The State Crisis in Argentina: Global Fantasies And National Containment

Pablo Castagno

Major Professor: Paul Smith

Committee Members: Roger Lancaster, Matthew Karush

Research Hall, 91
December 06, 2010, 08:00 AM to 10:00 AM



This dissertation examines the neoliberal reform implemented by Carlos Menem's government in Argentina (1989-1999) in relation to the "organic state crisis" of the mid 1970s and the political and economic crisis of 1989. I contend that the neoliberal reform aimed at fully adjusting the nation-state's economic structures to Northern capital, continuing a trend that started in the late 1950s. The adaptation of the nation-state to Northern capital eroded the hegemony of the state as the institution that protected the nation, as I show, periodically pressuring the ruling class to establish new state modes of regulation for controlling the constant conflicts between workers and capital, and between citizens and the state: repressive nationalism, democratic reformism and market populism. Focusing on conjuncture of the 1990s, I examine how those modes of regulation operate in a variety of spheres, including political representation, the culture industry, trade union politics and economic policy. I argue that there are three essential political tools with which the ruling class controls workers and citizens: the state absorption of capitalist crises, the production of a libidinal economy based on the First World fantasy and the re-elaboration of populist politics. In the last chapter, I return to the issue of the "organic state crisis" by examining the civic, political and economic convulsions of 2001-2002. I conclude that the tendency toward state repression is inherent to the contemporary nation-state's adjustment to Northern capital.
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