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The Soul of Latin America

The Soul of Latin America: The Cultural and Political Tradition

Copyright Date: 2001
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 432
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  • Book Info
    The Soul of Latin America
    Book Description:

    To understand Latin America's political culture, and to understand why it differs so greatly from that of the United States, one must look beyond the political history of the region, Howard J. Wiarda explains in this comprehensive book. A highly respected expert on Latin American politics, Wiarda explores a sweeping array of Iberian and Latin American social, economic, institutional, cultural, and religious factors from ancient times to the twentieth century. He illuminates the distinctive political attitudes and traditions of Latin America as well as the unique-and not widely understood-features of present-day Latin American models of democracy.While Ibero-American and Western liberal traditions draw from the same classical thinkers, they often emphasize different ideas and reach different conclusions, Wiarda contends. He traces the influences of Rome, Islam, medieval Christianity, the Reconquest, and Iberian feudalism, and the powerful but largely unacknowledged effects of the Counter-Reformation on Iberian and Latin American civilizations. The author concludes with a discussion of recent changes in political culture and an assessment of the strength of democracy's hold in the nations of Latin America.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14225-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Chapter 1 Foundations of Contrast: The United States and Latin America
    (pp. 1-18)

    It has long been taken for granted that there are many and diverse routes to national modernization. During the Cold War, commentators classified countries in terms of “three worlds of development”: a First World of developed, capitalist, pluralist countries centered in North America and Western Europe; a Second World of developed communist states centered in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe; and a Third World of emerging or developing nations located mostly in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.¹

    Within the Third World category, furthermore, additional differentiations were drawn. Some were designated Newly Industrial Countries (NICS), others were...

  5. Chapter 2 Origins: Greece, Rome, the Bible, and Medieval Christianity
    (pp. 19-49)

    Iberian and Latin American culture and civilization go back a long way. The weight of a long and often oppressive history hangs heavily over the area. Hispania is, like India, China, Egypt, Persia, and others, an old civilization and culture whose origins are often shrouded in the mists of early time.¹ One does not easily or quickly overcome or supersede a long history and culture and replace it with “modernization”; neither do those who live in Iberia and Latin America always or necessarily think that is inevitable or desirable. Indeed the question of whether to try to overcome the past,...

  6. Chapter 3 Medieval Iberia: The Distinct Tradition
    (pp. 50-75)

    Medieval Spain and Portugal had a history unlike that of any other country in western Europe. First, the Moorish invasion and occupation, beginning in 712 and lasting for more than seven centuries, gave Spain a flavor, an art and architecture, and a set of behavioral traits and institutions that cast it as different from any other Western country. Then came the Reconquest of the peninsula from the Moors, beginning in 722 and itself lasting for seven centuries, arguably an even stronger influence on later Spanish institutions than the Moorish conquest itself.

    For it was out of the Reconquest that the...

  7. Chapter 4 Spain and Portugal in America: The Colonial Heritage
    (pp. 76-111)

    The Christian Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors brought Spain and Portugal tardily back into the orbit of prevailing west European culture and civilization. They were no longer Moorish and [North] African but Christian and, therefore, Western. But in their haste to be restored to the Western, Christian world, Spain and Portugal may have, to borrow a Freudian term, overcompensated: for in the course of the later Reconquest and under Isabella, Ferdinand, and the Hapsburgs, they resurrected and then strengthened medieval and feudal institutions that they identified with Western Christianity but that were already beginning to fade elsewhere...

  8. Chapter 5 Liberalism and the Latin American Independence Movements
    (pp. 112-144)

    The discovery and colonization of Latin America continued and extended the Reconquest of the Iberian peninsula from the Moors. As noted in the previous chapter, the year 1492 marked not a sharp break with the past but a point of continuity. Essentially, feudal and medieval institutions, which because of the conflict and upheaval associated with the Reconquest were tardy in growing in Spain and Portugal, flowered in the Iberian late Middle Ages and now were carried over by the two mother countries to their colonies in the New World. There, protected by the powerful forces of the Counter-Reformation—the Church,...

