Economic developments in Argentina over the last half-century present a puzzle to observers: Before World War II, the nation's per capita income and standard of living were comparable to those in countries like Canada and Australia; today, Argentina is submerged in deep economic, social, and political crises. In analyzing the events that led to this reversal, the author enhances our understanding of the phenomenon of arrested economic development in Argentina and similar developing countries. Dr. Peralta-Ramos approaches the problem with a dialectical interpretation of contemporary Argentinian history, examining crucial economic and political developments since 1930 from the standpoint of class interests in conflict. She discusses early government strategies for industrialization and their consequences for economic growth and institutional stability, maintaining that state policies generated a struggle for the appropriation of income and, ultimately, for control of the state, not only between the middle classes and the urban working class but also between the agrarian and industrial sectors of the bourgeoisie. The ensuing political instability led to further fluctuations in economic policy, to an erosion of institutional legitimacy, and, eventually, to state terrorism. Ongoing political crisis, war, and military rule, as well as soaring speculation and dwindling capital, hastened the downward spiral of the Argentinian economy. Dr. Peralta-Ramos offers in this book an innovative theoretical approach for examining how power relations can inhibit economic development and produce a fragile institutional system that threatens democracy.
Introduction -- Origins of Argentinian Industrial Development -- Paradoxes of Argentinian Industrial Development -- Explosion of the Legitimacy Crisis -- Legacy of the Process -- Political Challenges to the Radical Government -- Democracy on the Brink of the Abyss