Argentina holds a morbid fascination for students of political economy because it has a system in which power is so thoroughly spread out among well-organized and entrenched interests that it is an almost perfect example of entropy. Also, Argentina fascinates students of development because, in many respects, it seems to be going backward. Although it possesses many modern institutions, they are decaying rapidly. Argentines are sensitive to this and spend much time analyzing their society's shortcomings and prescribing remedies, like patients suffering from a rare, wasting disease. They once aspired to becoming one of the world's advanced nations, but they failed. That failure is all the more puzzling because Argentina possesses a temperate climate, an integrated national territory, vast stretches of fertile soil, large deposits of petroleum, easy access to the sea, and a literate and fairly homogeneous population. There have been many attempts in both the scholarly and popular literature to explain Argentina's stagnation. Broadly speaking, the following are the most frequently cited causes: (1) the traditional cattle-raising and export merchant oligarchy's refusal to accept modern social and political change; (2) the military's increasing interference in politics, which exacerbates instability rather than avoids it; (3) the exploitation of Argentina by foreign capital; (4) the lack of a native industrial class with a true entrepreneurial spirit; (5) the personal machinations of one man, Juan Domingo Perón, who was Argentina's president from 1946 to 1955 and continued to influence its politics for two decades after that; and, finally, (6) the Argentine national character in general, which is held to be egotistical, inflexible, and conflictive, thus making impossible all cooperative effort, including that required for development. Let us describe each of these causes in a little more detail and establish working hypotheses or tools with which to explore the complexities of Argentina's recent history.