While this swift turn of events has shocked or surprised many in the North, the extreme right’s seizure of power is not an uncommon event in the South. In Counterrevolution, Walden Bello deconstructs the challenge from the far right by deploying what he calls the dialectic of revolution and counterrevolution and harnesses the methods of comparative history and comparative sociology. Using case studies from Italy in the 1920s, Indonesia in the 1960s, Chile in the 1970s and contemporary Thailand, India and the Philippines, Bello lays bare the origins, dynamics and consequences of counterrevolutionary movements. Reflections on the rise of the right in the United States, Europe and Brazil round out this remarkable and timely study by one of the premier intellectuals of the South.
Walden Bello is the International Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton and co-founder of the Bangkok-based research institute Focus on the Global South. He is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award (aka Alternative Nobel Prize) and was named the International Studies Association’s Outstanding Public Scholar.
1 Understanding Counterrevolution
2 Fascism in Italy: The Decisive Role of the Countryside
3 Indonesia: Rural Bloodshed and National Counterrevolution
4 Crucifying the Left in Chile
5 Thailand: Revolution and Counterrevolution Reloaded
6 The Hindu Counterrevolution
7 The Philippines: Emergence of a Fascist Original
8 The North: The Far Right Breaks Through
9 Counterrevolution: Origins, Dynamics, Consequences
Postscript: Prescript to Bolsonaro
'Walden Bello provides an indispensable comparative look at the global sweep of illiberal movements, how they channel national anxieties, attract popular support, and exploit the international failures of liberal governance. An urgently needed analysis.'
John Feffer, author of Aftershock: A Journey into Eastern Europe’s Broken Dreams and director of Foreign Policy in Focus
'Counterevolution is a riveting, no-nonsense account of the rise of the far Right in seven different contexts. It highlights the ways in which the dynamics of authoritarian populism in the global South have migrated North, deploying the author’s formidable mastery of comparative sociology and bristling with political insights. Bello’s is such an important voice, sophisticated and lucid, and this book could not be more timely.'
Ruth Milkman, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, and former President of the American Sociological Association
'With this study of counter-revolution in the global south, Walden Bello gives us a knowledgeable and illuminating analysis in parts of the world that usually do not command our attention in the US. He highlights the role of the volatile middle classes in supporting reaction and, even more important, of the failures of democratic reformers. You need to read this book to fully grasp the challenges to democracy in the current political moment.'
Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York; author of Regulating the Poor and Poor People’s Movements; former president, American Sociological Association
'Walden Bello reminds us of how the rise of reactionary regimes is an outcome of struggles in the countryside and the reactionary predisposition of rural and urban middle classes. The book's depth lies in its comparative breadth with case studies across Europe and the United States (under Trump), South Asia (India under Mohdi), Southeast Asia (Indonesia under Suharto, and the Philippines under Duterte), and Latin America (Chile under Pinochet and contemporary Brazil). Bello likewise puts all these regimes in a comparative historical context, using fascist Italy as the foundational case. At last, we have a leftwing perspective on counterrevolution in its populist forms across Europe, South and Southeast Asia, and Latin America. This book is a great read.'
Patricio N. Abinales, Professor, Asian Studies Program, University of Hawaii-Manoa
'The illuminating comparison of counter-revolutionary episodes in this stimulating book shows up the distinctive features of current political developments in contexts as diverse as those of Europe, India and the Philippines, where the counter-movement is directed against liberal democracy. As Bello argues, progressives must address the shortcomings of liberal democratic regimes.'
John Harriss, Professor of International Studies and Director of the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University
'This is a book of extraordinary importance, addressing as it does with rare intelligence and insight a fundamental dynamic of our time: the emergence of a counterrevolution that seeks to halt and reverse all of the advances made in a progressive direction since the end of the second world war when the idea of development as a project of improving the social condition of the world population was invented. This counterrevolution is taking diverse forms, including national populism as a profoundly racist attack on migrants across the world seeking to escape life-threatening conditions of violence; and neoliberal authoritarianism as an attack against forces of progressive change. No political project or counterrevolutionary force is as important to understand and collectively oppose as the right-wing movement that Walden Bello dissects with such brilliance in this book. No other book on the market warrants the attention and wide readership that this book commands. The stakes of not addressing the concerns and alarm bells rung by Bello are too high to ignore.
