The Vogue of Revolutions in Poor Countries

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The Vogue of Revolutions in Poor Countries

By Forrest D. Colburn
Princeton University Press, 1994
129 pp. $19.95

This book is a strong counterpoint to the Skocpol volume above. Written by an author with personal experience of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua and of Ethiopia under the military rule of the Dergue junta, Colburn makes a strong case for the primacy of politics in Third World revolutions. He rejects earlier theories that link revolution exclusively to long-term structural conditions like relative deprivation or the fragility of existing institutions, since these conditions exist in many developing countries without producing cataclysmic upheaval. The particular character of postwar revolutions is due, rather, to the intellectual vogue of socialist redistribution theories and Leninist attitudes toward power, which created their own destructive internal logic independent of the culture, history, and traditions of the particular countries involved. With the withering away of the socialist idea, the nature of revolutions themselves will change.

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