The end of the “Golden Decade”

The Latin American economy: Part two

This is the second part of an article that originally appeared on Socialismo o Barbarie, the Web site of the Argentinian socialist organization, El Nuevo MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo). Part One (ISR 98) discussed the impact of the world slump in commodity prices on the unfolding economic crisis in Latin America. It noted how the economic crisis in Latin America is undermining support for the reformist “pink tide” governments that ruled through most of the last decade. At the same time, the article took stock of what had changed in Latin America during the “golden decade.” One of the most significant changes was the much-increased role of China in the region. Part Two of the article begins by examining China’s newfound influence, and concludes with an overall assessment of how we should understand the new political coyuntura (conjuncture) in the region. 

With the publisher’s approval, Lance Selfa and Tom Lewis translated the full article for ISR. For those interested in reading the original in Spanish, it can be found at: https://www.mas.org.ar.

China’s new role in geopolitical competition with the United States in Latin America
The new orientation of China toward Latin America is nothing less than the continental expression of a global strategy of that country’s leadership. We cannot develop here all of its implications for China’s role in the world, a topic which deserves its own extensive study and debate. We only wish to point out here that nothing warrants the supposition that China is playing a qualitatively more “progressive” or “anti-imperialist” role on the world stage, given its objectives, methods, and forms. Quite to the contrary, the type of relationship that China has established and continues to develop with the “emerging” nations (supposedly “nonaligned” partners in forums such as the United Nation’s G7 plus China) is indistinguishable, in its fundamentals, from their subordination to the classic imperialisms of the US and Europe.1

Having said this, we consider that the Chinese policy of advancing its economic ties with Latin America points toward a dual objective—one economic and the other geopolitical. The economic objectives are, on the one hand, to assure the supply of primary materials required for its industries and population; on the other hand, to find a market for its investments in infrastructure and the service sector, which are much more highly value-added. The geopolitical objective is, naturally, to install itself as a major actor in the region, taking advantage of the US retreat and trying to block the US return to the influence it held before the first decade of the twenty-first century. 

Progress in commercial relations was explosive in the last period: in 2000, trade between China and Latin America did not surpass $10 billion; in 2014, it already had reached $287 billion, an increase of almost twenty-nine times. Compare this increase to the stagnation of commerce with the European Union (EU) and the marked fall off of commercial activity with the United States. Although the US still ranks first in trade, China already is the first-ranked trading partner of the South American giant, Brazil. 

Table 1. Bolivian macroeconomic data, 2005-2014

Exports

2000

2005

2009

2014

2020

United States

60

50

39

31

328

European Union

11

12

14

14

14

China

2

4

8

15

19

European Union

11

12

14

14

14 

China

2

4

8

15

19 

Imports

2000

2005

2009

2014*

2020*

United States

51

38

33

28

26 

European Union

14

15

15

14

14 

China

3

7

10

15

16 

(*)    Estimated. Source: United Nation’s Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). 

Now this relationship between China and Latin America, which began in trade, is being seriously extended into investment, finance, and politics. The pilgrimages of regional leaders to Beijing have begun to look, both in form and content, like the trips made to Washington in past decades. China has financed Venezuela to the tune of $50 billion in oil purchases since 2008 (between them China and the US consume 2.5 million of 3 million barrels of oil Venezuela produces on a daily basis). Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has signed agreements with the Chinese government for a total investment of $5.7 billion. But the most relieved of all has been Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, who came back in January with a promise of investment and joint projects worth $20 billion over the course of 2015—manna from heaven for a country whose currency reserves had declined to $22 billion and which faces $12 billion in debt repayments this year alone. For countries with the most serious difficulties, China has begun to appear as the “lender-of-last-resort” outside the traditional circuit of the US-IMF-western banks. This is the case for Venezuela and, to a lesser degree, for Ecuador and Argentina. 

