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By Yvon Grenier

Grenier bargains a greater realizing of the explanations of revolution in El Salvador via an research of the important position of principles and ideologues. The insurgency was once no longer only the charismatic embodiment of structurally decided strategies, because it is usually recommended, it was once the expression of a special and forceful political will. the point of interest is put on the interval of emergence of insurgency (roughly, the Nineteen Seventies and early 1980s), a interval too usually confounded (and not just within the Salvadoran case) with next classes of the innovative cycle.

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Extra resources for The Emergence of Insurgency in El Salvador: Ideology and Political Will

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The general thesis of this book should already be apparent. The insurgency was not merely the charismatic embodiment of structurally determined processes, but the expression of a distinct and forceful political will. A political will conditioned by ideas that, for all their grounding in the Salvadoran experience, were nonetheless shared by many people at a certain time in sundry countries and cultural environments. I shall look at this more specifically. First, although a structural approach may wield superior explanatory power when analysing the causes of successful national revolts, a focus on the specific mobilisation of the insurgents is indispensable to understanding the emergence of insurgency - a stage that in most instances does not lead to full-fledged national revolt, let alone to the collapse of the old regime and the seizure of power by insurgents.

Theoretically the notion of revolution is not as indispensable as it may appear. Radical change is the only true indicator that allows some operationalisation of the concept. That is, one can only know when the putative revolutionaries are in command of state power. Even then, enchanted by the siren song of revolutions - the sex of politics! - scholars tend to exaggerate the depth and magnitude of the change, as John Walton has correctly pointed OUt. 44 This book refuses to construe the different sequences of an internal war as homogeneous (as will be explained later), and it fails to see the heuristic advantage of hand-picking from, among the various eloquent candidates for the praised label, those who probably constitute the trne revolutionary.

Among the key actors in the three institutions one can find a certain voluntarism, an impatience vis-a-vis both the perceived political immobility of society at large and the prudent indulgence of the old guard in their respective institutions. There was also a strong dose of elitism or 'vanguardism', which shielded them from input from the 'rearguard' (or the famous masses). Finally, radical ideologies and the romanticisation of armed struggle, as featured by the initial nucleus of insurgents, were not merely a last resort response to injustice, exclusion and repression, as most analysts have asserted.

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