Can we finally declare dependency theory dead? Economists have long given up on this theory of underdevelopment, but I’ve been surprised to find out in recent years that it is still taught in other disciplines. Even some of the original proponents of the idea have since renounced it.
For instance, check out Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s The Accidental President of Brazil: A Memoir, a great read and also an interesting discussion of how he went from being one of the foremost proponents of dependency theory as a sociologist in the 1960s to becoming deeply disillusioned with it later in life.
Now Tal Cual has a great article about Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, which has the funny distinction of having inspired Hugo Chavez (so much that he gave it to Obama as a present) as well as the book Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot.
Here’s the summary on Amazon.com: “Since its U.S. debut a quarter-century ago, this brilliant text has set a new standard for historical scholarship of Latin America. It is also an outstanding political economy, a social and cultural narrative of the highest quality, and perhaps the finest description of primitive capital accumulation since Marx. Weaving fact and imagery into a rich tapestry, Galeano fuses scientific analysis with the passions of a plundered and suffering people.” [My emphasis for parts that I found ironic and unintentionally funny]
So what does Mr. Galeano think nowadays about his masterpiece? Turns out not so much. Tal Cual cites Galeano as saying that he didn’t have any real economic or political knowledge when he wrote the book and that he wouldn’t want to re-read the book because the “leftist, traditional prose is terrible.” I guess Obama might want to think of putting the book at the bottom of his “to-read” pile.