The Color Revolution Model: An Exposé of the Core Mechanics

[ Note: The Color Revolution and Arab Spring phenomenon is one which receives particular attention at Center for Syncretic Studies (CSS), because it is one of the primary tactics used in geopolitics and geostrategy which also relies on a syncretic or interdisciplinary model. It involves mass psychology, marketing and advertising, sociology, ideology, and a range of other fields. This piece should be understood as a schematic with explanatory annotations and dissection of particular mechanisms. We strongly recommend this to be read alongside several previous pieces which explore the history, figures involved in developing the theory, and real-world application in the following pieces featured here at CSS –

1. Gene Sharp: From Berlin Wall to Arab Spring or The Politics of Counter-Revolution

2. Gene Sharp: A Chief Tactician of the US Post-Cold War Period – J.V Capone, editor ]



I Model

II Description of Variables



a) Core
b) Cohort
c) Civilians


a) Social Media
b) Propaganda Materials


III Unholy Triangle

IV Explanation of m Factor Interactions

V ‘The Event’

VI Physical Infrastructure

Physical Infrastructure 1

a) ‘Occupy’ Activities
b) Building a Crowd
c) Marches and Protests
d) Role of Social Media in Physical Infrastructure 1
i) Social Media as Security
ii) Social Media as Promotion
e) Protesters as Human Shields of the Movement

Physical Infrastructure 2



The Color Revolution Model: An Expose of the Core Mechanics


Color Revolutions are one of the newest models of state destabilization. They allow external actors to plead plausible deniability when accused of illegally interfering in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state, and their mass mobilization of ‘people power’ renders them highly effective in the eyes of the global media. Additionally, the conglomeration of large numbers of civilians protesting the government also increases pressure on that said government and limits its options in effectively dealing with the ongoing destabilization. All Color Revolutions closely follow the same template, and understanding the nature of this applied tactic of destabilization will allow states to craft suitable countermeasures against it.

I Model

Color Revolutions are formed through a complex interaction of many factors, however, they can be subdivided into several primary infrastructural categories:

These factors interact with one another in a specific way in a five-tiered hierarchy:

The interplay of the above factors creates a Movement (m) that combines with two other variables in order to produce a Color Revolution:
‘The Event’ (e)
Physical Infrastructure (p)

The resultant formula for a Color Revolution (R) is as follows:

m + e + p = R

The following chapters of the exposition will definitely detail what these variables are, as well as explain the interaction between them.

II Description of Variables

This section will detail the specific contributing factors that define each of the variables.


Ideology is the central focus of any change within the world, and it is the guiding idea that motivates all of the other factors affecting a Color Revolution. Without ideology, everything that follows is empty and devoid of meaning and purpose. The traditional ideology motivating all Color Revolutions is Liberal Democracy, and it seeks to ‘free’ targeted states from perceived anti-Liberal Democratic (non-Western) governments.

Liberal Democracy, in its current post-modern manifestation, is expansionist and aggressive. It is not content with alternative ideological and value systems and must steamroll over them in its pursuit of global dominance. Besides waging direct war against societies resisting its advance (i.e. Serbia, Libya), Liberal Democratic states (the West) have learned to pursue other methods of defeating targeted states. These methods are less direct that outright war, but no less efficient. The ideological penetration of a society eventually embodies itself in a physical outburst inside the state itself, guided by a segment of the state’s own citizenry. The state (and society as a whole) must combat a part of itself that is ‘rising up’ against the status quo, leading to a conflict of interest and a social civil war. Depending upon the level of provocation that the pro-Liberal Democratic protesters initiate, as well as instances of mismanagement by the state in dealing with this social uprising, the social civil war may eventually turn violent and briefly resemble an actual civil war. This is especially so if the protesters have been armed by forces outside of the country, and if they decide to attack the security services tasked with dispersing the Color Revolution’s physical manifestations.

