State, Capitalism, and Democracy in Latin America

State, Capitalism, and Democracy in Latin America

State, Capitalism, and Democracy in Latin America

State, Capitalism, and Democracy in Latin America


This text examines the obstacles Latin American countries face in their efforts at democratic reform, including political institutions, a strong authoritarian tradition, the influence of neoliberal economic policies, the shortsightedness of the ruling classes and hopelessness among the poor.


I wrote this book while living in Mexico, returning to my native Argentina, and frequently lecturing in the United States and England, but it addresses one basic theme: the possibilities and limits of democratic capitalism in Latin America.

The first two chapters are an exploration of the tensions and contradictions between capitalism and democracy and of the doctrinal basis that, in neoliberal thought and free-market economics, leads to the justification of the "historical mission" of despotic regimes. the next two chapters deal with the overwhelming role played by the state in modem capitalist societies : Chapter 3 is a reflection spurred by Tocqueville's insights on the deep‐ seated tendencies of the capitalist state toward bureaucratic hypertrophy and on the contradictions of a neoliberal discourse that glorifies the market yet is viciously addicted to the state; Chapter 4 deals with the autonomy of the capitalist state, the problem of "stadolatry," and the prospects and limits of "state-centered" approaches in political science.

Chapters 5 and 6 deal with the critical issues of social reform and democratic consolidation—as distinct from democratic endurance—in Latin America and the deleterious impact of the economic crisis during the "lost decade" of the 1980s. Chapter 7 examines the prospects of democratization in Latin America at the beginning of the 1990s, and Chapter 8 explores the crisis of Marxist political theory and the possibilities of its eventual reconstitution.

Because this book was written over a period of years, the topics and concerns examined in it clearly reflect the change in the intellectual and political atmosphere in Latin America and, more generally, in the West. the historical period dealt with is circumscribed by two events to which Hegel would not hesitate to assign a historical-universal significance: the first is the U. S. defeat in Vietnam—the only defeat ever suffered by the United States—which symbolizes the beginning of the slow but unconcealable decline of U. S. hegemony. the other event is the fall of the Berlin Wall—a symbol of the collapse of the "really existing socialism" of Eastern Europe and of the exhaustion of the Russian Revolution. It is within this epoch-mak-

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