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Rebel Power: Why National Movements Compete, Fight, and Win, Peter Krause

Reviewed by Costantino Pischedda



The decades-long quests for self-determination of the Palestinians and the Kurds, to take two high-profile examples, have been marred by acrimonious internal disagreements and intense competition, in some instances escalating to deadly clashes. Why would organizations engaged in self-determination struggles fail to cooperate against the common enemy? Peter Krause is certainly not the first scholar to tackle this issue, but his book represents a major theoretical and empirical step forward.

Krause's argument—Movement Structure Theory (MST)—is unabashedly structural: the balance of power among organizations in a self-determination movement influences how much effort they will devote to internal squabbles compared with the fight against the incumbent. Organizations’ positions in the power hierarchy shape their propensity to pursue the common goal of the movement or to strive to further their own narrower organizational interests. Hegemonic movements—those with one overwhelmingly powerful organization—are most successful, as the hegemon can keep at bay subordinate organizations and focus on victory against the government as the best way to consolidate its dominant position. By contrast, movements without a hegemon get bogged down in intense competition between groups that are more concerned about improving or defending their relati

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