A historical account of ideology in the Global South as the postwar laboratory of socialism, its legacy following the Cold War, and the continuing influence of socialist ideas worldwide.
In the first decades after World War II, many newly independent Asian and African countries and established Latin American states pursued a socialist development model. Jeremy Friedman traces the socialist experiment over forty years through the experience of five countries: Indonesia, Chile, Tanzania, Angola, and Iran.
These states sought paths to socialism without formal adherence to the Soviet bloc or the programs that Soviets, East Germans, Cubans, Chinese, and other outsiders tried to promote. Instead, they attempted to forge new models of socialist development through their own trial and error, together with the help of existing socialist countries, demonstrating the flexibility and adaptability of socialism. All five countries would become Cold War battlegrounds and regional models, as new policies in one shaped evolving conceptions of development in another. Lessons from the collapse of democracy in Indonesia were later applied in Chile, just as the challenge of political Islam in Indonesia informed the policies of the left in Iran. Efforts to build agrarian economies in West Africa influenced Tanzania’s approach to socialism, which in turn influenced the trajectory of the Angolan model.
Ripe for Revolution shows socialism as more adaptable and pragmatic than often supposed. When we view it through the prism of a Stalinist orthodoxy, we miss its real effects and legacies, both good and bad. To understand how socialism succeeds and fails, and to grasp its evolution and potential horizons, we must do more than read manifestos. We must attend to history.
Impressive…Although the pursuit of socialism in the global South generally ended in failure, Friedman argues that it left lasting legacies across Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Impressive…[Ripe for Revolution] reveals much that we did not know—and have been desperate to learn—about Soviet involvement in, and evaluations of, the Third World.
A brilliantly original study of how communism was transformed by its encounter with the postcolonial world, forging a model of socialist development that shapes our world down to the present. In an era overshadowed by talk of a new Cold War, Ripe for Revolution is essential reading.
An illuminating exploration of the power of the concept of socialism, especially in the developing world, that provides clues to today’s challenges—from Xi Jinping’s ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ to Bernie Sanders’s ‘socialism with American characteristics.’
An outstanding book. By showing how and why socialism became a preferred model for state building and social transformation in countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Friedman reestablishes the centrality of non-capitalist models of development and illuminates what made scientific socialism so attractive for so many in the postcolonial world.
Original and lucid, Ripe for Revolution confirms Friedman’s standing as one of our foremost practitioners of Cold War international history. His book deepens our understanding of the winding path of Soviet promotion of socialism, incisively revealing strains of pragmatic calculation within ideological parameters. It not only has fresh implications for understanding the postwar communist realm but also illuminates Western Cold War calculations.
Friedman strides confidently around the world to the hotspots of late Cold War socialism, from Tanzania to Chile and Angola to Indonesia, to show the many ways in which Marx, Lenin, and Mao were put into practice. With a dazzling array of sources about the local varieties of socialism, Friedman never loses track of geopolitics. The result is a tour de force of Cold War history on a global scale.
Transforming how we see the Cold War and its legacies, Friedman punctuates standard narratives of capitalist diffusion as he tracks the variety of policies and institutions across different socialist states alongside their stubborn independence from patrons in Moscow and Beijing. Anyone interested in understanding political development in the Global South must read this revealing book.
- 368 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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