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Source:  Las promesas del ascenso estructural de los países de América Latina (Daniel Morales y Alberto Rocha, 2015)

 

Our first review has to do with the “structure” concept of the authors. Even though the title of the text is “The Latin American system of nations: a structural analysis”, this document lacks the meaning -or even a conceptual approach- regarding the international structure. On such work, there is only a reflection about absolute variables (global, analytical and structural), relative variables and relational variables, but there isn’t any statement about specific statistics used to analyze them, much less any conceptualization of the international structure.

The second criticism –very related to the preceding one- lies on the absence of any theory of power. According to Kenneth Waltz, one of the main theoretical referents for the study of the international structures, “the States have different positions based on their power” (thumb_capelletiWaltz 2005, 40). But, on what lies such power? What are the aspects of the national power that are observed to the structural analysis and what elements can be expendable? Galtung, Mora and Schwartzman provide limited clarity on this respect, which leads to a further problem.

Third review: partiality on the selected indicators. As we can observe, some of the indicators used by Galtung, Mora and Schwartzman to define the international Latin American structure are quite unconvincing and even improper. That is to say, why only to consider economic aspects and leaving out those martial and weaponry expenses?  If the International Positioning System is directed to assess the social-economic indicators, why to omit the energy supply as well as research and development costs (essential to industrial development), per capita consumption, government expenditure or the percentage of active people in the services industry? Moreover, how does white people percentage contributes to international positioning? On this respect, since 1973, Rolando Franco had noticed that on the work by Galtung, Mora y Schwartzman:

the criteria under which dimensions and indicators were selected doesn’t seem to be properly justified, specially the one related to race (Franco 1973, 24).

We widely agree with Franco and we believe that arbitrariness of the selected indicators responds to the absence of a theory of power which directs their structural study.

Our fourth and last critique stands on the outcome from the International Positioning Index. Although very possibly Argentina has been the main Latin American power during the entire 19th century and up to the mid of 20th century, it is not easy to conceive that at the end of the 60’s it still was the first power on the territory, as well as it is hard to comprehend that Cuba had had a higher international positioning than Mexico or Brazil and so had taken the second place. The partiality of the International Positioning Index is manifested by the “subjective” stratification, which ranked on top 5 precisely Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Venezuela (in that same order). Our diagnosis lies in the fact that given the arbitrariness in the indicators of the International Positioning Index, its resultant reading may be certainly skewed.

Even if the outcomes delivered by the International Positioning Index came to be experimentally less convincing than the subjective stratification, the intellectuals also presented a significant pattern:

the ideal is to use the simplest possible methodology, and try to see if the result is theoretically meaningful (Galtung, Mora and Schwartzman 1969, 162).

We agree with them and their words echo our research. Based on this, it is our will to continue and update their work in Las promesas del ascenso estructural de los países de América Latina.

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