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North America vs Latin America

Skepsikyma
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2/24/2015 10:25:41 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
This is going to be an examination of the roots of Latin American and North American culture, and the source of their stark differences. In Niccolo Machiavelli's discourses on Livy, he makes the following argument for dividing wars of acquisition into two types:

"Two kinds of war are made. One is waged because of the ambitions of Princes or of a Republic that seek to extend their Empire, such as were the wars that Alexander the Great waged, and those that the Romans waged, and those which one power wages against another. While these wars are dangerous, they never drive all the inhabitants out of a province, but the obedience of the people is enough for the conqueror, and most of the times he leaves them to live with their laws, and always with their homes and possessions: The other kind of war is when an entire people with all their families are taken away from a place, necessitated either by famine or by war, and goes to seek a new seat in a new province, not in order to seek dominion over them as those others above, but to possess it absolutely; and to drive out or kill its old inhabitants. This kind of war is most cruel and most frightful [...] for to a Prince or a Republic that assaults a province, it is enough to extinguish only those who command, but to these entire populations, it behooves them to extinguish everyone because they want to live on that which the others lived."
- Discourses on Livy, Second Book, Eighth Chapter -

There is a palpable cultural and political divide between the two largest colonial and post colonial spheres of civilization in the Americas: Latin America, defined as the former colonial holdings of Spain and Portugal, and North America, defined as the formal colonial holdings of Britain, France, the Dutch, and other northern European nationalities which would one day form Canada and the United States (and those holding which they won from Spain by force, though the culture remains in some of these). I hold that this divide is based on the manner in which those societies formed.

Spain approached the Americas with a truly imperial bent: they made subjects of aboriginal populations, converted them, and imported both clergy, administrative, and bureaucratic staff in order to bind their new holdings to God and King, in particular the Jesuit Order. They essentially engaged in the first version of war outlined by Machiavelli: that of the imperial variety, where command and not existence was the point of contention. For this reason, Latin American culture is a potent fusion of various local native customs and beliefs with an overarching structure of Spanish-Catholic religious culture. Just as Spain itself was a fusion and purification of the intensely diverse Iberia fostered under the Caliphate of Cordoba via religious revolution and political centralization, so did they expunge their holdings of the New World of native religious beliefs and political sovereignty in order to bind them to the Escorial.

The English colonies, on the other hand, waged war primarily of the second variety, seeing the natives as temporarily useful allies at best and nuisances to be eliminated at worst. These colonial populations were essentially transplants, the earliest of which saw themselves as being on a divine mission, possessing a Covenant of God to establish a 'city set upon a hill' in the New World. While Catholics were experiencing an awakening centered around worldwide conversion, the Protestant forces of New England saw their mission as the establishment of a pure religious order which would finally be free of the intensive political meddling in the Old World. This did not mean that they were secularists; far from it. In England, the Monarchy sought to deviate from the traditional Catholic model only so far as was necessary to establish royal supremacy. But the religious turmoil which characterized the period preceding Elizabeth's rule made this impossible, and set her at odds with the hardcore Puritan forces who eventually fled to Holland and then the New World, guided by the Church Covenant. These men were not fleeing theocracy, as they fully intended to establish one based on their own theological principles. They were fleeing compromise with earthly powers.

For a while, they succeeded in their task. However, the Revolution in England had a profound effect on Christianity in England: the acceptance of religious toleration. Once this had come to pass, the American Churches saw themselves as the last bastion of their particular religious ideology. It was this ideology which set the tone for the New England colonists as a people: they saw themselves as sent into the wilderness on a mission from God, and this latent ideology, so thoroughly reinforced by Puritan propaganda in the early days, plays heavily into the doctrine of Manifest Destiny which justified the displacement of natives and the perpetual Westward expansion of America. It also plays into ideas of American Exceptionalism (The 'City set upon a hill in the open view of all the earth' line is plucked directly from a Puritan minister) and America as the last bastion of just about anything. These are all quintessentially Puritan ideals which worked their way into the fabric of our society and set the tone for our interactions with the native peoples.

