Re: SOC: The Challenge of "The Second World"

From: Carlos Gonzalia (
Date: Wed Mar 14 2001 - 18:11:03 MST

>Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2001 07:05:58 -0600
>From: "Greg Burch" <>
>[...] As an example, I have seen many instances of what Europeans
>and “Anglospherians” would call “corruption” at every level of second world
>societies, especially in the realm of private business, that usually isn’t
>addressed by institutional reformers.

In Argentina, it's almost impossible to influence corruption on the private
sector, due to the state control agencies having been emptied of all powers
by the corrupt ruling elites and monopolistic businessmen. As an example of
this, right now there is quite a ruckus due to how all top authorities in our
Central Bank (state owned, and keeper of monetary reserves) have been exposed
as having engaged in HUGE amounts of money laundry after co-opting many
of the local capitalists and businessmen. Even IBM is involved...

>Of course, the higher stress placed on personal relationships in the societies
>in question can ultimately be seen as so fundamental to their character
>that making this kind of change might be seen as a kind of “cultural suicide.
>If so, it may be a question of choosing the manner that those cultures
>will be extinguished.

IMHO, another nasty factor is that you should expect a LOT of violence as a
result of the change attempts. Unions on strike in my country are well-known
for how easy they engage in violent activity, in part to answer the usually
uncalled VERY violent repression of strikes and protests from our security
forces. Our security forces are deeply stuck into fascist, corporativist ideas.
Many of the commanding officers have dark pasts in the "dirty war" during the
last military dictatorship, and any attempt to bring them to justice for their
atrocities is met with violence. As people see these corrupt genocides
are not only free, but prospering and even in the blessing of businessmen
and politicians, any law enforcement credibility just vanishes. For us,
the extinguishing the bad culture may very well plunge what remains of
societal relations into another version of Colombia or one of the many
African hell places. Even if you succeed, expecting to do it without the loss
of many lives due to institutional and inorganic violence is utterly naive.

>In this regard, I have often noted that one can look at the superficial
>institutions in the societies in question and see a complete and elaborate
>legal system – ON PAPER.

Indeed. That is pretty much the whole extent of our judicial system. Most of
the judge positions are vacant, courts ridiculously understaffed, and
material facilities for processing the trials and their immense paperwork
have simply collapsed. The government is unable to fund the judicial system
at all. It is nowadays VERY rare for a trial to get solved
at all, or for evidence and proper process to being handled beyond the most
basic ways. On top of it, much of our judiciary is as corrupt as the rest
of the picture, and anyone expecting a just treatment when faced with an
issue within the elites' private garden is utterly naive.

> It was a real heartbreak to hear his words, because they cast a bright
>light on the fact that there is no really new thinking going on.

Admittedly, intelectuals in Latin America are still much stuck into the
old "third world revolutionary discourse" ways. Blaming them in exclusive for
this is unfair, though. A big reason they see this kind of discourse as
still valid is how the hardcore sectors of the ruling elites still resort
to the opposite discourse of thinly-veiled aristocratic/fascist, deeply
conservative-catholical, right-wing, antinational nonsense. Heck, people
have elected well-known genocides as governors or congressmen, lured by this
kind of reactionary discourse. One can only imagine how that must have looked
as a confirmation of the validity of revolutionary discourse for the

>[...] One thing that won’t
>work is simple, “top-down” institutional reform. Instead, what is required
>is a broad-based and deep impetus to honest self-assessment. How this can
>be fostered is the real challenge.

I think as long as our educational system keeps working in such a ruinous way
as of now (only 1 in 5 young people finish high-school these days), the current
social consensus and generalized ignorance will keep the stagnation going on.
Skilled individuals need to assume a personal compromise with salvaging
education, as no governmental or private sector attempts to change things
should be expected. As I said, I plan to compromise myself in such a way. I'm
worried however I seem to be pretty much the exception, judging by how most of
the people in academics I keep in touch with in Argentina, keep telling me they
are moving abroad or can't wait to move abroad at the first chance they might
have to do so. Is the whole thing hopeless and are the likes of me naive fools?

Carlos Gonzalia

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