On Neo-Latin Americanism

“Neo-Latin Americanism” is a concept I put forth, and as far as I know, I have yet to see others mentioning the same concept. Different from other researchers in China who try to understand the world, I attempted to solve the world’s problems and promote the world’s welfare supply instead. For a long time, Chinese people actually know a lot about the world, yet few provided a global voice of China. It is a pity that Chinese intellectuals, and scholars of international relations and geopolitical studies are incapable of doing this.

I first went to Latin America at the end of the last century. Since then, I am attracted to Latin America, after all the earliest practical origin of left-wing thought in the world was in Latin America, not in the Soviet Union and Russia. However, Latin America has seen its worst days, because it has always been a place to experiment different philosophies, making it an unsuccessful worldwide “thought laboratory”. It would implement whatever that is popular, yet it experiences constant failure, revolving in the cycles of left-wing to right-wing then back to left-wing again. In the end, it fails to progress, and instead it made things worse. No matter how much anger is accumulated among its people, they are helpless and can do nothing. One can’t help but wonder that Latin American countries are huge and rich in resources; the people are intelligent and they want nothing more than living their lives. Other countries in the world also have the same demands, but why do Latin American countries fail to gain substantial progress?

My answer is rather simple. As a reformist and a moderate, it is easy to think that the biggest problem for Latin American countries is that they follow too closely what is happening in the world, while seriously lacking the sense of independence. When socialism became popular, these countries, like Chile’s Salvador Allende adopted such ideology. Likewise, when capitalism became widely favored, they welcomed Milton Friedman, hence we see the like of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet. The situation in Brazil was the same, and indeed it was even more serious. After the First World War, the world needed agricultural products, and Latin American countries closely follow up such demands. Yet, the agricultural products of Latin America could not be sold and their prices became extremely low, which created an economic crisis. The post-war world needed mineral resources, and Latin America also followed this closely. Mining immediately became the pillar of Latin America’s economy. However, as long as the world economy fluctuates slightly, Latin America would be hit first, and nothing can be done to save its economy. The people could only hope to “solve” problems that cannot actually be solved at all through regime change. 

Therefore, if Latin America wants to get out of the predicament, it must be independent, not follow the trend of the world too closely, and not willingly become a mere “server” and “follower” of the world economy. To achieve the balance of Neo-Latin Americanism, balanced thinking is the intellectual assets most lacking in Latin American countries. What history has shown is very simple. The key to Latin America’s economy is serious imbalances, therefore only balancing can save Latin America. It is only through being independent that Latin America can be come truly for Latin Americans, achieving balance both internally and externally, as well as economically and socially. This is what is needed for Latin American countries to achieve global status. Of course, it is not an easy feat. Latin American countries need new leaders. This time, such leaders cannot be someone like Simón Bolívar who used the sword and guns, but rather those who can achieve enlightenment and culture in the society. Without the awakening of the grassroots societies in Latin America, no doctrines can solve the problems. Therefore, the real problem in Latin America lies in the mind and the society. Latin American intellectuals have to shoulder great responsibilities. They must first awaken and establish an independent Latin American civilization system.

Many people say that the problem in Latin America is the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the general public. This is actually an ideological explanation. It is true that there is a huge gap between the rich and the poor in Latin America; however the problem is that under the impact of the world economic trend, the bourgeoisie in Latin America does not take much advantage, and they are not the mainstream in the list of the world’s billionaires. The whole Latin American countries, from the bourgeoisie to the general public, are actually the victims of extreme tendencies, and only balanced thinking can save them. If they continue to stuck in an ideological quagmire, Latin American countries will never get out of the predicament, and instead will continue to wander between the extreme choices between left and right.

It is easy to observe how politics in left-wing Latin America shifted to the right after the first decade of this century, as in the case of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. The so-called “neoliberalism” is not new to Latin America in social practice. The Latin American economy is still sluggish and full of problems, and it is still promoting regime change. Although some Latin American countries now have internal politics that try to transcend ideological differences and the left-wing and right-wing have a sense of moving toward the center, it is definitely not that easy to achieve. When it comes to a political election, the problem will be revealed immediately. Politicians on both wings still have to promise their supporters that they will make political choices and take sides, thereby to achieve their political goals.

Latin American countries may still take time to improve the problem, but new social enlightenment must occur in Latin American countries. Latin American intellectuals must take up the mission and advocate a balanced ideological neo-Latinism. Only in this way can Latin American independence truly become the basis of mainstream social politics, and for Latin American countries to have their own voice and position in the world.

Chan Kung
Chan Kung
Founder of Anbound Think Tank in 1993, Chan Kung is now ANBOUND Chief Researcher. Chan Kung is one of China’s renowned experts in information analysis. Most of Chan Kung‘s outstanding academic research activities are in economic information analysis, particularly in the area of public policy.