In total, China’s financing of Latin American governments already surpasses $100 billion. And this financing takes diverse forms: from direct loans to mixed agreements involving commercial goods as well as credits, provided through monetary agreements, for the purchase of machines and supplies. These credits—the so-called currency exchange swaps—represent de facto loans  in Chinese renminbi, like those given to Brazil and Argentina. 

It is within this framework that we should consider the announcement last January by the Chinese government at a CELAC forum (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations, which significantly was held in Beijing) of an investment plan for Latin America worth $250 billion over ten years. This gamble by China on an organization (CELAC) established only recently (December 2011) comes as no surprise, since it involves a regional entity in which neither the US nor Canada participates. Similarly, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the goal of a bilateral trade agreement between China and CELAC on a scale of $500 million over the same period—almost twice the current volume of trade. All of this would form part of a plan for bilateral cooperation in 2015–2019, which would be realized through annual trade sector meetings and a second general forum in Santiago, Chile, in 2018. 

It should be clear by now that there is no room for the illusion of the “progressive” Latin American governments that there is a difference in the type of relation they had with the traditional lenders (the US and the IMF) and their new “friendly partner” (China). In any case, if there was a difference, it was above all during the first period of this relationship, and almost as a marketing strategy; as the relationship grew stronger, the first disillusionments began to show. For example:  

There was an era in which Latin American governments in need went to the IMF for the bitter medicine that IMF loans represent. No longer. During the last twelve years, the upcycle in commodity prices enlarged national treasuries in the region, even as the most fiscally extravagant autocrats also could count on the Chinese checkbook. Today the bonanza had ended. Commodity prices have returned to the level of the Great Recession of 2008. And bank managers in Beijing are learning to say no. . . . China had made it clear that it does not intend to be an unconditional “lender-of-last-resort” for the delinquent, even if they allege a political affinity, like Maduro does. . . . According to InterAmerican Dialogue, a Washington think-tank, Chinese officials have started to scrutinize the way in which Venezuela spends its loans. And worry about an eventual Venezuelan default has started to show in Chinese publications.2 

For this reason, it is thoroughly naïve, at best, to suppose, as Maduro himself does, that “China is demonstrating that it can be a superpower without imperial or hegemonic designs.” Yet even the most minimally attentive examination of the Chinese hierarchy’s statements and projects reveals the opposite. Furthermore, it is an error to assume that all of China’s foreign investment goes to state enterprises. The portion directed into the private sector keeps growing, and, if a decade ago it was negligible, today it represents 23 percent of Chinese investment in Latin America. The complaints of bourgeois sectors opposed to closer relations with China no doubt reflect the servility of those who want to return to the status quo under US domination, but it is more than that. 

Differences of perspective are beginning to appear in a South American bloc characterized by a weaker degree of unity than what is celebrated in the meetings of UNASUR. One of these differences divides the “Atlantic” countries (those of Mercosur) from the “Pacific” countries (led by Chile), not only concerning the strategy of commercial and geopolitical alignment, but also for what this means for the export profile of the region. Following the failure of the US-backed FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), according to some analysts Chile looked toward a Pacific Alliance with Asian countries (first and foremost China) that would become a de facto FTAA or “mini-FTAA.” The advantage that the Atlantic countries have over the Pacific countries is that Mercosur provides them with a level of coordination, integration, and organic structure as a bloc that, without being dazzling, is far superior to that exhibited by the Andean countries. Another difference is that, at least on paper, Argentina and Brazil argue the need for an industrial program for the region and do not wish to completely abandon (we repeat, at least in their speeches and statements of intent) or renounce something that resembles a program of industrialization. In contrast, the Pacific countries seem to have fewer resources (and political will) to enable themselves to move away from the Asiatic model that reduces them to providers of raw materials. The most recent regional meetings in Cartagena and Santiago de Chile witnessed a sordid dispute above all between Brazil, the leader of Mercosur, and Chile, the flag bearer of relations with the Asian Pacific. 

