[Marxism] Bolivian Receives a Chilly Reception in Spain (NYT)

Wayne S. Rossi felianan at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 5 06:46:39 MST 2006

Walter Lippmann writes:

I don't think it is that chilly. It's the US media like the New York Times
which wants to give that impression. They don't have the confidence which
writes like Petras and some on Marxmail have that Evo Morales is someone
committed to defense of and support for maintaining the capitalist form
of social organization.
This snippet of "analysis" is a subtle putdown of those here who - entirely correctly - have expressed healthy skepticism about the revolutionary role of Morales and the Bolivian government.  Walter's facts seem to be:  Morales was elected by the workers, he is liked by Fidel and Hugo, he makes good revolutionary speeches, and he is disliked by the US establishment - therefore he is deserving of uncritical and unconditional support.  This is a formula far removed from Marxism, because it doesn't look at the class roots of Morales' rise to power or his relation to the working classes that put him there.  Morales' real history of undercutting working-class social rebellion puts him in a dubious position, and since it is still an open question whether he will side with the workers (as it was an open question with regard to Fidel when the SWP wrote the editorial you love to lambast), and how they will move if he doesn't, it is responsible to openly doubt his course.
The uncritical cheerleading of Morales in all this focuses on one man as the epicenter of Bolivian politics, a sort of "follow the leader" syndrome that permeates Left politics and distracts from the class questions.  It misses the real social upheavals in the gas and water conflicts that have been the radicalizing forces and form crucial stages of a revolutionary process of which Morales may well be just one part.  Forrest Hylton and Sinclair Thomson wrote an excellent article in issue #35 of New Left Review that goes into considerable depth on the gas and water wars: 
Morales is not simply "left(-leaning) therefore good."  He has been promoted to government power within the context of intense, specific social struggles, and his history and recent speeches on the gas question make it very unclear whether he is capable of acting as the agent of the working class in the gas nationalization question.  The Morales cheerleaders on this list need to step back, stop assuming their opponents are just being sectarian (itself a deeply sectarian attitude) and look at the picture of class conflict.  It is far from black and white on the Morales question.

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