[Marxism] Bolivia discussion

Richard Fidler rfidler at cyberus.ca
Sat Jan 7 10:55:12 MST 2006

I hope the moderator allows the Bolivia thread to continue. Like 
many others on this list, I'm sure, I have found it one of the 
best discussions in months if not years. And one of the clearest, 
if for no other reason than the fact that it exposes the damage 
done to so many comrades from caricatural Trotskyism, misreadings 
of (Marx's) "theory" of permanent revolution, etc.

I have been content so far to allow Joaquín Bustelo, Fred Feldman, 
Néstor Gorojovsky and a few others speak for positions that I 
would generally support. They do so better than I could. But there 
is one simple point nagging at me as I read the list contributions 
and other articles, blogs, etc. on the Bolivia situation:

You have a situation in which a party with a basic 
anti-imperialist program, representing the indigenous majority of 
the country, wins a smashing electoral victory over a divided 
bourgeois opposition widely discredited for its complicity with 
its imperialist overlords, and immediately, with the enthusiastic 
support and material assistance of the Cuban and Venezuelan 
leaderships, promises to set in motion an agenda of basic social 
and, yes, national reforms - Joaquín's summary list is a good 
one - while, according to even Evo Morales' staunchest critics, 
there is a powerful, mobilized mass movement that wants to go even 
further and faster than Evo is promising at this point. What a 
favourable situation in which to advance the social revolution, 
which at this point and I expect for a long time to come naturally 
assumes the primary form of a national revolution.

If nothing else, think of the contrast with Che's situation in 
1967: isolated, without the support of parties or trade unions, 
surrounded by the enemy, unable to speak the language of the local 
population, hunted down like animals. Yes, in Bolivia.

Let's recall that in Venezuela, Hugo Chávez and his supporters 
have had to work diligently for years now to build a mass movement 
in support of his reform program. I am not aware of any huge 
social forces pushing on Chávez from the left, while, in contrast, 
the national bourgeoisie in Venezuela still holds many of the 
commanding heights in the economy, the mass media, even the state 

It seems to me that in Bolivia, one of the poorest countries in 
the hemisphere yet so rich in natural resources, with a population 
that has a militant tradition of revolutionary struggle within 
living memory, in a context today of a developing solidarity bloc 
of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that is in open, 
deepening revolt, to varying degrees, against the imperialist 
colossus to the north, the perspective for revolutionary struggle 
and advance is a very positive one.

Whatever the past record of Evo Morales and the MAS in relation to 
recent struggles around gas and water, popular assemblies, etc. - 
and I for one don't assume that decisions they made at the time 
were incorrect simply because they may have represented tactical 
retreats with a view to resuming or continuing the struggle on 
other fronts or at more propitious moments - there is a 
substantial amount of evidence that the new leaders of Bolivia can 
and will themselves develop in a dialectical relationship of 
learning from and contributing to the mass movements propelling 
the process forward. Isn't that what we have seen over the years 
in Cuba and Venezuela, to mention only those? Already, the party 
whose candidate is about to assume the presidency calls itself a 
"movement for socialism".

The revolutionary process now under way in Venezuela is teaching 
us much about the whole problematic of transitional regimes, as, 
for an earlier generation (that includes me) Cuba did, and 
continues to do. The process within each social (state) formation 
is unique in important ways. Events in Bolivia in the coming 
months and years will teach us all a lot more about the mutual 
interrelationship of the national, indigenous and socialist 
revolutions in Latin America. Old schemas and stereotypes are of 
no use.


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