The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism

By Paul H. Lewis | Go to book overview

PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION

This study is the product of a long-established interest I have in the political behavior of business groups in Latin America. In my opinion, it is a subject that Latin American specialists have overlooked in favor of studying more obvious political actors such as the military, labor, students, peasants, the Church, or the landlords. To the extent that industrialists or merchants are considered at all, they tend to be dismissed as marginal groups dependent upon more powerful economic actors in the world economy or on the traditional sectors of the domestic economy. That is a superficial view, especially of the larger, more developed nations of Latin America where industrialization and domestic trade have reached levels capable of supporting a sizable and influential urban bourgeoisie. In Argentina, a country that I am especially familiar with, and for which I have a strong affection, these bourgeois capitalists are taken very seriously by the state. They may not always get their interests written into law, but they do so frequently, and they are at all times a powerful veto group. The industrialists among them are, as a class, the oldest in Latin America. Because of this, and because of my interest in Argentina, I have chosen to focus my attention on them.

A study of the Argentine industrialist bourgeoisie requires a historical approach, I believe, because at one time the country boasted of a very promising rate of industrial growth based on private enterprise, whereas today it is economically stagnant. As the title of this work acknowledges, Argentina's capitalist economy is now in crisis, which implies a previously satisfactory state of affairs. To understand the causes and the character of that crisis it is necessary to understand the industrial bourgeoisie. Such an understanding requires an examination of the world in which those Argentine industrialists operate: their relations with the state, the unions, foreign capital, politicians, and all other organized interests that affect their decisions. That is what this study attempts to do: to describe Argentine capitalists, their development, and their relationships with

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