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Special Collection | Colección Especial

Latin America’s changing balance of class forces: An Introduction

Authors:

Thomas Chiasson-LeBel ,

University of California Santa Cruz, US
About Thomas

Thomas Chiasson-LeBel (PhD, York University, Canada) is a guest professor in the department of Sociology and Gender Studies at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Quito, Ecuador, and research associate in the department of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California Santa Cruz.

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Manuel Larrabure

Bucknell University, US
About Manuel

Manuel Larrabure is assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at Bucknell University. His current research focuses on the crisis of the “pink tide”, and the rise of the new right in Latin America. His work has been published in leading journals, including New Political Economy, Latin American Perspectives, and Canadian Journal of Development Studies. Professor Larrabure is currently beginning a new research project, which attempts to understand the impact that next generation technologies, such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology, is having on Latin America.

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Abstract

In this introductory article, we present the special collection by outlining the shared theoretical underpinnings of our attempt to understand the current crisis of the left in Latin America. Challenging state-centred perspectives that over-emphasize state autonomy and the role of charismatic leaders, we propose a relational approach, one that focuses on the interactions between governments, popular movements, and elites. While acknowledging the importance of international economic and geopolitical tendencies, our specific concern is to assess the internal balance of forces, which from our perspective is central in mediating broader external forces. The main conclusions that emerge from this collection are that: first, left governments were not successful at undermining the influence and power of economic elites in society in an enduring way. Second, interactions between governments and popular movements did not lead to the strengthening of popular sector capacities in a way that could counter-balance the power of economic elites and further radicalize the process of change in the region. Our outlook for the future points to the emergence of a new form of authoritarian state. 

Resumen: Cambiando el equilibrio de fuerzas de clase de Latinoamérica: Una introducción

En este artículo introductorio, presentamos la colección especial delineando los fundamentos teóricos compartidos de nuestro intento de comprender la crisis actual de la izquierda en Latinoamérica. Desafiando las perspectivas centradas en el estado que enfatizan demasiado la autonomía del estado y el papel de los líderes carismáticos, proponemos un enfoque relacional, que se centre en las interacciones entre gobiernos, movimientos populares y élites. Si bien reconocemos la importancia de las tendencias económicas y geopolíticas internacionales, nuestra preocupación específica es evaluar el equilibrio interno de fuerzas, que desde nuestra perspectiva es fundamental para mediar en fuerzas externas más amplias. Las principales conclusiones que surgen de esta colección son: primero, los gobiernos de izquierda no tuvieron éxito en socavar la influencia y el poder de las élites económicas en la sociedad de forma duradera. Segundo, las interacciones entre gobiernos y movimientos populares no condujeron al fortalecimiento de las capacidades del sector popular de una manera que pudiera contrarrestar el poder de las élites económicas y radicalizar aún más el proceso de cambio en la región. Nuestra perspectiva para el futuro apunta al surgimiento de una nueva forma de estado autoritario.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10564
How to Cite: Chiasson-LeBel, T., & Larrabure, M. (2019). Latin America’s changing balance of class forces: An Introduction. European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies, (108), 87–107. DOI: http://doi.org/10.32992/erlacs.10564
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Published on 18 Dec 2019.
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