Where the two cultures meet today, you can still see clashes, mostly in the view of residency being justified. People in Latin American cultures have a visceral sense of ownership of their land which springs from the cultural continuity which Spain fostered in its assimilation efforts, while white Americans are seen as conquerors who cruelly displaced the native populations. The religious fabric of Latin America is much more tightly woven because it was incorporated into colonial society by Spain, while the American Churches began to crumble shortly after the nation's founding, losing their power rather quickly, and their hypnotic influence along with it. What we are left with is a secular vacuum into which poured money, influence, power, and all of the other hallmarks of American greatness, while retaining the evangelical, blessed undercurrent of a religious movement. The famous painting 'American Progress' epitomizes this bizarre, and distinctly American fusion: the spread of technology across the wilderness as a sort of divine mission. http://my-ecoach.com.... Catholicism, on the other hand, maintained its connection with Rome, and exulted in the ability to finally convert souls beyond Europe, from which they had been cut off by the Iron Curtain of the Islamic world for centuries. So while America has succeeded in the material realm, it is impoverished culturally, while Latin America has preserved its cultural heritage over the centuries, and probably will for centuries to comes. Though the US defeated Spain, the culture established by their empire may well outlast ours.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
HououinKyouma
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3/3/2015 5:28:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 2/24/2015 10:25:41 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
Where the two cultures meet today, you can still see clashes, mostly in the view of residency being justified. People in Latin American cultures have a visceral sense of ownership of their land which springs from the cultural continuity which Spain fostered in its assimilation efforts, while white Americans are seen as conquerors who cruelly displaced the native populations. The religious fabric of Latin America is much more tightly woven because it was incorporated into colonial society by Spain, while the American Churches began to crumble shortly after the nation's founding, losing their power rather quickly, and their hypnotic influence along with it. What we are left with is a secular vacuum into which poured money, influence, power, and all of the other hallmarks of American greatness, while retaining the evangelical, blessed undercurrent of a religious movement. The famous painting 'American Progress' epitomizes this bizarre, and distinctly American fusion: the spread of technology across the wilderness as a sort of divine mission. http://my-ecoach.com.... Catholicism, on the other hand, maintained its connection with Rome, and exulted in the ability to finally convert souls beyond Europe, from which they had been cut off by the Iron Curtain of the Islamic world for centuries. So while America has succeeded in the material realm, it is impoverished culturally, while Latin America has preserved its cultural heritage over the centuries, and probably will for centuries to comes. Though the US defeated Spain, the culture established by their empire may well outlast ours.

While I agree with some of your points, I will elaborate on at least one of the points with which on which we disagree.

While in some Latin American countries, like Mexico as far as I am concerned, did experience the sort of ethnic and cultural mixing that you characterize as being quintessentially Latin American, in other places that did not occur. In Chile, for instance, the races remained separate until not very long ago, and there is still a lot of resentment and hatred between those of native, mixed, or European ethnicity. In Argentina, native culture was all but wiped out by the European settlers, after independence, driven by an ideology of expansionism and racialism--sounds familiar, does it not? Their culture today is mostly derived from European influences--mostly Spanish and Italian. There are other examples of this but I will not enumerate them.
"Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire." F. Nietzsche.

"Freedom is always freedom for the one who thinks differently." R. Luxemburg.

"The principle of the masochistic left is that, in general, two blacks make a white, half a loaf is the same as no bread." G. Orwell, paraphrase.

