Coup Coup Katchoo, Mrs. Robinson

Over the weekend, one of my roommates and I got to pondering the logistics of extralegally incurring nonvoluntary regime change at the national level – i.e. pulling off a coup d’etat. We have no actual intention of overthrowing the government, here or anywhere else, but it made – and makes – for an interesting thought exercise.

First thing my roommate would do was the classic rounding up of people you can trust, arming them, and enlisting them in your cause through the use of open-ended promises and fiery speeches.

First thing I would do, I said, was consult Wikipedia and spend a few hours working up the statistics of recent coups and coup attempts.

Why? Well, I’m kind of a geek for statistics and pattern-recognition. That aside, objectively, coups are just plain unlikely to succeed – Wikipedia lists thirty-three attempts since 01 Jan 2000, of which about eleven were successful, at least in the short term. 33% chances of success are not something I’d be too terribly eager to gamble my life on, but maybe others feel differently.

What I’d like to do – though I have not found the time to, yet – is examine all eleven of those successful coups and see what patterns, if any, emerge. Did they directly target the ousted leader? Did they target the physical seat of government? Did they attempt to directly co-opt the military? Did they take place at night? On the weekend? On holidays? Were there circumstances which left the administrations vulnerable to overthrow just then, or is sociopolitical timing not so much important?

Once I’d finished that, I’d go look at the unsuccessful attempts, and see if they shared any disturbing commonalities that could be learned from. (If, for example, fifty percent of failed coup attempts take place on Mondays… memo to self: don’t overthrow the government on Monday.) Then I’d work up a list of the most statistically significant factors for a successful revolution, and see how many of those could be made applicable to the local circumstances.

My roommate thinks this – and anything else involving math – are nothing but sheer superstitious bourgeouis bumpf, and useless to la revolution. I think it’s at a minimum an interesting exercise for young intelligence analysts, and potentially capable of producing some extremely interesting results. We’ve come to a cautious detente; he’s agreed not to call me “Rico”, and I’ve agreed not to call him “Comrade”.

When I get a chance – which won’t be soon, alas – I intend to hunt through the pages of recent history and see what they have to say about plotting treasonous revolution. If you’d like to tackle that on your own, well… don’t let me stop you. Just share your results with the class. 🙂

Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on October 5th, 2010| Comments Off on Coup Coup Katchoo, Mrs. Robinson

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