7 July 2015

Wallerstein: Lat America creeps right

The Blog

The Latin American left may be in a state of self-destruction, social scientist Immanuel Wallerstein has explained in a recent analysis.

The problem originates in the fact that there are actually two "lefts" in Latin America:
  1. ... those persons and movements that wish to overcome the lower standards of living in the countries of the South by using state power to “modernize” the economy and thereby “catch up” with the countries of the North ... the modernizing left
  2. ... those underclasses who fear that such “modernization” will make things not better but worse for them, increasing the internal gaps between the better-off and the poorest strata of the country... the indigenista populations, that is, those whose presence dates from before the time that various European powers sent their troops and settlers into the Western Hemisphere. It also includes the afrodescendentes, that is, those who were brought in from Africa by the Europeans as slaves... These groups began to speak of promoting a civilizational change based on buen vivir – a translation from Incan languages meaning “living well.” They argued for a maintenance of traditional modes of living under the control of local populations
Wallerstein sees this rift as a terrible one for the peoples of Latin America. He laments that "Those persons and groups that have tried to encourage a meaningful dialogue between the two lefts have been seen as very unwelcome by both sides" but encourages that "it may not be too late for both sides to engage in intelligent reassessment of the situation and to rescue the Latin American left from self-destruction".

The problem is that many the poorer "underclasses" seem to be creeping towards rightist causes and groups who ultimately have contempt for them and no desire to safeguard their lifestyles, while the incumbent regimes of Latin America are pursuing increasingly rightist-type policies of repression and ecology-threatening modernization.

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