To these tensions there must be added the interest of other countries on the continent, such as Colombia and Uruguay, in not shutting the door on eventual bilateral trade agreements with the United States (On this issue, the “leftist” government of the Frente Amplio in Uruguay is the most emphatic). In fact, Colombia and Mexico stand among the very few solid relations with Latin America that the US can count on in the region. No doubt this must have influenced the decision to designate these two of the only three “partner nations” (the third is Poland) to receive “flexible lines of credit” from the IMF (that is, they receive money that doesn’t count as a loan; in the case of Mexico, $47.3 billion). 

And finally, but perhaps most importantly, there is the debate at the center of the Brazilian bourgeoisie over two intimately related questions: what to do with Mercosur, and what is the possibility of reaching trade agreements, even to the point of free trade agreements, with the EU and other powers? Without a doubt, the most liberalizing and least “Latin Americanist” (in practice, anti-Mercosur as it presently exists) position is that of the powerful São Paulo employers’ organization, FIESP, whose cause was championed by defeated presidential candidate Aécio Neves. But the 2010 and 2014 victories of Dilma Roussef and the Workers Party government do not automatically mean a strengthening of Mercosur. In this as in other matters, the turn toward neoliberal orthodoxy by the Brazilian government can result in a more or less formal continuation of Mercosur (above all, not abandoning some of the advantages of acting as a bloc, whose leadership is indisputably Brazilian) and at the same time beginning to explore other ways of relating to the rest of the world. 

What remains definitively off the table is the Chavista fantasy of the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) as politico-commercial space for Latin American nations that would privilege interregional ties and agreements with “ideologically related” countries (that is, China; to a lesser extent Iran; and the EU over the US). There is nothing strange about this project gaining a certain traction with the rise in oil prices that gave Venezuela the possibility of acting as benevolent big brother (in terms of loans, investments, and subsidies) to other countries in the region, especially Cuba, Bolivia, Argentina, and the countries of Central America and the Caribbean. Today the compendium of internal crises of the Chavista regime and the fall in oil revenues has turned ALBA into a knife with neither blade nor handle: with no effective scale, no political leadership, and no financial resources. Into the same memory box have been deposited the Bank of the South (which was never really implemented) and other pharaonic regional initiatives, which are today fossils of an era of full treasuries and what seemed to be endless prosperity. 

In this way, the project of regional integration behind the back of and against the interests of the US has given way—with the coming to power of the “progressive” governments of Latin America in a general context of exhaustion from a decade of management and the onset of unfavorable conditions—to a much more prudent and pragmatic posture with respect to possible alliances and commercial associations. If China appears now as an actor of the first order, this is owing much less to a political desire to confront the US than to the real and tangible weight of Chinese demand for raw materials and its capacity to serve as an alternative source of finance. Venezuela once fulfilled this latter role, but is has no chance of repeating it today. 

What remains, then, is a contest for regional influence between a new power, China, and an old power, the US, which after declining in political and economic weight for more than a decade, wants to recover lost ground. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to suppose that this latent conflict presumes a winner that would definitively expel the loser from the region. Better understood, what seems to be shaping up on the horizon for the coming years is the coexistence of the two great actors and a process of pragmatic reaccommodation on the part of Latin American governments to the advantages and disadvantages of relations with each. 

As the Economist observes in this respect: 

The maturing of China’s relations with Latin America coincides with other geopolitical changes in the region. Venezuela’s aspiration to create an anti-yankee alliance went under along with its economy. . . . Brazil’s aspiration to regional leadership also is on hold. . . . Barack Obama, although above all for internal reasons, is trying to attenuate Latin American bitterness toward the U.S. [through the normalization of relations with Cuba and immigration reform]. Other evidence of the Obama administration’s new interest in undertaking an initiative in the region is the January 26 Caribbean “energy summit.” It aims at providing multilateral loans, technical support, and private investment as an alternative to Venezuelan subsidies. The government also is providing help to those Central American countries which combat drug violence. Will the U.S. begin to recover lost terrain in the region? A test will be the Summit of the Americas in Panama in April, the first meeting of its kind at which Raúl Castro will also attend. . . .  

