’s The Ideology of the Creole Revolution: Imperialism and Independence in American and Latin American Political Thought
published by Cambridge University Press in 2017, compares the political thought of three Creole revolutionary leaders: Alexander Hamilton, Simón Bolívar and Lucas Alamán. By doing so, Simon brings together the intellectual histories of the US American Revolution and the Spanish American Revolutions of Mexico, and Gran Colombia (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Panamá). Unlike previous scholars, Simon finds a set of striking commonalities that unites the histories of the Americas as a whole. In particular, he argues, the institutional context in which American independence movements unfolded profoundly shaped and influenced the ideologies that these intellectual leaders expounded. Although these Creole men were influenced by very different intellectual traditions, they embraced a contradictory ideology that incorporated anti-imperialist and imperialist positions at the same time. This “anti-imperial imperialism” shaped Creoles justifications to political autonomy vis-à-vis European imperial powers, the constitutional mechanisms they designed in their recently independent countries, and ultimately, the imperial policies that they put in place against indigenous and Afro-descendent population. From this new approach emerges a puzzle that Simon discusses at the end of our interview and that has important repercussions for the present: if the Americas were so similar at the moment of independence, why did the United States achieve greater economic prosperity and more stable political institutions while Latin America did not?
Lisette Varón-Carvajal is a PhD student at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. You can tweet her and suggest books at @LisetteVaron.