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TitleModern Algeria The Origins and Development of a Nation
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Total Pages341
Table of Contents
	List of Maps
	Preface to the Second Edition
	Preface to the First Edition
	One. Introduction
	Two. Ottoman Algeria and Its Legacy
	Three. Invasion, Resistance, and Colonization, 1830-1871
	Four. The Colonial System and the Transformation of Algerian Society, 1871—1919
	Five. The Algerian Nationalist Movement, 1919-1954
	Six. The Algerian Nationalist Movement, 1919-1954
	Seven. The Challenges of Independence, 1962—1978
	Eight. The Bendjedid Years—Readjustment and Crisis
	Nine. Insurgency and the Pursuit of Democracy
	Appendix—Place Names
	Bibliographical Essay
Document Text Contents
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c n a i» i t; u


o f the several violent independence struggles that accompanied
the decolonization process in the years after World War II, that o f the Alge­
rians stands out as the longest, the costliest, and arguably the most poignant in
terms o f the human issues it juxtaposed. O n November 12, 1954, twelve days
after the rebellion broke out, Prime Minister Pierre Mcndès-France assured
France, Algeria, and the world at large that the Algerian départements were
irrevocably French, that no secession from the rest o f France was possible, and
that no French government o f any political leaning would ever yield on this
fundamental principle. Yet, against all reasonable odds, the profoundly dis­
advantaged Algerians, in eight years o f determined struggle, wore down a
people immensely more numerous, wealthy, and powerful than themselves,
extracting at the end unqualified recognition o f their independence. This
stunning accomplishment provided the young Algerian nation with a self-
confidence and sense o f moral purpose that legitimized the radical campaign
for national reconstruction that lay ahead and established it both as a model
and as a persuasive advocate for peoples still struggling for liberation.

It has been a major premise o f the present study that the colonial dialectic
was the principal m otor o f modem Algerian history; a second premise has
been that it was that dialectical process that created something approximating a
national community; finally, it is concluded that a dispossessed community, to
w hom peaceful avenues o f redress had been repeatedly closed, was ready^hy
1954, to consider the use o f force to liberateitself. But 8,500,000 people do not
simultaneously initiate any enterprise. On November 1, 19547^irbuTa few
thousand Algerians still accepted the inevitability o f the colonial situation even


Page 171

i f they despised it. Even one year later, though the revolution was spreading,
the men and women willing to make the dangerous leap into revolutionary
activism still constituted a small minority o f the population. The .task o f the
revolutionary leadership was first to convince the Algerian people o f its
existence, then to~give it confidence in its capacities, and finally to create
structü rë î'th rough which those capacities could jpvgixamc French power and
within which the people could beguTto express its nationhood. This chapter
'explores how the rebelsjnanaprd pi np,rmivr1y in rally tayrr afin h y n o f
Algerian society, starting with disillusioned small-town ...youth--and im ­
poverished peasants'and~ ending up eventually with most o f the privileged
urbanites. A t theTame time, it examines the continuing impact o f the colonial
~ duk u k , o f the political evolution in France, and o f growing international
awareness upon the processes o f that mobilization. Along the way it traces the
evolution o f Algerian military, political, and social institutions which at first
competed w ith the colonial institutions and ultimately replaced them.

The War o f Independence, 1954-1962


By the summer o f 1954, the C RU A was composed o f tw enty-tw o younger
men, most o f whom had been members o f the Organisation spéciale. While
the social backgrounds o f these men exhibit considerable diversity, it is clear
that most had far less o f a stake culturally or economically in the colonial
regime than the political activists who preceded them in the 1930s and 1940s.
A few were o f peasant or worker background, more came from the lower
middle classes, and the great majority had only elementary or secondary"
educations. All but a handful o f these revolutionaries lived in small towns or
villages, which put most o f them in closer touch with the interests'and
attitudes o f the rural poor than the typical big-city politician. ~ ~....

c During the summer and fall o f 1954, the CRUA erected a revolutionary
structure that continued and developed with modifications the clandestine
organization o f the PPA o f the early 1940s and o f the later OS. It divided the
territory into five and later six military districts, which, by 1956, came to be
known as wilayas. While the internal organization and subdivision o f each
wilaya was stiUfar from complete on the day the insurrection was launched,
the plan called for dividing them into subsidiary units called mantaqas (zones),
which in turn contained nahayas (regions), qasmas (sectors), and duwwars
(circles) in descending order. The wilaya was headed by a colonel supported
by three assistants, one each for political affairs, logistics, and liaison and
information. The smaller units were supposed to replicate the same four­
headed organization with officers o f lower rank. But neither at the start o f the
insurrection nor later was total symmetry achieved over more than a part o f
the territory.

The Committee o f Tw enty-Tw o chose six o f their number to constitute a
leadership committee. Led and coordinated by Mohamed Boudiaf o f M ’sila,

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JO H N RUEDY is Emeritus Professor o f History at Georgetown
University. He is author of Land Policy in Colonial Algeria and
Islamism and Secularism in North Africa and has served most
recently as the North Africa editor for the Encyclopedia of the
Modem Middle East and North Africa.

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