We conceptualize the process of inspiring regime change, characterize the optimal inspiration strategy, and study its consequences. Drawing from the literature, we formalize the process of inspiring regime change as a mechanism, in which a leader assigns psychological rewards to different anti-regime actions. Citizens face a coordination problem in which each citizen has a private, endogenous degree of optimism about the likelihood of regime change. Because more optimistic citizens are easier to motivate, optimal inspiration entails optimal screening: a mechanism to implicitly parse citizens based on their degree of optimism. This leads to a distribution of anti-regime actions. A key result is the emergence of a vanguard, consisting of citizens who engage in the endogenous, maximum level of anti-regime action. Other citizens participate at varying degrees, with less optimistic citizens contributing less. We show that more heterogeneity (e.g., higher inequality) among potential revolutionaries reduces the likelihood of regime change.
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