"Islamophobia is a word created by fascists, used by cowards, to manipulate morons". Andrew Cummins.
Skepsikyma
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3/3/2015 10:24:40 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/3/2015 5:28:58 PM, HououinKyouma wrote:
At 2/24/2015 10:25:41 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
Where the two cultures meet today, you can still see clashes, mostly in the view of residency being justified. People in Latin American cultures have a visceral sense of ownership of their land which springs from the cultural continuity which Spain fostered in its assimilation efforts, while white Americans are seen as conquerors who cruelly displaced the native populations. The religious fabric of Latin America is much more tightly woven because it was incorporated into colonial society by Spain, while the American Churches began to crumble shortly after the nation's founding, losing their power rather quickly, and their hypnotic influence along with it. What we are left with is a secular vacuum into which poured money, influence, power, and all of the other hallmarks of American greatness, while retaining the evangelical, blessed undercurrent of a religious movement. The famous painting 'American Progress' epitomizes this bizarre, and distinctly American fusion: the spread of technology across the wilderness as a sort of divine mission. http://my-ecoach.com.... Catholicism, on the other hand, maintained its connection with Rome, and exulted in the ability to finally convert souls beyond Europe, from which they had been cut off by the Iron Curtain of the Islamic world for centuries. So while America has succeeded in the material realm, it is impoverished culturally, while Latin America has preserved its cultural heritage over the centuries, and probably will for centuries to comes. Though the US defeated Spain, the culture established by their empire may well outlast ours.

While I agree with some of your points, I will elaborate on at least one of the points with which on which we disagree.

While in some Latin American countries, like Mexico as far as I am concerned, did experience the sort of ethnic and cultural mixing that you characterize as being quintessentially Latin American, in other places that did not occur. In Chile, for instance, the races remained separate until not very long ago, and there is still a lot of resentment and hatred between those of native, mixed, or European ethnicity. In Argentina, native culture was all but wiped out by the European settlers, after independence, driven by an ideology of expansionism and racialism--sounds familiar, does it not? Their culture today is mostly derived from European influences--mostly Spanish and Italian. There are other examples of this but I will not enumerate them.

In Chile I don't think that it was for lack of wanting to incorporate the cultures. Just as the Romans wanted to incorporate the Jews, yet the Jews did not wish to be incorporated, so the same happened with the Spanish Chileans and the Mapuche.

Argentina is interesting as a point of early contact which was nevertheless poorly overseen by the Spanish. A Viceroyalty was formed there very late, only to be destroyed by revolution a few decades later. So a lot of the early contacts with a diverse native populations were fraught with conflict and misunderstanding which led the Europeans to see the natives as uncivilized enemies at worst, and inconsequential at best. This fostered the policy of displacement, and the comparative lack of resources to exploit meant that Spain focused more energy on incorporating more productive Viceroyalties. Plus there's the fact that the Spanish Empire began to collapse shortly after establishing some control over the area, and you have a recipe for mismanagement and poor assimilation which left Argentina with a large population of transplants, a national identity centered around their own competence more than a cultural heritage (the succesful repulsion of two British invasion attempts with little to no Spanish support), and a lack of common culture which has made it a pretty volatile country, politically.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
HououinKyouma
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3/4/2015 4:06:39 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/3/2015 10:24:40 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 3/3/2015 5:28:58 PM, HououinKyouma wrote:
At 2/24/2015 10:25:41 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
Where the two cultures meet today, you can still see clashes, mostly in the view of residency being justified. People in Latin American cultures have a visceral sense of ownership of their land which springs from the cultural continuity which Spain fostered in its assimilation efforts, while white Americans are seen as conquerors who cruelly displaced the native populations. The religious fabric of Latin America is much more tightly woven because it was incorporated into colonial society by Spain, while the American Churches began to crumble shortly after the nation's founding, losing their power rather quickly, and their hypnotic influence along with it. What we are left with is a secular vacuum into which poured money, influence, power, and all of the other hallmarks of American greatness, while retaining the evangelical, blessed undercurrent of a religious movement. The famous painting 'American Progress' epitomizes this bizarre, and distinctly American fusion: the spread of technology across the wilderness as a sort of divine mission. http://my-ecoach.com.... Catholicism, on the other hand, maintained its connection with Rome, and exulted in the ability to finally convert souls beyond Europe, from which they had been cut off by the Iron Curtain of the Islamic world for centuries. So while America has succeeded in the material realm, it is impoverished culturally, while Latin America has preserved its cultural heritage over the centuries, and probably will for centuries to comes. Though the US defeated Spain, the culture established by their empire may well outlast ours.

