. There are fears of collapse into nuclear war with India, or of chaos enabling extremists to seize weapons of mass destruction.
Gordon G. Chang, in editions of The Coming Collapse of China, has made several predictions of collapse, none of which have materialised. Bruce Gilley sees a largely peaceful process unfolding. David Shambaugh says China must either liberalise to become a developed economy–as Taiwan and South Korea have–or else remain authoritarian and endure a stagnating economy. "We cannot predict when Chinese communism will collapse, but it is hard not to conclude that we are seeing its final phases."
In popular culture
There are many semi-fictional books and films, which dramatically demonstrate the turbulent effects of collapse upon innocent or naive individuals. Bernardo Bertolucci's film, The Last Emperor, showed the collapse of both Imperial China and Manchukuo, as well as the post-collapse trial and rehabilitation of Pu Yi. Bruno Ganz played Hitler in Downfall, which depicts the final days of Germany's Third Reich. Events from the period, as seen by prisoners at Auschwitz, are shown in Primo Levi's memoir, If This Is a Man, and in the graphic novels Maus and Maus II. Kurt Vonnegut witnessed the bombing of Dresden and fictionalized the experience in Slaughterhouse-Five.
Robert K. Massie's book about the last Russian tsar, Nicholas and Alexandra, was also filmed. Doctor Zhivago and And Quiet Flows the Don (filmed as War and Revolution) relate stories of families caught up in the collapse of Russia. The House of the Mosque and Persepolis depict the collapse of Iran.
The Left Behind series of novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins features the supposed role of Israel in the apocalyptic End Times. In the spy novel, The Mask of Dimitrios (1939), Eric Ambler comments: "In a dying civilization, political prestige goes not to the man with the shrewdest diagnosis, but to the one with the best bedside manner."
- Active measures (covert operations)
- Amity-enmity complex
- Anarchy (international relations)
- The Anatomy of Revolution
- Cycle of violence
- Fragile state
- Historic recurrence
- History of the Central Intelligence Agency (covert operations)
- International relations
- Managed decline
- American decline
- The Mind of Adolf Hitler
- Political midlife crisis
- Political stagnation
- Power politics
- Power Politics (Wight book)
- Predictions of the dissolution of the Soviet Union
- Regime change
- Revolutionary wave
- The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers
- Siege mentality
- Societal collapse
- Speaking truth to power
- The Tragedy of Great Power Politics
- The True Believer
- Thucydides Trap
- United States involvement in regime change
- Wishful thinking
- Donald Przebowski, The Rise and Fall of the United States, Ex Libris Corporation, 2009, p. 50.
- Donald Przebowski, The rise and fall of the United States, ExLibris Corporation, 2009, p. 12.
- J.J. Saunders, review of 'Ibn Khaldun's Philosophy of History' by Muhsin Mahdi, History and Theory vol 5, no 3, (1966), pp. 322-347.
- Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah Routledge, 1978, p. 245.
- The Muqaddimah, Routledge, 1978, pp. 244-255.
- Geoff Mulgan, Good and bad power, Penguin, 2007, p. 199.
- J.J. Saunders, review of 'Ibn Khaldun's Philosophy of History' by Muhsin Mahdi, "History and Theory" vol 5, no 3, (1966), pp. 322-347.
- Ian Mcgreal, Great Thinkers of the Eastern World, Harper Collins, 1995, p, 388.
- Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1979, pp. 18-19.
- Mark Blyth, "When Does Democracy Fail?", Washington Post, 15 December 2016.
- Marina Ottaway, "Rebuilding State Institutions in Collapsed States", Development and Change, 33 (5), 2002.
- Harold Perkin, "The Rise and Fall of Empires", History Today, 4 April 2002.
- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Anatomy of Power, Hamish Hamilton, 1984, p. 4.
- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Anatomy of Power, Hamish Hamilton, 1984, p. 41.
- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Anatomy of Power, Hamish Hamilton, 1984, p. 70.
- John Kenneth Galbraith, The Anatomy of Power, Hamish Hamilton, 1984, p. 89.
- Joshua S Goldstein and Jon C Pevehouse, International Relations, Longman, 2007, p. 43; Richard K Hermann, Ending the Cold War, Palgrave, 2004, p. 2.
- Chris Doyle, "The Arab Spring Didn't Fail", The Daily Telegraph, 17 December 2015.
- See William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Mandarin, 1960; Edward Crankshaw, Fall of the House of Habsburg, Cardinal, 1970; Dmitri Volkogonov, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire, Harper Collins, 1997.
