A new issue of Alternautas is now available!

A new issue of Alternautas is now available!

This fourth Alternautas issue gathers the articles published during the first half of our third year of existence. We are an academic blog focused on discussing development through critical lenses and from a Latin American perspective. During the last three years, we have published original and translated articles from young and prominent scholars from Latin America and the world, contributing not only to academic discussions, but also to create a fertile environment where non-mainstream ideas and perspectives on development can flourish.

This issue collects the articles published by the blog during the first half of 2016. Through their own perspectives and problems, all of them contribute to a collective effort to map, understand and propose alternative paths to our contemporary scenario. While the first section is dedicated to alternative development thinking in a broader sense, the second section features the first dossier that Alternautas has organized. Our guest editor, Gerardo Muñoz, curated an insightful collection of essays and interviews focused on the current crisis of the progressive governments of Latin America.

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Pyrrhic Victories: The Fall and Rise of the Left Turns

Pyrrhic Victories: The Fall and Rise of the Left Turns

By Jon Beasley-Murray

 

All victories are Pyrrhic, to a greater or lesser extent. That is, no victory is ever complete; victors always have to concede something to the vanquished. At the very least, for instance, those who emerge victorious from a political (or other) struggle either depend upon or, worse still, have to make do without the recognition on the part of the vanquished that they have indeed won. Either, that is, the losing side sign, metaphorically or otherwise, the equivalent of some kind of document of surrender, in which case they have retained the power to determine that the struggle is indeed at an end. And this retained power forces an acknowledgement, on the part of the winners, that their victory cannot be total even if the surrender is unconditional. Or, worse still, the losers do not sign such a document, either because they refuse to acknowledge defeat or because they will not or cannot acknowledge the victors and the legitimacy of their victory. In which case, symbolically and perhaps not just symbolically, the struggle continues and victory remains elusive for the victors.

 

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ALLENDE, EVO, OVER

ALLENDE, EVO, OVER

A poem by Andrés Ajens

Translated by Michelle Gil-Montero

 

near the ekeko of alasitas, lord
of wands, beyond, more-
over the indio, false or ver-
ified, in the words of silvia rivera,
nobody voices over you, falsely    
or de-votedly, d evoted, evo,
you’ll never have been, above
a miner, pastor, cocalero,
so-called president. But
whenever we evo-
ke the indio, fishy or seal-
ed in gold, an Andean metaphysics
flaps its fins; “An-
dean metaphysics”: not
a turn of phrase by jesús or silvia
or the vice president or saenz but

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The Democratic Horizon of Emancipation: Interview with Maristella Svampa on the Crisis of the Progressive Cycle in Latin America

The Democratic Horizon of Emancipation: Interview with Maristella Svampa on the Crisis of the Progressive Cycle in Latin America

BY GERARDO MUÑOZ

TRANSLATED BY ANNE FREELAND

Maristella Svampa is a sociologist and researcher at CONICET (National Technical and Scientific Research Council) at the University of La Plata. She is the author of a dozen books that have had a significant impact on the academic and public discussion of regional politics, social movements, and the function of the state in Latin America. Among her most recent books are Fifteen Myths and Realities of Transnational Mining in Argentina (Colectivo Ediciones Herramientas, 2011), Maldevelopment: Extractivism and Plunder in Argentina (co-written with Enrique Viale, Katz, 2014), and Latin American Debates: Indianism, Development, Dependency, and Populism (Edhasa, 2016). Over the course of the decade, Svampa’s critical work has constituted a sustained effort to understand the progressive actors of the region, as well as an inquiry into the geopolitical configuration at the intersection of state form and transnational capital.

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On the Imaginaries of Crisis

On the Imaginaries of Crisis

BOOK REVIEW

BY MICHELA RUSSO

Imagen e intemperie: las tribulaciones del arte en los tiempos del mercado total [1] is a collection of five essays and an interview, written during the past ten years by Ticio Escobar, one of the most distinguished figures of the contemporary cultural, and political, panorama in Latin America on the question of art and representation [2].  Perhaps the most influential art critic in Paraguay, as well as a philosopher, lawyer, and former Minister of Culture during Fernando Lugo’s presidency (2008-2012), Ticio Escobar has been an attentive reader of different artistic practices at both the local and global levels for decades, confronting questions posed by indigenous and popular art, crossed with a form of critique of mercantile-capitalist discourse. Among Escobar’s previous publications, we should mention Una interpretación de las artes visuales en el Paraguay (1982)where Escobar began delineating, in the light of the Enlightenment definition of art, the question posed by different forms of popular production, whose imageries have been so vividly present within the cultural texture of the region. El mito del arte y el mito del Pueblo: cuestiones sobre arte popular (1986), written during Alfredo Stroessner’s dictatorship (1954–1989), pivots on the analysis of the concept of “popular,” and finally, La belleza de los otros (1993) engages with the notion of otherness.

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Liberation through Consumption: Six Hypotheses on the Passage from Exclusive Neoliberalism to the New Runfla Capitalism

Liberation through Consumption: Six Hypotheses on the Passage from Exclusive Neoliberalism to the New Runfla Capitalism

BY DIEGO VALERIANO

TRANSLATED BY GERARDO MUÑOZ

Throughout this last decade and a half, and in parallel to the general crisis of global capitalism, a wide popular urban sector of the periphery (from Argentina but also from elsewhere) sought a favorable cycle that included themselves in consumption. One could think of this new access to wealth as a process of liberation (unlike the orthodox critique that interprets it as alienation), with the caveat of amplifying the very notion of “liberation”.