While I agree with some of your points, I will elaborate on at least one of the points with which on which we disagree.

While in some Latin American countries, like Mexico as far as I am concerned, did experience the sort of ethnic and cultural mixing that you characterize as being quintessentially Latin American, in other places that did not occur. In Chile, for instance, the races remained separate until not very long ago, and there is still a lot of resentment and hatred between those of native, mixed, or European ethnicity. In Argentina, native culture was all but wiped out by the European settlers, after independence, driven by an ideology of expansionism and racialism--sounds familiar, does it not? Their culture today is mostly derived from European influences--mostly Spanish and Italian. There are other examples of this but I will not enumerate them.

In Chile I don't think that it was for lack of wanting to incorporate the cultures. Just as the Romans wanted to incorporate the Jews, yet the Jews did not wish to be incorporated, so the same happened with the Spanish Chileans and the Mapuche.

I think there was a lot of hatred on both sides. In Peru, where there was more mixing, there was and still is, a lot of racism and resentment, indeed, people often claim of Latin America--even Latin Americans themselves who should know better--that there was no real racism in the Spanish colonies, but rather a sort of social cast system based on classism. What people often fail to recognize is that in many Latin American countries to be European was to be "noble", and Amerindians and half-castes were by definition vulgar and lowly. People of Native or mixed descent are never going to be considered gente--meaning respectable people--by the upper classes of those countries, and whites are never going to be considered vulgar.

Class conflicts in many countries in Latin America are ethnic conflicts.

Actually, that there is a word in Chile, roto, which is a pejorative term used to describe the poor and uneducated, but rarely do people of the higher classes, specially older people of the higher classes, use it when speaking of vulgar and uneducated and rude European immigrants, it is only used to refer to poor natives and mestizos. This contrasts in a rather striking manner with the Argentinian term descamisados--which is also rather pejorative--and the even more offensive and derisive term cabecita negra. which can be used to speak of a person of European descent.

Argentina is interesting as a point of early contact which was nevertheless poorly overseen by the Spanish. A Viceroyalty was formed there very late, only to be destroyed by revolution a few decades later. So a lot of the early contacts with a diverse native populations were fraught with conflict and misunderstanding which led the Europeans to see the natives as uncivilized enemies at worst, and inconsequential at best. This fostered the policy of displacement, and the comparative lack of resources to exploit meant that Spain focused more energy on incorporating more productive Viceroyalties. Plus there's the fact that the Spanish Empire began to collapse shortly after establishing some control over the area, and you have a recipe for mismanagement and poor assimilation which left Argentina with a large population of transplants, a national identity centered around their own competence more than a cultural heritage (the succesful repulsion of two British invasion attempts with little to no Spanish support), and a lack of common culture which has made it a pretty volatile country, politically.

Much of what you say about Argentina is true--in fact, I am impressed by your knowledge of Latin American history--but the point I was trying to make is that your view of Latin America as an area where there was a lot of cultural and ethnic mixing is somewhat flawed.

Another point you make in your OP with which I disagree is your view of the US as being culturally poor when compared to Latin America. While culture in the US might be far more Eurocentric than the culture of most Latin American nations, the United States has produced far more influential writers and musicians than Latin America, and indeed, its political institutions which created a culture of relative political and ethnic tolerance have managed to create a nation that attracted more immigrants than any Latin American country did.
"Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire." F. Nietzsche.

"Freedom is always freedom for the one who thinks differently." R. Luxemburg.

