Alliance for Progress: A Social Invention in the Making

Alliance for Progress: A Social Invention in the Making

Alliance for Progress: A Social Invention in the Making

Alliance for Progress: A Social Invention in the Making


The future cannot be predicted, but it can be invented. . . . Dennis Gabor

NORMALLY we make our great moves forward through social inventions. The Marshall Plan was such an invention. It not only prevented postwar political upheaval, but gave birth to the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Common Market. The machinery set up in the United States by the Full Employment Act of 1946 was another such social invention. It took away the fear of depression, a blessing that can be appreciated only by those who lived through the 1930's.

The Alliance for Progress is still another such social invention. It has created an approach through which nations of a vast continent can be helped to modernize themselves, and to achieve decent levels of living.

The Alliance is as yet a very imperfect mechanism, but that is the way with social inventions. A de Gaulle can hold back progress in the European Common Market. After more than twenty years, our full employment machinery is still weak in handling inflation. And some eight years -- and $8 billion -- after the Alliance came into being, the situation of the majority of the more than 250 million Latin Americans is still unhappy and hazardous.

The Alliance for Progress is at a crossroads. Much has been accomplished and much has been learned, but, as might be expected following the first phases of so sweeping a social invention, major adjustments in concept and structure are now essential. The question today is whether the Alliance can adapt and innovate flexibly and promptly enough. An implacable rule of nature is that those who do not adapt do not survive.

The Charter of Punta del Este which set up the Alliance in 1961 as a joint Latin American-U.S. enterprise, had a ring of certainty about it and established specific targets to be reached at a terminal date, 1971. Almost from the first, it was recognized that the Alliance, like any effort of its kind, had to tread new ground, and its goals were very long range . . .

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