[Marxism] Maybe Evo should change his name to Goldstein

Joaquín Bustelo jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Sat Jan 7 19:06:46 MST 2006

RR says, "Nobody except you and Walter and some others have used the
word 'evil' in regard to any of the positions, issues, participants.
Nobody has slurred Evo Morales, nobody has called him a betrayer, nobody
has questioned his intentions."

Well, actually, technically and all that, no, not those writing original
posts on this list, at least not in the last day or two, that I can
testify to because I read them all the way through. 

But if you read the Quispe and COB interviews that International
Viewpoint chose to publish, and which have been recommended here more
than once, you will find Quispe, for example, describing the MAS as one
of the parties that "respond to the interests of the multinationals and
of imperialism." He lumps them all together, for example, the MAS with
the party of "el gringo" that's *still* being rub by him out of D.C.

Quispe says, "Evo Morales is waging war against me.... He wants to
physically eliminate the militants of the MIP!" 

He describes Alvaro Garcia Linera, the MAS vice-presidential candidate
who was a Comandante in a guerrilla force Quispe headed in the early
90's, as "a traitor who had one foot in our camp, and one foot in the
camp of the MAS, and he went where that suited him best. He’s a White,
and like all the Whites in the past, he has betrayed our people." So to
go with the MAS is to "betray" indigenous people.

"The MAS will want to neutralise us or even kill us. Alvaro Garcia knows
us well and he has the means to hurt us. We will no doubt have to go
underground to be able to continue to fight against the system. With
Alvaro Garcia in it, a MAS government would undoubtedly be our enemy."

Just think, under the current neoliberal regime, Quispe has been
functioning openly and legally for years; he says 

Ironically enough, Quispe reports that he offered Alvaro Garcia Linera
the number two spot on the ticket Quispe headed, but was turned down,
which suggests that even Quispe doesn't pretend to believe his own
statements about "treason" and so on. 

Thus far Quispe. Now for Jaime Solares of the COB. He insists on the
"COB" representing the "vanguard" and this necessitates *exclusion of
the indigenous peasantry* from the COB. Exclusion of the indigenous
masses, their marginalization, has a certain history in Bolivia, that
Solares seems not to want to take into account.

He opposes the political struggle, with the explanation that some secret
"political instrument of the workers" that the COB has established will
solve everything, once it develops its revolutionary program.

Using that as cover, Solares says, "So we are not with any political
party and we won’t support anybody. We don’t want to bear the
responsibility of having supported a government that will attack the
workers tomorrow, even if it’s a government of the MAS."

And while advocating "a worker-peasant revolution of a socialist
character" in THEORY, Solares has a more practical proposal in the
meantime: a military coup.

Now, Solares claims he's never called for a military coup. This is what
he says: "I never called on soldiers to carry out a coup d’etat. I
simply said that if a soldier who was patriotic and committed to the
people, like Chavez in Venezuela, took power in Bolivia, I would be the
first to support him."

Got that -- he doesn't CALL for a coup; he "simply" promises "to be the
first to support him" if some guy on a white horse comes charging out of
some military barracks. So much for the vanguard purity of the
proletariat that prevents, as a matter of principle, supporting peasant
forces or welcoming them into the organization. Peasant insurgents, No!
Imperialist-oligarchic military coups, Yes!

Now, you may want to argue, he conditions this on the officer being like
Chavez, a revolutionary who quotes Rosa Luxemburg, reads Leon Trotsky
and is best friends with Fidel. But of course, that's what that guy in
Ecuador promised, and the masses had to overthrow his ass because he was
such an incorrigible yanqui bootlicker and vendepatria. Does ANYONE
seriously expect a military coup to be carried out with Pinochet or the
Argentine Junta as the proclaimed model? Of course they're going to say
they're the same as Chávez.

But one of the characteristics of an officer like Chávez is that they
don't "take" the power. Even when acting in a military way, they try to
lead the masses in a struggle for power. The other thing is that it is
quite outrageous to talk this way when nobody that I know of has even
suggested there is a "Chavez current" or layer in the Bolivian officer

This kind of talk *disarms* the workers against a potential coup. It was
outrageous enough for Solares to say this in the first place. It is
*unconscionable* for IV to continue to feature it without as much as a
disclaimer in the wake of Evo's spectacular electoral victory, which
raises to a much higher, immediate level the danger of an
imperialist-inspired military coup.

*  *  *

In don't know where IV gets its journalists or editors. But it seems to
me quite irresponsible to have printed these and similar statements in
this way. The persons conducting the interviews seem incapable of
reacting to anything that's said, for example the charges that Morales
and his vice president are waging war against Quispe and want to kill
him, physically eliminate him and his followers.

