Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Ideology in Latin America is Less Important Than You Think

Jorge Castañeda has an op-ed in the New York Times about the Latin American left that I feel is a pretty mangled argument with a kernel of a good argument. Or rather, a good argument with three parts. It is based on the idea that ideology is not quite as important as commonly portrayed.

First, the Latin American left will win elections again, and maybe in the not-too-distant future. There is no widespread rejection of state spending, for example.

Second, governments will suffer if they reap the benefits of commodity revenue without saving up. Venezuela in the 1980s meet Venezuela in the 2010s. Governments of the left and right love spending when they think there are no consequences. They just spend on different things.

Third, corruption covers all ideologies. Augusto Pinochet and Michelle Bachelet both had family corruption scandals. The right and left in Brazil are complicit. Etc. And now Latin American voters are mad about it.

So this isn't really about the pink tide ebbing, or the right rising, or the left losing, or the end of fricking history. It's about the natural rhythm of politics in a region that is far more pragmatic and far less ideological than people realize.


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