- For example, see Ludger Helms, Comparative Political Leadership, Palgrave, 2012, which contains many references to present-day western leaders, but only passing or no mentions of Hitler, Saddam, Mussolini, South Africa, Iraq, Yugoslavia.
- Ian Hall, The International Thought of Martin Wight, Palgrave, 2006, p. 70
- Ian Hall, The International Thought of Martin Wight, Palgrave, 2006, p. 70.
- Martin Wight, Power Politics, Pelican, 1978, p. 107.
- Dmitri Volkogonov, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire, Harper Collins, 1998, chapters one and seven.
- Ian Hall, quoting Martin Wight, The International thought of Martin Wight, Palgrave, 2006, p. 61.
- Chambers Dictionary of World History, Editor Hilary Marsden, Chambers Harrap, 2005, p 382-3
- Jim Bradbury, Stephen and Matilda: the Civil War of 1139-53, Stroud, 2009, p 215
- Chambers Dictionary of World History, Editor Hilary Marsden, Chambers Harrap, 2005, p 36
- Chambers Dictionary of World History, Editor Hilary Marsden, Chambers Harrap, 2005, p 696
- Chambers Dictionary of World History, Editor Hilary Marsden, Chambers Harrap, 2005, p 498, 875
- Chambers Dictionary of World History, Editor Hilary Marsden, Chambers Harrap, 2005, p 115, 966
- Partition (n), 7. b (3rd ed.). Oxford English Dictionary. 2005.
The division of British India into India and Pakistan, achieved in 1947.
- Talbot & Singh 2009, p. 2.
- WorldBook online
- Gaidar, Yegor (****-**-**). "The Soviet Collapse: Grain and Oil". On the Issues: AEI online. American Enterprise Institute. Archived from the original on 22 July 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-09. Check date values in:
|date=(help) (Edited version of a speech given November **, **** at the American Enterprise Institute.)
- Dmitri Volkogonov, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire, Harper Collins, 1997, p488
- Anthony Sampson, Mandela, QPD, 1999, p 468
- Piekalkiewicz and Penn, The Politics of Ideocracy, SUNY Press, 1995, p. 45.
- Robert Alter, "The Masada complex", Commentary magazine, 1 July 1973.
- Jerrold M. Post, editor, The Psychological Assessment of Political Leaders, University of Michigan Press, 2003, p. 345.
- Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years, Harper Collins, 1993, p. 769.
- Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, Harper Perennial, 2010, p. 41.
- Samuel Osborne, The Independent on Sunday, 22 January 2017.
- Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, Harper Perennial, 2010, p. 9.
- Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, Harper Perennial, 2010, p. 98.
- Piekalkiewicz and Penn, Politics of Ideocracy, State University of New York, 1995, p133
- Erich Fromm, The Sane Society, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1955, p. 237.
- Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, Harper Perennial 2010, p 100, 119
- The Mind of Adolf Hitler, Pan, 1972, p 33, 55
- Sebastian Haffner, The Meaning of Hitler, Phoenix 2002, p 27-30
- Walter Langer, The Mind of Adolf Hitler, Pan 1972, p 155.
- Walter Langer, The Mind of Adolf Hitler, Pan 1972, p 157
- Sebastian Haffner, The Meaning of Hitler, Pelican 2002, p. 40, 42.
- Ian Hall, The international thought of Martin Wight, Palgrave 2006, p 47
- Mussolini, Phoenix, 1993, p112-15
- Denis Mack Smith, Mussolini, Phoenix 1993, p 300
- 'Why we are not wrong to compare Milosevic to Hitler', Independent, 20/4/1999
- Jerrold M Post, The psychological assessment of political leaders, University of Michigan Press, 2003, p 354
- Hans Enzensburger, "Perspective on Saddam Hussein", Los Angeles Times, 14 February 1991.
- John Sweeney, The life and evil times of Nicolae Ceausescu, Hutchinson, 1991, p99
- John Sweeney, The life and evil times of Nicolae Ceausescu, Hutchinson, 1991, p155
- John Van der Kiste, The Romanovs, Sutton, 1998, p154
- John Van der Kiste, The Romanovs, Sutton, 1998, p 175
- Van der Kiste, The Romanovs, Sutton, 1998, p 176
- Van der Kiste, The Romanovs, Sutton, 1998, p 187
- Leon Trotsky, The history of the Russian Revolution, translated by Max Eastman, Pluto Press 1977, p 84
- Mark Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St martin's Press, 1997, pp 83-87
- Steve Rosenberg, BBC online interview with Gorbachev, 2016-12-13
- Dejevsky, Mary (1994-05-08). "Two new faces of democracy; both Gorbachev and de Klerk tried to dismantle untenable regimes". Independent.