"The principle of the masochistic left is that, in general, two blacks make a white, half a loaf is the same as no bread." G. Orwell, paraphrase.

"Islamophobia is a word created by fascists, used by cowards, to manipulate morons". Andrew Cummins.
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,286
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3/4/2015 11:05:47 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/4/2015 4:06:39 PM, HououinKyouma wrote:
At 3/3/2015 10:24:40 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
At 3/3/2015 5:28:58 PM, HououinKyouma wrote:
At 2/24/2015 10:25:41 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
While I agree with some of your points, I will elaborate on at least one of the points with which on which we disagree.

While in some Latin American countries, like Mexico as far as I am concerned, did experience the sort of ethnic and cultural mixing that you characterize as being quintessentially Latin American, in other places that did not occur. In Chile, for instance, the races remained separate until not very long ago, and there is still a lot of resentment and hatred between those of native, mixed, or European ethnicity. In Argentina, native culture was all but wiped out by the European settlers, after independence, driven by an ideology of expansionism and racialism--sounds familiar, does it not? Their culture today is mostly derived from European influences--mostly Spanish and Italian. There are other examples of this but I will not enumerate them.

In Chile I don't think that it was for lack of wanting to incorporate the cultures. Just as the Romans wanted to incorporate the Jews, yet the Jews did not wish to be incorporated, so the same happened with the Spanish Chileans and the Mapuche.

I think there was a lot of hatred on both sides. In Peru, where there was more mixing, there was and still is, a lot of racism and resentment, indeed, people often claim of Latin America--even Latin Americans themselves who should know better--that there was no real racism in the Spanish colonies, but rather a sort of social cast system based on classism. What people often fail to recognize is that in many Latin American countries to be European was to be "noble", and Amerindians and half-castes were by definition vulgar and lowly. People of Native or mixed descent are never going to be considered gente--meaning respectable people--by the upper classes of those countries, and whites are never going to be considered vulgar.

Class conflicts in many countries in Latin America are ethnic conflicts.

Actually, that there is a word in Chile, roto, which is a pejorative term used to describe the poor and uneducated, but rarely do people of the higher classes, specially older people of the higher classes, use it when speaking of vulgar and uneducated and rude European immigrants, it is only used to refer to poor natives and mestizos. This contrasts in a rather striking manner with the Argentinian term descamisados--which is also rather pejorative--and the even more offensive and derisive term cabecita negra. which can be used to speak of a person of European descent.

I wasn't saying that the Europeans and natives were equal. I compared Spain to Rome, and when Rome invaded an area they didn't see the people living there as equal, but as subjects. Spain was the same way: the natives were to be ruled, and civilized. America, on the other hand, saw them as something to be pushed out to make way for themselves. Notice, in the painting, how the 'savages' are fleeing into the distant shadows at the approach of 'American Progress' incarnate.

Spain was building an empire, finding new people to rule, and cementing everything together with their distinctive Catholic tradition. The US was making way for the 'elect', for the exceptional country. It's actually quite similar to the Nazi idea of Lebensraum (habitat), which Hitler actually compared to Manifest Destiny and the westward expansion of America.

Argentina is interesting as a point of early contact which was nevertheless poorly overseen by the Spanish. A Viceroyalty was formed there very late, only to be destroyed by revolution a few decades later. So a lot of the early contacts with a diverse native populations were fraught with conflict and misunderstanding which led the Europeans to see the natives as uncivilized enemies at worst, and inconsequential at best. This fostered the policy of displacement, and the comparative lack of resources to exploit meant that Spain focused more energy on incorporating more productive Viceroyalties. Plus there's the fact that the Spanish Empire began to collapse shortly after establishing some control over the area, and you have a recipe for mismanagement and poor assimilation which left Argentina with a large population of transplants, a national identity centered around their own competence more than a cultural heritage (the succesful repulsion of two British invasion attempts with little to no Spanish support), and a lack of common culture which has made it a pretty volatile country, politically.