  9. Chapter 6 Positivism: A Philosophy of Order and Progress
    (pp. 145-174)

    By the middle of the nineteenth century, some of the most pressing disputes associated with new nationhood in Latin America had been largely resolved. These included the issues of determining boundaries, recognition, and sovereignty for the new states; the relations between central and local or regional authority; and the church–state issue under which the Roman Catholic Church was gradually and at least formally separated from official roles. By this time, in addition, the several processes of disintegration—social, economic, political—that had set in after independence had been halted; the first generation of strong-arm men-on-horseback (Rosas, Santa Anna) had...

  10. Chapter 7 Nationalism
    (pp. 175-211)

    During most of the nineteenth century, the United States was generally admired in Latin America. The young North American republic was admired, first of all, for its political accomplishments in establishing and securing freedom and liberty and, second, as the nineteenth century evolved, for its economic accomplishments of wealth and industrialization. In the 1830s and 1840s, of course, the War of Texas independence and then the Mexican-American War had been fought, and their combined effect was to deprive Mexico of approximately 40 percent of its national territory; and there were other early gleanings, even prior to the American Civil War,...

  11. Chapter 8 Marxism
    (pp. 212-245)

    Marxism came to Latin America late in the nineteenth century in conjunction with the first stages of industrialization and the rise of a nascent trade union movement.¹ Like so many of the ideologies surveyed here, Marxism was imported, a transplant from Europe. What appeal, strength, and influence did Marxism have? to what degree was it adapted to Latin American realities, as, to varying degrees, other imports like liberalism and positivism were in the nineteenth century? and, third, was Marxism’s relative lack of success in Latin America due in part to the unwillingness or inability of its advocates to adapt the...

  12. Chapter 9 Corporatism
    (pp. 246-280)

    The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were particularly fertile times for the growth of new ideologies. Marxism, anarchism, syndicalism, anarcho-syndicalism, socialism, and social democracy all have their origins in this period. So does modern liberalism, stemming from J. S. Mill and T. H. Green. To this list must now be added corporatism. Corporatism, like positivism, is one of those ideologies that is all but unknown in the United States but had an extremely powerful impact on both Europe and Latin America.¹

    The main reason for the emergence of so many new ideologies during this period is industrialization and its...

  13. Chapter 10 The Conflict Society, 1930s–1980s
    (pp. 281-308)

    To this point–that is, until roughly the 1930s–Latin American history and the Latin American political and ideological tradition had shown some remarkable continuities. Born of feudal, medieval, Thomistic, and neoscholastic Spain and Portugal, Latin America was a creature of and echoed the political culture and institutions of the two mother countries. Indeed, because of the added influence of the indigenous institutions and practices that were remarkably parallel to those of Iberia—corporatist, authoritarian, integral, hierarchical, theocratic—it could be said that Latin America was even more feudal and its medievalism more deeply entrenched than in Spain and Portugal...

  14. Chapter 11 Transitions to Democracy—or Something Less Than That?
    (pp. 309-343)

    Over the past two decades, Latin America has become an area of celebration instead of the usual derision. It is said that Latin America has finally gotten its act together, both politically and economically. An area that used to be the subject of cruelNew Yorkercartoons for its supposed comic-opera politics, that U.S. politicians would regularly and ignorantly demean, and that theNew York Times,on its maps, found confusing—once mixing up Brazil and Bolivia—is now being praised because nineteen of its twenty republics are “democratic.” Not only is Latin America, according to the popular wisdom, becoming...

  15. Chapter 12 Which Way Latin America?
    (pp. 344-358)

    The political theory and political tradition of Latin America, both reflecting and themselves influencing the class structure, the economy, and the political system, are very different from those of the United States. In this book we have traced, explained, and analyzed the origins and development of this theory and tradition, and explored its contemporary implications. The treatment here considers the theory and tradition of Latin America as both independent and dependent variable, both an important cause of Latin America’s particular developmental patternanda reflection of its underlying social, class, and institutional structures, with both of these mutually supporting each...

  16. Notes
    (pp. 359-390)
  17. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 391-410)
  18. Index
    (pp. 411-417)