Conservative Socialism: On Cold War-era Latin America in “China: Mao’s Legacy”

In the latter half of the Second World War, the “Cold War,” Latin America bore witness to proxy wars, civil wars, and revolutions by the Jeffersonians and the Soviets, who sought to gain influence among the continent’s nations. All notions about these United States being somehow immune from the geopolitical affairs of Eurasia cease whenever Latin America becomes a factor. It matters very little if the US is separated from Eurasia by the Atlantic (Europe to its east) and the Pacific (Asia to its West). This was the grand strategic miscalculation of the Jeffersonians, who were more adamant about promoting their Monroe Doctrine, proclaiming these United States as the sole hegemonic power over the Americas. Any nation worth their salt on the Eurasian landmass knows that the real weaknesses of the US, following the American Civil War, do not necessarily lie anywhere within the “Lower 48.” Rather, it lies far south of the Rio Grande in Latin America.

Contrary to the Jeffersonians, the Hamiltonian approach to US foreign policy envisages Latin America as being crucial to the national stability of the Union. If a certain part of Latin America becomes destabilized and thus incapable of sustaining themselves, it is only inevitable that their Totalities will flee to the US, creating all major the potential implications of a humanitarian disaster. The US should be able to intervene in Latin America, but such interventions must not be allowed to come at the expenses of the Americas as a whole. Therein lies the real distinction between the Hamiltonian and Jeffersonian positions on Latin America. A US personified as the “Federalist American Union (FAU)” will see to it that Latin America is in the position of becoming its own hegemonic power, a strategic partner in governing the affairs of the Americas. It will not, however, consider itself to be the Americas’ sole hegemony and dictate the rest with impunity.

What happened in the Cold War was in actuality a continuation of the consequences that came with the US perpetuating the Jeffersonian positions on Latin America. The nations of Latin America saw the growing Jeffersonian conflict with the Soviet Union as their opportunity to chip away at the Monroe Doctrine and regain control of their own sovereign destiny. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Cuba under Fidel Castro, who channeled the centuries of Cuban resistance to Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe’s ambitions for the island into Marxist-Leninist fervor against the former Batista regime. The true American Federalist knows about what Jefferson himself said to his second protégé Monroe about Cuba, including why the island should be added to a growing list of subjects in his Empire of Liberty. They must realize that no matter what ideology Cuba adopts for itself, its National Essence will always be in opposition to the Jeffersonians. Whether the Democratic-Republican Party chooses to subjugate Cuba with US Dollars or US Marines, the result remains the same for the Cubans, and the Communist Party in that country knows that Jeffersonian ambitions hardly change.

It should also be repeated until internalized that just because certain countries in Latin America chose to side with the Soviets, that does not necessarily make them supportive of Marxism-Leninism. The Soviet Union was just one among several great powers on the Eurasian landmass that realized the flaws of the Monroe Doctrine. The British and French Empires, the German Reich (both the House of Hohenzollern and Hitlerists), the Imperial Japanese, the Post-Soviet Russians under Vladimir Putin, and the Chinese Maoists have all tried to take advantage of those flaws. Granted, none of them had succeeded in swaying the entirety of Latin America against the Jeffersonians, but it was not without attempting to do so.

That is why I am not at all surprised by the direction that the Russian indie developer Kremlingames went with their recently released DLC for China: Mao’s Legacy, “Homeland or Death.” The DLC, in addition to tweaking existing historical decisions that affect the Eurasian landmass, gave the player the choice of subverting the direction of Latin American politics into a pro-Chinese sphere of influence.

The affair of Latin America adds a rewarding and challenging dimension to the base game. The player now has to balance the abilities of Mainland China to project its power in Eurasia, Africa and Latin America. Even in the easiest of game modes, the player will always find themselves not being able to fully intervene in Latin American politics because doing so comes with immense penalties to Chinese diplomatic relations with the Jeffersonians, who view such encroachments as violating the Monroe Doctrine. It does mark a stark contrast to how the Jeffersonians nowadays view the continent, straddling the line somewhere between complacency and incompetence. There is a 2014 research paper from Brazil that documents trend in far greater detail than I can do here.

