This article seeks to set forth the grounds for an approach integrating political governance, economic competitiveness and social integration as interdependent variables. To this end, it looks at the possibilities for Latin American society to simultaneously increase its capacity for democratic self-government, improve its economic competitiveness and tackle the main problems of social exclusion and poverty, since if this is not done the region will find it more difficult to take its place in the concert of modern democratic nations. In order to analyse the evolution of those variables from a systemic standpoint, each of them is first of all reviewed separately and then an attempt is made to construct an interactive scheme for their mutual relations, bearing in mind the economic and cultural conditions for productivity growth and the need for a social and political matrix which will give a sense of direction to the overall set of variables. This analysis reveals the emergence of a new logic of conflict, which is no longer between the State and the various social and political actors but concerns the cultural direction of governance, competitiveness and social integration; the question is no longer the need for the simultaneous presence of the factors of development but their possible political and cultural directions and leanings. It is concluded that guiding this new type of conflict in the right direction calls both for a prior consensus on some meta-values which will allow the parties to negotiate and deal with arguments using a common language, and for political reforms which include a clear and effective system of sanctions for those parties who do not respect the agreed terms.