Struggle for solidarity : the New Left, Portuguese African decolonization, and the end of the Cold War consensus




Parrott, Raymond Joseph

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“Struggle for Solidarity: The New Left, African Decolonization, and the End of the Cold War Consensus” explores how Third World criticism of the Cold War changed Western foreign policy and activist ideologies. Between 1961 and 1975, the decolonization of Portuguese Africa inspired a diverse, decentralized transnational support movement. In the midst of the Vietnam War, Americans and Europeans disillusioned with the Cold War found models for transnational political, economic, and racial justice in the socialist freedom struggles of Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, and Angola. A broad New Left coalition of youth, ethnic minorities, and religious activists rejected the anti-communist and Eurocentric diplomatic alliance with imperial Portugal. They embraced in its stead a new internationalism that championed self-determination and greater equality between global North and South. Drawing on over forty oral histories and extensive archival research on three continents in English, Portuguese, French, and Afrikaans, the dissertation reconstructs the transnational networks that animated this movement and its successful lobbying of Congress. The grassroots-legislative alliance increased pressure on Portugal and ended Gerald Ford’s anti-communist intervention in newly independent Angola in 1975, institutionalizing Vietnam era political and ideological cleavages in ways that defined the final decades of the global Cold War.

The dissertation argues that decolonization and a new domestic internationalism merged to fundamentally alter Western attitudes toward the Cold War in three ways. First, it concretely illustrates how grassroots organizations gained access to American policymaking by providing information and framing options for Congressional legislators. Second, Portuguese African nationalists helped unify ideological and racial communities behind a New Left internationalism. Shared hostility to formal colonialism legitimized radical critiques of foreign policy, structural racism, and exploitative international business practices in ways the divisive Vietnam War could not, influencing social movements from anti-apartheid to the Seattle protests of 1999. Finally, this revived and expanded anti-imperial coalition ended the Cold War anti-communist consensus. Success against Ford in Angola became a political and legislative model for constraining U.S. interventions in Africa, Latin America, and beyond.



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