Ten years ago, Colombian writer Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, Cuban writer Carlos Alberto Montaner, and I wrote Guide to the Perfect Latin American Idiot, a book criticizing opinion and political leaders who clung to ill-conceived political myths despite evidence to the contrary. The “Idiot” species, we suggested, bore responsibility for Latin America’s underdevelopment. Its beliefs—revolution, economic nationalism, hatred of the United States, faith in the government as an agent of social justice, a passion for strongman rule over the rule of law—derived, in our opinion, from an inferiority complex. In the late 1990s, it seemed as if the Idiot were finally retreating. But the retreat was short lived. Today, the species is back in force in the form of populist heads of state who are reenacting the failed policies of the past, opinion leaders from around the world who are lending new credence to them, and supporters who are giving new life to ideas that seemed extinct.
The Idiot’s worldview, in turn, finds an echo among distinguished intellectuals in Europe and the United States. These pontificators assuage their troubled consciences by espousing exotic causes in developing nations. Their opinions attract fans among First-World youngsters for whom globalization phobia provides the perfect opportunity to find spiritual satisfaction in the populist jeremiad of the Latin American Idiot against the wicked West.
Read the whole thing, the article is well worth the time. Llosa describes the various species of predatory socialists who rule some key countries in South America and goes on to argue that there currently is a major conflict between pro-Western forces and those who would like to keep it on its present course. The negative influence of European and American intellectuals could well make it impossible to overcome the ‘Latin American Idiot’ and so finally get over economic stagnation and the subsequent, widespread lack of trust in democratic institutions.
The article also is very timely, the (mostly) European variety of economic and ideological idiot is currently preparing to protest the upcoming G8 Summit.