Conclusions
This book attempts to formulate an empirically grounded theory that, I
hope, offers some counterintuitive propositions. My emphasis on war
making and collective action is by no means an argument about the
irrelevance of other factors; rather, it completes a picture that, I sug-
gest, has not been fully drawn. Because all the cases in this book experi-
enced intense war making at the time of nation building, however, one
might accuse me of telling only part of the story. To be more persuasive,
my comparisons should have included a case (or cases) in which the
level of conflict approached much lower levels or, ideally, zero. Of
course, nation building in general, and in the nineteenth century in
particular, was rarely peaceful-so cases approaching a zero level of
conflict are almost nonexistent.
In my defense, I would also point to the inclusion of Paraguay, a case
in which the level of conflict was very low, at least during the early
phases of state building. The lesson learned from comparing Paraguay
with Argentina, which experienced a conflict of higher intensity during
independence, is that the type of conflict was more critical to the forma-
tion of the polity than the intensity. These two countries ended up
sharing important features of state making, which can be traced back to
similarities in the war pattern during the initial stages of nation build-
ing. They both fought independence in their frontier, and their urban
centers and economies suffered no serious damage as a result of war. In
both, the major city militarized to respond to the threat of foreign
invasion, whether fictitious or real, and in both the urban environment
became the epicenter of army building. As a result, the Paraguayan and
Argentine armies became state makers.
Conflicts did achieve a high level of intensity, which at times deter-
mined radical ruptures between different phases of polity formation
(such as the War of the Triple Alliance that destroyed the Paraguayan
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