With the increase of consumption there are new modes of sensing, desiring, thinking, socializing; but also other ways of being, loving, enjoying, and dying that have been radically altered. New possibilities emerge and the traditional knowledge of governing populations radically breaks down. Far from pointing to a decline in the old forms of social organization, collective action opens a new gap in a time that is unprecedented and incalculable. 

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The End of the Progressive Narrative in Latin America

The End of the Progressive Narrative in Latin America

BY SALVADOR SCHAVELZON

Are we witnessing the end of the progressive governments’ cycle in Latin America? This question seems to come up after every electoral defeat or disappear whenever there is a victory. After more than a decade of continuous political successes in Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, as well as other Central Americas countries, 2015 was the year that signaled adverse results and a drop in electoral support began. Without diminishing the importance of elections, whence the progressive governments derived their legitimacy, it is the time to evaluate the vitality of the political projects away from the narratives that constituted them in their peak moment.  Beyond the polls, there looms an undetermined time of change. Due exhaustion of the model and to the internal transformation of the progressive, plurinational or Bolivarian political narrative (electoral defeats), we find a political language that was able to inscribe a new political time in Latin America, which comes to an halt with leaders involved in charges of corruption and as well as accompanied by the lowest indexes of popular support.

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The Chilean Case and the Latin American Pink Tide: Between Democracy and Developmentalism

The Chilean Case and the Latin American Pink Tide:  Between Democracy and Developmentalism

BY SERGIO VILLALOBOS-RUMINOTT

TRANSLATED BY GERARDO MUÑOZ

The so called Marea Rosada (Pink Tide) specifically refers to the turn that several Latin American governments took by the end of the 90s, in favor of public and social agendas that opposed the neoliberal order that characterized the region in the previous decades. These new agendas also broke away from the age-old ideal of revolutionary partisanship, pursuing a critique of neoliberalism that was not reducible to a radical (impossible) delinking still embedded in the logic of accumulation. The new political agenda brought to the fore by the governments of the Marea Rosada without opposing neoliberalism tried to radically modify its logic and produce a more humane economy. In spite of the anti-imperialist and nationalist rhetoric that have flourished in the regional Left, it is also true that for cases such as the Chilean and the Brazilian ones the scene is dominated by a type of government that seeks to correct unjust income distribution while maintaining a disciplined fiscal budget as to facilitate its entry into international markets.

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Can the Latin American Progressive Governments Outlive Their Success?

Can the Latin American Progressive Governments Outlive Their Success?

BY BRUNO CAVA

TRANSLATED BY GERARDO MUÑOZ

Surrounded by an overwhelming support from the popular classes and the nationalist left; Chavez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, Correa in Ecuador, the Kirchners in Argentina, and Lula in Brazil confronted openly the elites, the press monopolies, the right-wing destituent force, and in doing so, detached themselves from the governmentality that intensified inequality and poverty in the neoliberal 1990s. The year 2015 was the annus horribilis of the Latin American progressive cycle. This was the year in which governments were defeated on their own terms, that is, through massive electoral participation that included the poor popular sectors. It is in this context that the discourse on the exhaustion of the progressive cycle begins to take shape. At the same time, understanding it as a narrative of “closure” is insufficient and full of traps, since it seems to point to a defeat of what previously was a golden age of progressive usurpation of power. This article explores the narratives associated with this process and the ambiguous results that are now emerging. 

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The Exhaustion of the Progressive Political Cycle in Latin America and Posthegemonic Reflection

The Exhaustion of the Progressive Political Cycle in Latin America and Posthegemonic Reflection

BY GERARDO MUÑOZ

More than a decade since the eruption of the “progressive cycle” of Latin American governments, a question has become inevitable after the recent presidential elections in Argentina: what is left of the Latin American Left? Is it still possible to isolate divergent tendencies in the Latin American progressive wave at the current moment of generalized international financial domination? Does the question of the ‘exhaustion’ of the progressive cycle not open a gap that invites us to think beyond the popular distinction of the “two Lefts”, proposed by Jorge Castañeda (2006), that strategically separated a “good democratic left” committed to liberalism and the market from an “authoritarian” one, heir to populist and caudillo legacies of the Latin American political tradition?

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INTRODUCTION | Beyond Identity and the State: The Crisis of the Latin American Progressive Cycle

INTRODUCTION | Beyond Identity and the State: The Crisis of the Latin American Progressive Cycle

BY GERARDO MUÑOZ

In this introduction, Gerardo Muñoz discusses the question underpinning this dossier, as we seem to witness the crisis of the Latin American progressive cycle. The contributions collected are varied in style and argumentation, as well as in the case studies discussed. Yet, they are not meant to be read as comprehensive reflections on the region throughout these years. Instead, each of the contributions essentially should be read as evoking a paradigm that allows us to rethink a problem or a series of problems that traverse different key sites. These are also conjectural texts, but to the extent that they seek to think through central issues of Latin America politics, they also exceed the established temporal parameters fixed by the ‘untimely present’ or the ‘actual movement’ of contemporaneity. There is a tension throughout across the articles that point to different ways of understanding the ‘crisis’ (which is fundamentally the crisis or krenein of thought, that is, of judgment).

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