Crucifixion by Power

[ Latin American Studies ]

Crucifixion by Power

Essays on Guatemalan National Social Structure, 1944–1966

By Richard Newbold Adams

The result of many years of research in Guatemala, this volume utilizes the author’s fieldwork as well as that of his colleagues and students to construct a set of concepts explaining how Guatemala reached the difficult circumstances in which it found itself in the 1960s—and still finds itself today.

1970

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6 x 9 | 568 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-72968-1

"Quite the contrary of old generals, nations do not fade away; they have to be killed."

Richard Adams' view of the nation as a basic social unit is central to this pioneering study in social anthropology. The result of many years of research in Guatemala, this volume utilizes the author's fieldwork as well as that of his colleagues and students to construct a set of concepts explaining how Guatemala reached the difficult circumstances in which it found itself in the 1960s—and still finds itself today.

With the breakup of the great colonial empires after the Second World War, the curtain that had been drawn around Marx by Western social scientists fell away; countries once called "primitive" began to be seen as "underdeveloped," while those once thought to be stable and advanced began to appear predatory and conflict ridden. The theme of Mr. Adams' book is that, in the world as a whole, there is a structural escalation of power concentration.

The author believes that Guatemala, as a small nation within the general domain of the United States, is caught in the developmental hinterland of that powerful neighbor and that the United States, within its own capitalistic development pattern and in competition with other leading world powers, cannot allow the smaller nation to resolve its own political and social problems. Thus Guatemala, he declares, finds itself crucified by unyielding and uncontrollable power plays beyond its national borders.

As a background for the study of specific sectors in Guatemalan society, the author discusses the theoretical nature of complex societies. He shows the cohesive force of a nation to be its power structure and then examines mechanisms whereby this structure is kept intact in Guatemala. Special emphasis is given to the lack of access to power by the poor, the development of the military, the organization of power within the Catholic Church, and the expansion of upper-sector interest groups.

While there was important growth in the power of upper-sector Guatemalan society over the two decades of the study, there was no comparable increase in distribution; the position of the lower sectors within the power structure has therefore changed very slightly. "Development," then, in Guatemala was principally in terms of what was advantageous to the major powers.

Acknowledgments
Introduction
    1. The Purpose of the Study
    2. How the Study Was Made
Chapter 1. The Study of Complex Societies
    1. The Anthropology of Complex Societies
    2. Operating Units
    3. Levels of Articulation and Power Domains
    4. Elemental Processes of Adaptation
    5. Structure and Organization
    6. Structural Escalation
    7. The Nation and the Individual
    8. Two Kinds of Culture Change
Appendix to Chapter 1
Chapter 2. Structure and Development in Guatemala
    1. Demographic Composition
    2. The Changing International Domains
    3. Changing Bases of Internal Power
    4. Development and the Resource Base
    5. The Structure of Regional Development
Chapter 3. The Organization of Power, 1944–1966
    1. The Situation Prior to 1944
    2. The Period of 1944 to 1954
    3. The Period of 1954 to 1966
    4. The 1966 Confrontation in Politics
    5. Varieties of Regional Power Organization
Chapter 4. The Development of the Military
    1. Professionalization
    2. Incorporation
    3. An Assumption of Regnancy
Chapter 5. The Renaissance of the Guatemalan Church
    1. The Expansion of the Church
    2. Promotional Activities of the Church
    3. Politics, Power, and the Guatemalan Church
Chapter 6. The Expansion of Upper-Sector Interest Groups
    1. The Nature of Interest Groups
    2. Internal Organization
    3. The Prerevolutionary and Revolutionary Periods
    4. The Postrevolutionary Period
Chapter 7. The Costs of Growth: Expansion in Cotton
    1. Conditions and Constants in Cotton Expansion
    2. The Growth of Cotton and Governmental Action
    3. Growth, Profits, and Development
Chapter 8. The Problem of Access
    1. Access to Wealth: Wages
    2. Access to Wealth: Land
    3. Access to Law: The Role of Lawyers
    4. Access to Law: Labor and Justice
Chapter 9. The Stunted Growth of Campesino Organizations (by Brian Murphy)
    1. Organization Growth
    2. Local and Parent Organizations
    3. Interaction with the Larger Environment
Chapter 10. The Social Organization of Low-Income Urban Families (by Bryan Roberts)
    1. Two Neighborhoods in Guatemala City
    2. Determinants and Consequences of Social Activity
    3. Polarization of Low-Income Families
Works Cited
Index

Richard Newbold Adams is Rapoport Centennial Professor Emeritus of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.

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