Torcuato Di Tella Jr.’s meeting with his advisor at the beginning of the se-
mester at Columbia University changed his life. The son of an Argentine in-
dustrialist, Di Tella had seen the worker attachés agitating the stevedores at
the docks of Brazil while on their way to Eu rope in 1948. Now in 1951, as he
started a master’s degree in sociology, he confessed to his advisor that what
he really wanted was to understand Peronism and “to learn how to get rid of
it.” “Have you read The Eigh teenth Brumaire?” the advisor asked. Di Tella had
not. “Then read it,” the advisor replied. Di Tella bought the book right away.
For years, the advisor remained close to Di Tella and to the leading Argen-
tine sociologist Gino Germani. His name was Seymour “Marty” Lipset. In
the early 1950s, Lipset was starting to draft his early ideas about the po litical
be havior of individuals in democracy. On the basis of these ideas, he would
produce some of the most influential works on theories of modernization
and American exceptionalism, providing early and central arguments for the
emergence of neoconservatism in the United States.1
In The Eigh teenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, Karl Marx analyzed how
Napoleon’s nephew combined personalism and state power as the head of
a heterogeneous alliance of social sectors, whose only common ground was
the hope that the leader would represent their conflicting interests. In the
shadow of the demagogue, the revolutionary echoes of the 1848 revolutions
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