Francisco Dominguez & Marcos Guedes de Oliveira eds. Mercosur: Between Integration and Democracy Peter Lang, Oxford, 2004, 220 pp. ISBN 3-906769-83-6 (pbk) 28 [pounds sterling]
Mercusor is the result of a treaty signed in 1991 by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The aim of the treaty was to foster economic cooperation and to create a common market and customs union. This book about Mercusor is long on detail and short on critical analytical insight. Thus, if you are looking for a general introduction to Mercosur with a politically liberal slant and an ambiguous relationship with liberal economics, then this edited collection will be sufficient. However, if you are looking for a critical political economy approach that analyses the contradictions between neoliberal economic reform and democracy, and between productive economic growth and profit making; or that analyses the role of Mercosur in the international political economy of neoliberalism, and the dominance of neoliberalism in the Southern Cone, then this anthology is theoretically unsatis-factory and, at times, misleading.
It could be argued that one of the edition's strengths is its diversity of theoretical perspective, and its diversity of concept formation. Francisco Dominguez's chapter, 'Democracy and economic integration: The continental context' and Marcos Guedes de Oliveira's chapter, 'Limitations on democratic transitions in Latin America and the fate of Mercosur', offer the most consistent attempts to critically analyse the development of Mercusor by linking it to the national struggles for neoliberal hegemony in the Southern Cone, and to the dominance of neoliberalism in international political economy.
However, Peter Lambert's chapter, 'Paraguay in Mercosur: Para que?' offers a critique of Paraguayan national failures in democratising the state and economy (from a noticeably 'good governance' perspective), with an acceptance that a neoliberal accumulation strategy is the best development strategy for the region. Some chapters, such as Lambert's, look at Mercosur and its shortcomings from a clearly institutionalist perspective. This perspective overlooks the conditions of national class struggle that both shaped the formation of Mercusor, and are embedded in its reproduction. Then there are those such as Marcos Costa Lima's chapter, 'Mercosur and the New Global Order: A methodological essay', which view Mercosur as a rational response to globalisation, conceptualised...