Ideology is thus the initiator of all Color Revolutions. It presents an opposite form of development for a domestic society, and it motivates sympathetic segments of the population to engage in tangible demonstrations to demand change. It will later be seen that the vast majority of these active protesters may not even be aware that their activities are being orchestrated by a higher power (NGO, foreign government). Rather, most of them, as a result of a heavy-handed information campaign promoting the destabilizing ideology, have truly been led to believe that their actions are spontaneous and ‘natural’, and that they represent the inevitable ‘progress’ that all areas of the world are bound to experience sooner or later. The ideology of the individual over the collective (the social aspect of Liberal-Democracy) empowers each and every protester to feel that they are making a unique and significant impact in bringing about this change.


Any ideology needs to have a financial infrastructure in order to facilitate its permeation of a society. Money lubricates society and provides additional means for spreading influence. Unless there is a strong level of pre-existing support for the penetrating ideology within the targeted country, then the initial capital will likely come from abroad (the host state[s] promoting the ideology). This was the case with the first wave of Color Revolutions and the Arab Spring. Foreign financial backers provided the capital needed to keep the fledgling Movements growing in their early stages. Even if the outside ideological influence buildsits own social infrastructure of sorts without resorting to financial means, that social variable will be severely limited in its outreach and effectiveness if it does not have a solid financial basis backing its promotional activities and training.

Finance is the backbone of the entire Color Revolution. It transforms the ideas of the social Movement into tangible action (physical infrastructure), and it provides a ‘nest’ for ideological nurturing. Such nests are various pro-democracy and human rights (as defined by the West) institutions and organizations. Most commonly, they may misleadingly be referred to as NGOs, even if they do have a direct link to a foreign government or elements of the institutional political opposition. Such institutions and centers need money in order to operate, and this brings about the critical importance of having a financial infrastructure in place.

The financial infrastructure must continuously pump money into its endeavors, as any halt (however brief) will directly affect the effectiveness of its on-the-ground and cyber operations. Grants from established institutions and foreign governments can provide the initial start-up capital to create a domestic penetrating institution/organization within the targeted state, but in the future, proper training will teach activists how to raise funds on their own. Fundraising works to provide a certain level of financial self-sufficiency that achieves three aims:

1) Limit the negative impact that any halt in foreign financing would create

2) Create a domestic financial network that can evade the watchful government eye over international money transfers and the illegal smuggling of cash between borders

3) Entrench the institution/organization even further into domestic society through fundraising outreach activities

Finance allows the Color Revolution to firmly establish itself in society, as well as disseminate its ideas throughout. The more finance, the greater the number of institutions/organizations and the people that they employ. Taken in combination with Social Infrastructure, it is directly supported by Ideology.


This type of infrastructure deals with the actual people that are involved in the ColorRevolution, and it is defined through institutions/organizations. It is the Revolution’s direct engine of engagement. Prior to ‘The Event’, this can be divided into three levels:

1) Core (Vanguard)

2) Cohorts (Workers)

3) Civilians (Sympathizers)

‘The Event’ leads to all three of these levels coalescing into a singular unit, thereby giving the Color Revolution the impression of being a unified grassroots initiative. It is argued that the Social Infrastructure is very hierarchical, and that a small cabal of vanguard individuals controls the entire Movement. This fact is usually lost not only on the outside observer, but also among the civilian sympathizers as well, however, it is extremely important to acknowledge and understand in order to comprehend the organization of the Social Infrastructure.

3a) Core

These individuals are the vanguard of the Color Revolution. They are the people who control the institutions/organizations that are set in bringing about the Liberal-Democratic change. They are highly trained and maintain direct contact with the external patron (ideological and/or financial). The core constitutes a small amount of activists who are dedicated to the cause. In the sense that they are dead-set against the existing status quo and actively seek to disrupt it, they can be defined as ‘ideological extremists’. They are the most powerful people within the targeted country, and when the decision is made to initiate the Color Revolution, they may either prominently deliver motivating speeches to the public in favor of it, or they may continue their shadow role in organizing the Movement. The capture or compromise of a Core individual severely offsets the organizational effectiveness of the Color Revolution.

