Eduaction, political culture and foreign policy:


  By Carlos Escudé


 The present paper is an attempt to:

         1. Summarize the findings of a multi-stage research project on the nationalistic, authoritarian and militaristic contents of Argentina's educational system, and

         2. Link the said findings to Argentina's foreign policy traditions, in terms not of direct causality but of cultural factors that have contributed to determine the menu of policy choices that Argentine decision-makers perceived to have before them.

 This effort can be properly placed in the framework of the theoretical questions posed by Herbert A. Simon in a 1985 article in which he stressed that:

         "To understand political choices, we need to understand where the frame of reference for the actors' thinking comes from (...). An important component of the frame of reference is the set of alternatives that are given consideration in the choice process. We need to understand not only how people reason about alternatives, but where the alternatives come from in the first place. The process whereby alternatives are generated has been somewhat ignored as an object of research. (...) The theory of the generation of alternatives deserves, and requires, a treatment that is just as definitive and thorough as the treatment we give to the theory of choice among specified alternatives." [1]

         Both the history of Argentina's foreign policy and the history of the ideological contents of Argentina's educational system have led me to the conclusion that there has been a significant connection between political culture and foreign policy decision-making in Argentina, and that it is impossible to attain a satisfactory understanding of some of the more extreme foreign policies of Argentina's history, without recurring to a cultural factor as a causal variable in a multivariate explanatory model.

          The most salient case in which the intervention of a cultural variable in the decision-making process is self-evident is that of the invasion of the Falkland/Malvinas islands of April 1982. The military government then in charge invaded the islands in order to gain (to some extent, regain) popular support, and they were indeed successful in the attainment of this objective until their inevitable defeat at war. Although the direct cause of the invasion was this political gambit, the fact that invading the islands was a plausible way of generating support is in itself indicative that, due to the operation of a cultural variable, the menu of policy choices available to the Argentine government was very different from, for example, the menu available to the Canadian government at the time. Indeed, no Canadian government could ever gain popularity by invading the French islands of St. Pierre et Miquelon, which are far closer to Canada than the Falklands are to Argentina, and which have no better reasons for being French than the Falklands have for being British. It was due to a cultural factor that the invasion of the Falkland Islands was a policy alternative open to the Argentine government in 1982. It is due to a cultural factor that the invasion of St. Pierre et Miquelon is not a policy alternative open to the Canadian government.  

Also, the fact that going to war over the Falkland/Malvinas islands in 1982 was a plausible policy option for the Argentine military government is underlined by the fact that this conflict was preceded, in 1978, by an aborted mobilization against Chile due to a territorial dispute over the tiny Beagle Channel islands, which --as in the case of the Falklands conflict-- was accompanied  by a bellicose indoctrination that was only an intensification of the traditional anti-Chilean contents of the Argentine educational curriculum. This episode, which put the country only hours away from a war against Chile that was averted by the Vatican's intervention, shows not only how war-prone was that Argentine military government, but also how much room for such policies there was in Argentina's culture: civilian support for such an adventure ran high, a testimony of which is the massive amount of anti-Chilean literature produced then and afterwards. [2]  

Likewise, the fact that Argentina has neither signed the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nor ratified the Tlatelolco treaty for the prohibition of nuclear weapons in Latin America (it being the only country in the region in this position with the exception of Cuba), and the fact that Argentina has pursued this policy under governments of every kind, military and democratic, and under both major political parties, also underscores the plausibility of including a cultural variable in any explanatory model of these policy outcomes. Until very recently there has been a relatively generalized consensus that ratifying Tlatelolco or signing the NPT was contrary to the "national interest", regardless of the direct and indirect costs of maintaining a nuclear arms option open. Argentina set out to enrich uranium despite the fact that its nuclear reactors run on natural uranium, and the vast majority of Argentines have felt proud about their country's achievements in this field. This does not explain any individual Argentine government's nuclear policy, but it does help to understand why this policy option was an attractive item of the menu for one Argentine government after the other.  

Invading the Falkland Islands and keeping a nuclear arms option open were extremely costly policies for Argentina, which in addition to their high direct costs subjected her to all sorts of discriminations in her relations with the industrialized world. The 1982 war in the South Atlantic lasted only a few weeks, but Argentina did not reestablish diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom until 1990, thus damaging her vital economic relations with the EEC.  

But costs apparently did not matter [b] , just as a material motivation for invading the islands was never invoked and, indeed, would be hard to defend when the basic facts about Argentina are considered. An indebted and underdeveloped country with as much as one third of the territory of the United States but only one eighth of its population (i.e., an underpopulated Third World state), Argentina held the Falkland/Malvinas islands during only five and a half years, as long as a century and a half ago. Yet in 1982 she set out to "reconquer" this land that has far less natural resources per square mile than the huge and underexploited Argentine mainland. Moreover, given the disparity of power between the two contenders, in addition to the United States' support of Britain, the war was inevitably to be lost by Argentina [3] .  

A similar case can be made for Argentina's policy of keeping a nuclear arms option open. Billions of dollars were spent in the development of an indigenous technology for nuclear reactors that used natural uranium, and in the enrichment of uranium allegedly for experimental and medical purposes. It is well nigh impossible to make either an economic or a security case for this policy: money was wasted, conventional security was jeopardized, the country came to be perceived as a dangerous potential proliferator and as such became a target for all sorts of discrimination. And all this in the context of abundant and underexploited hydroelectric and natural gas resources, i.e., far less expensive and less conflictive means for the production of energy. But nationalist emotions ran high, and these policies satisfied Argentine yearns to a greater extent than any plausible alternative: in my opinion, this is what made their inter-regime and inter-governmental continuity possible.  

Thus, it seems to me that even if an individual government's pursuit of these policies can be attributed to some sort of political rationality that speculates on the popularity generated by them, their popularity itself (which is what put them in the menu of plausible policy alternatives) must be included in what Simon has called "radical irrationality". Indeed, in Simon's terms:  

"Surely even the concept of bounded rationality does not capture the whole role of passion and unreason in human affairs. (...) From the earliest times it has been seen that human behavior is not always the result of deliberate calculation, even of a boundedly rational kind. Sometimes it must be attributed to passion, to the capture of the decision process by powerful impulses that do not permit the mediation of thought." [4]  

If we accept the premises that:  

1. The popularity of the Argentine foreign policies that I have described can be included under the concept of "radical irrationality", and  

2. It was the leadership's perception of the popularity of these policies what put them in the menu of plausible policy alternatives, and what eventually made their materialization possible, after a doubtlessly complex decision-making process in which there were several other inputs (including the leaders' own belief systems, which in all likelihood did not depart significantly from the general public's political culture),  

then in order to fully understand these policies it is necessary to study the political culture that made their popularity possible. Specifically, it is necessary to study the mechanisms of indoctrination that were used during most of the 20th Century in order to imbue the population with a chauvinistic culture that made any other policy less-then-popular. This is not to be made at the expense of the study of the other variables that intervened in the decision process, but as a necessary complement without which an essential part of the process is not understood.  

Basically, the problem to be studied can be summarized in Charles E. Merriam's phrase, "the making of citizens". The vast majority of Argentina's citizens applauded the invasion of Falkland/Malvinas in 1982. Contrariwise, the vast majority of Canadian citizens would fall into a state of acute catatonia if their armed forces were to invade St. Pierre et Miquelon. The difference is of great relevance in terms of the policy-making process, for in the first case the invasion of the islands becomes a plausible policy alternative, whereas in the second case it is eliminated as such. Yet ever since Merriam's time this field has been gravely neglected by political scientists [5] . Studies on the ideological contents of the educational system have been undertaken almost exclusively by educational historians, whose perspectives, methodologies and objectives were usually not directed towards the formulation and testing of hypotheses related to the policy-making process (or, more importantly perhaps, to the generation of democratic vis-a-vis authoritarian trends within a polity), while the other mechanisms relevant to the making of citizens (the press, the mass media, the draft, the churches, etc.) were seldom studied as such in relation to the characteristics of the political system.  

In the case of Latin American Studies, the absence of a political scientific approach to the study of the mechanisms for the making of citizens was particularly impoverishing, due to the enhanced role that the state has played in this region in the process of nation-building. In Latin America, national distinctions are often artificial, perhaps to a greater extent than in Europe, where (for example) some sort of German or Italian culture had arisen before the consolidation of these respective nation-states. Indeed, if we restrain ourselves to Hispanic America, it could well be said that what the countries that compose it have in common would define a nationality in Europe. In Hispanic America, the distinction between citizens of neighboring states are often almost exclusively the product of the efforts of the state, which to a very considerable extent is previous to the nationality (this being, of course, always a question of degree). Uruguayans and the inhabitants of the Province of Buenos Aires not only speak the same language and share a common, largely southern European stock; they also have practically the same accent. Yet there are great differences between the two, in terms of a political culture which was to a great extent generated by the state. And indeed, there is a concomitant great difference between the political evolution of the two countries, Argentina being more prone to authoritarianism, and Uruguay more democratic. Moreover, while Argentina made the Falkland/Malvinas war in 1982, Uruguay never even made a feeble attempt to claim the islands, despite the fact that the historical title of Montevideo to them can compete with that of Buenos Aires. If we do not study the mechanisms used for the making of citizens and their specific ideological contents, we will be excluding a variable which (together with a number of other factors) may be crucial to the understanding of the political and policy-making process.  

This is more the case in Latin America than in some other areas of the world insofar as the states' role in the forging of citizens was greater and more intense: local leaderships felt that they had to achieve in very few decades what in Europe had been achieved in centuries through a complex historical process that included state intervention but was by no means limited to it. In Hispanic America, commonality (language, religion, historical origin, etc.) was a barrier to the development of a national identity limited to the artificial boundaries of the state. Thus the state had to step in to rapidly compensate for this lack of a "natural" identity, improvising myths and, more importantly, generating negative images of their immediate neighbors. This effort was undertaken in addition to the more universal state task of attempting to eliminate heterogeneity within the state itself. Thus, the study of the mechanisms used for the making of citizens is more important in Latin America than in some other regions, a fact that is even further enhanced by the traditional authoritarian political trends of the region, that has tended to increase the role of the state in everyday life.  

Needless to say, any attempt to study the mechanisms used for the making of citizens in Latin America and, more specifically, their ideological contents, even if undertaken with the relatively narrow objective of contributing to the understanding of the foreign policy menu of choices, will plunge us into the wider field of the origins of the region's traditional authoritarian trends. Indeed, the fact that a coup d'état is not an equally likely policy choice for the military in every society, and that its being in the menu of their policy choices is largely a function of a political culture that can make it more or less tolerable for the wider public, should be rather obvious. That such studies should not have been undertaken for every country in the region is regretable and surprising.  

Argentine territorial nationalism  

            To a very modest extent, this vacuum in the political scientific literature on Latin America was filled, in the Argentine case, by my own work which to the present has consisted of four successive stages that I will summarize in this paper. I began with a preliminary survey of 20th Century Argentine history school-texts that showed that, independently of the type of regime or government in power, one message that is permanently present in Argentine education is that the country has been deprived of huge continental territories during the 19th Century by the cunning of expansionist neighbors and/or by the secessions of ungrateful brethren. In the Argentine texts, the loss of the Falkland Islands is added to the loss of great territories allegedly forfeited to Chile and Brazil, and to the loss of Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay in their entirety: these countries supposedly should have been "inherited" by Argentina from Spain. In contrast, the historical atlases that are published in Western Europe and North America unanimously award mid-19th Century Argentina a territory that is scarcely more than half its present-day area (see, for example, the historical atlases published by Hammond, Penguin and Anchor). In other words, while the Argentine textbooks reflect a self-perception as a country that suffered severe territorial amputations during the 19th Century, victimized by neighbors and secessionists, the vast majority of the material published on the subject outside Argentina depicts the country as successfully expansionist during that very same century.  

This phenomenon --interesting both from a sociology of knowledge and from an anthropological perspective-- led me to:  

1. A study  of the historical origins of the myth of Argentine territorial losses, in which I come to the conclusion that the perception that describes the Argentine state as successfully expansionist during the 19th Century is more objective and realistic than its counterpart [6] .  

2. To the hypotheses that the myth of territorial losses:  

a. Feeds the irredentism that made possible the massive popular support to the military takeover of the Falkland Islands in 1982 (despite the fact that it was performed by a --by then-- very unpopular dictatorship, and notwithstanding the near-certainty of defeat)  

b. Is functional to the corporate interests of armed forces which are in need of what in Argentina are called "conflict hypotheses", in order to justify budget increases and arms purchases.  

c. Was functional to the interests of a state that historically needed to generate adherence and loyalties, artificially differentiating an incipient nation from neighboring states in which the same language was spoken, the same majority-religion was professed and, to some extent, other common denominators, both ethnical and cultural, prevailed. This functionality would be hypothetically enhanced in a case such as the Argentine, where the federal state needed to unite regions which were affected by a relative heterogeneity in ethnical and cultural terms. In this context, it should be remembered that, in Argentina, the population of Buenos Aires has much more in common with the population of Uruguay (a separate state) than with the population of Corrientes; that the population of Corrientes has much more in common with the population of Paraguay (again, a separate state) than with the population of Jujuy; that the population of Jujuy has much more in common with the population of Bolivia (yet again, a separate state) than with the population of Mendoza, and that the population of Mendoza has much more in common with the inhabitants of the Chilean capital than with those of Buenos Aires. The extensive Andean region of the country is akin to Bolivia; the also extensive Guaraní region is akin to Paraguay; the no less extensive Cuyo region is akin to central Chile; the economically and politically central Rio de la Plata region is akin to Uruguay. The internal heterogeneity is thus more relevant in the context of the relative kinship with neighboring states which share many cultural and ethnic traits with the country as a whole, and vis-a-vis which the existing frontiers are wholly artificial. The need for cohesion in an internally heterogenous state which concomitantly is not too different from its neighbors would hypothetically have generated perceptions, in the ruling elites, as to the suitability of generating --indeed, inventing-- unifying and differentiating myths, intentionally propagated by the state.  

3. To the measurement of the dissemination of the myth of territorial losses. To this end, the Gallup Institute of Argentina was asked to include the following question in one of its polls: "Do you think that, throughout its history, Argentina has won or lost territories?" A probabilistic sample representing the five most important urban centers of the country was polled, 76% of which answered that Argentina had lost territories. What is more interesting, however, is that when the sample was disaggregated according to educational levels, there was a perfect progression, in such a way that while only 61% of the population which had not completed primary school thought that Argentina had lost territories, as much as 86% of the population with a university education thought this to be the case. Thus, it could be conjectured that the tendency towards territorial irredentism would increase with the educational level, insofar as a greater exposure to texts with an irredentist contents led to a greater percentage of opinions adhering to the myths disseminated by these texts. This hypothesis was strengthened by the results of Gallup polls that focused on whether Argentina should sign a new boundary (and peace) treaty with Chile, that had already been negotiated and initialized by both parties, and that put an end to the dispute (over three tiny southern islands and adjacent waters) that had almost led to war in 1978. Although (thanks to the government's intensive propaganda campaign) the majority of the sample was in favor of the 1984 Treaty of Peace and Friendship, the percentage that was against it grew progressively and significantly with the educational level. Thus, in Argentina, the educational level appears to be inversely correlated with attitudes functional for international cooperation. [c]  

Geography texts between 1879 and 1986  

In turn, these data led me to a systematic survey of the nationalistic contents of the primary and secondary school geography texts used in Argentina from 1879 to 1986 [7] . I chose geography as a strategic subject matter for these ends because in Argentina the irredentist contents of education comes out more clearly there than in any other school course. I worked with a sample of 77 texts that included all of the more widely used authors and all of the publishing houses with a massive distribution throughout the more than ten decades comprised by the period studied. This survey not only confirmed the dissemination of the myth of territorial losses, but also revealed how new territories were incorporated into the alleged reach of "Argentina's national sovereignty" throughout the 1920-1950 period: I refer to what I call Argentina's "imaginary territory", i.e., the "Argentine Antarctic Sector", the South Georgia Islands, the South Sandwich Islands and the South Orkney Islands. These are territories that Argentina began to claim but over which it has never exercised any measure of real control, notwithstanding which they are presented in the texts as if they were simply one more province, undisputed and long since a part of Argentina.  

