[Marxism] The latest round of debate on Evo...

felianan at yahoo.com felianan at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 5 19:48:26 MST 2006

Joaquin's latest round of debate concludes with a rather roundabout lauding of Evo Morales that underpins my previous posting's criticism of pro-Morales voices:  they tend to be the ones focusing on the leadership and its symbolism rather than the concrete forces on the ground that propelled him into office.  They focus on personalities and take their eyes off of the movements of classes.

Joaquin writes:
I known about the distrust of Evo on the part of some of these folks. But here you have a HUGELY popular president, with both a clear mandate and a clear program, before his inauguration, who has specifically reiterated that program (on the nationalization of the gas) after his election. And COB leaders are so *apolitical* that they right off the bat start *threatening* and taking a confrontational stance against the guy?

This is symbolic of the ultimate shallowness of the uncritical-Morales analysis.  Nowhere in Joaquin's message do we see a word about the movement that sat behind Morales' victory.  Focusing on the person and not the classes is not basically Marxist; it is the opposite.  The uncritical-Morales analysis does not examine much of the working class, and indeed shuffles its importance aside.  The resulting lack shows itself in its purest form in Joaquin's dismissal of the radical trade unions in Bolivia, which are a real and substantial social force, as "apolitical."  In reality, Morales came to power because he made a deal with the advanced working class elements - and for no other reason.  They have every right to hold him to task.

Joaquin frames the question, which he believes is fundamental, thus:
Comrades like RR, David and others in my opinion take as their starting point --I think that David actually put it something like this in a post-- the domestic class struggle of the workers against their bosses and the local ruling class. I think that's wrong, the right framework is the world struggle against imperialism and I would say what flows from that is what Chávez is about and especially what Evo (at least judging by his campaign and post-election actions and statements) seems to be about. 

But the deeper question is not about frameworks; it is about the struggle on the ground.  However much the world struggle against imperialism is a major factor in Joaquin's own analysis, it is markedly *not* a factor in what is happening in Bolivia.  There, the resistance to neoliberal capitalism has taken on concrete form in the gas and water wars, the sort of conflict which marks the beginning of a revolutionary period, and Morales being elected president is a *result* of this radicalization with the *intent* of continuing it.  Morales' mandate is not to be the president of "all Bolivians," a deeply opportunist line that should turn the stomach, but to be the instrument of the proletariat in nationalizing gas and beginning the project of reversing neoliberal "reforms" that have raped the country.  If he fails to do that, he will be placing himself in concrete opposition to the working class - and they have shown little use for prior opponents as President.

Implicit in the Morales booster camp, and I daresay in the wider Chavismo gripping the Left, is a deeply misguided notion that - because they have served Latin America one, and maybe two, good presidents - bourgeois elections are going to lead to socialism.  This is an illusion; both the Venezuelan and Bolivian revolutionary processes are still in their early stages of development and there's no concrete reason to assume that electoralism is going to work this time.

I'm sorry for prolonging this debate, but I really think that these fundamental issues need to be addressed.


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