- James Palmer, 'What China didn't learn from the collapse of the Soviet Union, Foreign Policy, 2016-12-24
- Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution, p. 16.
- Chris Patten, What next?, Penguin, 2009, p. 410.
- See the Diary of Victor Klemperer
- Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah Routledge 1978, p. 255.
- Paul Kennedy, The rise and fall of the Great Powers, 1985, p. 486.
- Crane Brinton, The Anatomy of Revolution, p. 86.
- Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah, Routledge 1978, p. 246.
- Sebastain Haffner, The meaning of Hitler, Pelican, 2000, p. 153.
- Piekalkiewicz and Penn, The Politics of Ideocracy, SUNY Press, 1995, p. 163.
- Sabrina Ramet, The three Yugoslavias, Indiana UP, 2006, p. 322.
- Tony Barber, 'Decline and Fall', review of Shattering Empires by Michael Reynolds, Financial Times, 4/4/2011.
- Dmitri Volkogonov, The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire, Harper Collins, 1997, pp. 485-7.
- Tony Barber, 'Decline and Fall', review of Tales of Imperial Russia by Francis Wcislo (sic), Financial Times, 4/4/2011.
- Sebastian Haffner, The Meaning of Hitler, Pelican 2002, chapter on 'Crimes'
- Tony Barber, 'Decline and Fall', Financial Times, 4/4/2015
- Takemae, Eiji 2002, p. xxxvii.
- Hunt, Michael (2013). The World Transformed:1945 to the Present. Oxford University Press. p. 86. ISBN 9780199371020.
- Takemae, Eiji 2002, p. xxxix.
- Ali A. Allawi, 'The Ottoman Empire: the last great casualty of the first world war', The Spectator, 2/5/2015
- Avi Shlaim, 'The Balfour Declaration: A Study in British Duplicity', Middle East Eye, 25/8/2017
- Israel Shahak, 'Greater Israel: the Zionist Plan for the Middle East', Global Research, November 2017
- Andrew Green, 'Why Western Democracy can never work in the Middle East', The Daily Telegraph,16/8/2014
- Adeed Dawisha, 'Requiem for Arab Nationalism', Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2003
- Syed Mansur Hashim, 'Who will rule the Middle East?', The Daily Star, 12/1/2016
- Sebastian Haffner, The Meaning of Hitler, Phoenix, 2000, p 100
- Paul Stares and Helia Aghani, "How Stable is Saudi Arabia?", Council on Foreign Relations, 15 May 2017
- Azeem Ibrahim, 'Lebanon and Jordan may collapse under a new wave of refugees', Al Arabiya English, 2016-06-26
- Robert Kaplan and Rodger Baker, 'Why North Korea needs nukes', Forbes, 2013-12-04
- Tom Embury-Dennis, "North Korea Could Collapse within a Year", The Independent, 17 October 2017
- Patrick Gillespie et al, 'Venezuela; how a rich country collapsed'. CNN, July 2017
- anon, 'Israel will collapse within ten years', Israel Today, 2016-11-29
- Olivia Gordon, quoting Margaret McMillan in 'Trump is no Hitler - he's a Mussolini', Oxford Today, 2017-04-24
- Nigel Lawson, 'The EU exists only to become a superstate', Telegraph, 2016-05-02
- James Shorter, 'Polish president warns multispeed EU will collapse', Financial Times, 2017-09-05
- 'the EU will collapse within ten years', The Express, 2017-09-23
- Nick Gutteridge, 'German economist predicts EU will collapse', Express, 2017-08-25
- Nick Mason, 'The Germans are making contingency plans for the collapse of Europe. Let's hope we are too.' The Guardian, 2017-11-06
- S Daniel Abraham, 'How Israel will be destroyed without one shot being fired', Haaretz, 2013-01-16
- Iqbal Jassat, 'Israel faces inevitable collapse of its apartheid system', Middle East Monitor 2017-03-27
- David Leigh, "Wikileaks Cables Expose Pakistan Nuclear Fears", The Guardian, 30 November 2010.
- Bruce Gilley, China's Democratic Future, Columbia University Press, 2004, chapter six: "The democratic breakthrough, extrication or overthrow?".
- Ian Johnson , "Q and A David Shambaugh", The New York Times, 30 May 2016.
- Xie Tao, quoting Shambaugh in "Why Do People Keep Predicting China's Collapse?', The Diplomat, March 2015.
- Mark Katz, Revolutions and Revolutionary Waves, St Martin's Press, 1997, p107-112
- Geoff Mulgan, Good and Bad Power, Penguin 2007, p321