There are terms which return constantly in the historiographical lexicon, which suitably describe the Latin America of the 20th century. "Populism" is one of them. Nevertheless, it's excessive and systematically pejorative use in Europe nowadays, has widely tarnished its meaning. Thus our first approach to the populism in Latin America is often influenced by our Europe-centrism, which distorts it completely.
Indeed, the "extreme west" (as Alain Rouquie like calling Latin America) is not a caricatured west, or an opposition of the European society, whose features would have been more or less forced, ending in an imperfect reproduction of the traditional Western models.
On the contrary, it has clear cut characteristics. In short, it establishes a complete system. The major stake in a study of the populism is thus the need to understand the interweaving within it, the margins of variance, and the adaptations, by being careful not to transpose European paradigms in a study concerning the Latin America.
Up to what point can we envisage populism as a global phenomenon, as a general model allowing us to explain the situation of the Latin American States, from the 1920s to the 1960s? We already see that to date populism has been a very delicate phenomenon, because all the Latin American countries did not follow a similar development. Can we assert for all that, that there is an ideal type of populism in the Weberien sense, with its causes, its appearances, or its articulations, and its effects?
In other words, does the fact that "populism" is a generic name make it lose all its relevance? In short, what do we call populism? This is probably the central question, in so far as the answer which we shall find for it will depend our understanding of the evolution of the Latin American society in the years 1920-1930.
Tags: populism in Latin America, Alain Rouquie, Jean-Pierre Lavaud
[...] Besides, everywhere in Latin America we notice a profusion of considerable social headway in this period. A examples we can evoke the introduction of the minimum wage, the contracts on the working conditions or the maximum number of hours of work. Populism answers a perpetual requirement of the masses. Thus for example Perón always claimed to be the protector of "descamisados". Through a labor code (let us discuss in particular the "Statement (Declaration) of the Rights (Laws) of the Worker" established in 1947 in Argentina), the real social pact which builds itself up within the population. [...]
[...] Indeed, the socialist doctrines laud the participation of popular masses in the political life, and thus have a considerable influence on the awareness of the masses in Latin America. In short, in the face of this plural transformation of the Latin American society in the years 1920-1930, the political practices had to change too. What we understand with Touraine, it is that it is probably more sensible not to analyze both the regimes and the populist practices. Indeed, the populism reveals itself through political and social behavior which it qualifies as "national popular but which we find at various levels, obviously at the level of the regimes, but also at the level of the parties or the labor unions. [...]
[...] Indeed, if an in-depth study of the practices and the populist behavior in Latin America reveals their authoritarian and repressive character, the popular masses on their part envisage populism as a liberator and guarantor of rights. We see a contradiction inherent to the popular national model here. On one hand it grants an essential place and grants a major opening to labor unions and on the other one it does not grant them the freedom necessary for the development of their actions. [...]
[...] He supplies very few spatiotemporal marks, to insist on the fact that populism is above all a transhistorique and trans-spatial phenomenon; a global framework in which the Latin American societies evolved for a more or less long period spreading from 1920s to 1980s. The "national popular" system leans firstly on the interdependence between the State, the political institutions and the social actors. This link between these three poles is essential. Jean-Pierre Lavaud explained the decline of populism during the 1980s by the break in the relationship in question. [...]
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