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Martyrs in Revolution: Can the Symbol Sustain the Struggle?

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Master's thesis

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Martyrs have long been lauded as effective tools of mass persuasion. Once firmly identified with a variety of religious faiths, the martyr has just recently emerged within the secular world of politics and, in particular, within states embroiled in revolution. This thesis is a descriptive and analytical exercise which researches a number of areas concerning revolutionary martyrs. First, it examines the evolution of the martyrs character throughout its history. Next, it determines both the necessary and sufficient conditions which are present in the creation of martyrs in revolution. Third, the study suggests that some revolutionary martyrs possess a greater potential to arouse an incipient, latent community to support revolutionary movements. Finally, it offers a measurement scale to determine the effectiveness of a revolutionarys martyrdom to incite action and identifies those bureaucratic controls which may enhance and politicize the image within a population in turmoil. In so doing, it is the authors hope that this research can be fruitful to policy makers and operators within the Departments of State and Defense in their on going efforts to more clearly understand and effectively employ psychological operations in revolutionary conflicts throughout the globe. Revolutionary heroes and patriots, Messianism, Millenarian expectation, Mimetic desire, Political symbolism, Myth making, Symbol formation, Social paradigms of reality, Bureaucratic strategies of persuasion. Martyrs, Revolution, Psychological operations, Propaganda, Political violence.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Humanities and History
  • Psychology
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations
  • Unconventional Warfare

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