The racial legacy of the Enlightenment in Simón Bolívar's political thought

Critical Philosophy of Race 6 (2):198-215 (2018)
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Abstract

This article offers a critical complement to Diego von Vacano’s differential characterization of Bolívar’s political thought and his understanding of race through a comparative analysis between Bolívar’s views and those of certain philosophers of the Enlightenment. Indeed, von Vacano argues that Bolívar’s contributions to republican theory have been traditionally ignored by the Anglo-American tradition. Though von Vacano is right in underscoring that Bolívar’s political thought deserves more attention since it contains valuable contributions that stand in “contradistinction to prevalent discourses in European and American intellectual history,” this article argues that, if we reconstruct the genealogy of Bolívar’s political thought by tracing it back to Montesquieu and Rousseau, it turns out to be very different in some respects from the views voiced in European discourses, but it also bears the imprint of certain racist assumptions and biases. This article also offers a brief diagnosis of the tensions that are found in Bolívar's political thought.

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Sergio A. Gallegos-Ordorica
John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY)

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