Thus, during the 1938-1948 period the texts added to Argentina 1,200,000 square kilometers over which it does not exercise any effective power. To follow the successive editions of L. Dagnino Pastore's texts (the most influential of Argentina's geography teachers) is a surrealistic experience: in 1939, he wrote that Britain "posses" more than eight million square kilometers in Antarctica (to which he applied the British term, "Falkland Islands Dependencies"); in 1940 he changed the term "posses" for the expression "attributes to itself", adding that Argentina might get a part of this if the criterion for the distribution of territories used in the Arctic were applied; in 1944 he stated that Argentina has "unquestionable rights" and "legitimate bases for sovereignty over a vast Antarctic sector"; in 1946 he reports that Argentina has made it known to the world that it claims the Antarctic sector over which "it has rights"; and finally in 1947 he writes matter-of-factedly of an Antarctic sector over which Argentina "exercises sovereignty". The same process can be followed in the other texts of the period. Suddenly, Argentina's total area jumped from 2.8 to 4 million square kilometers: this is the figure that children began to memorize after 1947.

All this is even more paradoxical when these imaginary territories are combined with the myth of territorial losses in the 19th Century, i.e., a century in which the territorial domain of the Argentine state really increased. It would thus appear that, in Argentina's cultural dynamics, 19th Century gains are transformed into losses, while in the 20th Century, when there were no true losses nor gains, an imaginary territory is invented which nonetheless is not computed as a gain but as lands that were always within the realm of Argentina's "inheritance". Argentina's alleged sovereignty over these lands (and waters) is justified in pseudo-juridical and pseudo-historical terms, such as the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas between Spain and Portugal, that attempted to divide between these two countries all of the world to be discovered. The fact that such a bilateral treaty can never award title, not even to Spain (much less to Argentina, its "heir"), and that even if we were to take it seriously, it is no longer valid because it was declared "null as if it had never been signed" by both the Treaty of Madrid of 1850 and the Treaty of San Ildefonso of 1777, is never considered in the texts, that present Argentina's sovereignty over these territories as undebatable dogma that cannot be challenged without breach of patriotism.  

The study of successive generations of Argentine geography texts brings out the genesis of Argentina's territorial myths, which is a process that looks like an ever-growing snowball running down a hill. Indeed, the last myth to be introduced in the texts, that states that the Argentine Antarctic Territory is and should be Argentine, among other reasons, because it once belonged to Spain, was identified for the first time in two 1984 texts, i.e., two texts published during Alfonsin's democratic administration [8] . This myth is simply an extrapolation of an earlier (1960's) invention that applied the same argument to the South Georgia Islands. [d]  

Regarding the treatment of the Falkland Islands, the survey shed interesting results. These islands were present in almost every text throughout the century under study. Nonetheless, before 1940 there were six significative exceptions (out of a total of 31 texts) in which sovereignty was not attributed to Argentina, whereas after that date there was not a single case in which such an attribution was not made (in a total of 46 texts). Another indicator pointing in the same direction is that the use of the British name of the islands was registered seven times up to 1941; after this date, the term Falkland is replaced by Malvinas without exception. By and large, the language used to refer to the British occupation of the islands was considerably more moderate before 1945. This is not to say that there were no cases of a passionate attack on Britain in the early years, which there were. Nonetheless, before 1945 there were several cases of a surprisingly mild treatment, whereas afterwards the treatment became standardized and more homogeneously severe. The paradox is thus that indoctrination became more intense well after a century had lapsed since the British takeover of 1833.  

Of perhaps even greater relevance than these findings connected to irredentism and the territory, however, was the identification of a clear intention to indoctrinate children with the idea that Argentina is, in every sense, a "great country". Typical of this dogma, ever-present in the geography texts, is the message conveyed by J.M. Dagnino Pastore's 1971 Estudios Sociales Económicos Argentinos. It should be noted that this author (who was also minister of the Economy) inherited the predicament enjoyed by his father with respect to the massive reach of his texts (as a matter of fact, during several years father and son signed the books jointly), and is thus the most significative of his generation in terms of his influence on the "geographic culture" of the Argentines. In the cited book, he wrote:  

"We have shown how Argentina's production influences international trade, insofar as we have shown that its exportable surpluses of cereals, meats, leathers, wools, quebracho extract, etc., represent highly significant values. This contribution made by our country to the satisfaction of  the urgent needs of European and American nations gives it a position of privilege. It suffices to say unequivocally that the feeding of millions of persons is made possible through Argentine exports (...). Universally it is acknowledged that Argentina cannot be excluded from any plan for the restructuring of the world economy, because of our great feeding power, because of our vast availabilities of raw materials, and conversely, because of our purchasing power as a consuming nation. Let us say, finally, that if Argentina has conquered a real significance in the world economy, her cultural progress also places her in a privileged position not only among the American republics but also among the most civilized nations of Europe. Her contributions to science are notorious, and her participation in international conferences, which is valuable and continuous, makes it possible for Argentina to project her cultural achievements abroad." [9]  

This type of contents and its probable influence upon entire generations of Argentines explains why polls conducted in 1981, 1982 and 1984 revealed that approximately 80% of the Argentines thought that their country deserved a very important place in the world, a similar percentage thought that Argentina is the most important country in Latin America, about 60% believed that Argentina has nothing to learn from the Western European or North American countries, about 50% thought that --contrariwise-- the North Americans and Western Europeans had a lot to learn from Argentina, and 62% thought that Argentine technicians, professionals and scientists are the best in the world [10] . The myth of Argentina's greatness can be traced back to the early XX Century and, once again, belongs to the realm of the verdades de la argentinidad which are not to be questioned. Dogmatism reigns supreme.  

The pedagogical doctrines  

The study of these texts, with their unfounded myths, their extreme dogmatism, their lack of intellectual rigor and their sometimes fantastic exaltation of everything Argentine, led me to undertake a new stage of this research: the question of why such an education strategy --which appears to be so disfunctional for the development of a modern society-- had been perceived necessary. The next step, therefore, was to systematically study the pedagogical doctrines that had inspired the texts I had surveyed. In view of the elements that had already come out in the study of the texts, however, I decided to simultaneously limit this research to primary education during the crucial 1900-1950 period, and to expand it by focusing not only on the nationalistic contents of the said doctrines, but also on whatever other ideological dimensions could be identified in the survey.  

The task was facilitated thanks to the existence of a monthly publication of the Consejo Nacional de Educación. This bureaucracy governed primary education in the federal capital and in the national territories ever since the enactment of the "Common Education Law #1420" of 1884, wielding at the same time great influence upon the weak (and impoverished) provincial consejos of education. This influence increased after 1905, when the Láinez Act allowed the establishment of federal schools in the provinces that voluntarily adhered to the law (they all did). On the other hand, the Consejo's monthly publication, the Monitor de la Educación Común (published until 1949) is almost an archive of Argentina's federal primary education system. It was distributed free-of-charge among federally-employed teachers and it was used as a vehicle for teacher indoctrination, carrying numerous ideological articles that reflected the official educational doctrine. It also carried a so-called "official section" in small print, that published all of the relevant information on laws, decrees and by-rules, and even included decisions regarding appointments, promotions, pensions and dismissals. In addition to this journal, the Consejo published annual (sometimes bi-annual) reports (Informes), where any relevant information that might have been skipped in the Monitor was included. Thus, the history of federally-funded Argentine primary education and its ideology (which was compulsory for private education, and practically the same as that of provincially-funded education, vis-a-vis which it performed a leadership function) can be easily traced. [11]  

The immigration wave  

The first thing that comes out from an analysis of the Argentine pedagogical thought of the early XX Century is something that had already been observed by other authors [12] , and this is that the immigration wave received by Argentina after the 1880s generated a nationalistic and xenophobic reaction. It even generated a certain cultural paranoia on the side of a ruling elite that no longer recognized the country as the same one in which its members had been born, so much had it changed as a consequence of this "cosmopolitan" influx that alarmed them, despite the fact that the explicit policy of the Argentine state (governed by this very elite) had been to promote immigration.  

It should be remembered here that already by the first decade of this century more than 30% of the country's population and approximately 50% of the population of the city of Buenos Aires was foreign-born. This situation continued during two decades. The reaction to this alleged evil that the ruling class had brought onto itself (insofar as it had been the promoter of immigration) can be illustrated by the 1928 words of Guillermo Correa, an aged member of the Board of the Consejo, who  asserted that already by 1895, 58% of the urban property in the federal capital belonged to foreigners, and that thirty years afterwards that figure had increased to almost 80%. Correa said that he would feel very much at ease were he a "conquistador de América", but that unfortunately he was a simple Argentine citizen and therefore, a subject to the "conquest" that had taken place [13] . The fact that this wealth had been legitimately earned by immigrants who had cooperated with the generation of much more wealth than they had earned for themselves, and that the structure of rural property presented a very different profile that was clearly favorable to the creole elites, is irrelevant insofar as the factor that is of interest here is the perception of an invasion and a threat. This perception was a cause of and a motivation for an extremist educational policy that was officially established in 1908, whose objective was to "Argentinize" the children of immigrants. Although it was to an extent analogous to the thrust to "Americanize" immigrants generated in the United States, the Argentine case was more extreme due to a greater centralization of the educational machine and to the prevalence of a collectivist ideology which had very little respect for pluralism. In turn, other countries that also received massive immigration influxes and thus faced the same problem, such as Canada and Australia, adopted extremely liberal policies and developed nothing in the way of the cultural paranoia generated in Argentina. The experience of such countries demonstrated that, although the reaction of the Argentine elites to massive immigration might be deemed understandable, the "Argentine solution" to the alleged problem was by no means the only possible solution (and it was probably far from being the best) [14] .  

In Argentina, the discussion about the educational policy to adopt in view of the massiveness of immigration had begun in the last decade of the XIX Century, and an opinion favorable to a strong nationalist indoctrination slowly gained momentum. It should not be thought, however, that before the educational reforms of 1908 Argentina's primary curriculum was completely lacking in a "nationalizing" contents. Already towards 1900 a number of patriotic songs and marches were obligatory, and the national holidays were celebrated regularly in the educational establishments. An 1888 decree established that in first and second grade six weekly hours had to be devoted to Argentine history, and an 1899 decree established that Argentine history and geography could only be taught by Argentine citizens, and that Spanish could only be taught by a native speaker of the language. A 1902 decree established that all of the schools had the obligation to exhibit the national flag and coat of arms [15] . It cannot be said, thus, that Argentine primary education lacked all nationalizing contents in the years during which the elite's cultural paranoia was developing. For the moderates, the existing nationalist contents was reasonable and sufficient. But for the more xenophobic sectors, what there existed was far from enough. Towards 1908, the influence of the latter was already decisive and overwhelming. That year, a new administration took charge of the Consejo. And that administration, presided by José María Ramos Mejía, launched the extremist reforms the known as "patriotic education".  

Ramos Mejía's "patriotic" project  

The 1908 orders to teachers are interesting in order to convey the true meaning of this "patriotic education":  

"Reading and writing - In the inferior grades, words and phrases of a patriotic character (...) must be read and written with frequency (...)."

"Castillian - It is well known that the perfect knowledge of the tongue spoken by a people can be in itself a road towards the development of love of country (...). Having said this, let us look for special means for the development of love of country (...). In conversation, in all grades, issues of a patriotic character must be frequently included: the flag, the coat of arms, the monuments, the national anthem, the national heroes. The same must be done with the oral reproduction exercises of texts and phrases, as well as with the recitation, from memory, of selected paragraphs (...). Essays are especially suitable (...) for a great range of exercises related to patriotic education (...). Scrap books of a patriotic character should be made by all children."

"Natural science and hygiene - In natural science we shall illustrate the lessons preferably with examples drawn from Argentine animal life, vegetable life and geology; we shall emphasize how rich our country is in all of these dimensions and how even its poorest inhabitants are thus provided with foodstuffs, comforts and pleasures which innumerable peoples of the Earth are deprived of. We shall establish comparisons to show the superiority of our production in comparison to that of the principal countries of the world, in agriculture and cattle grazing (...). Even hygiene lends itself for observations of a patriotic character. When referring, for example, to the running water and sewage systems of Buenos Aires, we should emphasize that thanks to them our capital city ranks among the first in the world." [16]  

Similar instructions were given for "geography and history", "moral, civic instruction and social economy", "drawing", "music" and even "arithmetic". The special orders given out for the May 1909 festivities, for example, read under the subtitle "computations and arithmetic":  

"Problems related to the years in which San Martín, Belgrano, Rivadavia, Moreno, etc., lived. Find the date of birth of these heroes and determine how old they were in 1810. Measure the exact time that lapsed from May 25, 1810 to the principal actions of the Revolutionary War. Specific problems relating to the dates of battles, the number of patriots before and after combat, the birth and death of this or that hero, the dates in which the different assemblies met, and the resources, the income, the trade, etc., of those times in comparison to the present." [17]  

These orders were complemented by numerous other indications and instructions on which we can delve only briefly. The syllabus of "civic education", for example, established that the following formula had to be memorized: "The first and most important duty of an individual and a citizen is to love, honor and serve his Fatherland (Patria), working for its interior prosperity and for its greatness abroad" [18] . This doctrine had to be "intelligently commented upon" by the students. And in 1909 the obligation of memorizing a "patriotic catechism" was established. It included questions and answers like the following: 

"Teacher - What are the duties of a good citizen?

"Student - The first is love of country.

"Teacher - More than his parents?

