For the last century and a half, Latin America has been a faithful echoing chamber for every political noise uttered in the more civilized regions of the northern hemisphere. It now appears that this period may be drawing to a close, partly as a result of domestic developments, and partly because the source of models deemed worthy of imitation is drying up. This is not the end of ideology, but it certainly suggests that the era in which Latin America accepted blindly the political experiences, aspirations and recommendations issuing from the shores of the North Atlantic is coming to an end.

Practically every major political ideology which found a sympathetic echo in Latin America during the last hundred years was produced by the impact of the Industrial Revolution upon a European social structure which in turn was fundamentally modified by historical events like Feudalism and the Reformation that had no counterpart in the Luso-Hispanic tradition. Thus, under different names and guises, conservatism, liberalism, radicalism, communism and social democracy (and its Christian Democratic variant), all with deep European roots, have dominated the political life of this part of the world. Even conservatism, which could perhaps claim to be timeless and pre-industrial, never succeeded in clearing the awesome frontier of 1810; it retained a distinct republican flavor which placed it closer to modern European conservatism than to any irredentist monarchial movement with Hispanic roots.

The European origins of liberalism, radicalism and communism of course need no documentation. The aura of modernity and originality which currently adorns the Christian Democratic and Christian Socialist movements in Latin America is more than faintly similar to that which graced their European precursors, not only in recent times but also when they provided Chancellor Bismarck with some of his livelier political difficulties or when they shattered the complacency of the Bishops' Conference of 1908 at Lambeth.

The modern political arrangements of the so-called Western world-which most certainly includes the Soviet Union-are to an important degree the offspring of the transformations brought about by industry during the nineteenth century. But Latin America has been bypassed by the Industrial Revolution: industry has indeed come to these countries, but without the great changes which attended its earlier appearance on the shores of the North Atlantic. Moreover, the Latin American social structure, which has received the benefits of modern industrial technology, is different in essence from the European one which produced it.

The complex of cultural differences makes it hard if not impossible to establish priorities or hierarchies of significance. Nevertheless, I would like to suggest three fundamental differences which may account for the apparent inability of Latin America at present to provide a fertile soil for European ideological models and which indicate the type of development likely to dominate its domestic and international political life in the near future. The three differences are the absence in Latin America's historical experience of feudalism, of religious nonconformity and of industrial development which is individually initiated as opposed to that which is centrally encouraged. Conversely, I would suggest that it is precisely in the vertebral centralism of the Latin American tradition that an explanation of recent developments and perhaps even the key to the political future of the region will most probably be discovered.


The feudal experience is not part of the cultural tradition of Latin America. Of course the word has often been used pejoratively to describe the relationship between landlord and peasant in Latin America as elsewhere, but in fact feudalism as a political structure never existed in this part of the world. It is important to realize this, because the balance of power between a weak center and a strong periphery, which was characteristic of feudalism, was evidently a major ingredient of European liberalism and all its social-democratic variants,

In spite of the quaint efforts by Mexican revolutionaries, the founders of APRA and others to establish direct lines of descent from the centuries before the coming of the Spaniards, the fact is that Latin America was born into the modern world during the sixteenth century, at least three hundred years after feudalism had disappeared from Western Europe; its institutional structure was fashioned wholesale in Madrid by the strongest monarchy in Christendom and on the Renaissance model of a centrally controlled polity. It hardly needs pointing out that Columbus discovered the New World precisely the year that the last Moorish stronghold of Granada was taken by the Spaniards, bringing to an end a military campaign which had lasted, with varying intensity, for seven centuries. The victorious Catholic kings ruled unchallenged and the faint attempts by regional military orders or aspiring warlords to contest their authority are of no more than anecdotal value. A full generation before Henry VIII started his quarrels with the Vatican, Ferdinand of Aragon secured from Pope Julius II the famous bull Universalis ecclesiae regimini which, together with earlier generosities of Rome, laid the legal basis for the absolute power, temporal and ecclesiastical, which the Spanish rulers were to exercise with considerable efficiency over their vast American territories.

