thumbnail of The Institute on Man and Science; Can Man manage the city?
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Latin American perspectives a program of comment and analysis about current Latin American problems and their historical setting. The commentator for these programs is Dr. C. Harvey Gardner research professor of history at Southern Illinois University. Here now is Dr. Gardner. In this country in this election year it is planed fully. Some say painfully evident that organized labor is a political force as well as a body with clear cut economic and social ideas to be pursued. Organized labor in Latin America is not all that powerful as yet but its history and prospect is the theme of a new study. Victor Alba's politics and the labor movement in Latin America a publication of Stanford University Press. In Latin America as in Europe a Workers Movement comprises not only a labor or
union movement but also the political element concerned with the interests of the working class. Socialism Communism anarchy ism revolutionary syndicalism and in some measure populism and Christian democracy. There is a tendency in the United States at least at present to forget that US labor movement once had a strong political and ideological origin and that during the initial stages of its development it was a movement of protest against the existing order a movement that hoped to transform the structure of American society. We look then to background elements in Latin American labor history. But first a word about the peculiar relationship that Labor has to the soil in Latin America because industrialization there has been so recent. The proletariat in Latin America is still tied to an unusual degree
to the soil. The working man is born in the country and his parents still live in a village. It has been middle class city dwellers intellectuals professional men students and a few specialized workers who have thought through the years for a change in Latin American society the political struggle has affected very few. When great upheaval stir a nation. Only a handful of those participating are politically motivated and fewer still have a clear cut political philosophy. And there is also the racial factor. Negroes Indians mestizos the latter being the crossbreeds of Indian and white and Sambo's the mixtures of Indians and negroes mulattoes and whites are all legally entitled to the same rights but subtle social inequalities persist precisely because the problem has appeared not in terms of legal
injustice but in psychological and economic terms social progress has been hindered. First not a word about the anarcho syndicalist movement and its relationship to Latin American labor. And Enter Chris thought initially reached Latin America with the immigrants from Europe particularly with those from Spain and Italy. Its influence is felt most strongly in Argentina somewhat less in Mexico and Peru in many countries it became a determining force in the Unionist movement and an important element in the ideological evolution that led to the populist movements just as it had in Europe. Anarchy ism in Latin America passed through two periods the first which we might call pure anarchy ism was individualistic in the extreme violently impatient terroristic and inclined to
acts of impractical almost mystical heroism. The second militant a political or anti political trade unionism are anarcho syndicalism was collectivistic propagandistic impatient but less fanatic and organized for mass activity. Pure anarchy ism disappeared before World War One in Latin America giving way grudgingly to anarcho syndicalism which reached its greatest strength. Roughly between 1890 and one thousand thirty anarcho syndicalism persists in Latin America today particularly in Argentina and Uruguay. But its remnants have been reduced to impotence and its appeal minimal since World War Two days. Another of the background elements needed to understand Latin American labor movement is the socialist movement. In Latin America the socialist movement took
root and developed where immigration from Europe was heavy in argentina chile and Oregon why in particular elsewhere it failed to become an organized movement or at best Rand to a modest career of brief importance. But if it has generally been impotent as an organized political force socialism has had great ideological influence on Latin American politics. Today there is no popular movement in Latin America. No school of economists not even an aspiring demagogue that fails to reveal the influence of socialist thinking. Even the demagogues who have wished to pursue fascism have been unable to divest themselves of socialist thought. However warped they have presented. Such social concepts as government control and state intervention in the economy are well entrenched in Latin American tradition. Other aspects such as the
tendency to government planning to suit the aspirations of young technocrats including the young military. Socialism influences these elements but its influence does not make of them. Party militants rather it affords them ideas concepts or points of view as well as methods for analyzing reality. Another element put into this the mixture that is the Latin American labor movement is the communist element. The history of the labor movement in Latin America could perhaps be written with no more than a passing reference to communism. It has not except in two or three countries drawn significant support from the working masses. It is true however that communism has influenced students intellectuals and some members of the middle classes who have in turn help determine the direction of the
labor movement. But many people have simply assumed without studying the matter that Communism must have been a major force in the labor movement. Yet another of the elements going into this the mosaic of the Latin American labor picture concerns the populist movements the populist movements of Latin America which we might call revolutionary nationalistic or revolutionary democratic movements have exerted a definite influence on the union movement. Despite national differences in their programs the populist movements have certain features in common. All have farm parties whose support has come from groups within the peasantry the workers and the middle class all have made an effort to develop a specifically Latin American approach to political problems in theory and in practice and in so doing
they have all to some extent drawn on the concepts formulated by Peru's thinker dilatory. Finally although they cannot be described as middle class movements their principal leaders have been produced by the middle class. A word now then about the unionism that has resulted from the mixture of influences coming from abroad Plus the specific conditions that the people the landscape the labor picture represented in Latin America itself the Latin American union movement until now the chief avenue of expression for the working class differs markedly from the union movements of Europe and the United States as well as those of the new nations of Africa and Asia. In some nations the union movement was an outgrowth of workers cooperatives.
In others it was the creation of the socialists the anarcho syndicalist or the populous. But today with few exceptions the union movement is independent of the traditional Labor ideologies and seeks its own forms of organization and its own ideological concepts. If one were to single out some of the most distinctive features of the Latin American union movement. Attention would have to be directed first of all to the high rate of illiteracy among Latin American workers more dangerous in its connotations. Is the fact that many even of the literates have had no instruction beyond primary reading. Thus workers are indifferent to cultural tastes and pursuits impervious to complex explanation and suspicious of authority. Moreover this abysmal educational level
promotes dissent among the rank and file encourages the creation of castes of more educated workers broadens the range of salaries and undermines the solidarity of the unions. Most industrial workers are of peasant origin and in periods of mass unemployment are forced walk outs many return to their villages where they are assured at least of a roof and food. In not a few areas the I'm skilled worker walks off the job to attend prolonged fiestas in his home village or even to help with the harvest. These random absences produce fluctuations in manpower and union strength that seriously eroded all efforts toward worker education and technical training. The peasant mentality isolation suspicion indifference to social questions and the culture persists in the urban worker.
Alcoholism drug addiction and family instability are brought on principally by the president's profound inability to adapt to urban life and work. The worker commonly finds himself relinquishing the satisfactions of the small workshop for the sake of industrialized mass production. There are few women in industry in Latin America but many children work generally in violation of child labor laws. Such children emerge as workers lacking even a minimal education. There is a general lack of interest in social problems. In any case a paucity of reference sources on these problems journals libraries books conferences worker centers in almost all Latin American countries. These features of the Latin American union movement set it clearly apart from the movements of the United States and Europe. The experience of foreign
The Institute on Man and Science
Can Man manage the city?
Producing Organization
Institute on Man and Science
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-bz619d97).
Episode Description
This program features the lecture "Can Man Manage the City?" by Timothy Costello, Deputy Mayor-City Admnistrator of the City of New York.
Other Description
A lecture and discussion series on major current problems like urban decay; pollution; space exploration; and the role of science in finding solutions. Talks were held during the summer of 1968 at the Institute on Man and Science, New York.
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: Institute on Man and Science
Speaker: Costello, Timothy W.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-33-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:27:29
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The Institute on Man and Science; Can Man manage the city?,” 1968-09-24, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 20, 2022,
MLA: “The Institute on Man and Science; Can Man manage the city?.” 1968-09-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 20, 2022. <>.
APA: The Institute on Man and Science; Can Man manage the city?. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from