"Student - More than anything!" [19]

           On the other hand, the Consejo commissioned polls to investigate the effects of music upon the emotions of children. The conclusions reached by these pioneering pollsters were that "the national anthem and military marches are an extremely potent generator of love of country", because the children's answers had been that they produced "pride of being a patriot", "heroism and enthusiasm", "a desire to laugh and to cry at the same time" and a feeling that here was "something commanded by God" requiring "a great deal of respect". According to the studies: "In the soldier the child sees the incarnation of the Fatherland (...). The sounds executed by a military band reach the ears of the child as a fantastic and fascinating language (...)". Thus, rationally, these positivists sought to feed irrationality in order to put it at the service of a national cause that they were inventing. As the Consejo's general inspector of music put it:  

"The Honorable Consejo Nacional de Educación has inaugurated the well-meditated series of measures seeking to strengthen in the souls of Argentine children the august feeling of patriotism and to convert the schools into the firmest and most unquestionable pillar of the nationalistic ideal of our tradition and splendid past. In so doing it has assigned to music the extremely relevant and maybe even decisive role that only this subject matter can perform, thanks to its poetic vagueness and intense emotionality." [20]  

The objective was clearly to engineer an indoctrination that would exacerbate nationalistic and "patriotic" feeling. What is most odd, however, is that what this concept of patriotism sought to achieve was not so much to extol true civic virtue and to forge a solid sense of duty, but to generate artificial emotions which very frequently were feigned (in other words, to generate a vice). Ernesto Bavio, the Consejo's general inspector, explained it all very well (and approvingly): there is no merit in loving one's native country, because that is natural; what had to be done was to exacerbate that natural feeling to the level of a passion, and in order to attain this objective the school had to be active from the earliest age of each child.

               In this context, the example of German education was frequently mentioned as worthy of admiration and imitation. The general inspector was precise:  

"Germany has taken a great advantage from the teaching of history from a national and patriotic perspective, because it understood that the primary reason for the teaching of history is to give life to national feeling and to the love of the Fatherland, with the objective of achieving national unity through the cultivation of patriotism (...). The German state takes hold of the child as soon as he begins to talk and never lets go of him; it orders him to educate himself in the most noteworthy events of German history, on the sacrifices imposed by the Fatherland, the respect due to law and the obligation to defend it with his blood and with is life." [21]  

And moreover, on the issue of the "heroes of civilization" the general inspector held that "there is nothing more respectable than the army and navy of a people (...). Emotions are exalted by the memory of the feats of the heros that are celebrated on the national holidays, covering the flag with glory". Later on in the same text, the general inspector said regarding the teaching of history that there are "three great cycles" in it: that of the heros, that of the states and that of the world. He added:  

"(...) In the first three grades of primary school there is no place but for the first cycle, that of the heros, and teaching must be dramatic and legend-oriented, with the deliberate intention of vividly affecting the impressionable imagination of the child (...). We do not think that universal history is the most appropriate for the primary level (...)."  

Thus, simultaneously, emotionalism (and irrationalism?), authoritarianism and militarism were encouraged in attitudes linked to public issues, in a context of dogmatism that actively discouraged free thought, insofar as the gap between true thought and the critique of these concepts was very narrow indeed. The extremist inspiration of this educational project could not have been clearer. This is further documented by the words of the general inspector when he approvingly quoted the Italian writer De Amicis, reflecting on the inevitability of the Japanese victory over Russia:  

"It could not be otherwise. By virtue of a national spirit and military organization, Japan was so superior that its success in the struggle could not be doubted. The Japanese people does not have an army: it is an army. The Japanese subject enters the army when he enters school. The state, that gives him free education, simultaneously puts in his hands the alphabet and a gun. All of the school education is patriotic and bellicose. The school teacher is the child's first military educator. The walls of the school are covered by martial sentences, by heroic phrases, by glorious reminiscences of the warring exploits of the Fatherland (...). The child is continuously taught that he does not belong to his father nor to his mother, and that when he should come to have a family of his own he must never consider himself as belonging to his family, but to his country, which is above everything and to which he owes everything (...). Indeed, an intelligent country it must be in so honoring and exalting primary school teachers, insofar as it uses the school as a fertile instrument of government through which all great feelings and the most solid disciplines flourish. That is why, once the war was over, the general who triumphed in Port Arthur was rewarded with an appointment as... a schoolteacher! What a beautiful example offered by the nation of the rising sun to the rest of the peoples of the Earth!" [22]  

This ideology was crowned with the idea (of clear Jacobin origins) that patriotism should become a religion. The education law in force since 1884 was lay and forbade religion classes in public schools during regular school hours. On top of this --so went the reasoning of these ideologists-- Argentina did not have a distinctive national religion. That being the case, why not give to the Fatherland the place normally give to God, and actually make a cult out of patriotism? This notion became a part of official pedagogic doctrine and circulated widely during the first two decades of the XX Century, after which it retreated as a consequence of the advance of Catholicism in public education. Of all the elements of the "patriotic education" reforms that were launched in 1908, the idea of a religion of patriotism was the only one that suffered a retreat in later decades: the rest became an indelible heritage. Even so, many of the rhetorical characteristics of Argentine patriotic education coincide, to this very day, with religious rhetoric. Indeed, it is not surprising considering that this odd analogy was encouraged during many years. An interesting example is the "May Prayer" published in June 1910 by the general inspector, who explicitly compared it with the "Our Father":  

"San Martín, Moreno, Belgrano, Rivadavia, illustrious fathers of the Argentine Republic who dwelleth in the glorious regions of historical immortality, founders of the Liberty and Independence of the Fatherland, glorified be thy memory for the present and future generations!" [23]  

Clearly thus, the patriotic education reforms were a positivist project of cultural engineering that sought to create an artificial nation through a state that was a historical and a political accident. It was also an extremist project that rationally sought to generate irrationality, exacerbating fanatical emotions through education. The idea of a development-oriented education, as Sarmiento had conceived it four decades before, had completely lapsed by 1908. In its place stood an indoctrination-oriented education that was dogmatic, authoritarian and militaristic, essentially subordinating the individual to the state, which became an end-in-itself. One major contradiction that affected this society (of which the authors of this cultural engineering project seemed to be totally unaware of) was that between this unliberal culture intentionally encouraged, and the theory underlying Argentina's liberal institutions. On the other hand, a centralized educational system that was in permanent expansion through the budgetary resources of an increasingly wealthy state (those were the golden days of Argentina's economic expansion) was attempting to generate a dogmatic and narrow-minded national culture that was quite the opposite of the modernity required in order to endow the country with a self-sustained development: this was the second contradiction that affected the system. According to my hypothesis, Argentine political stability would be negatively affected by a contradiction between culture (thus generated) and institutions (created in a previous and very different ideological climate). In turn --also hypothetically-- the nationalist objectives of patriotic education would be frustrated by the contradiction between a chauvinistic and dogmatic culture that was plagued with improvised and exaggerated myths, and the functional requirements for the development of power in the 20th Century, that demand the encouragement of a systematic doubt in order to make possible the prevalence of a method of scientific thought. Finally, it is not surprising that twenty two years after the launching of these reforms, the army should have usurped the government in Argentina with practically no civic resistance. More than two decades of indoctrination in the idea that "there is nothing more respectable than the army and navy of a people" do not go by in vain. At least in part, the militarism of Argentine politics appears to have been a consequence of a militaristic culture, and the militarism of that culture seems in turn to have been (at least partly) a consequence of the educational contents, from the patriotic education reforms onwards.  

Comparatively, these educational contents and indoctrinating intention appear to have been somewhat less extreme than those then prevailing in Germany and Japan, although they were also more artificial (insofar as German and Japanese traditionalism was based on millenary traditions, while in the Argentine case the traditions were improvised and the myths very recently invented). My hypothesis is that this artificiality would have grave negative consequences for the development of a serious intellectual ethos, a systematic doubt and a method of scientific thought, insofar as the fragility of the national dogmas and myths made doubting both more pertinent and of more dangerous consequences to the ideology on which the state attempted to build the nation. No matter how primitive it may be, a millenary tradition is always worthy of study and can always be perceived from a perspective that makes it worthy of local love and respect, but the same is not true regarding a pseudo-tradition invented by a contemporary, as was the case in 1910 Argentina with the myth of the gaucho and the cult of San Martín: if scorn is to be prevented, questioning is to be considered taboo. According to my hypothesis, these negative qualities made these pseudo-traditions and mythologies less functional for self-sustained, long-term material progress than analogous traditions and myths in some other countries such as Japan and Germany, whose education during this period shared some common characteristics with Argentina's in terms of traditionalism, authoritarianism and militarism. In this respect, it is important to point out that in Japan from 1880 onwards the elite was aware that it desired to produce citizens who were obedient and even submissive, but who were concomitantly functional for the development of a modern and vigorous capitalism [24] .  

With respect to France, the Argentine case appears to have been more extreme, insofar as the republican tradition, which was vigorously contractualist, has always to a considerable extent neutralized the ideology of the French extreme right (which was not very different from that which inspired Argentine primary education, although during the period under study it never got to dominate French public primary education). Notice that while the idea of a religion of patriotism was originally French and Jacobin, the patrie and the nation were, in the case of the Revolution that gave birth to this idea, the product of a theoretical social contract, i.e., originally at least a free choice, and not of an imposition. The notion of a social contract --that by the late 19th Century had evolved in France to Renan's democratic formulation: "the existence of a nation is a permanent plebiscite"-- was never present in the concept of patria and nation conveyed by the Argentine educational system. On the contrary, typical of the Argentine concept were the definitions of Joaquín V. González (minister of the Interior, minister of Public Education and member of the Board of the Consejo), published in his text Patria (which during the first decade of the century was used in Argentine primary education). In these definitions the authoritarian, militaristic, anthropomorphic and even metaphysical dimensions of the concept clearly emerge: the patria is a "person", a "perpetual and individual organism", an "invisible soul", a "natural and unavoidable law that chains a man to the land in which he was born", and it is "above and beyond all doctrines, superior to every interest and more powerful than any will", an "eternal generator of individual and collective heroism and the only inextinguishable source of true glory".  As can be seen, this is the German concept of Volksgeist in its purest and most authoritarian form, and the very antithesis of French or Anglo-American contractualism and individualism. [25]  

With respect to the United States, aside from the already mentioned greater centralization of the Argentine case, there were key differences linked to US individualism that makes the US case much less extreme than the Argentine one [26] . As was already stated, in terms of the ideological contents of public primary education the Australian and Canadian cases are in the other extreme of a liberal-authoritarian and individualist-collectivist continuum. Of all known cases, only the German and Japanese ones were more extreme than Argentina's before World War I, with the important difference --already pointed out-- that the solid roots of the traditions celebrated by German and Japanese nationalism endowed these cases with greater intellectual seriousness which is essential to the quality of the educational system (although it does not necessarily diminishes its authoritarianism). In Argentina it was necessary to lie grossly in order to intentionally invent myths whose questioning in the classroom could not be tolerated: it was the only way in which a new nation could acquire a culture based on the Volksgeist model, which though always authoritarian, can only make sense for old nations (Germany being, in terms of these concepts, a new state but a culture differentiated of old from the neighboring non-German cultures and hence, at least in some ways and to some extent, an old nation).  

The 1914-1930 period  

With the death of Ramos Mejía --which coincided approximately with the outbreak of World War I-- the Monitor (the Consejo's official journal) adopted a more moderate and technical attitude, but there was no real change of substance in the ideological contents with which Argentine children were indoctrinated. To begin with, the syllabi introduced in 1909 and officially approved in 1910 did not change until 1939: this is the first evidence I shall present to argue that the governments of the (moderate and middle class) Radical Party, that administered the country from 1916 to 1930, adopted the ideology officialized by positivist Conservatives in 1908. During the period that went from 1914 to 1930, nationalist and militarist contents were not added to education, but neither did they decrease. [e]  

The second element that I will bring forth as proof that nothing substantial changed is linked to the teaching of music in public primary schools during this period. The following table, that presents the percentage of obligatory songs with a "patriotic" or "nationalizing" contents in 1920, is a good illustration of the prevailing attitude:  

                                  PERCENTAGE OF SONGS

GRADE                       WITH A "PATRIOTIC" OR

                             "NATIONALIZING" CONTENTS [27]


First grade                    14%

Second grade                   33%

Third grade                    58%

Fourth grade                   71%

Fifth grade                    85%

Sixth grade                   100%

Seventh grade                  93%


The "Hymn to the morning", the one and only exception to the nationalistic trend of the songs obligatory for seventh grade, breaks an otherwise perfect crescendo. It is thus clear that the spirit of Ramos Mejía could not have had a greater influence, six years after his death and in the midst of the Radical administration. Independently of the many differences and disagreements that indeed existed between Conservatives and Radicals, the facts show that there was a considerable consensus in their educational ideology. On the other hand, it must be pointed out that the year-to-year crescendo in the obligatory songs with a "nationalizing" contents is clearly an indoctrination technique, which is coincident with the objectives of the previous (1908-1913) period, insofar as the end sought was the exacerbation of "patriotic" feelings. If together with the fanaticism generated through this and other methods, the apparently contradictory habit of evaluating public policies in terms of costs and benefits is not developed, the artificial exacerbation of "patriotic" feelings will in actual practice reduce the level of rationality with which a population thus educated confronts public affairs: this is what, in my opinion, happened in Argentina.  

The third evidence that I will present to demonstrate that nothing substantive changed with the Radicals in the government is the resolution passed by the Consejo in November 1920, establishing an obligatory oath of "nationalistic faith" for all teachers. In the justificatory paragraphs of the resolution it was stated that:  

"The Consejo Nacional de Educación is in the obligation of keeping a permanent watch in order to prevent the introduction, into our education, of undesirable germs that could bear bitter fruits in the future. Those who do not agree with the nationalistic orientation that the Consejo has imposed on our education must be loyal enough to resign to their position as teachers in order to recover their freedom, and not commit the true abuse of confidence implicit in the use of the instruments and the authority that the state puts into their hands for purposes that undermine its foundations."  

The Consejo thus decided that, at the beginning of each school year, as a part of the inauguration ceremonies, the teachers should publicly swear to a so called professional oath, according to the following formula:  

"By the flag of the Fatherland: Do you promise to conserve for Argentina's children your dignity and your integrity of character; to guard and to venerate the treasure of the Fatherland's history; its blessed symbols; its democratic and humanitarian spirit; and to watch so that no one dare defile or profanate, not even with his thought, the essence of our nationality? Do you promise to love your students, to guide them through the road to virtue, to teach them truth and justice, to orient them in a life of labor, freedom and order? Do you promise to serve the country and its institutions, laying aside all personal interest, with honor, with loyalty, with abnegation, with courage, and to become a worthy example to your students? If it be so, may the shadow of your forefathers and this flag protect you, and if not, may these children shame you."  