3b) Cohorts

These people comprise the workers that are positioned below the Core. They carry out administrative or recruiting tasks under the employ of the institution/organization. The Cohorts are the ‘face’ of the organization that most civilians will initially come into contact with. They also perform most of the work for the institution/organization, thereby making them the labor backbone. Cohorts are dedicated to the cause, but they have yet to prove their absolute loyalty and enter into the elite Core. All Cohorts aspire to enter the Core, hence their dedicated activism and public demonstrations in favor of their ideology. Seeing as how the individual Cohort is not as integral to the Movement as a Core member is, they are easily disposable and replaced by the organization if need be (i.e. they are ordered into provocative publicized actions and subsequently arrested). A large number of Cohorts are powerful and valuable to the institution/organization, a single Cohort is nothing more than a pawn.

3c) Civilians

The Civilians are the regular citizens who the Cohorts come into contact with. They enter into the Social Infrastructure only when they become sympathizers to the cause. Civilians may or may not enter into the Physical Infrastructure (i.e. participate in marches of solidarity with the Color Revolution), but when they do, they provide a valuable soft power advantage. Media footage of thousands of civilians partaking in a Color Revolution rally may influence other civilians to also take part in such activities. As with the Cohorts, a single Civilian is a pawn, but large amounts of them are a ‘weapon’.

In terms of influence, the pattern is thus:

Core > Cohorts > Civilians

In terms of numbers, the pattern is reversed:

Civilians > Cohorts > Core

As the Social Infrastructure builds upon itself and adds new members, it will also increase the funds available to the institution/organization through the Cohorts’ fundraising activities.


Training is indispensable to any Color Revolution, as it forms the third part of the Unholy Triangle (to be explained later). This level of Infrastructure enhances the capabilities of its Finance, Social, and Information counterparts:

Finance: Cohorts learn fundraising techniques

Social: Cohorts learn how to successfully conduct outreach activities to increase their ranks and gather more Civilian sympathizers.

Information: Cohorts learn how to create better websites, craft more effective promotional materials, and exploit social media

Training can either take place within the country or outside. The Core may be trained outside, whereas the Cohorts will likely be trained inside the country by the Core. It is important for the institution/organization to establish plausible deniability in terms of foreign involvement otherwise their domestic operations will be discredited. This makes it more probable that the elite Core may do the traveling, while the many Cohorts remain within the country for their training.

Training can either be in-person or virtual. In the event that it dangerous or suspicious for the Core to leave the country for training, it will be conducted via the internet. However, the most effective training occurs in person, and online ‘tutorials’ are no substitute for face-to-face interaction between the Core and their sponsors. It may occur that the sponsors send a training representative into the target country to conduct training under such circumstances, although such a move is risky for the sponsor. If caught red-handed, both the sponsor and the institute/organization will lose credibility among the domestic audience, thereby mitigating many of their previous gains.

An institution/organization without effective training is incomplete, handicapped, and incapable of reaching its full potential.


This level of infrastructure deals with ideological dissemination, and it is extremely important in assisting with Social Infrastructure recruitment (Cohorts and Civilians). It has two primary elements:
Social Media
Propaganda Materials

These elements are explained below.

5a) Social Media

Social Media is exploited to spread the Ideology and create a Social Network, which in turn will either turn into Cohorts of Civilian sympathizers. Effective Social Media outreach by the institution/organization will further the Color Revolution by immeasurable bounds. Civilians will use the Social Media outlets to keep in touch with news and developments about the Movement, and it will pose a challenge to the official media outlets supporting the governmental establishment. In this way, successful Social Media skills have the end goal of creating an alternative information outlet.

5b) Propaganda Materials

Propaganda Materials are integral in furthering the cause of the Movement and making it appear larger than it is. Graffiti, leaflets strewn across side streets and posted on buildings, and catchy slogans, logos, and colors can spread the Movement throughout the public psyche on a new non-stop basis. It reminds even those Civilians that are not sympathizers of the Movement that the underpinnings of a future Color Revolution exist and are present in their society. In fact, these Civilians may then think that such a Movement is inevitable and has larger support than it really does, making them follow a ‘bandwagon’ mentality of latching onto what they feel will be the ‘winning side’. Propaganda also simplifies the Movement’s message, makes it all-encompassing to each social class (preferably), and creates easy-to-digest images and concepts for foreign and domestic audiences.