Henry Veltmeyer, Professor, Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas
'An imaginative exploration of the complexities of counterrevolution, which has become a crucial feature of contemporary politics that needs to be understood better. Bello’s comparative study of counterrevolution is at once fascinating, conceptually illuminating, analytically convincing, and lucidly written. It deserves to be read for many reasons, including as a warning about the global political tide producing a series of lethal national regimes that pose dire threats to a humane future.'
Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law, Princeton University
'In these perilous times, Walden Bello’s Counterrevolution is a timely, deeply informed work designed for partisans of democracy, human rights and rule of law. Bello reveals the dangerous forces and dynamics at work in the extreme Right’s ascendancy and the counterrevolutionary process, while persuasively arguing for the importance of a convincing narrative of affirmative solidarity-- appealing to common fundamental values-- that might brake the counterrevolution in motion.'
Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editor & Publisher, The Nation
'Back in the 90s, analysts contrasted globalization from above with globalization from below. Fast forward two decades, and the dominant alternative turns out to come from a different direction – the global trend towards far right authoritarian nationalism. Bello’s masterfully synthetic Counterrevolution sheds new light on this remarkable wave, persuasively bridging diverse historical and contemporary cases from around the world.'
Jonathan Fox, Professor, School of International Service, and Director, Accountability Research Center, American University
'Decisive for counter-revolutionary political movements to emerge in key Southern countries (unlike for most in the North) has been repression of rural class conflicts. This claim is both original and compelling making Bello's remarkable comparative study a must read.
Achin Vanaik, Retired. Professor of 'International Relations and Global Politics', University of Delhi, and author of The Rise of Hindu Authoritarianism: Secular Claims, Communal Realities
'Chilling, is the first word that came to mind after reading Walden Bello's absolutely excellent book. Chilling because it is based on cold, sober facts and a comprehensive analysis of the counter revolutions in countries across the world The book provide a rare insight and understanding into the ingredients that make for these counter revolutions. Insightful, precise, a must read in these times.'
Seema Mustafa, Founder-Editor, The Citizen
'Bello puts the growing number of right-wing “populists” in their rightful place: within a pantheon of leaders from Mussolini to Pinochet countering a perceived threat from the left. He revives Arno Mayer’s prescient take on such regimes as defined less by nostalgia or ideology than by their fear of imminent revolution. Anyone interested in populism and our present political moment should read Counterrevolution.'
Leslie Gates, Professor of Sociology, State University of New York at Binghamton
'Using his decades of experience in researching and analyzing the global political economy, Bello gives us a lucid dissection of the current rise of reactionary, authoritarian populist regimes. His comparative-historical analysis brilliantly brings to bear a set of cases that range from classic early 20th century Italian fascism to Duterte’s recent explosive rise in the Philippines. The result is an essential resource for everyone trying to make sense of contemporary political distress.'
Peter Evans Senior Research Fellow, Watson Institute for International Studies and Public Affairs, Brown University; author of Embedded Autonomy, States and Industrial Transformation
'Wielding his analytical scalpel with characteristic skill, Bello dissects the rise of authoritarian counter-revolutionary movements in several contemporary semiperipheral states and compares them to the rise of fascism in interwar Italy to draw parallels with the rise of authoritarian, anti-immigrant movements in Europe and North America today in the context of globalization and growing income inequalities.'
Ravi Palat, Professor of Sociology, State University of New York at Binghamton
'Walden Bello brings his vast political experience and his life-long studies of reactionary regimes to bear on the current global dispensation – the fallout of neoliberalism. Counterrevolution ranges across countries where right-wing organizations have either targeted socialist movements, often based in rural areas, or attacked liberal democracy for its betrayal of egalitarian promises. A tour de force, required reading for all concerned about our political fate wherever we may be.'