The resolution established that before the oath the national anthem should be sung; after the oath, a song to the flag had to be intoned, and afterwards, the teachers had to sign below the text of the oath, in a special minute. Article 4 of the resolution  established that any violation of these orders would be considered "voluntary and blatant disobedience" and would be subject to the penalties attached to grave misconduct under article 79 of the regulations. [28]  

It is thus not strange that in 1922, Ricardo Rojas, who was an influential political essayist affiliated with the governing Radical party and who, notwithstanding, had been one of the inspirers of the "patriotic education" reforms launched by the Conservatives in 1908, should have boasted that his old ideas were by the 1920s those of almost the entire nation. His book La Restauración Nacionalista, that in 1909 had shown the way towards patriotically-inspired reforma, had proved to be a fruitful seed (and it indeed became an Argentine classic). In the prologue to the second edition of the book, Rojas took it for granted that his ideas were already an integral and practically permanent part of Argentina's culture and education:  

"The good fortune achieved in twelve years by La Restauración Nacionalista is the reason why I speak of it with an unusual lack of modesty; the fact is that I do not feel as if I were talking about myself or about something that is mine. The message that was there announced is today the emblem of many a person. An individual state of mind, it has tended to become a collective state of mind. The press, the university, the literature, the arts, the politically-aware in Argentina, all feel now a concern for the problems there set forth. The travails of idealist renaiscence that were projected in the "conclusions" to my book have been in the process of materialization since 1910, under the auspices of diverse social institutions." [29]  

The above is the fourth and last piece of evidence I shall present in this synthesis of my research on this subject, regarding the absence of significant changes in the ideological contents of Argentine education during the almost decade and a half of Radical administration. The point is very important, since it is the only sub-period (within the period studied) in which the ideology could have changed: afterwards came the quasi-Fascist coup of 1930, the so-called "infamous decade" of Conservative electoral fraud, the new coup of 1943, and the Perón administration inaugurated in 1946 as a direct sequel of the military government of which Perón himself had been vice-president, minister of War and secretary of Labor. In Argentina, during the period for which the pedagogical doctrines were studied (1900-1950), the political ruptures did not produce ruptures in terms of the dogmatic nationalistic, authoritarian and militaristic contents of public primary education which were largely introduced by the Conservatives in 1908 [f] . On the contrary, the Conservative cultural project for the "Argentinization" and "de-Europeanization" of the children of immigrants, acquired true hegemony in the Gramscian sense of the term, to the point that its tenets became truisms that went by unnoticed as elements of consensus in an otherwise very divided society [g] . From 1908 onwards, the prime objective of public primary education was not to mould citizens who are functional for a modern society that is truly democratic and is oriented towards a continuous material progress through hard work and scientific and technological development, but to indoctrinate in the dogmas of "Argentineness" ("Argentinidad"). On the other hand, these dogmas were artificial and very recently invented by the very same promoters of "patriotic education". Thus were created and encouraged the myths of the gaucho ("a barbarian demigod of the heroic times") and of San Martín (who was transformed into a superhero endowed with all of the virtues and none of the defects that enrich men of flesh and blood) [h] . The only change produced in this respect by the governments of the Radical party was a greater degree of freedom of expression outside the classroom, that in no way threatened a project of cultural engineering that day to day, year to year, fed and consolidated a new mass culture characterized by the most irreflexive chauvinism. Irrationality, emotional reactions, empty rhetoric and dogmatism were promoted daily in the classrooms in every region of the country, and were projected from the teacher to the child and from the child to Argentine culture, course after course, generation after generation, turning doubt and true thought into taboos. This at least is the hypothesis that comes out with great force when the characteristics of Argentine education are studied, and when these characteristics are put side by side with the characteristics of the political life of this country which --on the other hand-- has contributed practically nothing to world civilization [i] .  

The 1930-1950 period: towards the accentuation of authoritarianism and irrationality  

There may be no better way of introducing this period than to quote the definition of "the moral orientation of education" given by the Monitor in its first issue after the 1930 coup d'état:  

"1-The Argentine School (sic), from the first grades to the university, must propose to develop in the Argentines the fervent conviction that their nationality's manifest destiny consists of creating a civilization of its own of an eminently democratic character, heir to the rectified spiritual values of Western civilization (...). 2-As a consequence (...) the Argentine School proposes to contribute to the formation of a race capable of materializing the nationality's manifest destiny (...). 3-The Argentine educator must contribute to the generation of a human type that is resistent to fatigue and to illness, serene and prepared for danger, and apt for labor (...). 4- The Argentine School must propose to educate the personality of our children in function of the collective ideal (...). [30]  

This paragraph is obviously of an enormous wealth, both because of the typical semantic confusions regarding concepts such as "democracy" and "Western civilization" (that function as linguistic traps that endow authoritarianism with a prestige whose source lies in other ideologies that are antagonical to it) and because of the explicit reference to the manifest destiny of Argentina and the "collective ideal".  

The concept of a "collective ideal" is most important insofar as ever since 1908 one of the basic objectives of the Consejo, always proclaimed by the educators (though not documented previously in this summary due to reasons of space), had been the generation of one integral national culture, without fissures nor pluralities. The references to a collective ideal of the argentinidad were continuous throughout the period studied, although this ideal was defined in the most imprecise way and was basically the product of the whims and wishful thinking of the ideologues who wrote on the subject, more than an ideal that could be identified empirically as a trait of Argentina's culture. This trend, present ever since Ramos Mejía's tenure at the Consejo, was accentuated after 1930. On April 30, 1932, for example, general Justo, who had just been elected president of Argentina thanks to the abstention of the majority Radical party (that refused to participate due to pervading electoral fraud), proclaimed that the Argentines must possess "a collective ideal and only one soul", and for this he proposed to use the schools, which was not a new idea [31] .  

On the other hand, in the 1930s the classroom also began to be used for more petty political aims, which was another aggravation of the pre-existing trends. One thing was to use the classroom to attempt to generate a "collective ideal" that nobody could define beyond an essentially empty and often contradictory rhetoric. Quite another thing was to use the classroom to disseminate propaganda and exercise moral pressure in an attempt to sell a bond that the federal government had issued under the name of "Patriotic Loan", as the new general inspector ordered in May 1932 [32] . On later years, especially after the 1943 coup and most especially after Perón's assumption in 1946, this type of political use of the classroom, with ends that were no longer "metapolitical" but clearly partisan instead, would become a routine. The kinship between the Conservative decade of the 1930s and the Peronism to come in the late forties and early fifties comes out even more clearly when one looks into the school exercises suggested by the general inspector in June 1932 in order to sell the Patriotic Loan. One of the suggested themes read: "The patriotism of the men of 1810 gave us our political freedom; that of the men of 1932 will give us our economic freedom, without which the former will not be sustained" [33] . The Peronist slogans that focused on Argentina's economic independence (allegedly attained by Perón) had thus a clear antecedent in the political propaganda disseminated in the classrooms during Justo's government, fifteen tears before.  

Simultaneously, the Catholic Church gained ground and the Consejo became its informal ally. During the 1930s they still did not dare to attempt to change the lay law of 1884, but instead opted for making it easy to give religion classes after school hours (for example, changing the regulations that established that such classes could not be given immediately before or after school hours), and resorted to loopholes in the law, such as introducing priests in the classroom during school hours, not for the forbidden purpose of giving religion classes, but for the previously unthought of task of blessing the flag. In 1943 the lay law would finally be abolished, and a decree of the military government would establish classes of Catholic doctrine as obligatory except for those children whose parents explicitly expressed their opposition to such teachings. This situation was prolonged during most of Perón's administration. The idea of a religion of patriotism had already been replaced by a gradual infiltration of Catholicism in public education.  

Notwithstanding, the encouragement of emotional reactions to public affairs increased. One pedagogical doctrine of great influence in the Consejo in the decade of the 1930s bore the title: "Argentine School for Living Life Exacerbating Feelings" (sic) [34] . It was materialized in the classroom through the teaching of history, geography, music, arithmetic and even the metric system while the girls concomitantly cut and sew an Argentine flag and the boys made its staff and halyard. These manual labors would be accompanied with the singing of patriotic songs and marches, or with lectures on history (that focused on the flag), on geography (that focused on the locations to which the flag had been taken during the Independence wars or on the places where it presently fluttered), and on arithmetic (that focused on exercises based on the amount of cloth or wood that had to be cut in order to make the flag, staff and halyard). The same was done with the manufacturing of cockades with the national colors, that were later in solemn community ceremonies to which parens and neighbors were invited. Thus a great and diverse part of the primary school curriculum could be covered with this method of indoctrination whose explicit purpose was to exacerbate emotions. [35]  

The author of these methods was a member of the Board of the Consejo, José A. Quirno Costa. And a disciple of this professional indoctrinator was José C. Astolfi, an educator of great influence in whole generations of Argentine students through his massively read textbooks. His ideology is instructive. As a reaction to the "decadence of the West", Astolfi proposed the introduction of what he called "Mysticism":  

"Mysticism, from the greek mystis, is the acknowledgement of the human limitations for the understanding of the Mystery (...). The mystique of teaching goes together with the mystique of nationalism, a feeling that is neither new nor exotic among us (...). This mystique of nationalism must be lit in the schools. We are an immigration country (...). Despite the admirable force of assimilation of our milieu, some foreign groups are unwilling to dissolve themselves into a common mass. Such an opposition engenders an undeniable danger. A new conquest technique has been developed. In former times the conquering peoples appeared with their fleets and armies on the beaches or frontiers of the coveted countries, and attempted to dominate them on an open field. Nowadays, methods of a great psychological refinement are applied. The cracks and crevices of the social body are patiently widened; tempers are inflamed; antagonisms are exacerbated; old vindications and dormant grievances are stimulated; the weaknesses of the egotists and the appetite of the greedy are awakened; disorientation, confusion and discouragement are sowed everywhere, and when the edifice is rotten down to its very foundations, a single prepotent shove is sufficient to demolish it instantaneously. May it be God's will that our army never need defend our soil through a military campaign, but the teachers must immediately occupy their place in the struggle against that other preparatory campaign, because that is their essential mission. Patriotism has heretofore been an amiable manifestation celebrated with a cordial spirit, a fluttering of flags, an intonement of anthems, a jubilant parade of children, soldiers and citizens; but today it is a categorical imperative, an undeclinable duty of national preservation." [36]  

This paragraph by Astolfi is illuminating. A few years afterwards, Perón would create a new mystique that he would apply to his "movement" and to his very person. The idea was already in the air. The Peronist mystique would not be exotic for the Argentines. On the other hand, the degree of paranoia of this prose is almost unsurpassable. Everything is perceived as dangerous and as responding to an unidentified but Machiavellian enemy, including greediness and egotism. With the nation facing such dangers, the armed forces would present themselves once again as the saviours of the Fatherland.  

Militarism would thus also be accentuated during the decade of the 1930s, something perhaps inevitable in a Conservative period marked by electoral fraud that was in between two military coups. This aggravated militarism is illustrated by the words of Octavio S. Pico, appointed president of the Consejo in 1932:

"Leaving aside the elementary technical knowledge necessary for social life, the most important elements in the education of the infant soul and character are the elevated moral ideas, the study of the Fatherland's history and of the Constitution, and those virile exercises that the law defines as the `most simple military exercises and manoeuvres'. The Argentine school has as its principal objective the making of Argentine citizens, and as such are understood those who are deep into our history and our traditions, which are a high and pure example of character, firmness and virility unsurpassed by any people of the Earth. This history and these traditions must be defended at all costs by the Argentine citizen, and this is the reason why the legislator has decided to enforce these exercises, thus fulfilling the Constitutional mandate that establishes that every Argentine citizen is under the obligation of taking up arms in defense of the Fatherland and of this Constitution... The teacher, in keeping with the law and regulations, performs his task. All of his life, both public and private, must be subordinated to it. The example he gives, be it good or bad, will fructify for good or for evil in the tender heart of the child. The words he pronounces in front of children are irreparable because they are forever engraved in their virgin brains. The teacher must thus keep hidden any sceptical, ironic, disillusioned or bitter thought, and any doctrine that might engender feelings of envy, rancor, hate or rivalry. A true professional secret imposes itself. To violate it is a crime against humanity (...)." [37]  

Thus, the teacher was conceived as a part of a quasi-military order of which the child was the last echelon. Undoubtedly, the systematic violation of the Constitution on the side of that very same elite that recurred to fraud and proscription in order to win elections was a part of the "professional secret" that was imposed upon the teacher: hypocrisy was law. In turn, their political paranoia reached hysterical levels: its analysis with the benefit of hindsight makes one suspect that, perhaps, the fear of subversion was more an excuse to appeal to a vocational authoritarianism, than the authoritarianism a true product of fear. 

On the other hand, the old "Argentinizing" obsession continued. In November 1932, the minister of Public Education said:  

"In an old country, with ancient traditions and firmly rooted customs, it is the family that shapes, without a deliberate intention, the infant soul (...). But we, with an independent life that is barely more than a century old and with a population that has been doubled in less than that span of time, with homes with heterogenous origins, customs and ideas, cannot yet entrust upon the family that intense and noble task. Here, the nationalist bulwark must inevitably be the school. It is the school that must create in the soul of foreign children (...) and in the soul of the children and grandchildren of foreigners, a clear and firm national feeling. Among us, the school must forge for the children a national atmosphere that is to replace the European atmosphere that reigns in many of our homes (...)." [38]  

This last idea of Iriondo is a precise description of what this positivitic project of cultural engineering was all about: besides engendering fanaticisms, it sought to de-Europeanize Argentina, i.e., to replace the "European atmosphere" for a vaguely defined indigenous ethos, whose potential for the creation or recreation of a dynamic civilization capable of competing in the world of the XX Century was absolutely uncertain. As has already been stated, the "original" civilization that these men sought to create was lacking in all content, and the indoctrination therefore concentrated in hypnotizing children with national symbols and military marches, sowing authoritarianism and militarism, exacerbating emotionalism, disseminating myths of recent creation that could not withstand any real questioning, discouraging true thought and thus indirectly discouraging a serious intellectual attitude and contributing to deprive the local culture of creativity. The citizens produced by this process would certainly not have European mentalities. In that sense (and in my opinion) the project would be successful, insofar as it would engender something "different" (towards the 1930s it was already taking form), but that something would be, from almost every point of view, inferior to the European culture that it was partially replacing: it would be less dynamic, less creative and more corrupt.  To make it worse, the need to differentiate a "national character" from the rest of Latin America gave a racist tone to Argentine culture. In what was only apparently a contradiction with the "Argentinizing" obsession, the country would define itself (in textbooks and elsewhere) as "overwhelmingly white and European" (a myth that ignored the massive contingents of mestizos of the northern provinces). Thus, despite the "Argentinizing" drive, the external forms of European culture would be maintained, and this cultural trait would be accentuated and exacerbated, to the point that, in their outward appearance, the Argentines got to be more European than the Europeans. It was, again in my opinion, an empty shell, form without contents and a mortal trap. Argentine culture would be successfully de-Europeanized insofar as the mentalities engendered, the thought processes, the myth-ridden civic culture and the lack of a science and technology-oriented culture would be very different (when taken in totum) from those of any mainstream European society, while concomitantly the Argentines would become increasingly obsessed with identifying themselves as a European community differentiated from the other European nations: almost as if Argentina shared a border with France. And that majority of Argentines that descends from immigrants would end up being an ethnically European group without an European mentality, notwithstanding which their social codes, habits, manners and attire would be a servile imitation of what was quintessentially European (and preferably aristocratic). Yankees and Australians would be looked down upon with some contempt: rude frontier societies, they were not sufficiently European to be up to par.  

