Social Movements and State Power

Social Movements and State Power : Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador

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The 2003 electoral victory of Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador was met with the same sense of optimism that greeted the election of Ignacio 'Lula' da Silva in Brazil, and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Gutierrez's victory was viewed as a major advance for the country in its 500 year-long struggle for freedom and democracy.

In Bolivia, Evo Morales similarly came within an electoral whisker of achieving state power in 2002, and in 2003 Nestor Kirchner became President of Argentina.

Many journalists , academics and politicians speak of a "left-turn" in Latin America, characterizing these regimes as "center -left". They came to power on the promise of delivering a fundamental change of direction that would steer their countries away from neo-liberal economic policies, and towards greater social equity. Their success awakened major hopes on the Left for a new dawn in Latin American politics.

This book challenges these assumptions. It critically examines their agreements with the IMF, their social and economic policies, and the economic ties of leading policy makers, as well as the beneficiaries and losers under these regimes.

Latin America is unique in that it has experienced two decades of popular resistance to neo-liberal policies: each of the four countries examined here has a rich history of diverse indigenous and working class movements coming together to promote radical political change.

The authors examine the political dynamics between the state and its agenda, and the strategy of mass mobilisation taken by the mass movements. They explore the intensifying conflicts between the movements and their former allies in the state.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 134 x 210 x 20mm | 381.02g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New
  • 0745324223
  • 9780745324227
  • 1,815,702

About James Petras

Dr. James Petras is Professor Emeritus in Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of numerous works on Latin America and global development, including Globaloney: el lenguaje imperial, los intelectuales y la izquierda (2000), Hegemonia dos Estados Unidos no Nova Milenio (2001) and Unmasking Globlization: Imperialism of the Twenty-first Century (2001) Henry Veltmeyer is Professor of Sociology and International Development Studies at Saint Mary's University, Nova Scotia, Canada and Adjunct Professor of Development Studies at Universidad Autonoma de Zacatecas, Mexico. He is the co-author of Social Movements and State Power (Pluto, 2005).
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Table of contents



1. Bad Government, Good Governance: Civil Society versus Social Movements

2. From Popular Rebellion to `Normal Capitalism' in Argentina

3. Lula and the Dynamics of a Neoliberal Regime

4. Social Movements and State Power in Ecuador

5. The Politics of Adjustment, Reform and Revolution in Bolivia

6. Political Power Dynamics in Latin America


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Review quote

Petras and Veltmeyer in their study of recent economic and political developments in four other South American countries considers the political and economic developments in each country in the light of the increasing prominence of the left and the extent to which challenges to the neo-liberalism of the International Monetary Fund had been successful. Using Chavez's victory in Venezuela to set the context, the American based academics review the presidencies of Kirchner in Argentina, as well as developments in Bolivia. The book assumes considerable knowledge of the contemporary economics and politics of each country. The conclusion to their analysis is that 'a radical politics of mass mobilization is an indispensable condition for advancing the struggle for social change - to bring a new world of social justice and real development based on popular power. In practice it is necessary to combine both electoral and mass revolutionary politics. -- Duncan Bowie, Chartist
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