Chinese as well as U.S. officials deny competing for influence in Latin America. But that is only a façade. For center-left governments, the Chinese offer of loans, investment (above all in infrastructure), scholarships, and non-intervention in internal politics proves attractive. Over [and] against all of that, the U.S. offers shared values and access to what is still the largest market in the world and the best source of technology. And in both cases there are frictions. China absorbs Latin American raw materials and cuts down its manufacturing. A Chinese investor is building an anti-ecological canal on neocolonial terms with Nicaragua. Some of Obama’s initiatives are being held hostage by a Congress controlled by Republicans. But after a decade in which China has appeared to be carrying off everything in Latin America, at least the U.S. has now begun to compete in this new Great Game.3 

A central part of China’s global strategy is not only to appear as the driving force of “multipolarity” (even as, at the same time, it strengthens its bipolar competition with the US), but also as the guarantor of the values of independence and national sovereignty, in opposition to the US’s traditional interventionism and unilateralism. If the idea of “imperialism under construction” is appropriate, the following comment makes a lot of sense: “In contrast to the US, a global hegemon with hundreds of military bases all over the world, China has neither an empire nor military bases. . . . China [has] a great foreign policy interest in helping to maintain stability in Latin America.”4 

Now then, if in our judgment, confidence in the alleged “shared values” between Latin America and China in opposition to the US is groundless, then it is quite clearly in China’s interest to collaborate to insure that there are no political earthquakes in the region, in either of two directions: neither toward the right, which would tilt the balance again toward the US, nor toward the left. When all is said and done, political turbulence is never welcome when it is a matter of doing business. To assume that China can be a steadfast ally in a dispute in defense of national sovereignty is a naïveté that makes a virtue out of a necessity for Chinese political policy. Simply put, China is still not in any condition to act in the region with the same disdain toward formal independence and diplomacy with which the US is accustomed to act, often through direct or clandestine military means. But that does not prevent China from beginning to show its claws.  An example in this regard is the agreement with Argentina for the installation of a “scientific” base—a space observatory—in the province of Neuquén, which is a thinly disguised way of setting foot in the region with military technology. Does anyone doubt that this is a question of means and opportunity, and not of high principles held in common concerning international rights, and then can lead to future arms agreements, shared logistics, and military exercises conducted with China—precisely in the style and manner of what used to be done with the US?

Perspectives
Let us summarize briefly. The end of the commodities boom substantially changes the frame of reference for all Latin American economies that are dependent on these export revenues. The immediate result is, in the words of Augusto de la Torre, the World Bank’s chief economist in the region: “Latin America is slowing at a rate much faster than the rest of the emerging world.”

The economic slowdown (and in the most severely hit countries, like Argentina and Venezuela, actual recession) shakes one of the pillars of stability for the region’s governments over the last decade. The commodities boom had allowed the region’s governments to restabilize themselves following a wave of popular rebellion, and economic prosperity assured that all of them were reelected. That “pillar” was the package of redistributive policies that improved living standards for wide sections of the population, but without changing property relations or the organization of production (including productivity that according to the IMF’s chief economist for the region, Alejandro Werner, remains below that which statistics indicate, with economies hitting the limits of their productive capacity).

The region’s governments took advantage of a new political equilibrium, leaned more to the left than in previous decades (and in the rest of the world), to negotiate with the capitalist class the principle that the state’s public administration ought to keep part of the extraordinary income being derived from unusually high commodity prices. This wasn’t achieved without conflicts and struggles, some of them major. In general, the bourgeoisie did not succeed in blocking the partly forced redistribution: the failure of the coup and later the oil lockout in Venezuela, the separatist offensive of the Santa Cruz bourgeoisie in Bolivia, the rural employers’ rebellion in Argentina, along with other skirmishes of lesser scale. It is true that there were some successes, such as removing Zelaya from Honduras and Lugo from Paraguay, but the general direction favored the center-left governments. They played a mediating role, grounded on an economic base of the restructuring of the terms of trade (driven by demand from China’s industrialization) in a way that had not been seen in decades and, on a political base, a new cycle of class struggle across the continent from populations fed up with the neoliberalism of the 1990s.

