9

THE COMPARATIVE-HISTORICAL SOCIOLOGY OF THIRD WORLD SOCIAL REVOLUTIONS

Why a few succeed, why most fail

John Foran

The twentieth century, as much as any before it, has been an age of revolutions. The locus of these revolutions, until the startling events in Eastern Europe in 1989, has been firmly rooted in the Third World, on the continents of Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The record of these revolutions is highly mixed: almost all have started as popular movements which generated wide hope and optimism both internally and internationally, yet have ended at some later point in time, in economic crisis, political repression, or social failure. This chapter is one not of ends, however, but of origins. It seeks to extend previous work on the causes of successful social revolutions to a consideration of why so few revolutions have earned the label "social" revolutions, while so many have fallen short of the sorts of deep economic, political, and social change that could justify this claim. 1

This chapter will survey the causes of a variety of Third World revolutions, from cases of successful outcomes (measured in terms of taking and holding state power long enough to engage in a project of social transformation), such as in Mexico 1910-20, China 1911-49, 2 Cuba 1953-59, Iran 1977-79, and Nicaragua 1977-79; to their close relations among anti-colonial social revolutions, as in Algeria 1954-62, Vietnam 1945-75, and Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe in the 1970s; to cases that have resulted in short-lived success, such as Guatemala under Arevalo and Arbenz from 1944 to 1954, Allende's Chile between 1970 and 1973, Jamaica under Michael Manley in the 1970s, and Grenada 1979-83; to attempted revolution in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Peru from the late 1970s to the early 1990s; to political revolutions in 1911 China, Bolivia in the 1950s, and Haiti and the Philippines in the 1980s; to the absence of revolutionary attempts in societies undergoing otherwise rapid transformation, such as post-World War II South Korea, Taiwan, Mexico (before 1994!), Turkey, Egypt, Brazil, Argentina, Zaire, and elsewhere. The aim is to discern distinctive analytic patterns for these diverse outcomes, using Boolean analysis, as

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