The institutional structure devised for the Indies naturally reflected this unqualified centralism, and no effort was spared to ensure that distance would not facilitate the development of peripheral sites of political power; even to fill a minor post at the Viceroyalty of Peru, consultation with Spain was required, and whoever attempted to depart from the strictest reading of the colonial legislation was punished with severity. Even the most exalted colonial rulers had at the end of their mandate to make the lengthy voyage to Spain to sit at the dreaded juicio de residentia. Madrid's power gave muscle to the longest administrative arms in Christendom.

This system survived for three centuries and when it finally collapsed, its legalistic, centralist and authoritarian tradition passed on undiminished to the republican régimes, which had the advantage of shorter lines of communication. It must be remembered that the revolutions of 1810 were not popular uprisings but rather independence movements after the fashion of the one led by Mr. Ian Smith in Rhodesia.

The institutional habit of compromise between alternative centers of political power is not, then, part of the Latin American tradition. The feudal experience of northern Europe, where the central monarchy had to negotiate with a number of lesser centers of power, is simply not known in this part of the world. Here the center has never been decisively challenged and even its major revolutionary experience-that of 1810-was initiated in the name of legitimacy and against the French, who by then represented egalitarianism.

Political centralism remained virtually unassailed during the nineteenth century. No doubt instances can be found of uprisings by local chieftains but, apart from the fact that these were generally unsuccessful, close examination will show that even the most outspoken regional caciques were often feeding on the crumbs of political power which fell from the table of the central government.

The centralism of the past four centuries has survived well into our times. The three major modern revolutions in Latin America-perhaps the only real ones-have reconstructed society according to strikingly different ideas, yet they have all resulted in single-party systems: the Mexican PRI is unique in the ramifications of its centralist control; the Cuban government party, I would suggest, rules from an authoritarian center because it is Cuban rather than because it is communist; and the Bolivian MNR, although eventually unsuccessful, made a determined attempt to monopolize political power and was later replaced by another régime at least as centralist. The trend that can be perceived in other countries-without considering the outright tyrannies-is clearly toward the establishment of a dominant political party identified with the government. This is seen even in the most sophisticated and democratic states in the region.

The weight of this historical tradition has lately been reinforced by the well-nigh universal trend toward increased participation or intervention by the central government in all aspects of national life. While in, say, Britain, the United States or Sweden, this trend clashes with the prevailing pluralistic and generally liberal concept of political responsibility, in Latin America it reinforces the existing drive for greater central control.

If political centralism has worn well over the last few centuries, the same can also be said of the Catholic Church. It is a moot point whether nonconformity is, or is not, a basic ingredient of European liberalism, but it is difficult to imagine political liberalism in Britain, France or the United States, for instance, without a concomitant attitude in matters of religion. In Latin America the problem would hardly arise: there has never been anything which could reasonably be equated with nonconformity; the religious authority of the Catholic Church has never been challenged from within. No doubt priests have been shot, churches burned and anticlericalism has become an established political and social attitude, but the spiritual authority of the Catholic Establishment remains untouched. Even in a country like Mexico, where from Juarez to Zapata the major revolutionary movements have been staunchly anticlerical and where it is easier to sustain normal diplomatic relations with Cuba than with the Vatican, the Catholic Church remains the only significant national religion.

There is, of course, ample evidence of dissent within the Catholic Church in Latin America today, but this stems from anxiety over social and political issues, not over the fundamental religious tenets of official Catholicism. The inroads of Protestantism are also not to be minimized, but so far, even in Chile, where they have been most noticeable, less than 10 percent of the population is registered as belonging to the numerous Protestant sects.

In Europe and North America it was but a short step from religious dissent to political dissent; it does not take exceptional scholarship to trace the nonconformist ancestry of many of the most active reformist parties.


As might be expected, political and religious centralism was accompanied by economic centralism, which is not only the product of a long Hispanic tradition but also the result of the way in which industry came to this part of the world. In Europe, industrial activity arose out of a complex cultural situation which resulted in the conscious accumulation of industrial capital over a long period of time. This process owed little or nothing to the intervention of the central government and it led to a dispersion of power. That the central state later came to represent these industrial interests is beside the point; for it to happen, the new industrialists had to challenge the traditional ruling groups and wrest power from them.

