Globalisation and state power : political and economic reform in Argentina, 1989-1995
The thesis examines the process by which sustained reform became possible in Argentina between 1989 and 1995 after some fifty years of cyclical crisis and ungovernability. It argues that the first administration of Carlos Menem broke the earlier 'logic' of Argentine politics, characterised by the suffocation of economic policy coherence by organised political interests. What needs to be explained, in this light, is not why reform happened in Argentina (- this is explained readily with reference to the crisis of 1989), but rather how it was sustained. The central contention is that the consolidation of reform can be explained convincingly with reference to international influences from around 1991/2 onwards. These influences are identified as (a) globalisation, (b) conditionality, and (c) regionalisation. In this way, the theoretical agenda of the thesis feeds into the study of International Political Economy and the prevalent debates in the study of globalisation. The international influences on change at the domestic level worked in two ways. First, they acted to 'rescue' the Argentine state from its conditions of crisis in the late 1980s by providing the political and economic space for a radical reform of both the economy and society. Second, the consolidation of this restructuring process was achieved from 1991/2 onwards through the 'internationalisation' of the state, which led to significant changes in the nature of state power. The impact of the three dimensions of international influence generated a 'paradox of state power', in which the state became simultaneously more and less 'powerful': while its autonomy diminished in the international context in terms of the available policy options, there was a marked increase in its autonomy in the internal arena vis-a-vis domestic political and economic actors. The result was an opportunity for the consolidation of the government's political and economic reform agenda in Argentina.