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

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Fri Jan 6 10:10:26 MST 2006

Wayne writes, "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

I thank Wayne for this very concise statement of his approach, which I
think is shared by RR, David Walters, and various others.

"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."

That is *precisely* what I would "charge" you with thinking, that
imperialism isn't at the center of the struggle in Bolivia. But there is
no need to do "bring out" the "logic" of the position you and the other
comrades take; you present it quite *openly.* And from this flows your
postulate that what is posed in Bolivia directly today is a proletarian
revolution; and your hostility to the possible emergence of a government
that is an expression of the *national* and not an explicitly *class*

Whereas I think what is posed in Bolivia is a national, anti-imperialist
revolutionary process, with a revolution within the national revolution,
the indigenous question, at its core. That national struggles arise from
the class struggle and give expression to the interests of classes is
like, duh.... But the "national" character of this isn't just
decorative, the *forms* are important and it takes a long and
complicated process for the class questions and interests involved to
play out and reveal themselves. Attempting to short circuit that process
by going straight to the proletarian revolution *will not work.* I
believe the course proposed by the comrades is tantamount to trying to
make a revolution in Bolivia *without* or *against* its indigenous
peasant and informal sector (displaced peasant) majority.

This makes continuation of the discussion at this level a fruitless
exercise: we simply don't have enough of a common understanding to
continue, we're talking past each other.

Wayne: "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."

"The Morales booster camp" --at least my tent in it-- is not a "Morales
booster camp"; it is the part of the Bolivian national movement booster
camp that sees the indigenous question as central to the Bolivian
national movement.

I agree that there is a great deal of truth about electoralist illusions
on the Left. But you're confusing two different "camps." 

On Chavez, perhaps the most interesting aspect isn't that the process
*started* with an election victory but that the army *failed* in its
traditional role of restoring bourgeois "normalcy" when things got out
of hand and Chávez started creating a legal framework for the agrarian
reform and other social transformations with the package of 49 economic
laws he enacted at the end of 2001, and then responded to the bosses
offensive against them with countermobilizations. 

The mass response to the attempted coup, the upsurge, with the people
reinforced by and giving strength and impetus to the *armed action* an
active military force that broke from the army command and deserted to
the people's side --the presidential guard-- as well as various units
commanders that refused to accept the legality of the coup, with all
that then implied (purge of the officer corps, restructuring of
commands, creation of the militia) marked, I think a point of
qualitative change.

As things stand now, I know of nothing to suggest that there is any
basis for an expectation that the Bolivian armed forces would also fail
to serve as ultimate guarantor of bourgeois and imperialist rule there.
This is an extremely delicate and concrete matter that Morales as
president and the social movements will have to address. 


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