REVOLUTION IN THE THIRD WORLD by Gerard Chaliand
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REVOLUTION IN THE THIRD WORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A veteran observer of revolutionary movements in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Near East, once their proponent, finds little to applaud in the aftermath of ""Third World euphoria"": corrupt neocolonial regimes blanket most of Africa; Latin American reality doomed the Castroite initiative; the Arab World talks revolution and thinks Arab first. Only China and Vietnam managed to combine a national and a social revolution, to wage a successful armed struggle and effect radical social change. Chaliand assigns credit to the preconditions (post-WW II diminution of Western power plus native resentments), the conduct of the revolution (""Never did the Front move in to take over a village without the political base first having been prepared""), and--significantly--the healthy political and social traditions of the society, on which the revolutionary regimes capitalized. By contrast, armed struggles elsewhere failed to link the guerrilla force to the population (see Chaliand's scathing dismissal of Guevara et al. as macho lone eagles), while victorious nationalistic governments (in Egypt, Algeria, Peru) imposed a piecemeal revolution from the top and remained Western economic appendages. One exception is the former Portuguese colony of Guinea-Bissau: how Amilcar Cabrai carefully built support within the diverse, tradition-bound population--and ultimately won international recognition for his independence party--is the nearest to a 1960s-style role model, potentially free of ""a new corrupt and highly privileged class."" For, reviewing Marxist ideology and the course of socialist revolution, Chaliand concludes that anti-democratic bureaucracy is implicit in Lenin's concept of a vanguard of professional revolutionaries and a spontaneous social phenomenon besides--mitigated only when a portion of the bourgeoisie turns radical against its own interests in a display of ""moralistic voluntarism"" that Chaliand calls ""remarkable."" ""It is time,"" he avers, ""to announce the death of Utopia."" Chaliands' politics gives authority to this bold and searching critique.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1977
Publisher: Viking