Some of these trends were successively accentuated in 1943 and 1946. This is probably most notorious regarding the authoritarianism that was being bred since 1908. The military government inaugurated in 1943 fired 32 teachers for "activities contrary to the nationality" and another 22 for "immorality", out of a total of 115 fired for a wide range of similar causes [39] . In turn, the first interventor (an appointee who in times of crisis replaced the president) of the Consejo during the Peronist government pontificated in late 1946:  

"(...) The school is not a partisan forum nor an Athenaeum for speeches and shallow lectures... It is a temple of the Fatherland, and in its altars the only cult worshipped must be that of labor, the national heros and the children. Whoever seeks other ends (...) must abandon the classrooms and look for another context for his preaching, should he find it, far from the sacred walls of the school. In this determination --that the teachers be worthy of their high and responsibility-laden mission-- we shall extreme our care. We certainly value the learned, but we prefer the virtuous man, because the primary school has no need of erudites, but requires instead those who carry with them the true feeling of Argentineness and conform to the strict norms of behavior imposed by that feeling. (...) And we demand loyalty, because he who treacherously accepts the benefits of a position prestiged by the state in order to combat it in its own home cannot be worthy and upright." [40]  

And as the Peronist regime unfolded, this authoritarian dimension of the school and other official spheres was increasingly accentuated. On March 21, 1950, for example, replying to a union leader's speech, Eva Perón emphatically stated:  

"I adhere to the wishes of compañero Perezzolo, to the effect that the official bureaucracies must be purified so that those who do not share the feeling of this Argentine hour or who are indifferent to the extraordinary times in which we live and do not understand that general Perón is burning away his life and his hours for the sake of an ideal of grandeur for the Argentine people, should abandon their positions so that the truly well-born Argentines, those with a pure heart, those who conserve the spiritual values of the country, as has the working class, can take their places. I ask the workers to expose the anti-Peronists, because they are sellouts, and I also ask the public officials to take measures, for otherwise we will think that they also are sellouts. (...) He who does not feel himself a Peronist cannot feel himself an Argentine." [41]  

And on the same month of the same year, Perón's minister of Education, Oscar Ivanissevich, gave a philosophical justification for this brand of authoritarianism:  

"It is often said: I want to be free. For this, all that is needed is to look inside oneself, because freedom does not consist in dominating others but in dominating oneself. To be free is not to do what one likes to do. To be free is to be able to do what one does not like to do." [42]  

Simultaneously with authoritarianism, the lack of intellectual rigor of the educational contents was also accentuated. As has been mentioned, this had begun long before, when Carlos Octavio Bunge established the appropriateness of using "poetical fictions" to make up for the lack of deeply rooted legends in this new country. The idolizing of San Martín and the transformation of the image of the gaucho from a bum and a thief to a noble superhero were a couple of the sequels of this doctrine, to which were added the territorial myths treated at the beginning of this monograph (including the attribution of Antarctica to Spain in Colonial times and the leap in the territory attributed to Argentina from 2.8 to 4 million square kilometers). In Argentine education it has apparently always been possible to invent pseudo-facts, so long as the pseudo-fact is perceived to be functional to the naive nationalism that prevails, in which case it is not questioned and there is no control nor accountability. It would be impractical to document here the many dimensions of this phenomenon that amounts to the devaluation of all criteria of objectivity, truth and intellectual authenticity; it acquired many forms and colors. During Perón's government the story that thanks to the marvelous exploits of Dr. Richter, a Nazi scientist imported by Perón, Argentina had managed to control the thermonuclear reaction (that would make it possible to transform the abundant hydrogen found in water into electric energy, and implied as well that Argentina had the H bomb) became official news [j] . And in the field of education this type of attitude can be illustrated by the words addressed to the teachers by Perón himself on September 19, 1947, and by the (intended) consequences of these words:  

"We have launched a new plan that will probably lead to the development of new teaching methods in Argentina. I ask you to devote yourselves to the creation of these new pedagogical methods, because the Argentines must be taught with Argentine methods. There is no need to recur to Pestalozzi nor to any of the other great pedagogues." [43]

This is more than just another manifestation of a naive cultural nationalism. In this way, the General set the bases for that indigenous revolution in Argentine teaching methods that would replace the phonetically convenient phrase Mamá me ama ("mother loves me") as a point of departure in reading instruction, for the politically significant phrase Evita me ama ("Evita loves me"). The great indoctrination machine that had been invented by the Conservatives in 1908 was intact and could incorporate any contents that was compatible with its original authoritarianism. Furthermore, the dogmatic and authoritarian culture that had at least partly been generated by this machine was entirely compatible with these innovations. But there was a further turn of the screw in this stage of the process, linked to the disrespect for intellectual rigor mentioned above, and here obsequiousness --which is a formidable functional complement of authoritarianism-- accentuated the process, operating so as to generate immediate reactions to this demand of Perón. On December 9, 1947, a resolution passed by the Consejo established that the inspectors and visitadores of the provinces, and the inspectors of the federal capital, had to meet in order to receive orders that they would later have to transmit to the teachers throughout the country, regarding the application to education of Perón's Five Year Plan. The first subject to be treated in these meetings was:  

"The four great principles of the President of the Argentine Republic General Juan Domingo Perón for the organization of education are: I Objectivity; II Simplicity; III Perfectivity; IV Stability. Application of these principles to the primary school. The objectives of primary education. The forging of the Argentine man. Preparedness and Instruction, and Configuration or Unfolding." [44]  

Thus, in keeping with the curious intellectual ethos that was being developed (that was perhaps the culmination of the process of de-Europeanizing Argentina in terms of mentalities and thought processes), the officials rapidly picked up Perón's suggestion and anointed him as the great Argentine pedagogue, who was replacing Pestalozzi. It was yet another step towards the blurring of all criteria for truth and objectivity.  

Thus, more than radical changes and ruptures, what comes out when one studies the long term evolution of Argentine pedagogical doctrines during the first half of the XX Century is a surprising continuity that is combined with evolutionary changes that accentuate pre-existing trends. As was said regarding the nationalist contents of geography textbooks, it's like a snowball rolling down a hill that sometimes grows and sometimes remains stable, but never diminishes in size. To some extent, the evolution of these doctrines ran parallel to other identifiable trends in Argentina's political life and in the political behavior of the Argentines. When the chauvinism and the authoritarianism of the pedagogical doctrines is translated into practically uncontested regulations that establish that a teacher who doesn't share the "nationalist faith" must resign, as it happened with differences only of nuance since 1908, we find ourselves not only before the intention of indoctrinating, but also, to some degree, before the cultural and political legitimacy of that intention. This is particularly the case if we explicitly reiterate the fact that, during decades, there was very little opposition to either the regulations or the repression they implied. On the contrary, as was already stated, the ideology that inspired them, that was created by Conservatives, was adopted quite matter-of-factedly and almost unknowingly by Radicals, military rulers and Peronists. It became so taken for granted --a point of departure for local conventional wisdom-- that no one realized that it represented a certain consensus in an otherwise deeply divided Argentina: it was and still is like the white of the eyes, shared by all men and women without realizing it.  

It should be observed, however, that towards the end of the period studied there was an important exception to the assertion that nearly nobody objected: some of the most exaggerated aspects of Peronist education --particularly those related to partisanship, the personality-cult of Perón and his accentuated authoritarianism-- generated vigorous rejections that had not been registered until then. But the overthrow of Perón, that eliminated these exaggerations, reestablished most of the basic tenets and characteristics of "patriotic education" in its pure state: it eliminated the peculiarities of Peronism in education, but it rescued the contents and methods that had contributed to make the emergence of Peronism possible, not as a rupture with the past (as both academic and political conventional wisdom have frequently claimed) but as the culmination of a process. Personalism was eliminated, but the indoctrinating intention lived on, together with most of its previous contents, such as an exalted vision of Argentina's greatness and the territorial mythology that so heavily distorted later foreign policies: the educational system continued to breed fanaticisms and irrationality, and it continued to discourage free thought and a systematic doubt. Indeed, what is most surprising about the results of this research on the nationalistic and authoritarian contents of primary school pedagogical doctrines, is a continuity that quite possibly represents the very identity of the new and artificially-generated nation that is Argentina.

One example of this crescendo continuity that is directly related with the foreign policy dimension of Argentine political culture is that of the regulations (frequent also in other Latin American countries) that stipulate that school maps (including those published in textbooks) must receive the approval of the Military Geographic Institute. These regulations --that were originated in the 1930s-- are the guarantee that the Argentine maps used by children will include the Falkland Islands, the South Georgia Islands, the South Sandwich Islands, the South Orkney Islands and the "Argentine Antarctic Sector", in other words, all of the imaginary territory [45] . They are clearly associated to irredentist indoctrination and to its functionality for the corporate interests of the military. They were born before Perón, they grew with Perón (through the addition of the Antarctic sector), and they continue to be in force today, with a difference: while during Perón's days the Antarctic sector and the Georgia, Sandwich and Orkney islands were modestly added to the right hand side of the map in small rectangles in a reduced scale, nowadays Argentina tends to be grandly depicted in full scale maps that begin in the South Pole and end in the Bolivian border, going all the way to the South Georgia Islands on the Eastern side. It is a grand imaginary empire.  

Similarly, during Perón's government we find an active indoctrination in the primary schools regarding the virtuosity, altruism and pacifism that supposedly has always characterized Argentine foreign policy. The instructions to the teachers speak of "our tradition as a generous people, without resentments nor grievances, peace loving, sensitive to the affinities of other peoples, moved by feelings of true brotherhood, staunch defenders of justice and firm guardians of all of those attributes that define us with a character and profile of our own". These words could have been written by Ramos Mejía in 1908, and they could also have been written in the 1980s, both by the military dictatorship and by Alfonsín's democracy: from this point of view, nothing had changed and nothing would change in Argentine education. As in the remote days of the XIX Century when the slogan "victory does not award rights" was coined by the Argentine foreign ministry (immediately after a genocidal war that won for Argentina enormous Paraguayan territories), the child of the times of Perón had to "learn to cherish as an intimate treasure the fact that his parents and grandparents had taken up arms, but never to subjugate". In turn, the teacher had to be "persuaded that his Fatherland possesses a linage of origin, history, conduct and international standing that has made it possible for it to stand unperturbed in an unchanging state of greatness and respect from its infant days to the days in which we live", and he had the duty of "thwarting any attempt by alien ideologies" to lead him or his students into "forgetting or renouncing this heritage" [46] This dogma acquired a hegemony such that, until the Falkland Islands war, it was taboo to question it not only in the classroom (where it still cannot be questioned) but also in the writings of scholars and academicians. Allegedly scientific works supported these naive myths, and the academician who dared question them was considered a traitor [47] . The so-called constants of the history of Argentine foreign policy "scientifically" inferred by academicians were a slavish recitation of this myth disguised in more pretentious and pseudo-objective words [48] . Thus, once again, there was a clear continuation between the pre-Peronist past, the Perón administrations of 1946-55 and a future whose landmark was to be the Falkland Islands war. In this particular case (of a dogma that is so convergent with and functional for irredentism) the projection of school indoctrination to the political culture appears to be reasonably demonstrated due to the direct link between school dogma and academic or "scientific" culture. On the other hand, here we once again have an illustration of the lack of intellectual rigor that would characterize Argentine life (including its academic dimensions) and the absence of criteria for "objectivity" and "truth".  

Some contemporary critiques to "patriotic education"  

A summary of the pedagogical doctrines of the old Consejo (that according to my hypotheses weighed so heavily upon the generation of an authoritarian political culture and a megalomaniac nationalism that lost touch with reality) would be incomplete if I did not mention some of the very few critiques to patriotic education tolerated in the Monitor. These critiques --that were very marginal in the political context of the times and that did not in any way change the course taken by Argentine primary education-- are relevant to show that, despite the time that has gone by, our present-day perception and evaluation of those doctrines could be and indeed was shared by some educated, sensitive and sensible men who were contemporary to the doctrines studied.  

I will limit myself to two examples of such critiques, one from the times of Ramos Mejía's reforms and the other from the 1930s. The first comes from the hand of the poet Enrique Banchs who, while writing on school songs, took the opportunity to make a far-reaching critique to the entire concept of a patriotic education as it was implemented in Argentina:  

"What are the subjects of Argentine school songs? Most of them are patriotic. Patriotism is a good thing because it is an ideal that is suitable for the majority of a people. But it takes, as does the mineral carbon, many different forms. In our songs, what prevails is the inflated and false patriotism of parochial diaries. It has crossed the threshold that separates the sublime from the ridiculous. (...) The perfidious literary-patriotic marksmanship that engenders these songs usually aims at San Martín and Belgrano. These are names that should not be used beyond the history texts (...). Children completely lack an idea of historical proportions. They are thus taught an unfortunate lesson of hypocrisy when these agents of our Independence are presented with outlandishly colossal profiles, grand to the point of folly. This notwithstanding, they were human and did nothing but be faithful to their duties. Maybe feeding children with the idea that these men fulfilled their duty and did things that were inspired in reason and not in ravings, they will feel capable of doing something similar to what these men did in like circumstances. As long as they represent to the infant mind a swollen genius, an infinite divinity, they are immoral models, because their lives do not offer themselves to imitation. They cannot even be loved (...). When historical literature is written with the intention of creating prodigious and heroic images, it is likely to produce the idea that there was a golden age in the past, and that the present is vulgar and base, unworthy of dedicating to it any efforts (...). It would be much better that the children learn that all ages are of an overwhelming similarity; that vulgarity is the patrimony of all human ages (...)."  

"The school song of the present day --a major component of the curriculum-- attempts with excellent marksmanship to imbue the child with the idea that being an Argentine is an exceptional privilege, a letters patent of nobility. The honor of being born in Argentine territory is shared by numerous families of insects. Our ancestors did some outstanding things, for example, to win battles. Let the child venerate these past glories, but do not encourage him to attribute them to himself. He played no role in these events." [49]  

This text clearly demonstrates that even in the grand days of the Centenary of Argentine independence, in the very midst of both the wealth generated by the agro-exporting economic expansion and the paranoia generated by the massive immigration wave, it was possible not to lose a sense of proportions regarding both the "danger" of denationalization and Argentina's "greatness". Banchs's proposals were exactly the contrary of Ramos Mejía's authoritarian and militaristic project. All of the history and civic education syllabi had the intention of making love of country obligatory for the children, and this usually led, of course, to the manifestation of feigned feelings. Such a pathetic sight could only produce anguish in a poet such as Banchs, who proposed instead to "work for the intensification of love of nature and optimism in life". As was said, however, his attitude was far from prevailing, and what prevailed instead was the mood and intention of (among so many possible examples) Enrique de Vedia, a member of the Board of the Consejo and the Rector of the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, who exhorted thus:  

"Let us make (...) out of every school-age child a frenetic idolater of the Argentine Republic, teaching them --for it's true-- that no country on Earth has a history with a nobler crest, nor more altruistic aims, nor more liberal institutions, nor healthier cults, nor a more generous role, nor a more splendid future. Let us incur in this sense in every excess, without pusillanimous fears." [50]  

The extremism of the "patriotic education" project of cultural engineering is thus clear, both when we study the prose of those who inspired it and when we analyze that of its few critics. This extremism is not the unfair perception of those who study it from the perspective of this new fin de siècle, with an "Americanized" cultural perspective, but instead a valid description for all those who believe in democracy, international cooperation and rationality in political life [k] .  Identical conclusions are drawn when one reads the criticism of Argentine education made by historian Enrique de Gandía, more than two decades after that of Banchs:  

"In the year 1810 a catastrophic, episodic, bellicose, and chauvinistic historiography begins, in which we have nothing more than battles and national successes against the Spanish forces, who are always portrayed as bloodthirsty and somewhat ridiculous. The number of participating soldiers, the number of the dead and wounded, the number of prisoners and guns taken from the enemy, are all registered with a useless minuteness even in the case of the most insignificant feat of arms. The protagonists of Independence are presented as glorious beings before whom humanity is nothing. (...) Instead of making a history of civilization and human progress (...), old errors are repeated with stubbornness, as well as ideas contrary to everything foreign, whose contribution, contrariwise, should be greatly valued, for without it our Fatherland (...) would not even exist." [51]  

Enrique de Gandía's was the only strong criticism of "patriotic education" published by the Monitor during the 1930s. Later, during the 40s, the Monitor no longer tolerated criticisms. This is not strange, given the philosophy that officially and unabashedly inspired Argentine education: as was said approvingly and with admirable precision by the already quoted Minister of Education Ivanissevich, in Argentina the concept of "freedom" itself had been transformed, and according to the Justicialist regime's definition it meant "to be able to do what we do not like".

