Undoing the Revolution
Comparing Elite Subversion of Peasant Rebellions
Publication: Jun 19
Publication: Jun 19
6 x 9
8 tables, 2 figs.
Compares India, Mexico, and Zimbabwe to demonstrate why mass rebellions result in elitist regimesRead the Introduction (pdf).
Undoing the Revolution looks at the way rural underclasses ally with out-of-power elites to overthrow their governments—only to be shut out of power when the new regime assumes control. Vasabjit Banerjee first examines why peasants need to ally with dissenting elites in order to rebel. He then shows how conflict resolution and subsequent bargains to form new state institutions re-empower allied elites and re-marginalize peasants.
Banerjee evaluates three different agrarian societies during distinct time periods spanning the twentieth century: revolutionary Mexico from 1910 to 1930; late-colonial India from 1920 until 1947; and White-dominated Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) from the mid-1960s to 1980. This comparative approach also allows examination of both the underclass need for elite participation and the variety of causes that elites use to incentivize peasant classes to participate, extending from religious-ethnic identity and common political targets to the peasants’ and elites’ own economic grievances.
Undoing the Revolution demonstrates that both international and domestic investors in cash crops, natural resources, and finance can ally with peasant rebels; and, after threatened or actual state collapse, they can bargain with each other to select new state institutions.
“Vasabjit Banerjee’s fascinating book solves one of the most important puzzles of agrarian politics: why do successful peasant rebellions always lead to peasant remarginalization? Banerjee shows that peasants and elites need each other to overthrow the old order but that the victorious elites no longer need or want peasant allies to create a new order. This carefully crafted argument features illuminating case studies of revolutionary Mexico, late-colonial India, and White-dominated Zimbabwe.”
—James Mahoney, Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Northwestern University
“Karl Marx famously compared peasants to potatoes in a sack, devoid of resources, incapable of coordinating their behavior, and hence unable to exercise political influence. Yet peasant-based rebellions were a major form of social and political change across the globe in the twentieth century. Using fine-grained case studies of rural rebellions in India, Mexico, and Zimbabwe, Vasabjit Banerjee presents an important and novel perspective of how alliances between peasants and local elites make rebellions possible but also deprive peasants of the fruits of their labor, as elites bargain among themselves to determine post-rebellion state formation and the redistribution of wealth.”
—David Waldner, Department of Politics, University of Virginia
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments Introduction: A Theory of Peasant Rebellions and Elite Victories 1. The Critical Elites: Class Coalitions in Peasant Rebellions of Colonial India and Revolutionary Mexico 2. The Religious Origins of Elite Participation: Class Coalitions and Religiously Motivated Peasant Rebellions in Mexico, Zimbabwe, and India 3. The Political and Economic Origins of Elite Participation: Peasant Rebellions in Colonial India and Revolutionary Mexico 4. The Economic Origins of Warlord Support for Peace: Postrevolutionary Mexico 5. Class, Religion, and Power: The Elite Origins of Postcolonial India 6. International Capital and State Formation: British Mediation and the Creation of Zimbabwe Conclusion: A New Research Agenda for Politics in Agrarian Societies References Index
About the Author(s)
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Politics, History, and Social Change edited by John C. Torpey
This series will disseminate serious works that analyze the social changes that have transformed our world during the twentieth century and beyond. The main topics to be addressed include international migration; human rights; the political uses of history; the past and future of the nation-state; decolonization and the legacy of imperialism; and global inequality. The series will also translate into English outstanding works by scholars writing in other languages.