Tag Archives: Ideology



A. Hira

Chapter 2 and Conclusion from Ideas and Economic Policy in Latin America

 In a Nutshell

Ideas are important.

Traditional interpretation of the neo-liberal reforms in LA miss the fact that the political economies of Brazil and Venezuela are very different but the tried the same reforms. Moreover, despite the heterogeneity of system and history within the states of Latin America, whether it be the period of inter-war globalization, post was import substitution or late 20th Century liberalization, the region has moved often in a similar direction. Thus to focus only on international actors or domestic conditions etc. is to miss the importance of the power of ideas. Criteria such as the was the relationship between a state and the world economy is viewed informed distinct orientations toward development that are signs of different ideological perspectives. It is the dynamic creations to the answers of development issues that constitute the discourse on development.

Whilst it is true to say that dominant coalitions select policy to suit themselves, the menu of economic policies available is derived from the economic ideological frameworks that are available at a particular time in history. Paradigms of development represent pools of ideas that delimit policy choices. These ideologies are worked into the state apparatus by knowledge networks which during the time of interest consisted of expert technocrats (previously the knowledge networks were driven by ECLAC and then the Chicago boys].

Crisis is an important feature of this type of analysis. This is because paradigms change as anomalies accumulate (i.e. something that cannot be explained by the current paradigm). When the accumulation of anomalies reaches a crisis limit a new paradigm must come to dominate. Thus a crisis is an acclaimed failure of the current framework of economic policies to achieve their stated goals. Whilst not the only way to change an ideology, it is one of the most fundamental instigators of change. [This would place a greater emphasis on crisis than Armijo & Faucher allow for. In other words it was not until ISI was thoroughly discredited that a new paradigm fed by expertise from USA and Britain etc. could come to dominate. Without the hegemony of that idea, the selection of neo-liberal policies would not have been possible, as policy makers can only select policy from a menu which contains those policies available under the dominant ideologies.] It should be noted that international pressures and domestic coalitions are still need to pressure for change and support it, and particularly important are the reverberations between the two, but an active ideology is also essential. The ideology legitimizes.

A hegemony of ideas breeds stability in policy making. First ECLAC then the Washington Consensus. It is this stability that is essential for growth. [It could then be argued that the failure of ISI and the crisis of the 1980s, international and exogenous conditions aside, could be partly attributed to a faltering ideology, which led to instability of policy. The actions necessary to complete the ISI model such as regional integration faltered as there was a lack of political will both because the ideology was not strong enough now, coming out of ECLA, and secondly that the B-A did not have at their core the same ideology as the previously populist regimes.]

[This is important for evaluating the Engerman and Sokoloff thesis (EH451) and also the AJR thesis:  Doctrinal and ideological changes and their effects on growth are also not understandable in the light of the institutional hypothesis. Although doctrine and ideology are doubtless formed against a backdrop of institutions there is a wealth of other factors – social, economic, international, that shape them as they in turn shape policy, institutions, incentives and thus growth. From the importance of Comte in the positivist strains of thought at the turn of the 20th Century[1] to the extraordinary influence of Raul Prebisch, Latin American politics and policy specifically related to growth and development has often been dominated by thinkers that exist outside of its own institutional makeup. Furthermore an institutional focus does not recognise the social causes of populism such as rapid urbanization, an increasingly “mass society”, plus the electoral gains to be made (in certain periods of history) from nationalism in casting foreign investment/involvement in a malicious light.[2] It therefore cannot explain the cyclical nature of Latin America’s dalliances into large scale redistributionary politics. A similar story can be told in relation to the apparent cycles of authoritarianism. What we see in Latin America are periods of large doctrinal and ideological changes and these change economic outcomes in ways that endowments cannot predict.[3] We see this even in the modern history of the region: the shift toward liberalization as doctrine and the consequent effects on growth in the 1980s was caused in part by debt crisis, external pressures and trends in thought, and internal political pressures as part of the transition to democracy.[4] The institutions of private property and the more wide institutions of the market surely were important in seeking to redress the allocative inefficiencies of the structuralist period, but they are again only part of the story. Therefore the ES and AJR hypotheses are not sufficiently sensitive to such ideological contexts and their causes.]

[1] Hale Political Ideas and Ideologies in Latin America, 1870-193  in L. Bethell (ed.) Ideas and Ideologies in Twentieth Century Latin America (1996)

[2] Dix Populism: Authoritarian and Democratic Latin American Research Review XX 2 (1985) pp.29-52

[3] North, Summerhill and Weingast Order, Disorder and Economic Change: Latin America vs. North America

[4] Astorga, Berges and Fitzgerald, The Standard of Living in Latin America During the Twentieth Century, Economic History Review, LVIII, 4 (2005), pp. 765–796