IDEOLOGY AND POPULAR PROTEST by George RudÉ

IDEOLOGY AND POPULAR PROTEST

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

From his highly influential studies of crowds, The Crowd in the French Revolution and The Crowd in History, historian RudÉ moves on to the reasons why they rebelled--providing a framework for thinking about rebellions, if not a fine-tuned analysis. First, he divides ideology into two tiers--one of ""inherent"" notions grounded in tradition and experience, and another of ""derived"" ideas appropriated from external sources--which combine to form the popular ideology. Then, he reviews peasant rebellions in medieval and absolutist Europe, and in present-day Latin America; the English, American and French Revolutions; and the 19th-century English and European popular uprisings. In each case, RudÉ shows that the peasants or artisans or workers were acting out of notions tied to the past--either to a conscious tradition of radicalism, or in response to real or imagined rights once held and now withdrawn--while others were, at the same time, formulating more general ideologies only faintly understood or accepted by the masses in movement. For example, while Luther was elucidating an ideology of emancipation from the Church, the peasants who rallied to the Christian Unions during the Peasant War were rising equally against feudal privileges; and when the ""derived"" goals were achieved, the princes smashed the peasants and their ""inherent"" ideology, to the general indifference of Luther. In each case, the past is more important than the future to those in rebellion, but the ""derived"" ideologies inevitably become part of the ""inherited"" ideology the next time. This simple schema entails a presumptive historical progression--demands for worker emancipation are carried by declining artisans to defeat, only to re-emerge later in the heads of victorious workers--and RudÉ's depiction of ""inherent"" ideologies is generally more convincing than his attributions of abstract ideas. The schema is useful, nonetheless, as a conceptual tool, and the short chapters provide lucid recaps of the various rebellions and reinforce the importance of the past in the ideology of protest.

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1980
ISBN: 0807845140
Publisher: Pantheon