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The legacies of liberalism : path dependence and political regimes in Central America
Mahoney, James, 1968-
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Publication Information:
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
xv, 396 p. ; 24 cm.


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Book 0312619 JL1410 .M34 2001 Central Campus Library

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Despite their many similarities, Central American countries during the twentieth century were characterized by remarkably different political regimes. In a comparative analysis of Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Nicaragua, James Mahoney argues that these political differences were legacies of the nineteenth-century liberal reform period. Presenting a theory of "path dependence," Mahoney shows how choices made at crucial turning points in Central American history established certain directions of change and foreclosed others to shape long-term development.

By the middle of the twentieth century, three types of political regimes characterized the five nations considered in this study: military-authoritarian (Guatemala, El Salvador), liberal democratic (Costa Rica), and traditional dictatorial (Honduras, Nicaragua). As Mahoney shows, each type is the end point of choices regarding state and agrarian development made by these countries early in the nineteenth century. Applying his conclusions to present-day attempts at market creation in a neoliberal era, Mahoney warns that overzealous pursuit of market creation can have severely negative long-term political consequences.

The Legacies of Liberalism presents new insight into the role of leadership in political development, the place of domestic politics in the analysis of foreign intervention, and the role of the state in the creation of early capitalism. The book offers a general theoretical framework that will be of broad interest to scholars of comparative politics and political development, and its overall argument will stir debate among historians of particular Central American countries.

Table of Contents

List of Figures, Maps, and Tablesp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Part I Introduction
Chapter 1 Explaining Political Development in Central Americap. 3
Chapter 2 The Liberal Reform Period and Its Legacies: A Conceptual Frameworkp. 29
Part II Antecedent Conditions
Chapter 3 Liberals and Conservatives before the Reform Periodp. 53
Chapter 4 Routes to Liberal Political Dominancep. 72
Part III The Liberal Reform Period
Chapter 5 Radical Liberalism: Guatemala and El Salvadorp. 111
Chapter 6 Reformist Liberalism: Costa Ricap. 142
Chapter 7 Aborted Liberalism: Honduras and Nicaraguap. 165
Part IV Legacies of the Liberal Reform Period
Chapter 8 Aftermath: Reactions to the Liberal Reformp. 197
Chapter 9 Regime Heritage: Military Authoritarianism, Democracy, and Traditional Dictatorshipp. 236
Chapter 10 Conclusion: Path Dependence and Political Changep. 264
Notesp. 285
Select Bibliography of Works on Central American Politics and Historyp. 351
Indexp. 387