Further, the growth of industry ran almost parallel with the growth of cities, and urbanization was a consequence of industrial activity. Industry then was labor intensive and for it to function efficiently a sizeable labor force had to be organized in urban centers. As a result the workers acquired a new political consciousness. Thus it can be said that the impact of industry on traditional European society was revolutionary at least in that it was spearheaded by a newly formed industrial bourgeoisie and it resulted in the formation of a new industrial proletariat.

None of these considerations would seem to apply to the industrialization of Latin America. Here industry has been stimulated largely by external factors such as the great crisis of 1929 (principally affecting Brazil) and the Second World War, which began the process of import substitution. It owed relatively little to domestic determinants. And urbanization in Latin America did not wait for industrialization, which was instead grafted onto a sophisticated, self-conscious, relatively urbanized society. A remarkably large proportion of the population was already living in cities for reasons other than the development of industry. More important perhaps, industrialization owed a very great deal to the direct intervention of the central state-through tariff protection, subsidies, credit policies or straightforward programs of industrial development carried out directly under the aegis of public development corporations. Lastly, the social changes generally associated with industrialization have not occurred in Latin America; there have been many changes but not the ones that scholars and politicians were prepared for.

Latin America has industrialized rapidly, but this has not been the result of the exertions of an industrial bourgeoisie; nor has it produced an industrial proletariat. In the 1870s, Britain was the first industrial power on earth and was producing her first million tons of steel. To achieve this, over 370,000 workers were employed. In Latin America today, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico are well over the million-ton mark (Brazil is moving close to four million tons per year) and a rough estimate shows that only seven or eight thousand workers are needed to produce each million tons of steel. Peru is the first fishing nation on earth, but the total labor force engaged in the fisheries and processing plants does not exceed thirty thousand men. Such examples abound and they all point to a fairly obvious development: industrial technology has changed; it is now more capital than labor intensive. The industrial labor force in Latin America is not the modern equivalent of the traditional proletariat. Working with an advanced industrial technology, it is smaller, better trained and better paid. It is in fact an aristocracy of labor with incomes which all too often rise above those of vast numbers of white collar workers in the tertiary sector.

As the capacity of industry to absorb large numbers of workers is limited, the massive transformation of peasants into industrial workers has not come to pass. With luck, the average migrant to the cities will find employment in the building industry, but more often than not he will somehow drift into the service sector, which is by far the best organized as well as the most politically active. The coming of industry resulted in a sharp decrease of self-employed artisans and craftsmen and a spectacular rise in the number of people in service occupations, but this increase was only the continuation of a process that had been going on for well over a century. These professionals, white collar employees, bureaucrats and domestic and service workers are not the Latin American equivalent of, say, the rising English middle class of 1832; for the most part they are directly or indirectly associated with, or dependent upon, either the central government or the traditional social structure. Few are involved in industry, and their political activities have been directed principally toward securing greater participation in the existing social organization rather than in seeking to demolish it and replace it with another.

The pre-industrial urbanization of Latin America is a significant phenomenon in its own right; its intensification during the last three decades has resulted in the steady depopulation of an already sparsely settled countryside. At present Latin America has a greater proportion of its urban inhabitants living in cities of 100,000 or more than does Europe; in Argentina, Cuba, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela the proportion of the population that is urban is well over 40 percent. It is neither the "landless peasant" nor the "exploited" industrial worker who epitomizes the politically significant Latin American; it is rather the underpaid bank clerk with social aspirations.

As for the Latin American equivalent of the traditional industrial bourgeoisie-forward-looking, adventurous, willing to take risks, ready to innovate, anti-aristocratic and reformist-it simply does not exist. The force for dynamic change has been the central government. Domestic private enterprise has seldom performed with distinction except when instigated and assisted by the government. If all state subsidies and financial commitments were to be withdrawn from private industry, precious little would remain in operation. This has come about partly by default; the so- called industrial bourgeoisie and their clientele have been agile opportunists and mediocre imitators rather than adventurous challengers or originators of new ideas. With remarkably few exceptions-mostly foreign immigrants-they owe their newly achieved economic prosperity more to their social or political proximity to the government cornucopia in the years between 1940 and 1960 than to any impressive exertions on their own part.