Of course, these factors aren’t independent of each other. But what is new today is that these governments have run out of easy money and, moreover, face various specific levels of economic decline, depending on whether the character of the national government’s management of the economy has been better or worse. One indicator of this new environment of austerity is that the average gap between income and state spending is three percentage points of GDP wider than in 2009. This is not a mere statistic: it is the difference between having sufficient resources to support fiscal policy, and having to borrow to maintain current spending. What is unknown, therefore, is what course the region’s governments will take, and what possibility exists for a political shift—to the right or the left—that might change the color (pink) the continent has worn for more than a decade.

We have noted in passing the difference in the political outlook for specific countries that deeper popular rebellions and more “center-left” governments have made: Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador. While the governments of the latter two still enjoy electoral favor and less erosion of public support (it is also true that they have been in power for fewer years), the first two are experiencing serious economic problems. There is nonetheless a difference between these two: in Venezuela, the crisis of Chavismo is deeper, but the government, in principle, still has years of rule ahead of it; in Argentina, the government is successfully sustaining a discredited model. But this year there are presidential elections in which “Kirchnerismo” doesn’t have its own candidate, at least one who has any chance of winning. In Venezuela, beyond the political instability, the factor that would result in a change of government, if it happens, would surely be economic; in Argentina, to the contrary, the economic dynamic (assuming no new debt crisis engineered by the hedge funds) would surely prove secondary, at least until the elections, to political developments. 

The Venezuelan case is particularly pressing because of the political importance that Chavismo has in the region. In fact, Chavismo represents the only political current born out of the cycle of popular rebellions that can be said to have achieved continental scale. We won’t attempt here even a brief examination of Venezuela’s economic conjuncture; we will only point out that the difficulties that the governments of the region confront are much sharper here. That is because the basic Venezuelan export, petroleum (96 percent of total exports), has fallen in price much more than other prices. According to one study, “Venezuela needs a price of $120 per barrel in order to balance its budget. It’s a dramatic situation.”5 The current price, [which in the fall of 2015 was  less than half that], provides a measure of the gap between state revenues and the needed currency.

One striking statistic illustrates the eclipse of an economy (and a government) based on petrodollars: imports fell from $77 billion in 2012 to $43 billion in 2014. This decline is clearly felt not only in the economy but also in Venezuelan daily life. The country, which continues to import 70 percent of its food and an even higher proportion of industrial materials, suffers all manner of disruption when the flow of imports weakens. In the face of the decline in exports, caused not by a lesser volume of production but by lower prices, the resulting limitations on imports means the scarcity of everything—the superfluous, the necessary, and the indispensable; endless lines, the black market, rampant corruption (which wasn’t exactly absent before the crisis), and urban violence.

This stage affords the ideal environment for all kinds of political maneuvers by the US embassy, the opposition, and even internal tendencies within a Chavismo that lacks a leader and political direction. The most recent act in this drama has been the debut of a new system of three rates of official exchange, which in practice presumes a 70 percent devaluation and validates the black market in currency, within a framework of growing discontent and a bad public mood. This still has not translated into an organic political advance for the right.

We have dwelt on Venezuela because it is the country where the change in the direction of the Latin American economy is most dramatically visible, but we should also not lose sight of Cuba. Economically insignificant, the island nonetheless has an influence over the ideological imagination of the continent that is difficult to exaggerate. The rapid steps toward a procapitalist economic transition in the style of China or Vietnam confirm the worst forecasts that we indicated at the time of the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party.6 We will not expand on the theme here.