Much of what you say about Argentina is true--in fact, I am impressed by your knowledge of Latin American history--but the point I was trying to make is that your view of Latin America as an area where there was a lot of cultural and ethnic mixing is somewhat flawed.

It's not the mixing so much as the acculturation. When you look at the Roman Empire, they ruled, and slightly Romanized, many people whom they considered subjects, sometimes taking what they considered good from them (the Greeks being the biggest example) and modifying their own culture with it. Once the Empire collapsed, these until now subject people, some of which fought to overthrow Roman authority, nevertheless retained some of the Roman institutions and incorporated them into their own native culture. Perhaps the most striking example of this is to be found in Britain.

A similar phenomenon occurred when the Spanish Empire collapsed. The colonies rebelled, and created new societies which modeled themselves after a Spanish model while retaining some aboriginal cultural influences. This was possible in the Spanish colonies because the natives had been seen as subjects to be civilized instead of weeds to be eradicated.

Another point you make in your OP with which I disagree is your view of the US as being culturally poor when compared to Latin America. While culture in the US might be far more Eurocentric than the culture of most Latin American nations, the United States has produced far more influential writers and musicians than Latin America, and indeed, its political institutions which created a culture of relative political and ethnic tolerance have managed to create a nation that attracted more immigrants than any Latin American country did.

I wasn't speaking of writing or music, or any arts really, though they can be reflective of this. I was referring to the fact that Latin American society has a solid religious and social tradition which is lacking in the US. In America, culture is either a farrago of various imported cultures, or a general, insubstantial one which often fails to outlast the generation which spawned it.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
HououinKyouma
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3/5/2015 4:19:24 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 3/4/2015 11:05:47 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
I think there was a lot of hatred on both sides. In Peru, where there was more mixing, there was and still is, a lot of racism and resentment, indeed, people often claim of Latin America--even Latin Americans themselves who should know better--that there was no real racism in the Spanish colonies, but rather a sort of social cast system based on classism. What people often fail to recognize is that in many Latin American countries to be European was to be "noble", and Amerindians and half-castes were by definition vulgar and lowly. People of Native or mixed descent are never going to be considered gente--meaning respectable people--by the upper classes of those countries, and whites are never going to be considered vulgar.

Class conflicts in many countries in Latin America are ethnic conflicts.

Actually, that there is a word in Chile, roto, which is a pejorative term used to describe the poor and uneducated, but rarely do people of the higher classes, specially older people of the higher classes, use it when speaking of vulgar and uneducated and rude European immigrants, it is only used to refer to poor natives and mestizos. This contrasts in a rather striking manner with the Argentinian term descamisados--which is also rather pejorative--and the even more offensive and derisive term cabecita negra. which can be used to speak of a person of European descent.

I wasn't saying that the Europeans and natives were equal. I compared Spain to Rome, and when Rome invaded an area they didn't see the people living there as equal, but as subjects. Spain was the same way: the natives were to be ruled, and civilized. America, on the other hand, saw them as something to be pushed out to make way for themselves. Notice, in the painting, how the 'savages' are fleeing into the distant shadows at the approach of 'American Progress' incarnate.

Spain was building an empire, finding new people to rule, and cementing everything together with their distinctive Catholic tradition. The US was making way for the 'elect', for the exceptional country. It's actually quite similar to the Nazi idea of Lebensraum (habitat), which Hitler actually compared to Manifest Destiny and the westward expansion of America.

While I agree with much of what you say I would argue that the difference between the Roman Empire and the Spanish Empire would be that the former once it occupied a territory would occasionally grant citizenship to some of its citizens and even some of the Roman Emperors were from conquered territories. The Spanish Empire on the other hand saw its natives as little better than slaves, in many ways.

