Alternative Genealogies

Alternative genealogies of revolutions (whether all revolutions looked to the French or the Russian ones, for example, as the source of their ideas)

Does a distinction between revolutionary theory and dreams lead to alternative genealogies of revolutions? The common corpus of texts of some of these late 20th century revolutions has led to a genealogy that traces them back to the Russian revolution, the Chinese revolution, the Cuban revolution, and sometimes (though less commonly) to the French revolution as their originary moment. Depending on the revolution in question, these genealogical lines are configured through a consideration of   geography, time of occurrence, and diplomatic histories. Thus for example, Grenada and Nicaragua are thought of as derivatives of Cuba first and foremost, and almost never of Russia, given the proximity of the Grenada and Nicaragua Revolutions to Cuba geographically and temporally, and the diplomatic relations established with Cuba. The Algerian Revolution, on the other hand, is often compared to Russia and seldom to the French Revolution, despite the fact that Algeria was a French colony. This is largely based on the closer proximity in time to the Russian Revolution and the aid to Algerian insurgents from the Soviet Union, which was also the first country to establish diplomatic relations with the newly independent country. But is it also because a French revolutionary lineage has come to imply a revolution based on Enlightenment values, values that would be hard to reconcile with post-revolutionary one-party rule of the National Liberation Front?

What would happen if we shifted this line? Or rather, what would happen if we added more lineages to our twentieth century revolutions? Would the Mexican revolution of 1910, for example, be a more insightful entry point to these revolutions, as is sometimes argued for the case of the Bolivian revolution of 1952-1964, given that massive and widespread agrarian reform was the stated objective of revolutionaries both in Bolivia and Mexico? What would happen if our conceptualization of the 1979 revolutions in Iran, Nicaragua, and Grenada, were considered through the lineage that flows from the Algerian revolution and continues through processes of African decolonization the 1950s, 60s, and 70s and even the war in Vietnam (which appears in the contemporary literature as a Third World revolution)? And what, if any, are the ramifications of this genealogical shift?

 

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