An evaluation of the data gathered  

The hypothesis that the Argentine educational system has fed authoritarianism, militarism, chauvinism, lack of intellectual seriousness, and emotionality (or irrationality) vis-a-vis political life, appears to be more solid than when we began. It seems probable, for example, that the irrationality of the almost unanimous support for the Falkland/Malvinas war was made possible, at least in part, by the educational contents that we have described. A direct causal link between these variables cannot be demonstrated (except in very specific cases), but a hypothesis regarding the strong influence that a political culture fed by such contents probably had over the political process and the foreign policies of Argentina, appears very plausible.  

This is especially the case when one takes into consideration the fact that although it is clear that the military invaded the Falkland Islands in April 1982 in order to attempt to win back some of their rapidly fading civic support, the very fact that the invasion of the Falklands could be an adequate means for gaining popularity is remarkable and meaningful. Assuredly, culture had at least the direct causal effect of making the invasion of the Falkland Islands a plausible policy alternative for the military dictatorship, whereas in the case of our previous analogy with Canada vis-a-vis St. Pierre et Miquelon, culture rules out the possibility that a Canadian government might invade these islands in order to gain popularity. 

On the other hand, one has the impression that the irrationality of Argentine political life increased throughout most of the present century. To make war to "recover" the Malvinas, for example, would have been unthinkable in periods previous to the 1976-83 dictatorship. The same holds for the election of a president who conceals his projected policies (if these existed), as was the case with Menem. Similarly, authoritarianism also appears to have increased up to 1983: authoritarianism came in waves and its increase was not constant, but one has the impression that these waves were progressively worse, and the State terrorism and guerrilla murders of the 1970s had no precedents, in terms of magnitude, in the history of Argentina ever since the mid 19th Century. A direct causal link with the indoctrination we have studied cannot be demonstrated in this case either, but it seems unlikely that future data might falsify the hypothesis that this indoctrination facilitated the generation of the political phenomena just mentioned.  

In this respect it is interesting to observe that the 1930 coup --i.e., the first breakdown of democracy in modern Argentina-- was almost bloodless and took place without any significant active opposition. The Argentine middle classes were already massive, the party that they largely adhered to was ousted violently from its legitimately-held government, through gross violation of every Constitutional precept, yet the coup had only very apathetic opposers to confront with very enthusiastic supporters. As Leopoldo Lugones, the celebrated poet of the coup, said, it was "la hora de la espada". In the light of what we have seen this cannot be surprising. Twenty-two years of indoctrination in the dogma that "there is nothing more glorious than the army and navy of a people" do not go by in vain. Structuralist interpretations of the repeated breakdowns of democracy in Argentina should incorporate a cultural variable into their explanatory models, insofar as the indoctrination that we have studied probably contributed to the generation of a public mood such that, given the right circumstances (for example, the 1930 depression), a coup became a more viable alternative for the military than in a country where this factor was not present, other things being equal. [52] Once again, the crucial difference is the menu of choices.  

Likewise, authoritarian indoctrination and the authoritarian culture it fed back into must account at least in part for the curious fact that, even today, the Argentine public is not in the least moved by the fact that the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands, who are a small population that, nonetheless, is deeply rooted there, are adamantly against any Argentine takeover, even if peacefully concerted with the British. Argentines have been and still are oblivious to the wishes of the islanders, the general trend being not only to deny them the right to self-determination, but also to deny them the right to veto a radical change in their civic status that would be repugnant to them. There has never been a public concern, in Argentina, for the gross violation of the human rights of the islanders that would be entailed in subjecting them to Argentine sovereignty against their wishes.  

Yet another important element of the ideological contents of Argentine primary education during the entire period studied, that I have not documented here due to lack of space, is the delegitimization of personal profit, which was considered ignoble. According to the pedagogues of the Consejo from 1908 until 1930, the citizen that should be made through educational indoctrination should work not for his own personal interest but for that of his "Fatherland": after 1930, it was for both God and the Fatherland [l] . Aside from its likely impact upon the economic culture of the Argentines (that will not be dealt with here), it is plausible that this indoctrination might have contributed to the discarding of material cost-benefit calculations in the design of foreign policies: among a myriad of available documentary illustrations, this is further suggested by the statement of author and one time foreign minister Miguel Angel Cárcano, who wrote that foreign policy should define "the value of a nation" [53] . His was the typical Argentine attitude towards foreign policy, whereby to think publicly in terms of gain was morally and politically disqualifying, because foreign policy was supposed to represent the "soul" or the "spirit" of the "fatherland". Thus, when the Falkland Islands were invaded in 1982, no public figure thought it worthwhile to make a statement regarding why the Falklands were worth invading, and neither did the press nor the intellectuals address this relevant question.

On the other hand, the contrast between the doctrines identified in Argentine primary education and the ideology that inspired U.S. education is very clear, and not only in terms of the legitimacy of an honest profit. In Argentina the elimination of pluralities, the creation of an "uniform mass" and the generation of a "collective ideal" were always official objectives. This intention was clear from the reforms of Ramos Mejía in 1908 to the Peronist ideology and its hegemonic pretension of forging a "movement" that cut through political party lines: indeed, the trend was that of a crescendo towards an ever increasing intolerance of diversity. Contrariwise, Ralph Waldo Emerson described his pedagogical intention, that was typical of the ideology that prevailed in the United States, in the following terms:  

"Masses are rude, unmade, pernicious in their demands, and need not be flattered, but schooled. I wish not to concede anything to them, but to tame, drill, divide and break them up, and draw individuals out of them!" [54]

           The case is interesting because the United States also faced the problem of a massive immigration, despite which fact its educational policy vis-a-vis the phenomenon (as was already said) was qualitatively different. Out of these opposite pedagogical intentions emerged very dissimilar citizens, and these citizens created very different societies, with clearly differentiated political and economic dynamics. No other was the hypothesis that, during the 1920s and 1930s, led political scientist Charles E. Merriam to direct the series of studies mentioned in the Introduction to this paper. As was also suggested there, the undertaking of a similar project for Latin America would be an enormous step towards the understanding of the peculiarities of the region and of the difficulties it has encountered in its development.  

The point is worth reiterating here because it is possible to empirically identify the existence of a common denominator between the "patriotic education" that made creoles out of the children of immigrants in Argentina, and some traits of the culture of most of Hispanic America. The last and as of yet unconcluded stage of the research project here summarized has been a preliminary survey I have undertaken, of the primary and secondary school textbooks of all of the Spanish-speaking countries of South America. The survey was limited to the significative yet fragmentary textbook collection found at the Benson Latin American Library of the University of Texas at Austin, and to the material that I could personally collect in trips to some of these countries. The common traits that come out of this material are remarkable, especially in terms of what has been to date the focus of this survey, i.e., territorial irredenta, which proves to be extreme and with clear connotations of "irrationality" [55] .  

The case of the myths of territorial losses, common to Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay and Venezuela, is particularly interesting. The Argentine, Chilean, Paraguayan, and Peruvian texts, for example, attribute to their respective countries, in Colonial times, vast territories that almost completely overlap each other. Many Peruvian and Paraguayan texts attribute all of Patagonia (including the Pacific coast) and Tierra del Fuego to the "original" territory of their respective countries. If we consider that the Chilean texts regret the loss of what is now Argentine Patagonia and the Argentine half of Tierra del Fuego, and that the Argentine texts regret the loss of the Chilean half of Tierra del Fuego (and sometimes, all of southern Chile up to the Bío-Bío river), we find that there are four countries whose school texts regret the "loss" of a part or all of these austral territories. The Paraguayan texts speak of the "ten dismemberments" their territory was subject to: according to them, in Colonial times Paraguay was bathed by an ocean that was known not so much as the Atlantic but as the Sea of Paraguay, and Paraguay itself was known in Spain as the "Giant Province of the Indies" (Provincia Gigante de Indias). On the other hand, in Bolivia there are official (indeed, obligatory) school texts with titles as significative as The Bolivian Sea (El Mar Boliviano). Finally, the maps of the "Ancient Presidency of Quito" (Antigua Presidencia de Quito) convey an image of an Ecuador that in Colonial times reached the Atlantic Ocean. If all of the territories that the Spanish-speaking countries of South America allegedly lost were added up, we would obtain a sum total equal to at least twice the size of the entire Continent, as if a black hole in history had been sucking territories. [56]

           And these are not the only myths shared with Argentina. Both Ecuador and Chile include, in the maps purported to represent their real, present-day countries, territories that are imaginary. In Ecuador, the only legal (and indeed, the only available) map includes Iquitos, the capital of the Peruvian Amazon, as a part of present-day Ecuador. There are Chilean textbooks that speak of their country as "tricontinental" (the imaginary Chilean Antarctic Sector is supposed to be the "second continent", while Easter Island supposedly represents Chile in yet a third, "oceanic" continent). On the other hand, the Venezuelan vindication of Esequibo is even more hopeless than the Argentine vindication of Malvinas, yet that country's textbooks not only promote it, but often explicitly applaud the "patriotism" of former President Betancourt for having given new life to that unwinnable dispute. In truth, by so doing Betancourt only generated more problems for Venezuela, but such is the conception of patriotism found in Hispanic American culture, including of course Argentina. Clearly, magical realism is an extrapolation to literature of what really goes on in the political lives of these countries, and the assertion of García Márquez that he, more than a man of letters, is a journalist, though falsely modest, contains deep significance.  

Regarding yet another type of nationalist myths, Peruvian textbooks teach us that the decade of 1860 was that of Perú's continental "hegemony" or "leadership", and that in those days it was "the great power of the Pacific". And there is not a single Uruguayan secondary school history text under present usage that does not attribute the 1816 Portuguese invasion of Uruguay to "Argentine treason", while Argentine texts have similar concepts regarding Chile (and sometimes Brazil). There is always a scapegoat that takes the form of an ignoble neighbor: Chilean texts criticize Argentina; Bolivian and Peruvian texts attack Chile; Ecuadorian texts attack Perú, etc. Differences between countries apparently have to be emphasized; regardless of an intentionality that is difficult to document, the central state and the role (and budget) of the military are thus very conveniently justified.  

There is such a thing as a Hispanic American culture, and Argentina is very much a part of that culture, despite its pretensions of Europeanism. As I see it, Argentine education de-Europeanized the children of immigrants (although, as was said, the external forms of bourgeois and aristocratic European culture were vindicated and accentuated). On the other hand, the traits identified so far of that Argentine-Hispanic American culture undoubtedly have a function, and as suggested above that function is probably linked to the need of generating loyalties to the central State, to the need of justifying artificial boundaries, and to the need of justifying the political role of the military (presented at the beginning of this paper in the way of three complementary hypotheses). I think that a part of Argentina's and Latin America's national failure is related to this culture, which was born out of an attempt to create nations artificially, and whose traits we have just begun to identify empirically, in a still fragmentary and incomplete way. This failure would appear to be especially related to the trend towards a more emotional (and less rational) relation of the individuals to political life, a syndrome that includes the election of mystery-presidents, and of which irredentism is merely a secondary though solidly identified characteristic. It should be noted that I have identified cases of intentional breeding of emotionalism in political life, such as the so called Quirno Costa doctrine in Argentina during the 1930s.  

I close this section with one last tentative hypothesis. If the national failure of Argentina and Hispanic America is partly linked to the cultural traits that have been provisionally identified, it is possible that the measure of that failure might be associated to the degree of permeability of government institutions to a popular culture characterized by such traits. In other words, that those countries with institutions that are less elitist, more open, and more disposed to incorporate people with a modest background as officials, will be more vulnerable to the negative consequences of a national culture endowed with such traits. On the contrary, the countries where this culture prevails but which nevertheless are endowed with endogamic and elitist institutions that tend to accept only members of a ruling class who are frequently educated abroad, and who contrariwise to the mass of the population have a culture in which Western political rationality prevails, will have a greater probability of being successfully governed.  

Exemplifying for the case of foreign policy, this hypothesis would explain why, despite sharing the same irredentist culture, Argentina, endowed with a Foreign Ministry and armed forces that have been profoundly penetrated by the middle and lower middle classes, could rush to the Malvinas adventure, whereas Chile, whose institutions are more elitist (it is so as a society as a whole) has not committed follies of this nature. This hypothesis would also help to explain why Argentina was more successful in times of a more oligarchic regime (up to 1943), and less successful as it became more democratic socially [m] , as well as why ever since the (relative) social democratization of Argentina, countries that are more elitist, such as Mexico and Brazil, have been more successful than her, whereas previously it was the other way around [n] . If this hypothesis should prove to be valid, one can only be pessimistic regarding a Hispanic America (and an Argentina) that do not actively and intentionally dedicate themselves to the reformation of their political culture, given the fact that social democratization is not only inevitable: it is also good and desirable.  


Argentina is a country that engaged in chronic political confrontations with the United States ever since 1889, with the first Pan American Conference. During World War II, Argentine neutrality put her at odds with the U.S. State Department and unleashed a process of political destabilization and economic boycott led by Washington, that was extremely costly to the weaker of the two countries. Until very recently, the relations between Argentina and the United States have never been too good. The cost of these bad relations has been paid mainly by Argentina, but successive Argentine governments have not seemed to care. In 1978 Argentina's military dictatorship nearly launched an attack against Chile, and in 1982 the same regime invaded the Falkland Islands and engaged in a losing war against Britain, which had practically unanimous popular support. With the exception of Cuba, Argentina is the only Latin American country that has not ratified the Treaty of Tlatelolco for the prohibition of nuclear weapons in Latin America, a policy that has been consistently pursued by Argentine governments of every ideology, democratic and military, Peronist and Radical. Argentina has spent billions of dollars in research and development geared towards the enrichment of uranium (which she has already accomplished) and for obtaining plutonium from used uranium fuel, yet these projects have no practical use for a country that has built fission reactors that use natural uranium. And the last Radical government (1983-89), that restored democracy, engaged in the development of a middle range missile that, if finished, would have enabled the military to bomb Malvinas from the Argentine mainland simply by pressing a button. Argentina has consistently exposed herself to direct and indirect sanctions, arising from an apparent lack of understanding of the modesty of her power and of the limitations imposed upon her by the unwritten rules of successive world orders. [57]  

On the other hand, the data gathered about the nationalist, authoritarian and militaristic contents of Argentine education suggest that a political culture fed by these contents probably exercised an influence on foreign policies chronically characterized by an inclination to confrontation and by the absence of material cost-benefit analyses. This tentative hypothesis is supported by the following educational contents:  

1. Authoritarianism. The idea that it was unpatriotic to question the country's foreign policy and the so-called verdades de la argentinidad, leading to the absence of a critical attitude. Definition of the "Fatherland" (patria) in terms of obligatory and unrenounceable affiliation: according to the hegemonic ideas of one important pedagogue, the Fatherland indissolubly "ties" an individual to the country in which he or she was born [58] .  

