Foundations of the Vanguard: The Origins of Leftist National Liberation Rebel Groups

83 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2020 Last revised: 29 Jan 2021

See all articles by Megan Stewart

Megan Stewart

American University - School of International Service

Date Written: March 16, 2020

Abstract

What explains the emergence of leftist national liberation rebel groups? I present one causal
pathway that unfolded in the early-to-mid-20th century and involved out-group individuals uprooting to imperial metropoles for assimilatory education programs. Once there, out-group individuals experienced discrimination by in-group members of the empire. Discriminatory experiences by imperial in-group members, despite out-group expectations of similar privileges,
prompted a series of psychological and behavioral responses that made out-group individuals
more likely to accept national liberation—independence and social revolution—as a political goal
and adopt leftist ideologies while forming cohesive bonds with other out-group individuals and
participating in political agitation. The combination of psychological and behavioral responses
resulted in a cohesive, experienced and relatively well-equipped vanguard seeking leftist national
liberation. Exploiting as-if random variation in educational experiences of rebel leaders in Eritrea’s Independence War, I quantitatively and qualitatively test mechanisms using archival and
primary materials and an original dataset. Results are robust to multiple specifications including out-of-sample qualitative tests that include archival data from four countries. The project
illustrates the formation of a highly consequential type of insurgency with implications for the
formation of revolutionary jihadist groups.

Keywords: revolution, civil war, communism, jihadism, ideology

Suggested Citation

Stewart, Megan, Foundations of the Vanguard: The Origins of Leftist National Liberation Rebel Groups (March 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3555174 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3555174

Megan Stewart (Contact Author)

American University - School of International Service ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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