Democracy and Development in Latin America

Economics, Politics and Religion in the Post-War Period

David Lehmann
Book Cover

PB: $33.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-011-8
Publication: Dec 92

HC: $79.50
EAN: 978-0-87722-723-6
Publication: Jun 90

272 pages
6 x 9

The integration of three considerable topics for modern Latin American history


In this wide-ranging history of Latin American thought since the 1930s, David Lehmann sets out to integrate three topical areas of considerable importance to the modern history of Latin America: the intellectual currents of social science; the renovation of Catholic thought and practice; and the emergence of popular social movements. Concentrating on Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, he provides an intellectual history of the past forty years and follows the fate of the generations whose ideas—in economics, politics, and religion—became the most influential in the developing world.

In terms accessible to people unfamiliar with the details of modern Latin American history, Lehmann explains the origins of dependency theory, the disappointing effects of import-substitution, the rise of Liberation Theology, the nature of grassroots politics, as well as a variety of other schools of thought and the audiences to which they have been addressed. The book also offers an up-to-date analysis of the many social movements that have proliferated in Latin America, in the context of unprecedented repression and economic crisis.

Lehmann concludes by distilling from these social movements and the ideologies they have inspired a non-utopian contribution to the idea of democratic development: a basismo, or grassroots agenda for the reinvention of civil societies on the verge of disintegration and states on the verge of bankruptcy. His book will be indispensable for anyone concerned with the politics, sociology, and economics of development.


"It is refreshing to find a book that cuts to the heart of the ideological dilemma and does so with clarity and readability.... Lehmann's excellent explanation of 'basismo' (grassroots democracy) is probably the clearest available in the English language.... This clearly written book is a must for anyone truly interested in the political, economic, and religious life of Latin America."

"In this wide-ranging history of Latin American thought since the 1930s, the author sets out to integrate three topical areas: the intellectual currents of social science, the renovation of Catholic thought and practice, and the emergence of popular social movements."
Abstracts of Development Studies

"(An) important contribution to the political, economic, and religious history of Latin America since the end of the second world war.... The book is important...because of the range of knowledge, quality of analysis and subtlety of interpretation which Lehmann brings to all the topics he addresses. There is something of interest being said on every page."
Political Studies

Table of Contents


1. In Search of a Development Project 'of Our Own': Social and Economic Thought in Latin America from 1948 to the Apogee of Dependency Theory
Introduction • A New Era Dawns after World War Two • Origins of Dependency Theory: "National" Marxism in the Inter-War Period • Dependency Theory • An Available Audience • Conclusion

2. From Dependency to Democracy
The Congruence of Corporatism and Import-Substituting Industrialization (ISI) • Structuralism and Reformism: Blueprints and Popular Mobilization • The Ideological Moment of the Early 1970s • A New Theory of the State? • Post-Marxism • Ghosts of the Past: The Costs of Consensus versus the Costs of Change • Neo-Conservative Politics and Neo-Liberal Economics • A Populist Neo-Conservatism • Conclusion

3. The Church Returns to Centre Stage
Social Advance and Theological Retrenchment in Europe • Lay Involvements in Latin America • Paulo Freire and the Origins of Basismo • Christian Democracy • Medellín and Puebla • The Church under Authoritarian Regimes • Argentina: Repression and Decay • Modernity and Tradition in the Theology of Liberation • The Message of the Theology of Liberation • From Theological Debate to Church Renewal (Ecclesiogenesis) • The Concept of the CEB in Liberation Theology • The Real World of the CEBs • The Bible According to the Church of the Poor • Conclusions: Counter-Attack and Retrenchment in Rome

4. Social Movements
Changing Themes of Social Mobilization • Changing Themes of Conflict in the Countryside • Alternatives to Land Reform • Urban Social Movements • Conclusion: the Emergence of Basismo

5. Basismo as if Reality Really Mattered orModernization from Below
Basismo as an Invocation • Basismo as if Reality Really MatteredConclusion


About the Author(s)

David Lehmann is Assistant Director of Development Studies at the University of Cambridge.