Week#6: Revolutionary Alternatives
Cuba and Nicaragua
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
I. Revolution Defined
II. Insurrection + Political Victory
III. In the Aftermath Institutionalization Consolidation
Revolutions like the “sex of politics”
When individuals capture a society, and you can see a glimpse into how they will handle it
Completely transform the structures of society
Cuba and Nicaragua (challenging to capture and implement alternative system with the U.S.
1. Revolution Defined
• Social Revolution: the successful overthrow of a ruling elite by revolutionaries who seek the profound
transformation of a society’s political economic and social structure.
• Period after gaining the power, and what they actually do what the power.
• Coup d’état: power is transferred within the ruling elite or from one ruling elite to another (Military
Intervention) does not change structures.
• Rebellion: Spontaneous uprising, does not affect structures, but is aimed at changing policies and leaders.
• Political Revolution: Seeks to transform the state, but not economic or social structures. Such as wars of
• First Generation Revolutions/Great Revolutions: Characterized by the tensions surrounding the transition
from feudalism to capitalism and by class struggle. (French 1789, Russian 1917, Chinese 1911, Mexican 1910)
Lots of peasant and worker base uprising.
Theoretical Models of Revolution:
A) Class Conflict (Karl Marx): Which views revolution as a movement driven by inherent class based conflicts
in society. Inspiration for revolutions in Latin America: the workers begin to realize the struggle (Exploited by
• Features: Urban workers are the revolutionary class. Exploitative nature of capitalism gives rise to
B) Political Conflict Model (Charles Tilly): views revolutions as the struggle for political power between those
who are excluded from the polity are the challengers and those who are in power. (Members of the polity)
a. Gradual mobilization of wouldbe challengers
b. Rapid gradual mobilization in number of supporters
c. Government becomes unable to suppress challengers
d. Establishment of control over part of the government apparatus by challengers.
e. Struggle to maintain or expand control by challengers.
f. Victory or defeat of challengers. (Use of Military Force)
g. Reimposition of governmental control (revolutionary or status quo)
C) Structural Model of Revolution (Theda Skorpol): Views revolution as the result of the weakening or
collapse of state structures as a result of international and domestic pressure.
• Specific agrarian structure is required
• State crisis results in revolution
• Extreme pressure in the state is required • States repressive capacity must break down.
D) Foran’s Model of Third World Revolution (Global South): Looking at five cases, looking at positive cases
(you cannot isolate them in that way) Too many factors at play
• Dependent Development (Export and Import manufacturing)
• Repressive, but also personalist state ( a certain type of authoritarian state)
• Culture of Resistance (difficult to calculate) : history of mobilizing ,
• Economic Crisis (extreme pressure on situation)
• Favourable international conditions (two superpowers fighting, or a superpower (occupied)
*focusing on secondgeneration models ( a new generation )
• Second Generation Revolutions : Carried out by Global South in the post World War Two period.
Different because ( not France , china and etc) ;
• Economic dependency
• Neo colonial societies: colonialism makes it harder to change
• International vulnerability: they have to govern with sanctions
2. Insurrection + Political Victory
• 1898: US declares war on Spain and takes position of Cuba.
• 19401950: Corrupt military dictator Batitsa (held power) behind the scenes pulling string, doing things in
the interest of the US
• 1953: Rebels show up led by Fidel Castro (Law student) and launch an attack that was failed on some
army barrars ( Think Tilly)
• 1955: Batista declares amnesty (facing mounting pressure) and Castro leaves to Mexico
• 1956: Castro returns to Cuba with group of 82 to launch an armed struggle; 12 of the 82 made it to the
Sierra mountain, only got 800 members in the Guerrilla movement.
• 1959: Could not catch him, vicious repression of the student base, students parents do not like it ( parents
gestangry, even the US withdrew support for human rights violations.
• 1 Jan : Batista leaves the country and Castro enters