Information Infrastructure is also responsible for the following:
Creating software and strategies to map/plan upcoming protests
Connecting the Institution/Organization with other likeminded ones within the country or abroad
Choosing the most symbolic national symbols/songs/nationally significant monuments, squares, parks to associate with the Movement

Thus, this type of Infrastructure connects the Movement to the outside world and enhances the effectiveness of its message.


This level of Infrastructure is the culminating point of the Movement’s entire Infrastructure. The Media can either be New (blogs, alternative news sites) or Traditional (TV, newspapers). Finance, Social, Training, and Information Infrastructures come together to create this fifth and final tier, and this level leads to mass dissemination throughout society. It legitimizes the Ideology of the Movement, makes it seem reputable, and solidifies the perception of a strong presence in society. Most importantly, it also has a prime aim of reaching the international audience. Doing so creates international (Western) legitimacy and prompts statements from leading political figures, both within the country and abroad. The domestic politicians that support the Movement will then have the explicit support of their foreign sponsors, thereby helping to propel their political careers if the Color Revolution is successful.

Both media platforms (New and Traditional) serve to recruit more Civilians who may have been hesitant about joining the Movement, since they previously viewed it as fringe or unlikely to succeed. The New Media can even pressure the Traditional Media to report on developments concerning the Movement, especially if the Traditional Media is reluctant to do so for political reasons. It may even occur that a rift develops between the New and Traditional Medias, with the New Media on the side of the Movement, and the Traditional Media on the side of the establishment. Bloggers and ‘new journalists’ are at the forefront of the New Media, and their reporting is instrumental in expanding the influence of pro-Movement New Media.

If the Traditional Media does report on the Movement (either as a result of New Media pressure or via Movement-friendly outlets), this would make unaware Civilians cognizant of the social civil war ahead of them and provoke a government counterstatement/media response. The government, of course, will not be in favor of any Movement aimed at overthrowing it, so it is compelled to publicly proclaim its opposition to it. This enables the Movement to frame the events in a way that makes the government appear to be ‘suppressing’ the political opposition. Such accusations carry heavy weight in the Western arena of public opinion and can serve to undermine the government’s support among on-the-fence civilians.

III Unholy Triangle

This is the term used to describe the interplay between the Finance, Social, and Training Infrastructures. Each one complements the other, and taken together, they form the center of the Movement’s power and influence. The Unholy Triangle is the most important interaction that takes place within the Movement. The stronger each of the three units is, the stronger the Movement itself will become. Conversely, if one part of the Unholy Triangle is weakened, the rest of the Movement also becomes weak. This weakness will have consequences on the Information and Media Infrastructures (the spawn of the Unholy Triangle), thereby undermining the entire Color Revolution operation. Without effective Information and Media outlets, the Movement will wither and eventually collapse.

Social Infrastructure is the most important part of the Unholy Triangle, since it directly affects Tiers 2-5. Therefore, any negative developments in Finance and Training (on which Social is dependent] would ripple through the entire Movement. Although Information also affects Social, it only increases recruitment. Recruitment without quality is ineffective, and institutions/organizations without funding do not operate.

IV Explanation of m Factor Interactions

Tier 1

Ideology à Finance: justification for the entire project

Ideology à Social: motivation for individuals to join the movement

Tier 2

Finance à Social: provides funding for more institutions/organizations

Social à Finance: more Cohorts may lead to more activists conducting fundraising

Finance à Training: pays for more training

Social à Training: more individuals to be trained, makes training a regular occurrence

Tier 3

Training à Finance: teaches Cohorts fundraising activities

Training à Social: increases the effectiveness of outreach activities, improves personnel quality

