Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Blood and Debt: War an the Nation-State in Latin America

I discovered this book some months ago, but I finally found it yesterday at March library.
Miguel Angel Centeno did an enormous work of five years for concluding his opera magna about state-building in the Latin American region. The book, for me, is a marvelous starting point to construct my entire doctoral thesis, so you can imagine the way of happiness I'm living these days while I'm devouring the pages of Blood and Debt: War and the Nation-State in Latin America.

Despite the fact that the book asks to the role of wars in configuring the Latin American states, or, in absence of them, giving an explanation to the weak form of the Latin American present countries. The war, Centeno Says, is a chance, not the motor, of the growth and strenght of the modern State. Only if there exist a class alliance between dirigents and some powerful class, war is taken as an opportunity to gain some efficiency changes that endures in the after-war. Think on female voting, direct taxation, social policies and other forms of State growth. But interstatal war also need the capability to support a prolongued war, and for this the state has enormous fiscal needs, that should be present before the war in some developed form of centralized bureaucracy. War doesn't give the gift of State growth per se. It needs of institutional prerequisites.

In fact, the author suggest that most of the peaceful periods in the region-in terms of continental peace, not civil wars- are more consequence of inability to engage total wars or to assume the political costs of prolongued wars -just boundary clashes had taken place in recent history. Comparatively to other regions, the Latin American region is barely unarmed, and scarcely prepared to engage in wars against neighbours.

I will continue on that tomorrow... :)


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