Latin American intellectual historians have too often bypassed economic thinking. It suffices to browse the Cambridge History of Latin America or the Oxford Book of Latin American Essays to appraise how orphaned economic ideas have been in our region. This “economic illiteracy” works as an incentive to eschew rawly factual but nonetheless complex relationships that took place in our region’s material life, thus hindering any comprehensive grasp of what really happened and still goes on.
Entries from: agosto 2010
“As an ordinary American, I don’t know very well what it ['indigenism'] means or connotes. It’s apparently a term that has come to have a lot of connotations in Latin America. To a native English-speaking reader like myself trying to make sense of it, the word ‘indigenous’ suggests native peoples—that is, the people who inhabited Latin America before the Spanish explorers ever arrived there. A word like ‘indigenism’ might suggest that they—the people who lived there before the Spanish ever arrived—should have greater influence in modern politics. But obviously the fact that there is a new word also suggests that maybe the word means something more complex and modern—for example, that there is a modern culture, perhaps intertwined, involving both the originally-indigenous peoples and whatever influences have occurred since.·
“Redistributionism is a spontaneous feeling”, wrote Bertrand de Jouvenel back in 1951.( 2) “This, like so many spontaneous assumptions of the human mind, is an error.” Still, populist-inspired nationalizations keep coming back to our redistributionist countries with ever growing symbolic and emotional power.
Measured up against post-war era “Keynesian goals”, and compared with French and British nationalizations, how much have Latin American nationalizations contributed, if anything, to consumption and investment on the demand side? How productive on the supply side? Have they helped increase employment or ensured conditions for long-term growth? How well have they fared in developing national infrastructure? Have they really improved the export performance of their countries?