2. Irredentism. The idea that, historically, Argentina lost great territories, some of which should be regained.  

3. Self-righteousness. The idea that Argentina's foreign policy has been moralistic and pacifist.  

4. The meanness and improper ambitions of others, especially neighboring states and the United Kingdom, which victimized Argentina, stealing territories from her.  

5. Disdain for personal profit as a motivation for behavior. Hypothetically, this made it more difficult to adopt material cost-benefit analyses to foreign policy (insofar as it is easier to be hypocritical about personal behavior than with respect to public policies, that have to be defended publicly).  

6. Image of Argentina as a rich and powerful country, that generated the idea that Argentina was up to par with the confrontations that her foreign policy engaged her in, and that even though such calculations were ignoble, the cost-benefit balance would be positive anyway, and prestige was well worth paying for. Hypothetically, this perception also had an impact on Argentina's inclination towards costly neutralities (World War II being the prime example), and on the idea that Argentina's foreign policy should be free of the influence of any hegemonic or predominant power. Due to Argentina's great prosperity from the 1880s until approximately 1942, which put her per capita income almost at the level of France's [59] , this factor differentiated Argentina from other Latin American countries, generating delusions of grandeur that probably had a considerable impact upon her confrontationist foreign policies. The idea that Argentina had a "manifest destiny" is explicitly set forth in many writings of the first seven decades of the 20th Century, and as late as the dictatorship of General Onganía (1966-1970) one of the official slogans spoke of Argentina Potencia ("Argentina, a world power"). [60]  

Finally, an identity between the contents of Argentine education and the expectations of Argentina's diplomacy can be firmly established for the decades whose archival material has been declassified in the United States, thus consolidating the hypothesis about a direct causal relation between a culture fed by these contents and some of the trends of the country's foreign policy. For example, in relation to irredentism, a January 5, 1948 U.S. Embassy despatch stated:  

"For many years Argentines have dreamed of an Argentina which would include all the territory formerly known as the Viceroyalty of the River Plate. Many Argentines even feel the United States should take North America and Argentina South America." [61]  

Perhaps more significantly, in relation to Argentina's inflated self-perceptions, a State Department memorandum dated April 30, 1951, that discussed the policy to be adopted towards Argentina, stated that:  

"(...)There must be less wooing, since our policy of wooing and making requests of Argentina constantly tends to play up the biggest obstacle in U.S.-Argentine relations, namely, the traditional Argentine tendency to overestimate its position in the world." [62]  

The same perception is registered in a report of the Council on Foreign Relations dated January 2, 1951, in which Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Edward G. Miller stated that:  

"Argentina has rather consistently lacked the proper perspective of her position in the world. The Argentines (have) tended to think themselves the rivals of the United States, but they (are) no such thing." [63]  

And among numerous other possible examples, in another State Department memorandum dated June 23, 1952, a list is presented of "What (...) Argentina seeks from (the) U.S.", whose very first point says explicitly:

"1. Recognition as a world power, and as the leader and dominant power of Latin America." [64]

           Such perceptions about Argentine goals and desires which strongly influenced foreign policy are common in the United States archives and they can be found also in the British archives of Kew Gardens. They correspond perfectly with the ideological contents of Argentine education, and they strongly suggest that culture is a variable that cannot be excluded from the study of foreign policy and international relations. Argentine education appears to have made citizens with a very inflated idea of Argentina and with irredentist as well as world power aspirations, and these citizens and their culture made it possible for Argentina to engage in locally very popular foreign policies which were simply not "rational" from the perspective of the relation between means and (national) ends. In 1982, the military regime might have invaded the Falklands in order to "rationally" gain popular support, but even so, they were exploiting irrationality, and indeed, insofar as the war was unwinnable, the military were irrational themselves. A rational actor model cannot explain the popular support that made the Malvinas adventure possible, nor can it explain the military perceptions that made them persist in their attitude once it was clear that the British were going to fight. Neither can a bureaucratic politics model explain these phenomena. Only the empirical study of culture can provide us with an insight on such problems, through a better understanding of the sources of a significant part of the decision-makers' menu of choices, that makes it possible for policy to fall into the realm of Simon's "radical irrationality".  

Naturally, I am not implying that a government is the prisoner of its country's presumed political culture. The fact that a certain policy alternative is included in the decision-makers' menu of policy choices due to the contents of a political culture does not mean that the decision-makers are forced to adopt that policy. The public is usually more concerned about other, non-foreign policy issues, and this often gives decision-makers freedom to adopt policies that may even run counter to that political culture. The problem arises when a key decision-maker's belief systems coincide with a foreign policy culture such as I have documented for Argentina, or when such a decision-maker decides to ride on that culture, exploiting its emotional potential for political ends. From 1889 to 1989 [o] , this has tended to be the rule rather than the exception in Argentina's foreign policies, and indeed, the amazing continuity that can be identified in the country's educational ideologies can be matched with an equally amazing continuity in some of its foreign policies, which happen to respond to the said ideological contents. This being the case, the study of the political culture becomes a more efficient research strategy than the study of individual decision-makers' belief systems, if our intention is to contribute to the understanding of the foreign policies of Argentina in the historical long term. Additionally, the study of the political culture can help to identify the potential for irrationality, as well as the potential for many other expected and unexpected societal outcomes, authoritarianism among them.

           Skeptics answer that direct causal linkages are almost impossible to establish. To this, I reply that we must come to terms with the fact that ours is not an exact science, and that the hardest question (that of clearly identifying a direct chain of causal linkages) is not necessarily the most interesting and relevant one. The Falkland Islands war, the Islamic revolution, the reunification of Germany, the collapse of the Soviet Union, all took the political scientific community by surprise and in disarray. If we had studied the culture, we might have had insights concerning the potential for these phenomena. By not studying the culture, we have made our science even less exact, and close to irrelevant.


[a] . I am indebted to Alejandro Corbacho, Matteo Goretti and Lars Schoultz for their comments on the manuscript of this paper.

[b] . This idea might appear particularly unlikely for an American audience, due precisely to cultural reasons that make it difficult to understand a different attitude towards cost. Nonetheless, it is only necessary to be slightly acquainted with Argentina's political life to come across slogans such as "cueste lo que cueste y caiga quien caiga" ("cost what it may, and whoever may fall"), or "la patria dejará de ser colonia o la bandera flameará sobre sus ruinas" ("the fatherland will cease to be a colony or the flag will flutter above its ruins"), that illustrate well what I mean. And although these slogans may represent extreme attitudes that do not prevail in everyday life, it is necessary only to visit the state television station (ATC, Channel 7) to realize that such gigantic and underutilized facilities were never built with an eye to making up for the investment, not to say making a profit. Cases like the former are the rule, not the exception, among Argentine public investments.

[c] . Data included in my article cited in endnote 1. This finding is of some modest theoretical relevance insofar as it shows the insufficiency of correlations such as those made by Almond and Verba. These data (which are also quantitative) show that the contents of education cannot be left aside in a study of the political effects of education.

[d] . One can only conjecture with respect to the consequences for the country's culture of this style of indoctrination, which misrepresents history, international law and the very logic of intellectual discourse; which discourages free speech, criticism, the exercise of a systematic doubt and the‑development of independent criteria in the individual; and which breeds dogmatism and its necessary corollary, authoritarianism, not to speak of irredentism and fanaticism.

[e] . This is precisely the reason why I take the year 1914 (the year of the death of Ramos Mejía and of the beginning of the War) as a breaking point in my periodization, and not 1916 (the year in which the Radical administration was inaugurated and which conventional wisdom would normally choose as a landmark for periodizations): although the effect on education of the death of the old president of the Consejo and of the outbreak of the European war was only superficial, it was actually greater than the effect of the change of government, at least in terms of ideological contents. See my Fracaso..., Chapter 3.

[f] . The Argentine case contrasts sharply with the Mexican case, where the political ruptures generated qualitative changes in the ideological contents of primary and secondary education. See J.Z. Vázquez, Nacionalismo y Educación en México, El Colegio de México 1975.

[g] . Paradoxically also, this statement runs against Argentine conventional wisdom, insofar as the sectors who have appropriated for themselves the term "nationalists" would find it difficult to acknowledge that it was the Conservatives who first established cultural nationalism as an official pedagogical ideology, and that after 1908 one major cultural aim of the Conservatives (who have always been accused of promoting an "European" Argentina) was to de-Europeanize Argentina.

[h] . Carlos Octavio Bunge was one of the principal ideologues who inspired this educational reform that was also a project of cultural engineering. His numerous articles in the Monitor were frequently quoted afterwards by other such ideologues. See especially his "La enseñanza de la tradición y la leyenda" (February 28, 1911), "La educación patriótica ante la sociología" (August 31, 1908), "La poesía popular argentina" (December 30, 1909), "Teoría de un libro de lectura escolar" (December 31, 1910), and "La enseñanza de la historia" (January 31, 1911). Paradigmatic of Bunge's attitude regarding the invention of traditions and legends was his assertion in the first of the articles cited: "Though a fervent admirer of scientific positivism (...) I am the most sincere supporter of poetical fiction in the education of the child".

[i] . The tango may be the only collective Argentine product that had a strong impact upon other cultures and that in some measure was internationalized. It may be symptomatic that it lost practically all creative momentum several decades ago (leaving aside very few personal exceptions). And it is certainly interesting to remember that Manuel Gálvez, one of the founding fathers of Argentine nationalism, should have thought that one of the most convincing proofs that Argentina was suffering a serious process of "denationalization" that needed be checked was the dissemination of that new and "alien" dance. See M. Gálvez, El Diario de Gabriel Quiroga: Opiniones Sobre la Vida Argentina (Arnoldo Moen y Hno., Buenos Aires 1910, page 129; cf. C. Solberg, op.cit., page 141). That what later became the very symbol of the Argentine nationality should have been considered denationalizing in 1910 is an illustration of the static character that these men wanted to impose upon the nationality they sought to create.

[j] . Many years later, in the 1980s, the news spread that a team of medical investigators of the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET) had developed a miraculous antidote to cancer, called crotoxina, that was based on cobra poison. When the issue became a scandal and the team was incriminated, a significant segment of the public became convinced that the miraculous potential of crotoxina was being frustrated due to a conspiracy of the big multinational pharmaceutical firms, that could not withstand the losses that would accrue as a consequence of the development of this inexpensive drug that, to top it all, was an Argentine invention (which was allegedly intolerable). To such a point have the criteria for (scientific or historical) truth and objectivity been blurred, that a great confusion prevails in the population whereby everything is possible and nothing is believable.

[k] . The reader should bear in mind that these people were actively, consciously and very rationally seeking to generate irrationality (i.e., "frenzies", among other terms they themselves used).

[l] . The doctrine that establishes that a man should work not for himself but for his "Fatherland" is documented throughout the five decades studied in C. Escudé, op.cit. 1990. This idea can be traced to conferences given by Fichte during the early XIX Century (while French soldiers patrolled the streets of Berlin) and probably had its origin in German idealism, although there are similar doctrines in the Catholic tradition.

[m] . It is obvious that the continuum "elitism-social democracy" is different from the continuum "authoritarianism-political democracy". The Argentine armed forces, for example, have been cruelly authoritarian, despite the fact that its officer corps have been fed, to a large degree, with men who came from the lower middle class and for whom a military career was a channel for upward mobility.

[n] . This explanation does not pretend to incur in any sort of reductionism. The variable that is being analyzed would be only one of several that hypothetically had an influence upon the degree of "success".

[o] . In 1989, president Menem adopted a wholly countercultural foreign policy, breaking with just about every Argentine foreign policy tradition, and he was able to get away with it. In my opinion, this was the case not only because of the aforesaid freedom of manoeuvre available to decision-makers, but also because political culture is not static but rather is subject to a flux, and there are events that teach. Principal among these in the case of recent Argentine foreign policy events is the Falkland/Malvinas war, which had a great impact neutralizing classroom indoctrination and teaching the Argentine public what the foreign policy of Argentina should not be. A parallel in the realm of economics was the hyperinflationary experience of 1989: it taught people what they did not want for themselves and their country, despite decades of learning how to live with inflation through financial speculation.

[1] . H. A. Simon, "Human nature in politics: the dialogue of psychology with political science", American Political Science Review, Vol. 79, 1985, p. 302-303. I am indebted to Alejandro Corbacho for having brought this article to my attention.

[2] . In 1984, I was formally accused of treason because of my public support of the boundary treaty then signed with Chile, that awarded the islands to that country. The treaty itself was unacceptable to hawks, but to claim that the islands in dispute were rightfully Chilean --as I did-- was criminal in their perception.

[3] . After the war, a lot has been said about the possibility that the result might have been different if Argentina would have been "luckier" in her military operations, sinking more British ships with bombs that hit their targets but never exploded. Such conjectures are very unconvincing for the simple reason that war is not a sport played on the gentlemanly defined limits of the playing grounds. If Argentina had, for example, sunk one of the British aircraft carriers, escalation would have been inevitable, with the remaining one attacking the Argentine mainland and most probably wrecking the Patagonian oil and hydroelectric industry. This would have had a devastating long term effect upon Argentina's economy, and an immediate and equally disastrous effect on political support for the war, as Buenos Aires would have been left without energy. As it was, war never got to Argentina, and the country can be considered extremely fortunate for that.

[4] . Op.cit., p. 301.

[5] . In the mid 1920s, one of the pioneers of American political science, Charles Edward Merriam, set out to coordinate a series of studies on the instruments used to elicit civic participation and loyalty, and on the totality of societal circumstances in which such processes took place, for a sum total of eight countries (plus one volume on earlier civilizations). These included Soviet Russia, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France, the United States and the states which emerged from the former Austrian Hungarian empire. These volumes, whose authors were familiar with the countries concerned through residence and knowledge of the language and local conditions, were crowned by Merriam's concluding and synoptic volume, The Making of Citizens, published in 1931. Although affected by some inconsistencies and unevenness, a series of great value was produced. Each volume was a study unto its own, and although they have now become obsolete, few have been repeated. The individual studies included mechanisms for eliciting civic participation and loyalty such as the educational system, the army and navy, the churches, the press, the radio and cinema, symbols and ceremonies, etc. Merriam himself undertook the final, comparative investigation of political education in school and society, which is basically a typology of citizen-training techniques.


