With the legitimacy crisis of neoliberal development in Latin America as a key contemporary feature and ‘postneoliberalism’ gaining traction in the region, this eleventh contribution to the Thesis Pieces series, by Philip Roberts, turns attention to one of the latest and most prominent attempts to theorise the continental history of Latin America. How can we place Latin America within the history of capitalist modernity, struggles for hegemony, and social counter-movements within the twenty-first century?
It was once common to assert that poorer countries could read their futures in the development of early-industrialising nations. Growth, wealth and prosperity were a continuum on which all states rested. Adoption of responsible national-level policies would bring Latin America, for instance, into line with forms of state and economy seen in Europe and the USA. However, since the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, developing zones increasingly define the future of the global economy, whilst the West appears backward-looking and insular. Lacking a viable alternative, Europe and the United States seem condemned to a continuation of neoliberalism, according to the insights of figures such as Philip Mirowski or Colin Crouch, whilst Latin America in particular embarks on post-neoliberal political-economic projects. The prior framework is thus set upon its head, as the past of Latin America may indicate the future of the West, and analysis of the future of the global economy must emerge within rising nations rather than outside them.