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Minutes of reading: The ruling left in Latin America, The left in power in Latin America, 2007, L’Harmattan, 278p. Contreras Osorio (Coord.)


book reading report in Cahiers des Americas Latines, 2006/1-2, issue 51-52, pp. 247-249, pp. — ‘The emancipation of Latin America depends on a reconstruction of the institutional space which places the State (not in its administrative but ethical and political) as a regulatory and development agent’; ‘the overall distinction between the good or bad left seems to be the mere consequence of a deposit that serves North American policy’; or, setting out the principles of Huntington or Hayek: “in order to successfully depoliticise social needs, they must therefore be transferred from the state to the market. The instrument to achieve this is the separation of politics from the economy and, consequently, from social. Thus, by losing its ability to intervene in the economy, politics becomes a self-centric functional system. [...] Ultimately, the concept of governability which was intended to be established in Latin America during the 1990s sought to make all social relationships subject to market principles, eliminating any conflict between conflicting material interests, that is to say by abolishing policy’; “it is no coincidence that populism has always been one of the preferred targets of status quo defenders, since what they fear most is the politicisation of social demands. Their ideal would be a public sphere entirely dominated by technocracy.” This tribute to Alain Touraine breeds an alternative air on the analyses agreed — from the West at least — of contemporary political trends in Latin America. The authors stress the fall of the right/left name to distinguish the tendencies of government in power in Latin America, and the — almost — necessary name “Republican left”/“Left” (understand good and bad), we can be replaced by more transversal qualifications such as “progressive left”, the limits of which are not those that we believe, or tried to build, from Western liberal democracies. The book is carried out in two parts. The first refers to the factors leading to the current political situations involving the rise of the leftovers in Latin America, the second presents a more monographic perspective per country or region. Looking at the factors underlying the contemporary situations of the Left in Latin America, we finally convince ourselves of the ineffectiveness of categories such as ‘social democracy’, ‘left of government’, ‘(neo) populism’... as they are all too often interviewed in a normalised discourse which ultimately leaves little room for analysis or criticism. It is an invitation to think that we are proposing this meeting of articles.

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