Michael Burawoy, Professor of Sociology, University of California at Berkeley; former president, American Sociological Association
'In his latest book, renowned sociologist and activist Walden Bello offers a much-needed map to the rise of contemporary counter-revolution. In seven case studies of the global North and the global South, Bello points out the key importance of rural and middle class forces. It is precisely their volatile and contingent reactions to the pace of rapid change, widening inequalities and the failings of liberal-democratic regimes that can either push or forestall counter-revolutionary movements. Insightful and incisive, Bello’s analysis offers a broad-based understanding of the social and political forces that undergird the historical unfolding of counter-revolution today. In doing so, he leads us to consider critical strategies for resisting its global spread.'
Vicente L. Rafael, Professor of History, University of Washington, Seattle
'At this dangerous moment when democracy is in retreat worldwide, Walden Bello has drawn upon his decades as a global citizen to offer an informed and informative explanation for this recent resurgence of reactionary political forces. Probing beneath the headlines, he conducts an original, in-depth analysis spanning four continents to identify the contending social forces driving this surprising political change. Through mass violence and violent rhetoric, so-called populists are leading counterrevolutions against economic globalization, liberal democracy, and the rule of reason, seeking instead to subordinate their societies to empowered autocrats. For its global sweep and analytical depth, this thought-provoking book should be required reading for any who wish to understand the deeper political dynamics changing our world.'
Al McCoy, Professor of History University of Wisconsin at Madison; author, In the Shadows of the American Century
'Ever since the beginning of the 20th century, Latin America has been a continent of revolutions and counterrevolutions. It was not an accident that the region entered the 20th century with the massacre of the Escuela Santa Maria of Iquique and the Mexican Revolution. And the same thing has occurred throughout the century. The 21st century is not likely to be different--From the emergence of the great leaders of the global left like Hugo Chavez, Lula, Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, Pepe Mujica, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa, to the leaders of the neoliberal restoration like Mauricio Macri, Michel Temer, and Jair Bolsonaro. Walden Bello’s book is indispensable reading, not only to understand Latin America, but all the anti-neoliberal and emancipatory struggles throughout the last century and this one. Counterrevolutions are part of revolutionary processes, as the conservative reaction, and Bello’s analysis enables us to discern the new challenges of the great popular struggles in the new century.'
Emir Sader, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of Sao Paolo
'In this compelling account of counter-revolutionary movements and regimes over the past century, Walden Bello offers a clear-eyed analysis of one of the most pressing political challenges of our times - and invaluable insights into how that challenge can be met. Impassioned, historically-informed, and analytically rich, it is a must-read for anyone who cares about the past and future of revolution and counter-revolution.'
Geoffrey Robinson, Professor of History, UCLA; author, The Killing Season
'It is hard to think of a more timely book than this one. Written by one of the most brilliant sociologists of the Global South and an internationally acclaimed scholar of globalization, Walden Bello’s book offers an extremely sharp analysis of the global (re)emergence of the extreme right. Counterrevolution is a must read for all the democrats of the world.'
Boaventura de Sousa Santos, author of The End of the Cognitive Empire: The Coming of Age of the Epistemologies of the South
'Bello is a master in teasing out the essential factors for our understanding of counterrevolutions by drawing on various pivotal historical experiences. Class struggle is always at the centre of Bello’s nuanced analysis but it is mediated by factors such as religion, ethnicity, cast, and regionalism. This book is a very timely, forceful and enlightening contribution to our understanding of counterrevolutions in these troubled times.'
Cristobal Kay, Emeritus Professor, International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague
'This book, the product of Walden Bello’s longstanding interest in the dynamics of counterrevolutions, is important reading for all those engaged in the promotion of a more emancipatory rural politics. The comparison of six national experiences of counterrevolution spanning almost a century reveals the key role of the countryside in most counterrevolutionary movements; the same deep rural inequalities, persistent poverty, fractured identities and loss of esteem can be the social base for involvement in both regressive and progressive mass politics, in a dialectic of emancipation and reaction. By understanding better how and why counterrevolutions, in certain times and places, manage to get the upper hand, we learn the importance of stronger narratives and campaigns of positive solidarity to resist and overcome them.'
Ben White, Emeritus Professor of Rural Sociology, International Institute of Social Studies