The central, driving theme of this volume is democracy, its vicissitudes and its possibilities in Latin America. Guillermo O’Donnell considers the pattern of political and social alliances that have shaped Argentina’s agitated history, and focuses on the tensions and intrinsic weaknesses of bureaucratic-authoritarianism, especially in its most repressive guises, at a time when it projected itself as an enduring, efficient, and potentially legitimate form of political authority. He includes detailed empirical analysis of daily life under extremely repressive regimes and argues throughout that the struggle for democracy is the most appropriate way, both morally and strategically, to take advantage of the fissures and tensions that close examination discovers behind the bureaucratic-authoritarianism facade.
Counterpoints is a successful mix of personal experience and meticulous scholarship—a trajectory of O’Donnell’s work that starts with the critique of authoritarianism and ends with a close examination of presently existing democracies in Latin America. His discussion of the flaws of the new democracies originating from defective institutionalism and extreme social inequalities is especially valuable for scholars of democracy and democratization, comparative politics, and Latin American politics.
Table of Contents:
Part I: Misadventures
1. State and Alliance in Argentina, 1956-1976
2. Tensions in the Bureaucratic-Authoritarian State and the Question of Democracy
3. Democracy in Argentina: Macro and Micro
4. On the Fruitful Convergences of Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty and Shifting Involvements: Reflections from the Recent Argentine Experience
5. “And Why Should I Give a Shit?” Notes on Sociability and Politics in Argentina and Brazil
Part III: Transitions
6. Notes for the Study of Processes of Political Democratization in the Wake of the Bureaucratic-Authoritarian State
Part IV: Perspectives
7. On the State, Democratization, and Some Conceptual Problems: A Latin American View with Glances at Some Postcommunist Countries
8. Delegative Democracy
9. Illusions about Consolidation
10. Poverty and Inequality in Latin America: Some Political Reflections
Guillermo O’Donnell is the Helen Kellogg Professor of Government and International Studies at the University of Notre Dame.