For them, industry is just one of many ways of making money: they own industrial capital, they often have a controlling interest, but they are not industrialists in the meaningful sense of the word. More often than not they are prepared to exchange the risks inherent in effective responsibility for an agreement with a foreign company which will guarantee royalties, expert advice and a numbered bank account in Europe. Their docility has prevented them from becoming an effective pressure group except in a negative sense. This is shown, for instance, in the opposition of Ecuadorian and Venezuelan businessmen to plans for regional integration. There is in Latin America no counterpart to European industrial liberalism.

In Europe and the United States it was the dynamic industrial groups that for various reasons became the mainstay-both political and economic-of a development policy aimed at the satisfaction of national aspirations; in Latin America, however, the owners of industry are largely responsible for increasing our external dependence. They have not been innovators, nor have they challenged the established social order or provided political alternatives. Instead they have fallen with remarkable ease into the patterns of imitation and emulation characteristic of social climbing. In fact, it would not be surprising if their major contribution to the contemporary life of Latin America turns out to be the efficient institutionalization of this process; far from weakening the traditional structure, they have become its most loyal and enthusiastic upholders.

To sum up, then, there appears to be no substantial evidence indicating that the tradition of centralism characteristic of Latin American culture is in any significant way being challenged from within. Furthermore, the pressure groups which in Europe and the United States played such an important role in forcing through the changes demanded by the incorporation of industrial technology are either not fitted or not prepared to play a comparable role in Latin America. What sector of society, then, is likely to fulfill this function in the future?


Marx and Lenin have not been the only ones to accept the notion that the state is an instrument, a tool to be used by one group or another to defend its own interests. This concept of the state has figured prominently in the historical tradition of Western Europe (though perhaps more significantly in Britain and the United States). From it derives the conceptual framework which informs much of contemporary sociological and historical analysis- including the study of Latin America. Learned northern observers of the Latin American situation have thus spent much time identifying the pressure groups which are expected to be vying with each other for the control of that supposedly inert instrument, the central state. In their writings, various groups are favored as most likely to assume the leadership of the process that is vaguely described as "modernization." Some place their bets on the rising urban bourgeoisie; others hope or fear that the peasantry will march on the cities and transform everything; others are impressed by the vociferous political activity of the students; while others still stress the reformist aspirations of the "Nasserist" groups in the armed forces.

This type of analysis does not seem to me helpful, largely because it starts from the mistaken premise that the central government in Latin America is at least as "instrumental" as that typical of the European tradition and as likely to respond to the pressures, civilized or not, coming from more or less powerful groups. In Latin America the central government itself is the most powerful pressure group. It extends its power and influence through a highly centralized civil service and through complex and all-embracing systems of social security and patronage which have transformed most of the vast urban service sector into an institutionalized clientele; it controls the major centers of learning and is capable of exercising almost unrestricted control over economic life. The only institutions which could perhaps be regarded as likely rivals, because of their relatively self-contained nature, are the Church and the armed forces, but in either case the rivalry would not be counterbalancing or pluralistic; rather it would tend to emphasize the central and national responsibilities of the government. Whenever pressures from these two sectors are exerted, they encourage the state to exercise still more all- embracing power from the center.

If this powerful and self-conscious pressure group did not earlier exert its potential force to the fullest, it was because the domestic and international conditions prevailing during the hundred years which preceded 1929 were such as to discourage or at least make unnecessary an activist role for the state. Conflicting interests were few. The ruling groups of the time enjoyed a more than reasonable degree of prosperity; those influential in forming political and intellectual attitudes were clearly identified with European liberalism, while the expansion of world trade and a growing demand for the primary commodities of Latin America tended to make acceptance of the tenets of laisser faire financially profitable as well as socially and intellectually agreeable.

It was not external pressures, therefore, which forced the state to accept an apparently passive role, but rather a decision made for reasons of expediency. It is worthwhile remembering that the same uncritical admiration of everything European which contributed to making Manchester liberalism so attractive to the exporters of mineral and agricultural products also eased the introduction into Latin America of English fashions, German militarism and French positivism, European tastes and methods of education. Sarmiento was not alone in thinking that for Latin America to become truly civilized, it had to become European.

