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Transformations and Crisis of Liberalism in Argentina, 1930–1955

Transformations and Crisis of Liberalism in Argentina, 1930–1955

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    Transformations and Crisis of Liberalism in Argentina, 1930–1955
    Book Description:

    In this original study, Jorge A. Nállim chronicles the decline of liberalism in Argentina during the volatile period between two military coups-the 1930 overthrow ofHipólito Yrigoyen and the deposing of Juan Perón in 1955. While historians have primarily focused on liberalism in economic or political contexts, Nállim instead documents a wide range of locations where liberalism was claimed and ultimately marginalized in the pursuit of individual agendas.Nállim shows how concepts of liberalism were espoused by various groups who "invented traditions" to legitimatize their methods of political, religious, class, intellectual, or cultural hegemony. In these deeply fractured and corrupt processes, liberalism lost political favor and alienated the public. These events also set the table for Peronism and stifled the future of progressive liberalism in Argentina.Nállim describes the main political parties of the period and deconstructs their liberal discourses. He also examines major cultural institutions and shows how each attached liberalism to their cause.Nállim compares and contrasts the events in Argentina to those in other Latin American nations and reveals their links to international developments. While critics have positioned the rhetoric of liberalism during this period as one of decadence or irrelevance, Nállim instead shows it to be a vital and complex factor in the metamorphosis of modern history in Argentina and Latin America as well.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7800-8
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-9)

    In the early 1990s historians and social scientists began applying new theoretical approaches for understanding the meaning and contents of liberalism in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Latin America. Previous interpretations had emphasized liberalism as a hegemonic construction imposed by socioeconomic and political elites in the second half of the nineteenth century, a process that, along with the associated consolidation of nation-states and export economies, negatively affected the lower classes. The new studies, however, focused on popular liberalism, on the active participation of lower classes in state building at local, regional, and national levels, showing how the poorer segments appropriated and reinterpreted...

  2. 1 The Liberal Hegemony: ARGENTINE LIBERAL TRADITION(S), 1820s–1930
    (pp. 10-34)

    In October 1931 the national committee of the Radical Party made a dramatic decision. General José Uriburu’s provisional government (1930–1932) had called national elections in order to return to the constitutional regime that Uriburu himself had helped to break by presiding over the coup of September 6, 1930, against the Radical administration of Hipólito Yrigoyen. To prevent the Radicals from winning the elections and returning to power, however, Uriburu vetoed the Radical ticket, headed by the former president Marcelo T. de Alvear. The Radicals’ national committee in turn decreed the party’s electoral abstention and issued a manifesto to explain...

  3. 2 Between Dictatorship and Limited Democracy: LIBERALISM AND POLITICS, 1930–1938
    (pp. 35-66)

    The military coup of September 1930 opened a new context in which the crisis of liberal democracy and ideology in Argentina and elsewhere in the world generated energetic debates about their validity. Ideological and political positions in debates from the previous decade now hardened following new developments. First, the breakdown of democracy at this point not only gave the army increasing importance but also, down the road, produced an unstable and limited democratic system that would eventually collapse in 1943. Second, as the world moved toward the new war, certain European developments and conflicts, including the rise of fascism and...

  4. 3 For Freedom and against Totalitarianism: LIBERALISM AND THE POLITICIZATION OF INTELLECTUAL CIRCLES IN THE 1930s
    (pp. 67-85)

    Political parties were not the only ones to recover liberalism in the 1930s. As was noted in the previous chapters, relevant intellectuals—such as Lugones, Ibarguren, Gálvez, and those associated withLa Nueva RepúblicaandCriterio—played a major role in the emergence and development of antiliberalism in the 1920s and 1930s. They did not go unchallenged, though, and other intellectual circles voiced a strong defense of liberalism. This was the case of the literary magazineSurand the Colegio Libre de Estudios Superiores (CLES), founded in 1930–1931. Also, since writers specifically contributed to the antiliberal critique, their professional...

  5. 4 Between Free Trade and Economic Dictatorship: THE POLITICS OF ECONOMIC LIBERALISM IN THE 1930s
    (pp. 86-104)

    Debates on liberalism during the 1930s were not restricted to politics and culture; because of the new context facing Argentina after 1929, they encompassed economics, too. The global financial crisis of 1929 severely affected the country’s export economy, and in the 1930s Argentina carried out an unprecedented process of state economic intervention, creating various mechanisms and institutions to do so. Discussions generated by these processes were additionally fueled by the political context of the 1930s, for state interventionism was implemented first by a military regime with strong antiliberal positions and, after 1932, by a government whose legitimacy was questioned because...

  6. 5 From Antifascism to Anti-Peronism: THE APOGEE AND CRISIS OF LIBERALISM IN POLITICS AND CULTURE, 1938–1946
    (pp. 105-133)

    In 1938–1946 the political and intellectual groups that had claimed liberalism during the Uriburu and Justo administrations experienced significant developments. First, the contradictions of the restricted democratic restoration initiated in 1932 finally ended in the military coup of June 1943, the military regime of 1943–1946, and the rise of Juan Perón and his victory in the elections of February 1946. Besides, World War II affected national politics and ideological struggles profoundly. In this environment, while the tensions and divisions within the Concordancia proved the ultimate crisis of conservative liberalism, the progressive and antifascist liberal stream that had influenced...

  7. 6 Economic Liberalism, State Intervention, and Social Justice: BETWEEN THE CRISIS OF THE CONCORDANCIA AND THE RISE OF PERONISM, 1938–1946
    (pp. 134-152)

    The debates around economic liberalism that characterized the early 1930s continued in 1938–1946, now fueled by particular economic and political circumstances. Much as the Great Depression had done, World War II disrupted the national economy while strengthening trends toward state intervention and industrialization that were reconfiguring Argentine society and giving more prominence to a mobilized working class. Paying specific attention to the policies and debates on economic liberalism until 1943 helps show how the antifascist liberal groups engaged in tactics consistent with their past and with their own tensions and divisions. On the one hand, they criticized Castillo’s economic...

  8. 7 In the Shadow of Peronism: MARGINALIZATION, CONTINUITIES, AND CHANGES, 1946–1955
    (pp. 153-187)

    Perón’s victory in the elections of February 1946 constituted a signal event not only for twentieth-century Argentine history, which it changed dramatically, but also for the history of liberalism in Argentina. The different political and intellectual groups that had used liberalism to demonize Perón in 1944–1945 now faced a new context in which both their mobilizing capacities and their discursive appeal were severely limited under restrictions imposed by an increasingly centralized regime and, more important, by the masses’ choice for their new leader and movement. Peronism was certainly not the totalitarian creature that anti-Peronist groups depicted it to be,...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 188-196)

    By the end of Perón’s rule, in 1955, liberalism had completed its trajectory. No longer Argentina’s hegemonic ideology, a status it had enjoyed since the nineteenth century, it now occupied a far more marginal location. This trajectory, though, was not preordained, and liberalism, though less important than it had been, did not become immediately or completely irrelevant. Facing national and international ideological crises, different political and intellectual groups still appealed to liberalism in 1930–1955 in relation to political, economic, and cultural developments. In doing so, each group, from Conservatives to Socialists and the writers and editors involved withSur,...