Anyway, the player is made to realize that the affairs of Eurasia and the Americas, although seemingly distant, have become much closer by the 1970s and 1980s. If the player decides to avoid joining Yugoslavia’s Non-Aligned Movement or the Soviet Union’s CMEA, they can form a Chinese economic and customs union with any nations allied to them, and that includes the ones from Latin America. The trick with the Latin American nations is that they do not necessarily have to be Marxist-Leninist-Maoist regimes; State Socialist, Democratic Socialist and even Social-Democratic regimes are also eligible to join.

But perhaps the most interesting dynamic is how the DLC portrayed the spectrum of ideologies that existed in the continent during the 1970s and 1980s. Much like in the historical literature, the political-economic structures of Latin American nations varied across individual countries. While nations like Argentina or Brazil were under military dictatorships that ran Market/Mixed Economies (what the developer referred to as “Market Dictatorships”), other were under “Red Toryism,” an ideology with an interesting historical background.

Red Toryism is an English ideology that envisaged a Conservative approach to Social-Democracy or Democratic Socialism, hence its name. Critical of Neoliberalism’s Market Economy and its Free Trade practices, Red Toryism supported both Social-Democracy and Democratic Socialism on Conservative grounds, arguing that they will in turn support important values shared by most Conservatives such as community, family, culture and tradition. It is also noteworthy that Red Toryism, as an ideology, is diverse enough to have included Fabian Socialists, Guild Socialists, and proponents of Corporatist economics among its historical and contemporary ranks. The ideology, within the timeframe of China: Mao’s Legacy, was facing the same decline that confronted the Social-Democrats, Democratic Socialists, State Socialists, and Marxist-Leninists. Toryism in general began abandoning its Corporatist and Socialistic sympathies as Margaret Thatcher was coming to power in the UK, a trend that, despite continuing, is only just beginning to become challenged again in the 2020s. It remains to be seen as to whether today’s Red Tories are pro-Corporatist or pro-Socialist, however. The question that remains is whether Red Toryism is all rhetoric or an actual political alternative.

There are another set of ideologies which can be encountered in Chile and Paraguay. The developer, interestingly enough, chose to describe them as being “Proto-Fascist,” which was their way of describing the complex political-economic structures of Augusto Pinochet’s Chile and Alfredo Stroessner’s Paraguay. In both countries, the Liberal Capitalists could not have secured their positions of power in the manner that they did without cajoling the Fascists by manipulating their well-known distrust of Socialists and Communists. The “Proto-Fascist” designation is meant to give the player the impression that, regardless of whatever people like Friedrich von Hayek or Milton Friedman had to say about those particular countries, there was always that opportunity in which the Fascists might betray the Liberal Capitalists and seize for themselves.

Fortunately, I am grateful that the DLC managed to portray this behind-the-scenes power struggle and reminding the player that Fascism did in fact have its own hostilities toward Neoliberalism. This brings me back to my earlier point about trying to affect Latin American politics from a Chinese perspective. Should the player try to help the Fascists and Authoritarian military juntas of Cold War-era Latin America overthrow the Liberal Capitalists, if it meant later helping them build Pure Socialism and Council Democracy? Or will the personal biases against helping Fascists and Authoritarians and the more immediate priorities of Eurasia prevent them from sending foreign aid?        

I posited similar conclusions to Bogumil in his ARPLAN Blog posts regarding Fascist Italy and the more recently his latest post on the British Union of Fascists. In both posts, I dared to raise the question of which of the two should the Fascists be helping, the Liberal Capitalists or the Communists. In the former case, I argued that even though Benito Mussolini had to made concessions to the Liberal Capitalists within his own government, he wanted to build a “Corporatist Planned Economy” that could be comparable to the type of Planned Economy that Deng Xiaoping sought to build for Mainland China, the “Socialist Market Economy.” As for the latter, I insisted that the Communists and Socialists from the CPGB (Communist Party of Great Britain) and the old Labour Party should have supported Oswald Mosley and his BUF and invest more of their energy in opposing the Liberal Capitalists who were consistently against them.

My aforementioned questions still stand because nobody within my research over the years has ever been able to provide the definitive answer since 1941.



Categories: Politics

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