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By James Mahoney

Regardless of their many similarities, primary American international locations throughout the 20th century have been characterised by means of remarkably assorted political regimes. In a comparative research of Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua, James Mahoney argues that those political adjustments have been legacies of the nineteenth-century liberal reform interval. offering a idea of "path dependence," Mahoney indicates how offerings made at an important turning issues in imperative American historical past demonstrated definite instructions of switch and foreclosed others to form long term improvement. by way of the center of the 20 th century, 3 different types of political regimes characterised the 5 international locations thought of during this research: military-authoritarian (Guatemala, El Salvador), liberal democratic (Costa Rica), and conventional dictatorial (Honduras, Nicaragua). As Mahoney exhibits, every one style is the tip element of decisions concerning kingdom and agrarian improvement made via those nations early within the 19th century. utilising his conclusions to present-day makes an attempt at industry production in a neoliberal period, Mahoney warns that overzealous pursuit of marketplace construction may have significantly adverse long term political effects. The Legacies of Liberalism offers new perception into the position of management in political improvement, where of household politics within the research of international intervention, and the function of the nation within the construction of early capitalism. The publication deals a normal theoretical framework that may be of vast curiosity to students of comparative politics and political improvement, and its total argument will stir debate between historians of specific principal American nations.

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Before turning to these specific alternative explanations, two basic points about the explanatory approach of this study should be made. First, in adopting a path-dependent approach, this study rejects commonplace arguments that emphasize solely or primarily short-term causes that immediately precede regime outcomes. 19 While these short-term processes will figure into the analysis below, they will be situated in relationship to more fundamental historical causes associated with the liberal reform period.

Furthermore, state structures are important to this analysis because differences in state formation can help explain variations among countries that experienced the same type of liberal reform. For instance, to understand why Guatemala underwent a major social and democratic reform period in the late 1940s and early 1950s whereas El Salvador broke down into military authoritarianism without such a reform, differences in the degree to which the military was autonomous from the ruling government provide answers that agrarian class structures alone cannot.

My reasoning is that The Liberal Reform Period and Its Legacies 35 the reforms initiated during full-blown liberalism often took decades to be carried out to their logical conclusion and should not be analytically separated from this larger transformation process. Types of Liberal Reform The liberal reform period occurred in different ways across the five Central American countries, and this study offers an account of the causes and consequences of these differences. Key variations concern the degree to which, and the ways in which, class and state structures were transformed in individual countries.

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