The stage of Industrialization by Import Substitution (hereafter ISI) is retrospectively seen as a glorious time when Argentina could find the way into the "developed" world. That positive impression stems from two reasons. On the one hand, the Argentine workers enjoyed decent living standards, where social inequality was reduced and upward mobility possible. On the other, those traits stand out against what happened during the "neoliberal" period: a generalized deterioration of their living conditions.
However, when analyzing their evolution or understand why this process was abandoned discussions traditionally focused on national causes (productivity, wages, external shocks, political processes, etc.), ignoring any linkage with other countries or the historical moment of the accumulation of capital worldwide. In this paper, we introduce these missing "ingredients" in order to accomplish a more complete -and hence complex– picture of that process and propose a comprehensive view on what Argentina needs for economic and social development.
In the first section we will make a presentation on the conceptual relationship between industrial competition, productivity and employment conditions. Next, we analyze the evolution of the manufacturing in Argentina, in the "traditional style", to finally enter into the discussion linkages with global capitalism. Finally, we analyze the current process of re-industrialization and to what extent it has lifted the structural limits of our country, and if not, where to find the exit of the maze of "underdevelopment"...