Walden Bello. 2019. Counter Revolution: The Global Rise of the Far Right

Published date01 August 2020
Date01 August 2020
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews 259
Walden Bello. 2019. Counter Revolution: The Global Rise of the
Far Right. Halifax, NS, Canada: Fernwood Publishing. 175 pp. ISBN:
DOI: 10.1177/2347797020948153
In the latter half of the previous decade, political analysts of the west have been
surprised by the rise of far-right figures gaining mainstream support from the
population and cementing significant power in government. Examples include the
rise in political prominence of figures such as Marine Le Pen of the French
Rassemblement National, Geert Wilders of the Dutch Partij Voor De Vrijheid and
of course, of particular note, the election of Donald Trump in the United States,
championing highly nationalist rhetoric. The surprise upset to the establishment
of western liberal democracies presented by these leaders, their parties and their
support has raised questions of how analysts and researchers can better understand
and account for these movements. However, what has generally been overlooked
in the literature of reactionaryism is how commonplace these far-right movements
have also become in Asia and the Global South. In his book, Counter Revolution:
The Global Rise of the Far Right, Walden Bello provides an impressive and useful
account, comparing current and historical examples of extreme far-right
governments and how they rose to power throughout the world.
This book is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to better understand the
machinations at work that account for the rise of extreme far-right politics. Bello
gives a detailed account of the rise to power of extreme far-right governments
including, Fascist Italy, Indonesia, Chile, Thailand, Narendra Modi’s India and
Duterte’s Philippines and Trump’s America (Recent editions of Bello’s book
include a postscript detailing rise to power of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil) What
differs Bello’s work from other texts outlining the history and rise of far-right
reactionary groups is that while it does outline the major players that defeated
liberal, democratic and leftist revolutionary movements in the described countries
political stages, Bello’s analysis focuses heavily on the thoughts and fears present
in the lower and middle classes. In doing so, Bello outlines how these thoughts
and fears are manipulated by these far-right counter-revolutionary movements.
This provides the reader with a deeper understanding of the way political stages
are set in specific countries to benefit counter-revolutionary movements.
In the orientation chapter of this book, Bello defines his intentions and approach
for this book; namely to outline the political theatre taking place in the lower and
middle classes of countries prone to far-right counter-revolutionary movements
and how the ruling classes manipulate this theatre. Bello explicitly highlights his
first-hand observations during his experiences of living in and studying Chilean
society prior to General Pinochet’s overthrow of the socialist Popular Unity party
as a strong influence for this book. Bello outlines the Marxist theoretical
approaches that shaped his analytical framework for his historical analysis. This
includes noted academics including Naomi Klein, Barrington Moore and of
course, Karl Marx. Bello outlines the purpose of these analytical approaches is to

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