In his day, Merriam scored an important scholarly and editorial success. Nonetheless, the political scientific field which he pioneered was relatively abandoned until the early 1960s, when Almond and Verba wrote their classic The Civic Culture, largely inspired by Merriam's effort, but striving to apply the new social scientific techniques then in vogue. Merriam's study, however praised, was said to be "merely qualitative", while the Almond and Verba piece sought "to continue the qualitative search and introduce quantitative analysis". To some extent, this new inroad proved to be a dead end. The new approach led to the need to use quantitative categories, such as "educational level", which are rather gross. Almond and Verba could make generalizations such as "the more educated person is more aware of the impact of government on the individual than is the person of less education" (Chapter 3), "the more educated individual is more likely to engage in political discussion" (Chapter 4), or "the more educated individual is more likely to consider himself capable of influencing the government" (Chapter 7). Yet (for example) they were further than ever from the study of the relationship between differences in educational contents and differences in a society's democratic and authoritarian trends, in its approach to its foreign relations, and in the views of the world prevailing among its citizens. Works included in Merriam's series, such as Herbert W. Schneider's Making Fascists, or Carlton J.H. Hayes' France: a Nation of Patriots, were actually closer to this substantive albeit "qualitative" problem. On the other hand, critics of the Almond and Verba piece argued that, very frequently, the concept of political culture was a construction devoid of empirical contents which was used to conceal our ignorance of the political process: what could not otherwise be explained was attributed, without further ado, to the political culture. Reactions to the Almond and Verba piece ranged from B. Berry's critique in terms of circular causality (does the political culture generate the political system, or is it the other way around?) to structuralist critiques that considered the concept of political culture useless and stressed the importance of the economy, the international market and other such variables to explain political outcomes. The sterility of Almond and Verba's quantitative approach led to a general critique of the concept of political culture which tended to preclude further qualitative research as well, and political scientific studies on educational and other mechanisms for the "making of citizens" were very seldom produced from there on. Important theoretical efforts with powerful insights for future research, such as Karl Deutsch's Nationalism and Social Communication (1953), were practically cast aside and did not bear the fruits expected by their authors and the political scientific community of the time.  

[6] . See my "Argentine Territorial Nationalism", Journal of Latin American Studies, May 1988 (Vol. 20, Part 1). This piece, which attempts both to describe the phenomenon of the clashing perceptions and to evaluate the claim that Argentina lost territories, was previously published in Spanish, as the third essay of my book La Argentina vs. las Grandes Potencias: El Precio del Desafío, Editorial de Belgrano, Buenos Aires 1986, and as a contribution to R. Perina and R. Russell (eds.), Argentina en el Mundo 1973-1987, GEL, Buenos Aires 1988.

[7] . Three slightly different editions of this study were published in Spanish. First, as the fourth essay of my book Patología del Nacionalismo: el Caso Argentino, Ed. Tesis/Instituto Di Tella, Buenos Aires 1987; then as a paper entitled "Contenido nacionalista de la enseñanza de la geografía en la República Argentina, 1879-1986", published in Ideas en Ciencias Sociales, No. 9, 1988, and finally as a contribution to A. Borón and J. Faúndez, Malvinas Hoy: Herencia de un Conflicto, Ed. Puntosur, Buenos Aires 1988.

[8] . The 1984 texts mentioned are F.A. Daus, Geografía de la Argentina, and Galmarino and Ciro, Geografía de la Argentina y América.

[9] . Page 126.

[10] . Polls conducted by IPSA, RISC project. Stratified probabilistic samples representing 80% of the country's urban population.

[11] . This phase of this line of research was published in my book El Fracaso del Proyecto Argentino: Educación e Ideología, Ed. Tesis/Instituto Di Tella, Buenos Aires 1990.

[12] . See C. Solberg, Immigration and Nationalism in Argentina and Chile, 1890-1914, University of Texas Press, Austin 1970, chapter 6; H.S. Spalding, "Education in Argentina, 1890-1914: the limits to oligarchic reform", Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. III, No.1, Summer 1972; and M.B. Plotkin, "Política, educación y nacionalismo en el Centenario", Todo es Historia, September 1985.

[13] . G. Correa, "Orientación nacionalista en la escuela primaria, media y superior", lecture given at the Instituto Popular de Conferencias, vol. XIV of the Instituto's publication, 1928, page 51.

[14] . For the Australian case, see T. Findlay Mackenzie, Nationalism and Education in Australia, P.S. King & Son, London 1935. For the Canadian case, see G. Laloux-Jain, Les Manuels d'Histoire du Canada (au Québec et en Ontario de 1867 à 1914), Université Laval, Quebec 1974; G. Milburn and J. Herbert (eds.), National Consciousness and the Curriculum: the Canadian Case, Ontario Institute for Studies in education, Ontario 1974; A. Chaiton and N. McDonald, Canadian Schools and Canadian Identity, Gage Educational Publishing 1977, and A. Luke, Literacy, Textbooks and Ideology, The Falmer Press 1988.

[15] . See Chapter 1 of my El Fracaso (...).

[16] . Monitor de la Educación Común (from here on, Monitor), June 30, 1908, pages 341-351. The underlining is in the original. If the orders regarding the natural sciences and geography are compared with the results of my survey of geography texts, the measure in which the patriotic education reforms left an indelible mark on Argentine teaching will be perceived. The method of singing praises to the country and to compare it favorably "with the other peoples of the Earth", for example, is typical of the contents of the geography texts I surveyed. See my already quoted paper on the subject.

[17] . Monitor, May 30, 1909.

[18] . Consejo Nacional de Educación, La Educación Común en la República Argentina, Buenos Aires 1913, page 328.

[19] . M.B. Plotkin, op.cit., page 72.

[20] . Monitor, July 31, 1911, page 128.

[21] . E. Bavio, "La historia en las escuelas argentinas", Part I, Monitor, March 31, 1910, pages 712-713.

[22] . Part II of the article quoted above, Monitor, April 30, 1910, pages 69-72.

[23] . Monitor, June 30, 1910.

[24] . For the analysis of the Japanese case, see P.A. Narasimha Murthy, The Rise of Modern Nationalism in Japan (A Historical Study of the Role of Education in the Making of Modern Japan), Ashajanak Publications, New Delhi 1973. For the German case, see E.H. Reisner, Nationalism and Education since 1789: A Social and Political History of Modern Education, Macmillan, New York 1922, and P. Kosok, Modern Germany: A Study of Conflicting Loyalties, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1933. Reisner's book, a classic of the field, treats the French, English, Prussian and US cases.

[25] . J.V. González, Patria, Buenos Aires, 3rd. edition, 1908 (the first edition is of 1900), pages 16-18, 20, 26, 32 and 42. Regarding the French case, see E.H. Reisner, op.cit., and C.J.H. Hayes, France, A Nation of Patriots, Octogon Books, New York 1974 (first edition 1930). Renan's definition comes from his celebrated essay "Qu'est-ce qu'une nation?"

[26] . For the US case, see E.H. Reisner, op.cit., and F. FitzGerald, America Revisited (History Textbooks in the Twentieth Century), Atlantic Monthly Press, Little, Brown and Co., Toronto 1979. For the special case of perceptions of Latin America in US textbooks, see Latin America in School and College Teaching Materials, American Council on Education, Washington D.C. 1944, and R.A. Pastor and J.G. Castañeda, Limits to Friendship (The United States and Mexico), Alfred A. Knopf, New York 1988. The latter work also carries a chapter on perceptions of the United States carried by Mexican textbooks.

[27] . This table was elaborated by the author on the basis of the list of songs published in the Monitor of December 31, 1920, pages 161-165. The "second grade" of this table corresponds to what in Argentina was known as primer grado inferior (actually a second grade). Thus, the "seventh grade" of this table was known in Argentina as "sixth grade", despite the fact that it was actually the seventh year of primary school.

[28] . "Voto Profesional", article of the Sección Oficial of the Monitor, September 30, 1920, pages 34-35. My emphasis.

[29] . R. Rojas, book cited in the text, prologue titled "Breve historia de este libro" dated January 1, 1922, Peña Lillo edition, Buenos Aires, page 23. My emphasis.

[30] . "La orientación moral de la escuela argentina", Monitor, September-December 1930.

[31] . Address by general Justo on occasion of the assumption of Ramón J. Cárcano as president of the Consejo, Monitor, May 1932.

[32] . Orders of F. Julio Picarel, Monitor, May 1932, pages 128-129.

[33] . Propaganda classes for the Patriotic Loan, Monitor, June 1932, pages 203-208.

[34] . In his comments to the manuscript of this paper, Lars Schoultz said that this title doesn't make any sense in English. It doesn't make any sense in Spanish either, unless the reader is a party to the culture that bred it. It means simply that children should be educated so that they can live their lives exacerbating their emotions. The original in Spanish says "La Escuela Argentina Para la Vida Exacerbando el Sentimiento" (with capital letters).

[35] . For a complete description of this indoctrination method, see J.E. Gutiérrez, "Escuela Rural Argentina", lectures delivered on November 10 and December 14, 1936, Monitor, pages 47-50. The method's picturesque name, in Spanish, was "La Escuela Argentina Para la Vida Exaltando el Sentimiento".

[36] . J.A. Astolfi, "Los maestros y el nacionalismo", Monitor, June 1940, pages 117-123.

[37] . Address by Pico on the occasion of his assumption as president of the Consejo, Monitor, November 1932.

[38] . Address by Manuel M. de Iriondo on the occasion of his appointment as minister of Public Education, Monitor, November 1932.

[39] . Monitor, March-April 1945.

[40] . Monitor, September-October 1946, pages 3-7.

[41] . 735.00/3-2250, RG 59, Department of State, National Archives of Washington D.C.

[42] . Boletín de Comunicaciones del Ministerio de Educación, No. 108. This bulletin partially replaced the Monitor, whose publication was interrupted in 1949.

[43] . Monitor, September-December 1947.

[44] . Ibid.

[45] . The first precedent that I am aware of regarding the later systematized control of school maps by the Argentine army, comes from a presidential decree of September 18, 1937. Monitor, September 1937.

[46] . All of the quotations in this paragraph correspond to the instructions of intervenor Musachio, Monitor, May-August 1947, pages 54-65.

[47] . The author of this paper was formally accused of "treason to the Fatherland" in 1984.

[48] . See J.C. Puig, "La política exterior argentina y sus tendencias profundas", Revista Argentina de Relaciones Internacionales, No. 1, and G. Ferrari, Esquema de Política Exterior Argentina, Eudeba, Buenos Aires 1981, pages 18-28. Both are cases of uncritical adherence to the dogma. There were no exceptions to this trend until the author of this paper published his La Argentina, ¿Paria Internacional? in 1984. The interrogation signs in the latter title were imposed by the publisher: a lack of ambiguity was considered too strong.

[49] . E. Banchs, "Las canciones escolares", Monitor, July 31, 1909, pages 29-35.

[50] . E. de Vedia, "La Escuela", Monitor, October 31, 1910, p. 21-30.

[51] . E. de Gandía, "La enseñanza elemental de la historia argentina", Monitor, July 1932, p. 26-30.

[52] . Among other authors, I refer to C.H. Waisman, Reversal of Development in Argentina: Postwar Counterrevolutionary Policies and their Structural Consequences, Princeton University Press 1987, and "Argentina: autarkic industrialization and illegitimacy", in L. Diamond, J.J. Linz and S.M. Lipset (eds.), Democracy in Developing Countries: Vol. 4, Latin America, Lynne Rienner, Boulder, 1989. Waisman acknowledges the role of cultural factors in these phenomena, but due to the lack of a historical perspective about the evolution of indoctrination in Argentina, his treatment of this variable tends to be understated and lacking in empirical substance.

[53] . See M.A. Cárcano, La Política Internacional en la Historia Argentina, EUDEBA, Buenos Aires 1972, Vol. I, Introduction and Chapter 1, and the quotation from the flap of Vol. III and IV.

[54] . Cited in F.J. Antczak, Thought and Character: The Rhetoric of Democratic Education, Iowa State University Press, Ames 1985, p. 5.

[55] . The reader should think in terms of Max Weber's concepts, "rationality of means" and "rationality of ends", as well as in terms of Simon's "radical irrationality".

[56] . Historical maps with boundaries similar to those that I describe in the text, that are the bases for the myths of territorial losses, can be found in numerous South American school texts throughout the XX Century. See, for example, Emiliano Gómez Ríos, El Paraguay y su Historia, 1963; Armando Paiva, Geografía de la República del Paraguay, 1976; Atilio Sivirichi, Historia del Perú, 1939; José Antonio del Busto Duthurburu, Historia del Perú, 1964; Gustavo Pons Muzzo, Las Fronteras del Perú, several editions (including very recent ones); Luis Aníbal Mendoza García, Derecho Territorial Ecuatoriano, c. 1982; Pedro Cunhil Grau, Geografía de Chile, 1977; Alfredo Ayala Z., Geografía Política de Bolivia, 1941; Florean Sanabria G., El Mar Boliviano, 1988; Levi Marrero, Venezuela y sus Recursos, 1963; Mauricio Schurmann Pacheco, Historia del Uruguay en los Siglos XIX y XX, 1977, etc. Not always is there consistency in the way that the different texts of a given country depict the alleged historical boundaries of their formerly grand territories. Nevertheless, give or take some thousands of square kilometers, all of the countries mentioned convey myths of territorial losses through their school texts, and despite the variations between texts, the alleged former boundaries of Perú, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and Bolivia always configure huge territories, much greater than in present times, while those of Uruguay and Venezuela depict more modest losses. Obviously, the myth of territorial losses is the other side of the coin of the teachings about the neighbor's malevolence (which is always present), if not of bellicist indoctrination (which is often present as well). Colombia presents a curious exception in terms of myths of territorial losses, which are completely absent from its school texts, despite the real loss of Panama, and despite the fact that Colombia was the center of Bolivar's short-lived Gran Colombia, and that is the typical historical basis of South American territorial loss mythologies.

[57] . See J.S. Tulchin, Argentina and the United States: a Conflicted Relationship, Twayne Historical Series, Boston 1990; C. Escudé, Gran Bretaña, Estados Unidos y la Declinación Argentina 1942-1949, Ed. de Belgrano, Buenos Aires 1983; and C. Escudé, Realismo Periférico: Fundamentos para la Nueva Política Exterior Argentina, Planeta, Buenos Aires, expected April 1992.

[58] . Ibid., Introduction.

[59] . A. Maizels, Industrial Growth and World Trade, Cambridge 1963.

[60] . C. Escudé, El Fracaso....

[61] . "Comments on our relations with Argentina", from Chargé d'Affaires Guy W. Ray to the Secretary of State; 711.35/1-548, RG 59, DOS, NA.

[62] .  "Proposed Country Policy Statement on Argentina", Miller to Dearborn, 661.35/4-3051, RG 59, Department of State (DOS), National Archives (NA).

[63] . Discussion Meeting Report, "Argentina Today", Council on Foreign Relations, third meeting, January 2, 1951; discussion leader, the Honorable Edward G. Miller, Jr.; 611.35/3-151, RG 59, DOS, NA.

[64] . "US Policy towards Argentina", 611.35/6-2352, RG 59, DOS, NA.


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