Tier 4

Finance à Information: pays for better information campaigns and resources

Social à Information: provides more Cohorts to conduct information campaigns

Training à Information: improves the efficiency of information campaigns

Information à Social: assists with recruitment of Cohorts and Civilian sympathizers

Tier 5

Finance à Media: pays for media coverage

Social à Media: institutions/organizations provide a tangible and legitimate subject for reporting

Information à Media: media outlets use the information crafted by institutions/organizations

V ‘The Event’

A Color Revolution can only be officially initiated after an ‘Event’. This Event must be controversial and polarizing (or framed to be so), and it releases all of the Movement’s built-up energy. The Movement physically manifests itself in the most public way possible, and all of its parts operate to their maximum possible capacity. The Event is the ‘coming out’ for the Movement, and it is the trigger for the Color Revolution.

Events are selectively exploited, and the Movement may ignore a certain event if it does not feel that the Infrastructure necessary to successfully carry out the Color Revolution is adequate. Therefore, it will wait until another Event arises, or it may work to manufacture or provoke an Event. The Movement capitalizes upon an Event only after it has operated a successful information campaign. The Media Infrastructure may or may not be fully built by the time the decision is made to exploit the Event, as this level is closely tied to the Event itself. It may be that Media Infrastructure is not utilized until after the Event itself, in order to set the stage and prepare the public psyche for the Color Revolution. It all depends on the situation itself and the decision of the Movement and its sponsors.

Examples of Events are the following:
A rigged election
The jailing of an opposition leader
The signing of (or failure to sign) a controversial piece of legislation
A government crackdown against the opposition or the imposition of martial law
Declaring or being involved in an unpopular war

The above are but a few of the examples of what can constitute the Event. It is not important that these events actually occur in fact or not. What is pivotal is how they are perceived, framed, and narrated to the public at large. Allegations, not proof, of the above are what is most important in creating the catalyst for an Event. It must always be remembered that the Movement can provoke any of these events (or the perception that they had occurred).

VI Physical Infrastructure

The Event and the rolling out of Physical Infrastructure go hand in hand. There are two parts of Physical Infrastructure:

1) People and their active physical engagement in support of the Color Revolution

2) Physical objects & places and their strategic placement/utilization

These two aspects are further explained below.

Physical Infrastructure 1

The first part is deployed when the Core gives the decision for the Cohorts and Civilian sympathizers to take to the streets to physically and publicly demonstrate their support of the Color Revolution. The following are examples:
‘Occupy’ Activities
Building a Crowd
Marches and Protests

The abovementioned prominent examples need to be explored more fully:

1a) ‘Occupy’ Activities

The Movement needs to ‘occupy’ a symbolic location in order to have a publicly presentable HQ. In many cases, this is the central square of the capital, and the occupation may be in violation of municipal law. Should it be illegal, it already creates the provocative pretext for the government to dismantle the occupied settlements and evict the protesters. Such an action, if recorded and broadcast (either via New or Traditional Media), could be spun into anti-government propaganda and could further embolden the Movement.The ‘occupation’ is made to appear spontaneous, and even if a pre-existing spontaneous occupation or protest (that supports the Color Revolution’s ideas) is present in the targeted location, then the Movement will exploit it by making it its own and using this previous occupation/protest to highlight the spontaneity of the anti-government opposition.

Tent cities and stages are usually deployed in the occupied area, as the protesters dig in for a prolonged stay. It is important for the selected area to be occupied 24/7, and a small cadre of Core members are usually always present on the ground to direct the activities. Should the government move against the protesters’ occupied area, then the arrest of Core members present there could also be a trigger for increased protest and destabilization, especially if the Core members are the official managers of a ‘pro-democracy’ institution/organization. Core members and Cohorts also engage in direct outreach to participants, some of whom may simply be interested bystanders that are curious about the events unfolding in the symbolic location. This allows the Movement to expand the Physical and Social Infrastructure and build up more Civilian sympathizers.

