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The Latin American Left Today

Claudio Lomnitz, a professor of anthropology at Columbia University, has an excellent article in the Boston Review which explores the similarities and differences in the various new leftist governments in Latin America.

Today, the Latin American left is riddled by contradictions: it is a form of democratic politics that challenges some of the core precepts of liberal democracy; it is a rebellion against unbridled globalization that constantly risks falling back on nationalism and the developmental state; it seeks to strengthen state intervention and regulation but must rely on “flexible” forms of redistribution that it shares with neo-liberal parties; it seeks to produce alternative models of reality and development but is insufficiently invested in science, technology, and environmentalism.

I particularly liked his discussion of the various moments in historical memory which each of the new leaders has drawn upon as their moment of inspiration. The list of time periods alone gives a sense of these differences:

Bolivia, Venezuela, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Chile: 500 years, 200 years, 90 years, 80 years, 60 years, 40 years, 30 years.

Read the whole thing.

One thought on “The Latin American Left Today

  1. An interesting perspective – the periods of inspiration with the current ideologies of Latin American governments.

    In my view, the years come to symbolize the extent to which people feel under-represented, but also the magnitude to which they feel their governments have drifted away from common values and culture.

    In one way, I believe it’s a healthy and hopeful sign in these countries, especially for Bolivia and Venezuela. Chile, as the most developed, only needs to draw back thirty years; and I’m assuming to the times of Salvador Allende.

    Hoping that Bolivia and Venezuela will achieve greater development, future governments will then have more recent periods to draw upon.


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