Explaining the Reagan Years in Central America: A World System Perspective

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In his analysis of the relations between the United States and Central America through the 1980s, Brown seeks to broaden our view of events and historical processes by examining these relations in historical and global terms in lieu of the usual local or regional comparative focus. By drawing on the central concepts of Immanuel Wallerstein's World System Theory, the ideologically and strategically contorted policies of the Reagan years can be understood in the context of an evolving American society within the Modern World System. This critical historical narrative follows the growth of an American state and nation and its relations with Central America from its origins as a collection of colonies on the periphery of the world system, through eras of expansionism, imperialism, world wars, and triumph as global hegemon, and into ultimate crisis, decline, and conservative reaction through the 1980s. Primary emphasis is placed on the internal ideological and global strategic polarizations of the Cold War and their influence on American society, foreign relations with Central America, and the conservative extremes of the Reagan years.

"Although the author, a former Special Forces soldier stationed in Latin America, admits to a 'subjective' and even 'personal' interest in Central America, he attempts to apply a series of fairly esoteric sociological theories to Central American crisis. Ultimately not a major contribution"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 57.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819198136
  • Publisher: University Press of America
  • Publication date: 10/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeremy M. Brown is a Lecturer in Sociology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 A Crisis Unexplained 1
I Ideology 2
II The World System 5
III U.S. Foreign Policy and Central America 7
IV Theory and Method 8
Ch. 2 From Periphery to Semi-Periphery 11
I America's Colonial Heritage: Setting the Stage on the Periphery 12
II Revolution and Constitution: The Crystallization of National Culture and Formation of the State 16
III Expansion and Manifest Destiny: From Periphery to Semi-Periphery 22
IV U.S. Penetration of Central America 29
Ch. 3 From Semi-Periphery to Core: The Growth of American Capital and Empire 41
I Civil War and National Consolidation 41
II The "Age of Capital" in the Modern World System 44
III The Modern Evolution and Fragmentation of Liberal Culture and Political Ideology 46
IV American Industrialism, Nationalism, & Imperialism and the Role of the State 53
V American Capital, Empire, and Relations with Central America 58
VI American Empire and the Panama Canal 62
Ch. 4 From Core Power to World System Hegemony: 1914-1945 77
I World War One: Lessons in Alliance and Modern Global Warfare 82
II Two Decades Between World Wars: A Breathing Space and Continued Competition 1919-1939 89
III World War Two: A Return to Open Military Conflict and the Rise of U.S. Hegemony 104
IV U.S. Relations with Central America During the 20th Century War of Hegemonic Succession 109
Ch. 5 Hegemony and Crisis: The Unfolding Dilemma of Liberal Empire 129
I The Rise of "Anti-Systemic" Movements within the World System 131
II Postwar Crises and Polarization: Cold War Crystallization 1945-1950 135
III Hot Spots in the Cold War: Battles on the Periphery of the World System 138
IV American Liberal Culture and Ideology in the Cold War 141
V The Presidency of JFK: The New Frontier and the Essential Contradictions of Liberal Empire 148
VI The War in Vietnam and American Hegemonic Crisis 156
VII The Decade of the 60s: Cultural and Ideological Disintegration, Ferment, Creation 166
VIII American Hegemony, Crisis, and Relations with Central America 174
Ch. 6 Continuing Decline and Reaction: The Decay of American Hegemony and the Rise of Ronald Reagan 201
I Dimensions of Economic and Strategic Decline 203
II Hegemonic Decline and Confusion: Social and Cultural Impacts Within the U.S. 205
III Dealing with Crisis and Decline: The Nixon and Carter Administrations 211
IV The Forces of Social, Cultural, and Political Reaction: The Rise of Ronald Reagan 216
V Ronald Reagan and the Conservative Forces of the Hegemonic State: The Iran-Contra Affair and the "October Surprise" 229
VI Relations with Central America Through the 1970s: Decline and Failure of Liberal Reform 237
VII Ronald Reagan and the New Cold War in Central America 249
Ch. 7 Conclusions 273
I The United States within the World System 274
II The Role of Culture and Ideology 275
III The American State Within the World System 276
IV The American State and the Nations of Central America 280
V The Hegemonic State, American Nation, and the Complications of Liberal Empire 282
VI American Hegemonic Crisis Within the Crisis of Western Bourgeois Culture 284
VII Cosmology, Culture, and Political Ideology in Contemporary Crisis 286
VIII Present and Future 288
Index 293
About the Author 299
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