The HQ in the occupied area will commonly serve food and beverages to the Civilian sympathizers. This is done for a dual purpose. First, it maintains a 24/7 presence in the location, and secondly, it also attracts more possible Civilian sympathizers. By showing that they are taking care of the Civilian sympathizers, the Movement increases its soft power and appeal among the population. The giving of food and beverages also helps to build a crowd to attend the occupation and other protest events.

1b) Building a Crowd

A Color Revolution is nothing without a large crowd of supporters, therefore, techniques to build such a crowd are of prime importance for the Movement’s survival. The following are the two main methods employed:

1) Advertise on New or Traditional Media

2) Appeal to the Younger Generation (be ‘fun’)

The Movement will advertise the occupy events in order to increase the awareness of the population. The Core will call upon their Media Infrastructure contacts (in the New and Traditional Media) to gain initial exposure, but with the building of the crowd and/or provocative actions, they will attract exposure from additional domestic and international communication outlets. The creation of an alternative information system (Information Infrastructure) greatly aids in advertising.

Appealing to the younger generation is extremely important for Color Revolutions, as the presence of many young individuals provides the Movement with a youthful, energizing appearance against a stagnant, decayed system (most government leaders will not be of college age or thereabouts). This generational context is very strong and effective in highlighting the ‘freshness’ of the Color Revolution’s ideas against the seemingly perceived (and framed) outdated views of the ruling establishment. The younger generation also typically is not engaged in a life-or-death economic struggle, whereby they are absolutely compelled to go to work during the day. They have their families and other supporters that can provide for them, thereby giving them the necessary free time to constantly interact with and support the Movement and its physical manifestations. As previously explained, the occupied area needs to maintain a constant presence, and it is more probable that younger college-age individuals will stand with the Movement throughout the night than will retired pensioners or middle-aged parents.

The younger generation is attracted by the ‘fun’ emanating from the protesters’ occupation of the symbolic location. ‘Fun’ can be advertised via some of the following methods:
Celebrity Appearances
Sports and other Games

The above examples do not even have to be explicitly political. The important thing is to attract more and more young people, and whether they are there for political or social reasons, the media will portray them as supporters of the Movement. Advertising the youthful appeal of the occupation through these methods, as well as displaying the presence of youthful protesters via the New and Traditional Media, will draw in more people from that age group. Importantly, the younger generation does not even have to be from the capital or the targeted region of the occupation and mass protest events. Instead, they can (and commonly are) bussed in from all across the country to attend the protests.

1c) Marches and Protests

These two physical manifestations are coordinated and meant to show observers the extent of support that the Color Revolution has. They also serve the purpose of energizing the Civilian sympathizers. A certain level of organizational infrastructure has to already be in place prior to the initiation of the Color Revolution in order to effectively take advantage of marches and protests. The following are examples of what must be considered and organized prior to marches and protests:
The meeting locations and paths (including their symbolism [helps with framing the events])
The time(s) and day(s)
Possible blockades against the police
Flags/marching bands/vehicles blasting nationalist music (Physical Infrastructure 2)
Where the marches/protests will culminate (usually the occupied area or government buildings)

The directing of simultaneous protests and marches of large groups of people makes it challenging for the police to deal with the situation. At the very least, one or two of the protest marches will reach the culminating location even if the police attempt to stop them. Marches and protests make the Movement seem larger than it really is, and it also attracts more followers and bystanders. Significant media attention is centeredaround such events, and it therefore helps to catapult the Movement’s message across the country and possibly the world. The Core, Cohorts, and Civilian sympathizers are all energized, and they feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. By being marketed as an all-day activity, such events can even attract families. The more children involved, the better for the Movement’s image.

The participation of pro-opposition political figures leads to a decreased risk of a police breakup of the events. This is because the police may be hesitant in arresting a publicized government figure for fear of being accused of ‘suppressing the opposition’, even if these figures provoked a police response. Such accusations could lead to an international uproar and undermine the legitimacy of the government. Highly publicized hunger strikes, especially among prominent individuals in society, can also make the audience feel that the government is responsible for the activists’ self-inflicted suffering. Once more, the reader must be reminded that what is most important is how the events are framed by the New and Traditional Media, not what really transpires. If the Media Infrastructure is strong enough to convince the audience that the government is in fact acting tyrannical and oppressive through its actions, then that is the impression that the audience will remember.