In contrast to the troubled Maduro and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Evo Morales and Rafael Correa still enjoy popularity and stability. But in the case of Morales,

His success has recently owed less to “anti-capitalism” and much more to his accommodation with economic orthodoxy and local capitalists. After a turbulent early period when he pushed through a new constitution, quashed the opposition and nationalised foreign-owned oil and gas producers and utilities, he has presided over several years of political stability and economic growth. And he has made his peace with private business. . . . Mr. Correa, like Mr. Morales, is becoming more pragmatic. He has invested his oil windfall in roads, schools and hospitals. He recently negotiated a trade agreement with the European Union and has restored normal ties with the IMF. Last month he watered down a new banking law under which the state was to dictate the destination of private bank loans.7

The flamboyant rhetoric of “anti-imperialism” or even “anticapitalism” (in the case of Morales) may survive, but such whimsical expressions do not go beyond the microphone. The reality is that even the bourgeoisie and the foreign companies located in Bolivia have learned how to coexist with a governing leader who is “radicalized” in social forums but with whom you can easily do business, and all of that with the added benefit of providing political stability in a way the forces of the right can’t guarantee. 

We have already referred to the situation of Brazil under Dilma’s second term and her neoliberal turn (which also was an adjustment she made after winning reelection by only 3 percentage points). Following the announcement of fiscal restraint, tax increases (how would the indignados of June 2013 react to this?) and anti-inflation measures, there followed, like a shadow follows its body, a rise in unemployment and poverty, the reduction of which had been touted among the list of PT “successes.”

Other issues on Dilma’s agenda seem no less problematic: mending relations with the US, accelerating the rate of deforestation in Amazonia after a decade, the worst drought in history that threatens to bring water and energy rationing, and the corruption scandal involving the PT and Petrobras. According to an ironic neoliberal commentator, Dilma’s “good intentions” in adopting a neoliberal direction may not pan out. If Dilma is to be congratulated for naming [Joaquim] Levy [as finance minister], for making fiscal cuts, and for arranging a “truce with the vilified private sector” via new ministers of agriculture, commerce, and planning, the commentator  warns that, “having promised Brazilians  that belt-tightening would be painless, Dilma may retreat at the first sign of discontent. But even if she doesn’t, her recently discovered interest in [neoliberal] reforms may not be enough to enable her to implement them.”8

As we have said, we confront a moment in which all of the possibilities for things to remain the same as they have so far are dissolving. We can be certain that changes to the past decade’s regional status quo are on the way. The nature of this change will depend not only on a general economic decline—one which is not catastrophic but which is inevitable— but also, and above all, on political developments which, in our view, still haven’t come to light  in Latin America.

At this point, we can only talk in terms of alternative scenarios, which surely won’t materialize in “pure” form.  A further collapse in progressivism, at least in the key countries, and a return to neoliberalism, even if in a modified form, is a possibility, but we do not consider this the most likely one. There is perhaps a greater chance for deepening rot in the center-left governments on the basis of an internal mutation toward neoliberalism; that is, an extension of the evolution we are beginning to see today above all, but not exclusively, in Brazil. Here, we repeat, the key will be what happens with the Venezuelan process . . . and with Cuba.

In this situation, what elements would lead to a move to the left by today’s “progressive” governments in crisis? First, it is important to emphasize that even if there haven’t been huge mass mobilizations leading to victories in the last few years, neither have there been defeats. Popular rebellions have been reabsorbed, and they no longer represent the kind of processes that destabilize the bourgeois political order in general, but “anti-neoliberal” common sense is still alive in the region.