As for the comparison of Manifest Destiny with lebensraum, while useful, is rather limited by the fact that, unlike Nazi Germany, the US was a democratic state--though certainly an imperfect one--and there was ethnic and religious and political tolerance, moreover, there was at least some intention of "civilizing" the Natives, whereas the Nazis had no such intentions, they simply wanted slaves--in many ways their attitudes towards the Slavs was for more alike to the attitude of the Spaniards towards the Natives.

Argentina is interesting as a point of early contact which was nevertheless poorly overseen by the Spanish. A Viceroyalty was formed there very late, only to be destroyed by revolution a few decades later. So a lot of the early contacts with a diverse native populations were fraught with conflict and misunderstanding which led the Europeans to see the natives as uncivilized enemies at worst, and inconsequential at best. This fostered the policy of displacement, and the comparative lack of resources to exploit meant that Spain focused more energy on incorporating more productive Viceroyalties. Plus there's the fact that the Spanish Empire began to collapse shortly after establishing some control over the area, and you have a recipe for mismanagement and poor assimilation which left Argentina with a large population of transplants, a national identity centered around their own competence more than a cultural heritage (the succesful repulsion of two British invasion attempts with little to no Spanish support), and a lack of common culture which has made it a pretty volatile country, politically.

Much of what you say about Argentina is true--in fact, I am impressed by your knowledge of Latin American history--but the point I was trying to make is that your view of Latin America as an area where there was a lot of cultural and ethnic mixing is somewhat flawed.

It's not the mixing so much as the acculturation. When you look at the Roman Empire, they ruled, and slightly Romanized, many people whom they considered subjects, sometimes taking what they considered good from them (the Greeks being the biggest example) and modifying their own culture with it. Once the Empire collapsed, these until now subject people, some of which fought to overthrow Roman authority, nevertheless retained some of the Roman institutions and incorporated them into their own native culture. Perhaps the most striking example of this is to be found in Britain.

A similar phenomenon occurred when the Spanish Empire collapsed. The colonies rebelled, and created new societies which modeled themselves after a Spanish model while retaining some aboriginal cultural influences. This was possible in the Spanish colonies because the natives had been seen as subjects to be civilized instead of weeds to be eradicated.

I don't think there was much acculturation in many of the states that emerged in Latin America. In Bolivia for instance, the Natives retain more or less their culture intact, and the whites stick to their European-derived culture and avoid contact with the native culture.

Another point you make in your OP with which I disagree is your view of the US as being culturally poor when compared to Latin America. While culture in the US might be far more Eurocentric than the culture of most Latin American nations, the United States has produced far more influential writers and musicians than Latin America, and indeed, its political institutions which created a culture of relative political and ethnic tolerance have managed to create a nation that attracted more immigrants than any Latin American country did.

I wasn't speaking of writing or music, or any arts really, though they can be reflective of this. I was referring to the fact that Latin American society has a solid religious and social tradition which is lacking in the US. In America, culture is either a farrago of various imported cultures, or a general, insubstantial one which often fails to outlast the generation which spawned it.

I think the US actually had a pretty defined culture: it was a largely Protestant country, with middle-class values, and with a certain appreciation for culture and education; in fact, it was rather Germanic--to the point that American soldiers in Germany after WWII often felt at home.

In Latin America, the only unifying force was--as your correctly point out--the Catholic church, and defining social structure was one based on both class and race--a caste system in fact. With the recent economic growth that Latin America is experiencing, and the increasing secularization, this part of the Latin American identity is being lost.
"Here the ways of men part: if you wish to strive for peace of soul and pleasure, then believe; if you wish to be a devotee of truth, then inquire." F. Nietzsche.

"Freedom is always freedom for the one who thinks differently." R. Luxemburg.

"The principle of the masochistic left is that, in general, two blacks make a white, half a loaf is the same as no bread." G. Orwell, paraphrase.

"Islamophobia is a word created by fascists, used by cowards, to manipulate morons". Andrew Cummins.