1d) Role of Social Media in Physical Infrastructure 1

Social Media provides both security and promotion for the Color Revolution, and each purpose will be subsequently discussed.

1d i) Social Media as Security

Individuals now have access to the internet and recording devices in the palm of their hands via recent advances in cellular technology. By recording the protest events, participants are working to safeguard their own security against government counteroffensives. Police and official government action is deterred, as footage of any representatives of the government engaging in (perceived) violence against the protesters will severely undercut the legitimacy and support of the ruling authorities both within the country and abroad. Even if official violence is provoked, the image of an unarmed protester being attacked by a police officer has a powerful resonance among the audience that it reaches.

1d ii) Social Media as Promotion

Non-stop video footage of the protest events (including the ‘fun’ activities) allows the Core and/or the New and Traditional Media to engage in editing techniques to frame the situation in a positive pro-opposition light. The creation of Twitter hashtags and Facebook groups assist in organizing footage and comments about the event on Social Media, thereby making it more accessible to sympathizers and interested individuals. One person sharing positive pro-opposition footage or statuses/tweets on their social network can lead to others sharing it to their friends, and so on and so forth. This leads to a social media chain reaction that results in a perceived ‘grassroots explosion’ of interest and support. The end goal is to ‘go viral’.

1e) Protesters as Human Shields of the Movement

Protesters, especially Civilian sympathizers, serve as unwitting human shields for the Movement. The presence of large groups of unarmed civilians shields the Core and Cohorts from direct police action. Although the government may make the decision to seize the organizers and activists that are camped out in the occupied area, it will have to wade through a sea of civilians in order to get to the culprits, especially if an occupation of a central location is occurring. Therefore, the risk of unintended casualties and collateral damage against civilians (especially if the Movement incites violence against it)is especially heightened. In this manner, the Core and Cohorts safely hide behind the Civilian sympathizers and use them as unwitting human shields, placing the government in a precarious position of whether or not to act against the organizers.

Physical Infrastructure 2

The second form of Physical Infrastructure is more traditional, as it involves stages, megaphones, banners, etc. It is the physical objects employed during the Color Revolution’s tangible manifestations and publicized media campaigns, and parts of it are closely related to Information Infrastructure. All of this has to be prepared well in advance, and none of it is spontaneous. For example, the stages that are deployed in the protest and occupied area(s) have to be obtained prior to the commencement of the Color Revolution, as do tents and adequate food and beverage supplies for the Civilian sympathizers. The stages are set up before the protest events, and the tents may be set up before or during them. It is not possible to procure everything physically needed for a successful Color Revolution on the spot or instantaneously. Therefore, networks of contacts and prior arrangements have to be created in advance.

This often overlooked logistical aspect of Color Revolutions betrays their claims of ‘spontaneity’. Carefully positioned photographers and cameramen help to frame the events in the most positive way possible for the Movement, as do the placement of opposition and/or nationalist flags and posters. Printed materials for use during the protest events also have to be stockpiled before the decision is made to initiate the Color Revolution, as sufficient propaganda supplies must be available for immediate use. Flags, banners, t-shirts, and other visible pro-Color Revolution tools have to be mass produced for use in the publicized events. A crowd of nondescript people without any visually unifying focus is not as powerful as one that displays solidarity with the Movement by their chosen appearance.


A Color Revolution is a complex interplay of many parts operating simultaneously. The Movement has to properly build its six Infrastructures prior to the onset of the public destabilization, and it needs an Event to galvanize its support and justify its actions to the targeted audiences. The Physical Infrastructures assist the Movement in gaining traction and attention, and they make the Color Revolution appear popular and spontaneous. A proper understanding of all of the working parts of a Color Revolution can enable one to better understand this new tactic of warfare being waged against national governments, as well as to identify vulnerabilities that can be exploited in crafting an effective counterrevolutionary strategy.

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