The depth of this sentiment is impossible to exaggerate, because it puts limits not only on today’s governments, but also on future governments, including those of the right. To the extent that the change of governments takes place essentially through electoral means, the relations of politico-ideological power will remain intangible but very real. That is the clear warning from the Economist, the Bible of global capitalism: “The problem is that Latin America’s leaders confront a mobilised population that has grown used to the good times. This calls for politically deft statesmanship. Where it is absent, Latin America may become more combustible in the next few years.”9

Second, we do not have to assume that the relative stagnation without catastrophic crises, which has characterized the world economy in the last few years, will continue.  The increase in inequality is already raising alarm in the global ruling class. Christine Lagarde, director of the IMF, continuously warns of this. And the response to this diffuse sentiment can become concrete at the least expected time and place. It is not only a question of Greece, or even of Europe; the cases of rebellion or urban explosion that we have recently witnessed (Spain, Turkey, Brazil, and many others) have in general been spontaneous and with little continuity. But nowhere is it written that it always has to be that way. And the seeds of an explosion of discontent have been sown across the globe. As one columnist observes,

For three decades following the Second World War, the global economy was, in general, the story of a rising tide that lifted all boats. That’s no longer the case: a small elite gets the lion’s share of global growth. For those below, and increasingly for those in the middle also, it has become a matter of lower salaries, high unemployment, debt, austerity, and poverty. The richest eighty-five people on the planet possess as much wealth as half of the world’s population, but they seem to forget the risk of widespread social unrest. The same happened, of course, with the Bourbons and the Romanovs.10

And third, but not the least in importance, the combined effect of the mediocre “new normal” economy and the decline of center-left political options is that these validate political advances of the radical left (sometimes Trotskyist, sometimes not). For now, paradoxically, these are still more electoral expressions than not, although that is in line with the character of the political cycle. It is still too soon to evaluate the impact of these advances, but a more dramatic development in the political and economic crises (which can’t be ruled out, quite the opposite) can begin to transform the radical left into points of reference for sectors of the population beyond organized militants. We need to stake our perspective on that possibility, and prepare ourselves for it.


  1. Without giving a final determination of the character of the Chinese regime (something that is particularly difficult given the exceptional combination of historical, political, and social aspects that this entails) Pierre Rousset’s work is suggestive. (“El caso geopolítico y sus implicaciones,” available at the Viento Sur web site). Rousset , citing some of the more serious analyses of present-day China (writings of Au Loong Yu), proposes the concept of “imperialism in construction.” While we don’t agree with several aspects of Rousset’s theoretical frame of reference (for example, his infrequent use of the concept of proto-imperialism or subimperialism), undoubtedly many factors support the concept of “imperialism in construction”.
  2. “The Dragon and the Gringo,” Economist, January 1, 2015, http://www.economist.com/news/americas/2....
  3. Ibid.
  4. Mark Weisbrot, “US Foreign Policy in Latin America Leaves an Open Door for China,” Guardian, January 31, 2014.
  5. “Cheap Oil: Uncertainty in the Fracking Business,” El Mundo (Spain), October 18, 2014.
  6. See Socialismo o Barbarie 25, http://www.socialismo-o-barbarie.org/?pa....
  7. “The Travails of ALBA. The More Successful of Latin America’s Populists Have Become More Pragmatic,” Economist, October 18, 2014, http://www.economist.com/news/americas/2....
  8. “Rough Weather Ahead,” Economist, January 3, 2015.
  9. “The Great Deceleration,” Economist, November 22, 2014, http://www.economist.com/news/americas/2....
  10. Larry Elliott, “Five Signs that the Global Economic Recovery May Be an Illusion,” Guardian, April 8, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/business/econ....

Issue #99

Winter 2015-16

The Left after Syriza

Issue contents

Top story

Editorials

Features

Reviews

  • Slavery, capitalism,
 and imperialism

    Sandy Boyer reviews The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist; Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert; River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom by Walter Johnson; and The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860 by Calvin Schermerhorn
  • The roots of the deep state

    Joe Cleffie reviews Phantom Terror: Political Paranoia and the Formation of the Modern State, 1789–1848 by Adam Zamoyski
  • Revolutionary parliamentarism?

    Todd Chretien reviews Lenin’s Electoral Strategy from Marx and Engels through the Revolution of 1905: The Ballot, the Streets—or Both by August H. Nimtz and Lenin’s Electoral Strategy from 1907 to the October Revolution of 1917: The Ballot, the Streets—or Both by August H. Nimtz
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