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This was assigned for the Core Program I took in “Democracy and Tyranny” in my first year of college, lo these many years ago. I don’t think I read it at the time: it may have been supplemental reading, not the subject of discussion in Seminar, but I may have just been slacking. That’s sort of too bad, in retrospect, because it would have interested me then, and it was far more relevant in the brief period (end of the 1980s) when there was still a revolutionary regime in power in Nicaragua, not to mention in Eurasia. As the title suggests, it is a Marxist evaluation of the prospects of future revolutions in the Western Hemisphere, and it is grounded in solid political science of the time. The authors engage in Marxist self-criticism to discuss why the revolution seemed to be so slow in coming, what mistakes the Left had made in the USA and in Latin America, and also to suggest that democratization, rather than traditional “dictatorship of the proletariat,” is a powerful tool in appealing to the masses. As is so often the case with Marxist perspectives, their analysis of history is better than their predictions for the future. In fact, someone seeking a quick summary of events in US-Latin American relations and in Hispanic Leftist history could still benefit from the first two chapters, which include information often left out or ignored in more traditional accounts. It would be easy to dismiss the rest of the book, particularly the chapter “The Challenge of the 1990s,” as mere wishful thinking, and probably modern-day Marxists and their mirror images in the Libertarian camp would do so. I, however, do not believe in the Inevitable March of History, but rather that history presents us with an infinite array of possibilities. Such possibilities were explored in the end of this volume, perhaps not with the benefit of unerring foresight, but reminding us of the optimism which attends any project for change. I suspect that some optimists and progressives of our time were once inspired by this book, and while it isn’t of any great historical significance, it contributes to the understanding the range of the dialog at the end of the Cold War.
Fire in the Americas: Forging a Revolutionary Agenda (Haymarket) by Roger Burbach kindle bookshop download direct link value

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