13 August 2011

As the night the day.

This arc—from nascent classical liberalism to a populism that takes the country backward—is the wider story of 20th-century Latin America. Why did it happen so easily and so frequently? The poverty is easily explained. The failure to respect property rights, the erecting of stifling trade barriers and the wayward monetary decisions that destroyed currencies could have produced nothing else.
"The Lost Century. The ideas that sent Latin America down the path of poverty and political instability." By Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal, 8/13/11.


Zenster said...

From the linked article: Many historians and economists blame the region's underdevelopment on its colonial past—on the vestiges of the Spanish crown's practice of exploiting resources for the home country, its effort to centralize the governance of a vast and diverse culture, and its campaign to export a supposedly anti-commercial Catholicism.

Briefly examine Spain's colonialist footprints around the world and they all trudge down the same Hellish track of looting, corruption and poverty.

Mexico, Central America, South America and the Philippines all remain firmly mired in 18th century politics and cronyism. Nigh on 99% of the wealth is concentrated in little over 1% of the population's hands making these nations not much more than centrally planned economies. Land ownership follows similar patterns and causes agricultural productivity to wither due to zero incentive for farmers to modernize.

Why did the socialist populism of Juan and Evita win out over classical liberalism?

Undereducated populations around the globe have always fallen for Communism's siren song. No better example exists than Communist China. Mao promised the peasants that they would be freed from the shackles of the land. Only after Mao was firmly ensconced did these poor fools discover how their movement was restricted by required travel documents that only chained them even more firmly to the land than before.

Another factor deriving from Spanish colonialism is a preference for "strong man" political leadership. Modeled after the intensely chauvinist patriarchal format of Spain's social and religious structures, it continues to manifest in the likes of Hugo Chavez or the ultra-violent narco-syndicates that rule Columbia and Mexico.

[José] Martí lived in political exile in New York for 13 years and admired, Mr. Krauze says, the "heterogeneous, hard-working, conservative people" of the United States. Yet he also disliked the country's "excessive individualism" and feared that American leaders had designs on Cuba.

Cuba should have been so lucky as Puerto Rico.

Paz's idealism led him down many a dead-end. In 1943, he fled Mexico for Berkeley, Calif. As Paz himself explained: "In an excess of money, cabarets, industry and business deals, Mexico had lost its revolutionary nerve, poetic inspiration and critical passion." And though he would later call the state "the most solid instrument of oppression that men have known since the end of the Neolithic age," never to the end of his days did he grasp that his beloved socialism was crucially dependent on the state's monopoly on the use of force. [emphasis added]

As the author notes earlier, "fascism and communism were really just two sides of the same coin, simple "rival Socialist factions." Socialism and freedom can never be combined." Thus do we see narco-terrorism's ultra-violence challenging the Mexican government's monopoly on the use of force.

The usual "strong man" politics is ideally suited to various hybrids of Socialism and Fascism which dot Spain's post-colonial landscape. It is the direct outgrowth of a once theocratic church that previously eclipsed government itself and set the stage for over-concentration of wealth, political power and land ownership that persists to this day.

Col. B. Bunny said...

In the 17th century the Diggers went for an agrarian egalilitarianism and communalism based on one sentence in Acts. One sentence. The socialists are like that as well with the idea of equal sharing of material bounty. That's it. Wonderful idea. Let's do it.

The American Founders focused on the world's actual experience with the government power that makes equal shares possible. Multiple inputs from actual life.

The socialist imagination looks at the world as though thru a water pipe yet whatever objection to US policies or presence in Latin America ended up being channeling into the socialist "solution."

I have little patience with concepts like "revolutionary nerve, poetic inspiration and critical passion." Revolution to have what? How about reformist nerve? What do poets have to tell us about politics and economics? I can't think of anything that interests me less then the sophomoric or recondite out put of "poets" even in matters of the heart. Ugh, ugh, and ugh. Did that guy really use the phrase "critical passion"?

Spain's legacy is as you say. Why it's so persistent, I don't understand. I can understand why Islam persists as a "perfect closed system" (BH) because you'll be killed if you try to tinker with its idiocies. That kind of obstacles isn't a factor in the Latin world. Challenging vested interests is dangerous is all times.

Col. B. Bunny said...