The Pan-American Dream / Edition 1

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The initiative of Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton to forge a Western Hemisphere community has been staggered by Mexico’s economic and political crisis. Is this latest grand design for the hemisphere destined to follow John Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress and Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy into the cemetery of frustrated Pan-American dreams? The United States and Canada are prosperous first-world countries with centuries-old democratic institutions; Latin America’s countries are poor and, in most cases, experimenting with democratic capitalism for the first time. Can a coherent, durable community like the European Union be constructed with building blocks so different? Why are the United States and Canada so much more prosperous, so much more democratic than is Latin America? Why has it taken so long for Latin America to conclude that democratic capitalism and good relations with the United States are in its best interest? And what might be done to enhance the prospects for a dynamic community in the Western Hemisphere? These are the questions Lawrence Harrison addresses in The Pan-American Dream. Central to the contrasts between Latin America and the United States and Canada are the fundamental differences between the Ibero-Catholic and Anglo-Protestant cultures, reflected in contrasting views of work, education, merit, community, ethics, and authority, among others. But, as he stresses, cultural values and attitudes change, and Pan-Americanism can be more than a dream.A Pan-American community depends on shared values and institutions, as the community now embracing the United States and Canada demonstrates. Experiments with democracy and the free market in Latin America will help strengthen the values that lie behind the success of the United States and Canada, Western Europe, and East Asia. But if Latin America’s political and intellectual leaders do not confront the traditional values and attitudes largely responsible for the region’s underdevelopment—with sweeping reforms in education and child-rearing practices, for example—realization of the Pan-American dream will be painfully slow and uncertain.

"Harrison continues his provocative but hardly novel thesis established in prior works, that the most important factor explaining US and Canadian 'progress' and Latin American 'underdevelopment' is 'the contrast between Anglo-Protestant and Ibero-Catholic culture.' Thus his answer to subtitle question is 'not necessarily' but a successful process will be very difficult"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 57.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Harrison (Underdevelopment Is a State of Mind) of course answers yes to his subtitle's question, stressing that "the traditional Ibero-Catholic system of values and attitudes" fosters authoritarianism, orthodoxy, leisure and a present-tense orientation. Similar arguments are made about the ghetto poor here; still, many observers see an interplay between culture and environment. Thus Harrison's absorbing book, if overstated or cursory in places, helps foster a new debate, as Latin American intellectuals, long reliant on Marxist "dependency" theory to explain their region's faults, have now begun to probe the question of culture. After slaloming through Canada and attacking radical intellectuals of the past (which leads him to defend the United Fruit Company), Harrison devotes chapters to Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico, concerning all of which he is cautiously optimistic that social and political reform will continue. Noting the potential for narco-corruption, he urges that a greater effort be made to lower American domestic demand than to stop drugs at the source. He suggests an immigration policy based on skills and education, citing that non-Hispanic immigrants acculturate better to America. His advice to American policy-makers regarding Latin America is caution: work steadily to open markets and build democratic institutions. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Attributing slow economic progress to cultural values begs for allegations of racism. Harrison, a development specialist and the former director of several USAID missions in Latin America, recognizes this fact but reiterates points made in his previous books, most recently Who Prospers? How Cultural Values Shape Economic and Political Success (LJ 7/92). The "Ibero-Catholic" values of Latin America-as compared with the "Anglo-Protestant" values of the United States and Canada-make that region resistant to progress. Harrison supports his unpopular conclusions with analyses of Latin America as a whole and case studies of four countries. He concludes that trade partnerships such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have little chance of success. Though controversial, his analysis, peppered with career anecdotes, is easy to understand and persuasive. For general readers and specialists.-A.J. Sobczak, formerly with California State Univ., Northridge
Kirkus Reviews
An intriguing, discursive inquiry into the variant wealth of Latin and North American nations, from a former foreign aid official who knows the territory.

Before evaluating whether Central and South American countries can begin to match the economic and sociopolitical successes made by El Norte, Harrison (Who Prospers?, 1992) reviews what he terms the cultural divide. In brief, the author argues that the North's Anglo-Protestant heritage has produced results greatly superior to those of a South burdened by an authoritarian Ibero-Catholic tradition that devalues initiative and mistrusts free markets. Getting down to business, Harrison assesses the blessings democratic capitalism has conferred on Canada and the US while caudillos, clerics, leftist revolutionaries, and assorted others have arrested the development of their New World neighbors. With time out to excoriate intellectuals on both sides of the equator for perpetuating unfounded Marxian myths of Yanqui exploitation, he goes on to provide detailed reports on four bellwether nations (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico) that could make their own way as stable industrial powers in the foreseeable future. Also covered are such sore subjects as the traffic in drugs, immigration (illegal and otherwise), trade imbalances, and the extension of NAFTA. On balance, Harrison concludes, there are grounds for believing that in time many Latin countries can achieve reforms sufficient to make them full-fledged members of a world-class community within the Western Hemisphere.

A savvy observer's perceptive (and optimistic) take on a populous part of the world that remains an afterthought for most North Americans.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813334707
  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publication date: 5/1/1998
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence E. Harrison directed USAID missions in five Latin American countries between 1965 and 1981. He is the author of Underdevelopment Is a State of Mind: The Latin American Case, and was the U.S. member on the Haiti crisis mission of the Organization of American States in 1991 and 1992.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Dream or Reality? 1
1 The Roots of the Divergence: Anglo-Protestant versus Ibero-Catholic Culture 11
2 Canada and the United States: Siblings, Not Twins 42
3 Latin America and the United States: Can Two So Divergent Paths Merge? 69
4 The Destructive Role of American Intellectuals (and the Savaging of the United Fruit Company) 88
5 Argentina: First World to Third World? - And Back? 105
6 Brazil: Is the Future Now? 124
7 The Chilean Miracle: Policies, Culture, or Both? 146
8 Mexico: The Failure of a Revolution, the End of a Dynasty 173
9 Trade and Investment: From "Imperialism" to Integration? 202
10 Narcotics: A Grotesque Distorting Mirror of Both Cultures 218
11 Immigration: The Latinization of the United States? 231
12 Conclusion: Democracy and the Free Market Are Not Enough 252
Notes 273
Index 301
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