Cover Puerto Rico en el mundo

Cover Puerto Rico en el mundo

In the last centuries, Latin American thought has been fundamentally structured on the polarity of modernization and identity.

From the mid 19th century on, diverse groups of Latin American thinkers have opted for mod­ernizing or identitarian proposi­tions. In every historical period specificity has been attributed to each one of these two options. This means that the vision of modernity has changed, mod­eled in accordance to specific questions that seem to go to the forefront of progress, and have technology and the use of cer­tain languages as symbols. The same happens with the focus on identity. The pre-eminence of one has meant the weakening, though never the disappearance, of the other. Latin American thought is played in the context of this polarity and in the search for a reconciliation of both.

Table of modernization

Table of modernization

At the beginning of the 20th century, a new wave of iden­titarianism crystallized in the works of José E. Rodó. Arielismo, a term of cultural recovery, had important expressions in Uru­guay, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, and Argentina. It flour­ished as a nationalist movement that converged with the original arielismo of Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.

After the First World War, this identitarian desire became more social in content, and was centered on class struggles and on indigenous cultures. It is at this time when indigenous cultures flourish, including the Afro-American variety. After the Great Depression of 1929, the emphasis on protecting the au­tonomy of the economies marks a new form of identity where the cultural and social aspects join a new concept of economic identity. Since the late 1930s, and mainly in 1940s and 1950s, modernization is accentuated again by the CEPAL (ECLA) -Economic Commission for Latin America- in English), when it proposes an industrialization project for Latin America.

Cepalism and industrialist ideas begin to weaken during the 1960s, opening the way for a new and brief identitarian wave. This tendency reaches a strong impulse after the Cuban Revolution. The social sciences privilege the concept of “de­pendence.” Its main exponents are Fernando H. Cardoso, the libertarian educator Paulo Freire, Gustavo Gutiérrez with his theology of liberation, the Cuyo School with its philoso­phy of neo-liberal liberation, and Leopold Zea with his Latin Americanism. By the 1970s, the neo-liberal modernist op­tion came back strong with a new modernization project.

Examples of this tendency are Chile”s Fernando Monckeberg and José Piñera, Peru”s Mario Vargas Llosa and Hernando de Soto, Venezuela”s Carlos Rangel, and the political writings of Oc­tavio Paz. At the end of the 20th century, cultural studies pro­grams made an appearance in opposition to neo-liberalism as a system. Once again it incor­porated the indentitarian sen­sibility. Notable in this school of thought are Néstor García Canclini, Jesus Martin-Barbero, Beatriz Sarlo, and Hugo Achurar, among others.

More elaborate options have been ignored on too many occasions. On other occasions quality and honesty has been sacrificed. These seem obvious or unneces­sary, but they are the founda­tions of any major ideological construction. The perversion of seeking democracy by means of corruption and economic de­velopment, without respecting the need of quality standards of ethical norms is an absurdity.

In Latin America, tensions due to this dilemma should not lead us to forget that carrying out one”s own choice, if it be the best choice, should be based on work of greater quality and honesty. These make us all better Latin Americans and better human beings. The importance of qual­ity and honesty, which are two faces of the same coin, should be a consensual common task in a continent that is at a standstill precisely because it has not as­sumed them in the past.
Eduardo Devés-Valdés
Historian, Investigator and Profesor
Advanced Studies Institute
University of Santiago de Chile



Author: Proyectos FPH
Published: September 27, 2010.

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