NACLA Reports

Julio Pino jpino at
Thu May 18 12:17:47 MDT 2000

   NACLA's dodging on Latin American issues is part of a broader trend
among Latinamericanists(historians, sociologists, anthropologists,
political scientists, et al) in the USA to elide class analysis and the
need for revolution.
   Rather than speak of the working class or (gasp)the proletariat we now
have "subaltern studies." Yes, the term is borrowed from Gramsci but not
the politics behind it---the need to confront the ruling class on all
fronts. Historians of the colonial period now refer to the Spanish and
Portuguese conquests as a "process" rather than an act, ie an act of
violence where one civilization imposed its political will on
another.Political scientists, having lost the faih in revolution, have
become enamored of "social movements" and NGOs, which are at best
appendages of the bourgeois state.
  Above all, The term "capitalism" has all but disappeared from analyses of
the political economy of the region. Case in point: the current issue of
NACLA is devoted to peasant struggles in Latin America.The lead article is
composed of an excerpt from "Peasants Against Globalization : Rural Social
Movements in Costa Rica" by Marc Edelman.(Stanford University Press; what
do you think the chances are Stanford would publish a book entitled
"Peasants Against Capitalism"?).Edelman condemns both the "modernizers"(not
identified by class) and the "orthodox Marxists" (not identified by
name)who predicted peasant struggles would vanish by the end of the
century.He hails the "maturity" of peasants in Costa Rica, Ecuador and
Mexico who rather than confront the state, have chose to bypass it by
working with NGOs, international agencies, and spreading their message
through the internet.
   Another sign of which way the political wind is blowing in Latin
American studies: the near disappearence of Cuba from the radar screen.The
recent "boom" in Cuba studies in the USA represents, in an ironic and
twisted way, the political irrelevance of the Cuban Revolution to
contemporary latinamericanists. Studies  of XX century Cuban politics and
race relations published here always contain a disclaimer that the
historian/sociologist/political scientist in question has no particular
position on the Revolution, in other words that it's possible to write
non-politically about a political event.NACLA too has wobbled on Cuba in
the last ten years; their coverage having the tone of "isn't it about time
Fidel caught up with what's happening in the rest of the world?"
   I have a friend and fellow historian who once told me that "we need a
revolution every twenty years or so" for people to get interested in Latin
america again, no matter what their politics. Well,set you calendar to 1979
and start counting...
Julio Cesar
At 05:36 PM 5/17/00 -0700, you wrote:
>As for our critique of NACLA, I must, as I say, catch up.
>Until I do I allow my doubts were raised.
>That said, I must admit that I do not read everything in NACLA
>Reports. But I have seen some good stuff.

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