Vanguardism and the Vanguardist Organization: A Study of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and its Rise to Power

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Latin American Policy

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Vanguardism has generally been studied in the context of the Cuban Revolution, as a guiding framework for revolutionary movements around the world. In Guevara's conception, the vanguard group is ideologically more advanced than the masses; the masses understand the new values, but not sufficiently, while among the vanguard group there has been a qualitative change that allows it to make sacrifices in its capacity as an advance guard. A vanguardist organization exhibits distinctive characteristics; it is capable of rapid change; it has the necessary tactics and can plan insurrection and military operations; and it requires a centralized authority and discipline of the highest order and strong leadership developed over a long period. Historical context and legitimacy are central elements in vanguardism. The vanguardist organization seeks social fitness and legitimacy that is compatible with the dominant social class to gain political control and governmental power. This study describes the vanguardist organization through an examination of the rise of the Sandinista National Liberation Front to power in Nicaragua during the 1970s.