Hirschman's classic work used as its frontispiece Paul Klee's painting "Highways and Byways" to symbolize the manifold and ambiguous ways in which nations "journeyed" toward their goals. Hirschman examined three economic policy problems in detail: Brazil's actions to alleviate the chronic economic backwardness of its drought-ridden and stagnating northeastern provinces, Colombia's attempts to improve patterns of land use and land tenure, and Chile's experience with recurring inflation. He criticized the overconfident belief that all problems were inherently solvable, as well as the prevalent notion of the period in Latin America that reform could be achieved only by opposite processes of violent revolution or of peaceful change. Hirschman argued that both routes in fact proposed shifts of power and wealth, and that such shifts were equally a question of contriving alliances and of what he called "reform-mongering," a method of action that used unsuspected and unorthodox opportunities for maneuver and advance.
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