Rhetorical skills are as important today as they were in ancient Rome, except that today, we don’t admit it. In general, in the relationship between those who hold power and the rest of us, there is much that is never admitted. Very much.
Business management, for instance, is as much about honing rhetorical skills as about knowing how to add and subtract. As a CEO you must be prepared to explain your company’s lay-offs not as “a need to increase profits” but as a need to “cut losses”.
You will never, not under any circumstance, admit to having artificially throttled supplies so as to engender a price hike. As a property investor, for instance, you will just shrug apologetically:
“Sorry Mac, supply and demand and all that: for the price you are willing to pay, all I can provide is a room without a window and a toilet in the hall that you share with the other tenants. Maybe your wife and kids can live with your mother in the country? After all, you work 12-hour shifts 5 days a week, so you will need your sleep,”
And as a nation state you will never admit to having sabotaged the Nordstream pipelines. Your silence on that score will be deafening. (Even long before the Ukraine war, there was fierce opposition to the pipelines, both in Europe and in the USA.)
As an economist, or as a journalist (as either the one or the other you will, after all, be needing a job) you will stress that in spite of the countless lives “lost” (not “killed”) in US client regimes, Latin America’s “macro-economic” situation has much improved since the Roosevelt Corollary, “a foreign policy declaration by U.S. Pres. Theodore Roosevelt in 1904–05 stating that, in cases of flagrant and chronic wrongdoing by a Latin American country, the United States could intervene in that country’s internal affairs“.
You will of course not explain that “macro-economic improvement” does not necessarily mean improvement for the majority of a country’s citizens. In fact, it means that since the full deployment of “neoliberal” economic policies in the 1960s, the majority’s share of most countries’ national income has decreased sharply (cf. Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century).
There are honourable exceptions: I warmly recommend a piece that appeared in Time in 1961, a moving SOS on behalf of Peruvian peasants.
A historian wishing to apply for a research grant, will not explicitly point out that the liberation wars against Spain were not fought on behalf of Latin Americans; they were fought on behalf of the descendants of the initial “conquistadores”, land owners who wanted to keep the profits for themselves rather than sending them to the Spanish King. And they did! They kept the mines, the fertile lands, the silky wool, and above all: they kept the serfs. They retained their forebears’ stranglehold on the indigenous populations (except, perhaps, in Mexico and in Mapuche territories, and they are doing their utmost to retain it to this day.
See Britannica about modern serfdom in Latin America today:
Although debt bondage no longer exists in Latin America, the tenant worker on the remaining large haciendas in some of the Andean areas seems as closely bound to the soil as peasants ever were. The Chilean tenant is legally free to move as he pleases, but he cannot, in fact, usually do so. He works his ancestral land, which he understands belongs to the hacienda, whose owner he has been conditioned all his life to regard as his master and protector. Were the worker and his family to leave, the other haciendas would not accept him. And since there is no vacant fertile land he could not become a squatter. Most peasants fear the city, which is already filled with the unemployed younger sons of peasants.
You were not told that USA was protecting the interests of its business tycoons, but that it was defending itself against Communism in, for instance, Paraguay. You think Trump was vainglorious. Consider, then, Alfredo Stroessner of Paraguay, who throughout his rule of terror enjoyed warm US support:
Stroessner was [in 1963] elected to a third term by a 10-to-1 margin, which gives him a mandate to continue spending Paraguay’s $45 million annual budget (buttressed by $9.8 million last year in U.S. aid) as he sees fit. Last year 33% went for the army and police force. 15% for education. 2% for public works. Stroessner grandly said that he would accept re-election “not because I wanted it, but because it was the request of the Paraguayan people.” (Source: Time)
The US continues to support “Development”, “Democracy”, and “Freedom” in Latin America. No wonder Americans in both continents are confused, angry, distrustful; in short discombobulated.
Historians are currently reluctant to use the expression “class struggle”, which is so redolent of Marxism. But the indelible fact is that economic power is not willingly relinquished and even less willingly shared.
Injustice cannot be remedied unless it is admitted. In the relationship between those who hold power and the rest of us, there is much that is never admitted. Very much.