The crisis of 1929 and the Second World War marked the end of the lengthy period of prosperity based on the export of commodities. It also established the conditions for the massive introduction of industrial technology, if only through the doubtful channels of indiscriminate import substitution. Yet the full political impact of the ensuing changes was postponed as a result of circumstances imposed by the Second World War and the pressures of the cold war.

Apart from other important considerations, the Second World War introduced a virtual moratorium on political development in Latin America. With the world divided into warring factions and the countries of the region more or less in the Allied camp, traditional alignments were redrawn to fit external demands. Even the communist parties and their close associates of the time postponed their struggles against capitalism and loyally collaborated in the efforts to keep the Allies well supplied with raw materials. The hope was also widely entertained that the end of the conflict would bring, as a well-earned reward, a veritable flood of assistance, which would in some undefined way bring back the plentiful days of the past.

Although the nationalistic movements in Latin America had little or nothing in common with Germany save a shared suspicion of the United States or Britain, they were often sympathetic to the Axis, and it required considerable coaxing before they declared for the Allies. It would be facile and mistaken to think that Villarroel in Bolivia, Ibañez in Chile, Vargas in Brazil, Péron in Argentina, Arnulfo Arias in Panama and so many others were simply stooges of an international Nazi conspiracy. It would be closer to the truth to say that these various nationalist movements were essentially domestic and reflected the basic aspirations or dissatisfactions of important urban sectors. The issue of the Canal Zone was foremost in the minds of those who supported Arnulfo Arias at that time; economic imperialism and the Falkland Islands were ever present in Péron's oratory; Villarroel came to power as a result of the frustrations of the Chaco War but also on the assurance that Bolivia would not remain forever a colonial appendage of the tin industry; Vargas represented the drive toward industrialization and economic autonomy. These movements, under whatever name, represented a nationalist alternative to the traditional programs presented by the established parties of Right and Left. At their most successful, they provided the basis for what in the postwar period has generally been described as Latin American populism- perhaps the most revealing portent of the political future of the region.

The widespread feeling that rampant nationalism was the ultimate cause of World War II tended to make the domestic nationalist movements in Latin America appear like the villains of a new black legend. Internationalism became the new religion and international coöperation the accepted morality. But with the slaughter and destruction of the war still fresh in mind, a weary world plunged into yet another total struggle. Mr. Truman's doctrinal declaration dividing the world into two oddly defined camps presented Latin America with a formidable false dilemma. It was clear that Mr. Truman had not really meant each country to choose between democracy and tyranny; there were enough despotic régimes on the side of the angels to make this a doubtful proposition. On the other hand it was apparent even then-and it has since become obvious-that the communist parties in the Latin American countries had no intention of leading revolutionary movements to overthrow their respective governments. In this respect they reflected the pragmatic attitude of the Soviet Union, which accepted Latin America's being within the sphere of influence of the United States. Yet the urgencies of the international situation forced a decision, and anti- communism was raised to the status of dogma by able politicians; although these men were well aware that the local communists did not constitute a serious threat, they kept their eyes fixed on the flow of aid which was invariably directed toward those countries whose loyalty to the Western world was beyond dispute.1

In the anxiety of the Soviet Union and the United States to marshal their allies into supranational political and military arrangements, the Organization of American States was created. The OAS, which became the Latin American branch of the cold-war policy of the United States, can validly claim to be one of the least impressive of the many postwar pacts. For a time internationalism apparently was defined in Washington and Moscow as a willingness to accept the validity of these arrangements, and the good favor of the superpowers depended on the degree of zeal with which these treaty organizations were supported. But to those Latin Americans who were not absolutely committed, the cold war was less an ideological confrontation than a struggle between two obsessively nationalistic powers intent on defending or extending their respective spheres of influence. Neither was seen as a particularly attractive model and neither received more than tepid gestures of popular support-except from the notoriously servile tyrannies.

