Roberto Mangabeira Unger

The Progressive Alternative in a Mexican Context

This letter of July 30, 2001 to President Vicente Fox of Mexico, was written at his request. It proposes a program of economic recovery and social reconstruction intended to turn a severe recession into a transformative opportunity. The letter seeks to answer the question: What, in the circumstances of a particular country like Mexico, is the most effective form of a Rooseveltian program today?

Out of desperation and faced with a global economic slowdown, progressive economists are tempted to return to vulgar, demand-oriented Keynesianism. There is a better alternative, connecting cumulative breakthroughs in supply constraints with cumulative breakthroughs in demand constraints and using the imperative of economic recovery as a chance to democratize the market and to deepen democracy. Many of the devices I propose are specific to Mexican realities, but the broad direction of the response is meant to address a predicament common to many countries now.

I had spoken with then Governor Fox over several years in the setting of meetings Jorge Castañeda (now Foreign Minister of Mexico) and I organized to bring together centrist and leftist forces in Latin America in the formulation of an alternative to neoliberalism. My attempt to persuade the President to become Roosevelt rather than Hoover has obviously failed. The debate and the struggle, however, in Mexico and in the world, are only beginning.

My letter to President Fox has now (February 2002) begun to provoke some discussion in Mexico. My first response to the discussion has been the “Tesis Mexicanas” that follow the letter in this part of the site.

Below the letter and the text I attach the introduction (México y la mediocridad) and the postscript (México sin miedo: el rumbo del país ahora) to “La Segunda Vúa: La Alternativa Progresista” (Grupo Editorial Porría, Mexico City), a Spanish language translation of “Democracy Realized: The Progressive Alternative,” accompanied by a Spanish language translation of my pamphlet “A Segunda Via: Presente e Futuro do Brasil,” republished in my Brazilian book of that same name. The introduction was written in early 2001. The postscript was written in August 1999.