There is a significant difference between the theories of resistance discussed in the last chapter and the types of revolutionary political thinking that will be dealt with in this one. Resistance theories deny legitimacy to rulers who act improperly, but they do not deny that subjects have an obligation to obey their rulers when they act in accordance with the letter or spirit of what are seen as legitimate systems of government. In contrast revolutionary thinkers argue that subjects are under no obligation to accept the authority of those whose claim to rule is derived from an unjust political structure. The purpose of revolutionary political thought is to identify the weaknesses of existing political structures, and to show that these weaknesses can only be avoided by establishing a radically different social and political order. In these cases, resistance is a challenge to the state. Many theories of resistance have a constitutional basis, so that claims to resist are part of the structure of a state. The extra-legal nature of revolutionary change, and the fact that revolutions are intended to bring about a fundamental alteration to the structure of the state and the distribution of political power within the community, means that revolutionary theory usually assumes the need for a violent challenge to an existing political system and to those who wield power within it.
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- Chapter 13