Yet a most important consequence of the coming of the cold war to Latin America was the emphasis it placed on the dependent nature of both domestic and international political life. Political activity became largely subordinated to the vagaries of the great world confrontation; neutralism was unacceptable and nationalism severely frowned upon, while friendly internationalism was most definitely encouraged. Any reformist program, any criticism of the United States, however justified, any attempt to steer an independent policy became suspect, and more often than not was publicly tinged in deepest red. It finally required an initiative by the United States to make agrarian, fiscal and administrative reform respectable political aspirations.


The feeling of utter dependence has grown deep roots during the years of the cold war. But as the confrontation becomes attenuated by the challenge of France and China to the leadership of the United States and the Soviet Union, by the growth of polycentrism on both sides of the Iron Curtain, and by a measure of détente between the two great powers, a resurgence of nationalism is apparent in Latin America. "A plague on both your houses" is becoming a common attitude; as the tide of cold-war loyalties recedes, Latin Americans are becoming increasingly conscious of national aspirations submerged for too long.

The time may now be ripe for the centralist state to come into its own, fired with a new nationalism fed on an awareness that the increasing cultural and economic dependence of the region is one of its principal problems. Had circumstances even faintly similar to the present ones occurred, say, half a century ago, a fashionable European ideology would no doubt have been promptly imported by the latest batch of Latin American intellectuals returning home from their grand tour. Today this is no longer possible, partly because the mood is emphatically nationalistic and partly because the prevailing feeling is that the northern hemisphere has precious little guidance to offer: the United States and the Soviet Union are living through critical times themselves and have abandoned much of their ideological fervor in order to adopt pragmatic and short-term solutions. Even those who until recently were willing to grant the benefit of the doubt to some tried old horses-e.g. socialism, capitalism and their variants-are now conscious that their application to Latin America is at least questionable. Indeed, Latin America may for the first time in its history become an exporter of political symbols and ideas. This is suggested by the enthusiastic adoption of Ché Guevara by students in Europe and the United States, while here his political appeal is largely restricted to a genuine admiration for his integrity and heroism.

In the absence of a more elaborate framework within which to fit political action, men tend to fall back on elemental loyalties-tribe, family or, as in Latin America today, straightforward nationalism. Besides being undemanding intellectually, nationalism draws support from all the people, regardless of other interests.

A nationalistic ideology can perhaps get us from a confused present to a more satisfactory future, but the risks cannot be ignored. Nationalism tends to magnify the impact of external factors on domestic situations. Even if it is based on a reasonably civilized understanding of what constitutes the national interest, it courts international friction. In this kind of mood, affecting the major nations of Latin America simultaneously, rearmament, for example, assumes an importance which cannot be overlooked.

At the same time it should be emphasized that the major objective of Latin American nationalism is to reverse the present trend toward cultural and economic dependence on the United States. This, to be fair, is apparently also an objective of enlightened U.S. policy, as shown in numerous official pronouncements calling for a determined effort in Latin America to shoulder a greater part of the burden of its own development. The financial difficulties of the United States may of course make this objective mandatory. At any rate, it must be remembered that independent behavior in nations, as in human beings, cannot easily be confined to some things, excluding others. If the countries of Latin America are to act with greater independence in the planning and implementation of truly national development policies, it should not surprise anybody if they become independent in foreign policy and other fields as well. The military, for example, which until recently have been the most loyal allies of the United States, are now beginning to see the penetration and interference of the great northern power in the same light in which they formerly viewed communism-as an international threat to national sovereignty and integrity. Their indignant reaction to the efforts of the United States to stem their growing purchases of armaments is a significant example of the new attitude.

Although the numerous Latin American student movements operate from strikingly varied backgrounds, under various political auspices and with very varied purposes, they do seem to share a preoccupation with the need to encourage national research and scholarship as a means to escape the cultural penetration of the United States. These students are not necessarily militants of extreme left-wing parties; more often than is realized they are politically nonaligned or represent middle-of-the-road political movements. They themselves, of course, come predominantly from the middle and upper classes of society.

