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Liberalism at Its Limits

Liberalism at Its Limits: Crime and Terror in the Latin American Cultural Text

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    Liberalism at Its Limits
    Book Description:

    InLiberalism at Its Limits,Ileana Rodríguez considers several Latin American nations that govern under the name of liberalism yet display a shocking range of nondemocratic features. In her political, cultural, and philosophical analysis, she examines these environments in which liberalism seems to have reached its limits, as the universalizing project gives way to rampant nonstate violence, gross inequality, and neocolonialism.Focusing on Guatemala, Colombia, and Mexico, Rodríguez shows how standard liberal models fail to account for new forms of violence and exploitation, which in fact follow from specific clashes between liberal ideology and local practice. Looking at these tensions within the ostensibly well-ordered state, Rodríguez exposes how the misunderstanding and misuse of liberal principles are behind realities of political turmoil, and questions whether liberalism is in fact an ideology sufficient to empower populations and transition nation-states into democratic roles in the global order.In this way,Liberalism at Its Limitsoffers a critical examination of the forced fitting of liberal models to Latin American nations and reasserts cross-cultural communication as crucial to grasping the true link between varying systems of value and politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7353-9
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. introduction. Cross–Cultural Dialogues in a Global World
    (pp. 1-5)

    ON THE MORNING of September 11, 2001, the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed under the impact of two airplanes piloted by members of Al Qaeda, an Islamic organization. In disbelief, the whole world watched the images of these two planes that struck the U.S. security system at its real and symbolic financial heart in rapid succession—images that were transmitted relentlessly by CNN throughout that entire day and for days and years to come. Astonishment, fear, and outrage colored the most immediate reactions at home. Two simple words—terror and terrorism—covered the entire semantic field in...

    (pp. 6-41)

    AT THE CLOSE of the twentieth century, the demise of socialism and the victory of capitalism as a one-world system drove the world into a deep conservative recoil.¹ The long march toward a utopian world came to a full stop, and the drift to globalization held sway apparently uncontested. Severely shaken by its untenable identification with socialist politics, Marxism lapsed from the ideology of liberation to just another classical German philosophy, and the struggle for social justice came to be relocated at the heart of liberalism.² Socially concerned liberal scholars turned their gaze inward to seriously reconsider the tenets of...

  3. 2 Western Texts, Indigenous Histories, Feminist Readings: THE STRUGGLE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF LIBERALISM
    (pp. 42-67)

    WHEN I READ Menchú’s textRigoberta: La nieta de los Mayas, I am puzzled by two things: one is her use of categories such as public sphere and civil society; the other is the mixing of these philosophical, liberal, and juridical categories with terms likemillenarian culturesandcreencias.¹ How can an indigenous woman speak about public sphere and civil society when, I presume, these two terms have been effectively outside her realm of lived experience? And how can she mix categories of analysis as if they belonged to the same domain and made sense within it? To answer these...

  4. 3 Indigenous Creencias, Millenarian Cultures, and Counterpublic Persuasion
    (pp. 68-94)

    FEMINIST AND MULTICULTURAL texts inscribe the discussion of feminist and indigenous rights into an old and already occupied hermeneutical place. They write over the already-written script of public sphere and civil society, and by so doing feminism, at least, steps into the terrain of the prophetic. Richard Rorty’s reading of Catherine MacKinnon’s work illustrates this shift in the feminist text, which holds true for the indigenous text as well. MacKinnon states that “unless women [read also indigenous groups] fit into the logical space prepared for them by current linguistic and other practices, the law doesn’t know how to deal with...

    (pp. 95-114)

    I NOW MOVE FROM abstract liberal theories of the relationship between civil society and the state to the concrete workings of Colombian governance. This is a strategy to engage the propositions of social scientists in their efforts to come to terms with situations that bear little or no resemblance to the refined abstractions of liberalism, where the state represents the condensation of the relations of social forces, organizes the power bloc, and balances sectorial relations to construct a popular national will that displaces class struggle through the construction of a general interest and common sense. I am struck by the...

  6. 5 Constituting Subaltern Subjectivities, Disclosing Acts of Violence
    (pp. 115-152)

    SOCIAL SCIENTISTS succeeded in laying out the variables conditioning the structure of Colombian society, focusing on land and land-tenure patterns and highlighting the concept of the agrarian frontier to underscore the chaotic nature of the social and point to the inchoate form of the political. Invoking Fabio López de la Roche’s argument that the fundamentalist Christian view serves as the umbrella or atmosphere to this historical moment provides a brief but significant comment on the cultural parameters subtending this mode-of-production model. I now shift from high to subaltern forms of culture in an effort to get my readers to move...

  7. 6 Feminicidio, or the Serial Killings of Women: LABOR SHIFTS AND DISEMPOWERED SUBJECTS AT THE BORDER
    (pp. 153-174)

    FEMINICIDIOIS THE TERM used to refer to the serial killing of women.Feminicidioin Ciudad Juárez (a Mexican border city opposite El Paso, Texas) is a daunting marker of the shift from modern to postmodern forms of labor. Some of the women killed are workers at themaquilas, one of the newest forms of labor organization that high-tech, corporate capitalism has devised. Given thatfeminicidiois at the center of this postmodern border scene, the pathology of the serial killer is the most salient and facile explanation for this social trauma. However, texts on the subject indicate that the...

  8. 7 The Perverse Heterosexual
    (pp. 175-196)

    THE NUMBER OF articles, books, films, pictures, paintings, and theatrical productions concerning the women assassinated in Ciudad Juárez grows steadily.¹ This is due not only to the bemusing and menacing nature of this massive event that bewilders scholars but also to the intuition that it constitutes a symptom of overriding importance of events to come and constitutes one of the patterns of governmentality in the postmodern world. Without packing everything into a convenient catchall explanation, it can be said that evidence of this menace can be found in the murders of women in other areas of Mexico, such as Baja...

  9. epilogue. Essentially Contested Concepts and Innocent Spaces
    (pp. 197-206)

    IT IS IMPORTANT to acknowledge the contributions of Enrique Dussel, Iris Marion Young, and Achille Mbembe to the criticism of liberalism and modern reason. These three thinkers excavate the occult sites of Western philosophy, radically questioning their social integrity and viability and obstinately pointing to their flawed logic as ways of recognizing liberalism’s ethical obligation to unassimilable Otherness—Dussel in his reconsideration of modernity from its underside, Young in her all-out offensive against liberalism’s “innocent spaces” and “essentially contested concepts,” and Mbembe in his redefinition of sovereignty as necropolitics, the power to decide who lives and who dies. They are...