Political Efficacy and the Power of Social Movements

Political efficacy and the effects of leaving oppressive normalized systems: Politically and Economically

Political efficacy can be defined as the amount of faith and trust that each citizen holds in their government and also the degree to which they feel they can understand and influence political affairs. In class, we had an extensive conversation about the actual influences and effects that the IMF (International Monetary Fund) has on the economy and even more so the political climates of developing nations. The confusion that arises from the misunderstanding of the great influence that the IMF has upon what changes are implemented into the economy which can directly effect the rules of society. Designed to mainly provide loans in times of economic crises, the IMF also has more of a connection with developed countries who can provide more money for the organization.

Between being a main source for loans and also extremely important to developing countries, the power to manipulate the political atmospheres of those developing countries grows with the amount of help and loans that they deal out. In my last posting, I described the growing phenomenon of an ambiguous type of authority that has been established through the power of non-state actors such as the IMF. One very interesting concept in this week’s reading was that of moral hazard. As explained in The Globalization Reader, moral hazard is a phenomenon in which governments tend to not focus on the prevention of economic crises due to the insulation of non-state factors just like the IMF. The cycle that follows this mentality is one in which poorer, developing countries have to constantly abide by policies that don not actually help them as citizens.

In order to combat the policies of the IMF, Argentina created policies that were the exact opposite of those imposed by the IMF. After they refused to pay back a defaulted loan to the IMF they were able to escape the systematic cycle and were also able to create positive changes on their economy. Other countries, especially those who fall into the developing category could definitely adopt the techniques used to escape organizations like the IMF increasing the amount of money that goes towards social spending and therefore increases the support for citizens.

Political rationalization as explained by Focault in a chapter of Undoing the Demos is the ways in which political systems are formed and the purposes of governing a nation. This involves the tangible aspect of rulers and subjects but also involves the intangible teaching of how order is to be maintained through instruments and institutions. Some examples of instruments include capitalism and bureaucracy which work to effect the institutions of family, schools, and prisons to name a few. One main way of essentially teaching people how to conduct themselves in different nations according to the government is through the media, military, and political parties.

The Importance of Social Movements: Argentina and Government Morality

During my first year at Hollins University, I was in a seminar called Passion of Power, Power of Passion in which my class learned about Latin American women in history and also many social justice movements. I remember The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo being one movement centered in Argentina.

In many cases, the instruments mentioned beforehand can be abused in order to force people to remain under policies that are harmful to them. Social movements involve groups of marginalized people who band together to demonstrate against policies and institutions that they feel have infringed on their rights as citizens of society. Following the end of the Dirty War in Argentina, the military government had abducted, tortured, and killed anyone who resisted the political regime.

Many of these victims were young college aged citizens. The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo were a large group of people affected by the governments brutality. They participated in non-violent demonstrative walks that not only brought light to the issue in the hopes of finding their loved ones but also let the government know that this was not something that could be easily erased from the moral history of Argentina. In this case the instrument of the military was challenged and also the role of the government and its need to limit the illusion of political efficacy.

Protests are powerful proclamations that come from the people of a nation about any form of social unrest. It is also a major form of political efficacy, when people feel they can challenge the harmful political and economic changes that effect daily life, the organization of a movement against what is already in place is an awesome way to feel as though change can be heard and solutions implemented.

A peaceful demonstration of The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo
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