VOL. 4, NO. 1, PGS. 1–7


Liberalism in Latin America: Why It Hasn't Worked
A conversation with Ileana Rodríguez

This interview was conducted by Javier Toro.

Ileana Rodríguez is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the Humanities at Ohio State University. She is also the author of the book Liberalism at its Limits: Crime and Terror in the Latin American Cultural Text.

This translation has been automatically generated and has not been verified for accuracy.

Are there various forms of liberalism? If so, what do all these forms have in common?

Yes, we could say that there are various forms of liberalism, and they all have in common the way in which each of their categories is interpreted and applied. In my book Liberalism at its Limits I limit myself to reviewing four of the basic categories of this prestigious philosophical doctrine, namely a) state, b) public sphere, c) private sphere and d) markets, and subsume in a dense paragraph the discussion of the labour category, which should be fundamental, but which I do not find treated in bibliographies with the breadth and assiduity that I see in the other four.

Liberalism is a very sophisticated, very long-standing philosophical thought, requiring much interpretation and rearrangement according to the material circumstances of the societies that receive it into their midst. Each of its four basic categories has huge bibliographies debating its insinuations, implications and porosities. I wrote about the limits of liberalism because it did not seem to me that such a doctrine really existed in Latin America, a surely contentious issue, and I wondered how it was possible to use the same categories to speak of such different realities. For example, how can indigenous people speak of a public sphere or civil society if they are populations living on the margins of states or are societies without a state? Nancy Fraser’s notion of subaltern counter-publics prompted me to accommodate these populations within a revised and reformed liberalism and to conjecture that liberalism as well as the concept of democracy are, in Chantal Mouffe’s radical democracy, elastic, or plastic, as it is now customary to say, terms that can be expanded or resized. Let us say that this is one of the milestones to consider when thinking about these issues.

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