There is a widespread feeling, especially in the academic community, that Latin American integration is in difficulties partly because it is too closely associated with the United States. One of the informal conclusions of a major conference which met earlier this year in Chile to examine the problems of integration was that what was needed was a truly American process of integration instead of the present Inter-American scheme which allows the United States to play too important a role.

Until a few months ago there were three principal organizations interested in the process of integration: the Latin American Free Trade Association (LAFTA), the Inter-American Development Bank and the Inter-American Committee of the Alliance for Progress. Of these, the last two are based in Washington and depend on the financial support of the United States; LAFTA is strictly a Latin American organization but also the least successful so far. This anomalous situation has not gone unnoticed, and it may be that the move to create truly Latin American sub-regional organizations like the Andean Group or the Plata Basin Group is at least indirectly a consequence of this awareness.

Amidst the débris left behind by the quiet failure of the Alliance for Progress will be found a number of social-democratic movements which feel- with or without justification-that the United States did less than it could have done to assist their reformist efforts, after giving them decisive early encouragement. Their frustration is minimal, however, compared with that of the right-wing parties, which feel that after decades of giving their loyal support to every political move made by the United States and facing the domestic onslaught of the left-wing opposition to such unpopular policies as the overthrow of the Arbenz régime in Guatemala or the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Kennedy Administration stabbed them in the back by putting forward a program like the Alliance for Progress, whose principal objective was precisely to undermine the very basis of their economic and political position.

Such examples could be multiplied. The important fact is that the growing isolation of the United States in the world, whatever its causes, is now being reflected in Latin America. It is not easy to find a significant political group or sector of society willing to stand up and be counted on the side of the great northern neighbor.

Given these indicators and the concomitant resurgence of nationalism in Latin America, it is likely that relations with the United States will become difficult in the future. Moreover, the challenge to U.S. hegemony will probably come not from the extreme left wing but rather from the state itself, supported by sizeable sectors of the urban population. The United States is likely to be more vulnerable to this type of confrontation than is usually imagined. Seen from Latin America, it will resemble the fortress of Singapore on the eve of the Japanese invasion: all guns facing the sea but virtually defenseless against a land attack.

However important the negative dynamism generated by aggressive independence of the United States, I would suggest that this is not the principal feature of contemporary Latin American nationalism. Rather it is the return to a style of political behavior firmly rooted in an autocthonous centralist tradition. On this tradition is founded the structure of institutions and political habits of Latin Americans; on it, as well, are based the organizational successes of the past decades. Latin Americans are increasingly conscious that in harnessing the momentum of this tradition to the needs of national development they will acquire understanding and mastery of the problems of their nations.

Although this novel process of self-discovery is scarcely a few years old it has already offered promising first results in various fields. The original, successful and growing participation of the central government in the Mexican economy; the plans for public multinational corporations which will operate within the sub-regional schemes; the remarkable history of growth and consolidation of the enterprises fathered by the Chilean Development Corporation-all afford evidence of the vitality of this trend. At the same time, the writings of historians, economists and political analysts reflect both a generalized dissatisfaction with foreign imitation and an endeavor to create a new political architecture, using the materials at hand instead of importing them ready-made from elsewhere.

Latin America has been prodigal in the arts and letters-perhaps the world's best contemporary novels have been written during the past decade by Colombians, Peruvians and Argentines-but it has not distinguished itself in the field of political and social ideas. It is not unduly optimistic to think that this is due at least in part to the diligence with which its intelligentsia has in the past looked to the northern hemisphere not only for political answers but for the questions as well. It would be surprising indeed if a reversal of this trend does not prove extremely rewarding. 1 "In other parts of the world it may be merely ridiculous to claim that the communists are not revolutionaries, but in Latin America it is a fact that the communist movement has no vigorous revolutionary tradition. There is probably no conservative or liberal party in all of Latin America that has not staged more insurrections and incited more civil wars than the communists. In a continent racked by civil strife the communists' record has been one of remarkable quiescence. Their one major attempt to seize power by force was the 1935 insurrection led by Luiz Carlos Prestes in Brazil, apart from which there have been only some instances of communist participation in risings by noncommunist groups." Ernst Halperin, "Nationalism and Communism in Chile." Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1965, p. 13.

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