Yuta Maezono

Report of “The Ambiguous Meanings of Latin American Populisms”

What are the central arguments of the essay and what is or are the conclusion/s the author comes to?

Populism is an idea that centers poor or powerless citizens or supports working-class or peasant, for example. This paper does many things here; it mainly reviews the study of Latin American populisms briefly. It compares existing theories of Latin American populisms with recent works of Latin American populism. Also, it draws some common characters from the populism leaders in Latin America. He writes his opinion about the populist leadership, why Juan D. Peron got supported by working-class people. He requests further research for the area of Latin American populisms in conclusion. “This article, through a discussion of recent case studies, presents a new approach to the study of Latin American populisms,” about the appeal of populist leaders and autonomous expectations and actions of followers.

A few arguments this essay gives comments on the study of Latin American populisms. One is that although Gino Germani supposed that populism was a phase in the transition to urbanization and industrialization in Latin America in the 1930s and 1940s, industrialization started before populists movement started in some countries. Germani pointed out that in the 1930s and 1940s Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico was in the process of urbanization and economic development. Hence he offered one hypothesis that populism is a phase in which the old system changes into modernity. However, recent scholarship doubts his hypothesis; for example, Ian Roxborough shows that while industrialization started in Brazil before the 1930s actually, populist politics were held from the late ‘40s till 1954. In addition, some Latin American countries such as Peru and Ecuador do not have any fit between populism and industrialization. Judging from this counter-examples, Germani’s hypothesis might not be right that all countries of Latin America turned out to be modernized throughout the process of populism.

Rather, populism is the result from dependent economic development and an expansion of exclusive political systems. Latin America late in the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth century had the form of oligarchical social order; only a few privileged people can operate politics as they want, and the majority of the citizens were excluded from the political decision-making. During the 1920s and ‘30s, however, the growing foreign capital from the United States made industrialization launched around Latin America. Supported by the U.S., Latin America integrated into the world market with a rise in mineral and agricultural exports such as sugar. This economic development caused urbanization and the increase of population; many people migrated from the rural to the urban and started to work there. Many urban cities were constructed in this period in demand. As a result middle and working classes greatly increased and high-class people relatively decreased.

As working class citizens increased, more political pressures the privileged were under. Social sectors who began to have power through this series of economic development wanted “a shift in politics from a family-style government run by political aristocrats and based on highly limited participation to one of populism, which sought an enlarged power base in the lower sectors of society.” (391) As a result of this industrialization, increase of population, and the political call for a nation’s support for the middle and working class people, populism got popular among Latin America countries.

This paper also argues two reasons why Juan Dorongo Peron gained votes from working class in Argentina. One is that Peron was easily able to manipulate desires of people who just immigrated there. Rapid social and economic developments such as urbanization and industrialization brought so many immigrants. They did not have enough time to know features of cities they just moved in. It was much easier for Peron to convince the strangers to support him than to convince grand-mothers who knew all about the cities.

Another reason is that Peron held populism policies. Previous government did not meet workers’ demands for social welfare and labor environment, while he tried to give what the workers wanted. Since he was the boss of the National Labor Department from 1943 to 1945 and had a power in the military government, he was able to control labor movement and military employments. With the privileged rights he helped the workers live better lives.

How do these arguments and conclusion/s relate to some of the questions we have explored together in the course?

Populism is similar to democracy, one big theme of our class because there is a connection between populism and democracy that the biggest-class, socially lower citizens are valued and cherished. Whereas other isms popular all over the world in 1920s and 1930s basically prioritize national profits or victories of wars to the satisfaction of lower class citizens, populism for the first time gives a hand to them. In most of the cases of politics which are not populism nor democratic, enormous amounts of working-class people are forced to work cheap for only a few wealthy people, and they desire to make a revolution against the privileged under the oppression.

The populism social movement led by the charismatic leader is exactly the same as that of democracy such as demonstration, strike, and slowdown. All of these movements are grass-roots and held for citizens, by citizens. Only populism and democracy allows citizens to be active and give them the hope.

Arguments of reasons why Peron got supported by citizens complement the basic understanding of history of Latin America. In class we learned the basic history of Latin America over the second half of the twentieth century in order to make preparation for our discussion of the topic. Just as this review, we can understand the main topic of this class deeply with the knowledge of Peron.

Develop at least two lines of arguments which engage with one or more arguments presented in the essay.

Citizens whose nation is populism are sometimes anomic and irrational. Populist leaders deregulate laws of monopoly or whatever about economy and allow citizens to buy and sell more freely. Or they just deduct some of the taxation from taxes of the poor citizens. Some of the citizens can be attracted to their short-term kindness and trust the leaders with full allowance. However they need to grasp what the leaders want in return for the carrot and act prudently.

Some forms of populism show its violent antagonist and protest against the upper-class. Even if degree of populism is not so much, still populism makes a distinction between at least twos. It cannot make all people happy with only this political system. This is what is different from democracy. It covers all citizens in the nation.

Explain where you found the essay (what database).

Work Cited

Torre, Carlos De La. “The Ambiguous Meanings of Latin American Populisms.” SOCIAL RESEARCH. 2nd ed. Vol. 59. N.p.: n.p., 1992. Web.

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