Can Neoliberalism be Compatible with Nationalism?

Subject: Political
Type: Argumentative Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 863
Topics: International Relations, Nationalism, Unemployment

The question whether poor or working class people in modern Latin America hold out hope that neo-liberal economic policies and more traditional liberal political institutions like parties can be compatible with nationalism is one that has elicited a heated debate among scholars. Various studies reveal that neo-liberal economic policies and radical political systems, to a large extent, have failed to be compatible with nationalism. This essay, therefore, is going to investigate if there can be a compatible marriage between these aspects and examine the consequences Latin America’s poor class faces due to the adaption of the free trade agreement.

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Firstly, for many people like Tono in Colonia Santo Domingo, one of Guttman’s interviewees, NAFTA, which means North American free trade agreement, did not offer what it promised. Instead of providing and raising employment, NAFTA has rendered many jobless. Although there are opportunities for one to work, the reality is that the remuneration that comes with the work they do cannot sustain them. This has made the majority of the poor working populace overwork themselves and attend to more than one casual job. Such a situation only makes them feel like slaves instead of patriots in their country. The state has completely lost its ability to protect its citizens as well as secure its economic growth (Guttman 76).

Secondly, the free trade agreement has led to the closure of many businesses in Mexico. Small industries which used to offer employment to the Mexican nationals have shut down, rendering many workers jobless. Their reason for closing is that they cannot keep up the competition with transnational mega companies whose prices for commodities and services are much lower. This does not augur well for nationalism as it hurts Mexico’s domestic economy. The only people that benefit from such an arrangement are the wealthy merchants who feel that the disdain and contempt the poor hold for foreign companies is due to their incompetence and inefficiency (Guttman 86)

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Thirdly, the free trade agreement in Latin America has remained just an ideology as other states have taken over the business arena. The resources that used to characterize and hold high Mexico’s sovereignty are no longer under the control of Mexico masses. As Guillermo reports, ‘nationalization of oil, railroads, electricity and later the banks were historic milestones that reaffirmed our national sovereignty.’  The neoliberalism ideology that translates into giving up of control to the market by the state exposes the majority poor to many uncertainties since it is the market that directs the actions of the society and government. All these leave the working class people in the control of foreign states.

Fourthly, the agricultural commerce state of affairs has not made things easier for Mexico either. Whereas a country is supposed to consume the best of its produce, Mexico exports its best agricultural goods to the United States and instead imports substandard ones for its own consumption. For example, Mexico imports corn and beans from Argentina, a country known to produce meat and not corn (Guttman 96). Such is a neoliberal economic tendency that is not in tandem with the spirit of nationalism.

Fifthly, the poor and the working Mexicans have lost any hope of ever influencing national politics in their country. For example, they know that the United States is openly and covertly undermining Mexico in many senses, but there is nothing they can do. Their disillusionment and uncertainty about Mexico’s political future as well as its nature and import of democracy know no bounds. In fact, the only aspect they rarely control is their own lives. These people do not have a chance to influence any political process that may translate into democratic self-determination (Guttman 88).

Lastly, contrary to Matthew Guttman’s interviewees stand on matters neo-liberalization and nationalism, Moises Velazquez-Manoff believes there can be happy multi-culturalization and globalization. In his exposition of  ‘despacito’ particularly in the age of Trump, Moises holds high convictions that it is not a good idea for the president to demand an all-white America. The song, which is a big success as it has commanded a big following and much watching, is a blend of cultures ranging from instruments to the cast. Amidst the anxiety and phobia that surrounds immigration and protection of borders, Moises points out the need for nations and states to coexist as a global community.

In conclusion, nationalism in Latin America is under attack. Neo-liberal economic policies and more traditional liberal political institutions have played a significant role in Mexico’s loss of sense as a nation. In fact, they have pushed the country to drop its self-reliance and rendered its autonomy a myth. Furthermore, the alliance has made Mexico surrender its independence and sovereignty to more influential members in the North America. Innocent children, workers, women, men, and peasants are paying for the operations of international lending establishments which often lent money to undemocratic regimes. Neoliberal order in Latin America is just authoritarian.

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Did you like this sample?
  1. Matthew Gutmann, Ch. 4, “For Whom the Taco Bell Tolls,” in The Romance of Democracy: Compliant Defiance in Contemporary Mexico, pp. 73-96;
  2. Moises Velazquez-Manoff, “The Meaning of Despacito in the Age of Trump,”
  3. New York Times, Aug. 4 (2017).
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