It is not responsible journalism, revolutionary or otherwise, to
broadcast such charges; it is not responsible journalism NOT to
challenge the person making such assertions to back up his claims; it is
not responsible revolutionary journalism to print such assertions
instead of pointing out that it is absolutely impermissible for people
in the revolutionary or social movements to talk this way about others
involved in the struggle without even the barest hint of an attempt to
document the assertions; that it is absolutely impermissible and even
*unserious* to say that, on the one hand, you're not sectarian towards
the MAS, but on the other, they are the "enemy."

It's not just that, on the face of it, some of these charges are
defamatory and libelous, and publishing them exposes IV and the Fourth
International for which it speaks to potentially catastrophic civil
liability. Almost certainly Morales will not sue, and if he did, I guess
IV could claim that it has so little credibility and influence that no
real harm was done, and only symbolic damages should be awarded.

But the REAL problem is that it contributes to a climate that could be
used by imperialist agents in carrying out attacks on either side in the
dispute and seeking to blame it on the other. 

I keep trying to find another incident where the currents that are or
have been associated with the Fourth International have fallen into such
mistakes; the names that come to mind are Posadas and Healy. 

*  *  *

I want to add that there are a number of positive-sounding phrases and
expressions in the IV article by the French reporter in Bolivia. But in
reality as I see things it is both hostile to and prejudiced against

Here's Evo, a guy who likes to say that Fidel and Hugo Chavez and the
commanders of the liberation forces of the Americas. He said it in Cuba,
he said it in Venezuela, he said it lots of times in Bolivia.

Yet here's what IV says about Evo's foreign policy: "What is more, the
polarisation that also intervenes at a regional level should not be
without its effects on the MAS government, which, we can imagine, will
quickly be forced to choose between Washington and the Caracas-Havana

That was written a day or two after the elections, but isn't it really a
fairly *stupid* slander to suggest that Evo might choose Washington to
the "Caracas-Havana axis"? And isn't is *just like European radicals* to
drag in terms from the most nightmarish and rapacious imperialist
alliances of THEIR history and IMPOSE them on the relations of two
sister revolutionary nations of our America, with this "Caracas-Havana
axis" bullshit.

It's this kind of tendentious, smart-ass superior college boy
intellectual tone that DRIVES ME UP THE FUCKING WALL about the "fourth
international" -- all of them. They don't have the GUTS to OPENLY say
Evo is going to stab Fidel in the back. But they still want to hint at
it and insinuate it, despite Evo's own outspoken stance on the subject.
The "logic" of events, the "parallelogram of class forces" the
"pressures from the regional polarization," anything and everything --
and the more abstract, abstruse and Hegelian the construct the better,
gets dragged in. 

And Evo becomes an invisible man, a mere conduit for larger forces to
assert themselves. 

And that's where I start having serious problems with the IV stuff,
"antagonistic contradictions" as the Maoist comrades used to say. When
they start treating as a nonperson the leader who has played a central
role in awakening Bolivia's indigenous majority. I have a very serious
problem with that, politically, socially, and in every other kind of

What are the POLITICS of having all sorts of OTHER folks, mostly white
folks, talking about Evo, and not taking a few pages of the magazine or
the web site to print an interview with or a couple of speeches by the
man himself? Is the message that won this election --HIS message-- so
unimportant? Why not, just for a change, listen to the voice of those
who have been gagged for 500 years? 

Evo is so marginalized in the thoughts of the editors, that when, all of
8 or 9 days later, in his very FIRST trip, Evo jets off to Havana to
begin plotting the literacy campaign and getting THOUSANDS of young
indigenous Bolivians educated as Medical Doctors, and getting some eye
clinics and some coaches to begin making a difference in people's lives,
on the ground, IV not only can't be bothered to cover it, they don't
even have the *wit* to correct the original article where it has
*already* spectacularly fallen on its face and continues to be an
embarrassment every day it remains on their web site in this form.

*  *  *

So there's just no question in my mind, this is a striking political
phenomenon. The reaction on this list, which has been the most
exaggerated, sectarian ultraleft reaction I can remember on some event.
Petras's article, and the fact that Counterpunch would accept it. 

Even before the vote, the ISO's paper, Socialist Worker, was damning
Morales with faint praise and statements like "Evo and running mate,
Álvaro García Linera, have sought to reassure financial markets..." and
"many fear this means Evo will end up following the path of Brazil’s
President Luiz Inácio 'Lula' da Silva."

It took a year and a half after his election before the first extremely
tentative discussion on this list on Chavez, yet now everyone wants to
denounce Evo as another Lula, or worse, WEEKS before he sworn in, and
when people like me point to the historic character of Evo's victory,
it's like scrooge on political steroids, it's all bah, humbug.

Yet it seems to me that if the last few weeks have proved anything, it
is that the Bolivian toilers have rallied around a leader, and that
leader is Evo. 

Undoubtedly, part of what's going on is spillover from a history of
factionalism on the Bolivian Left, and --based on the IV interviews--
the recent hyper-factional and sectarian attitude of Quispe and Solares.
But even then, you'd have to explain why this is getting purchase on the
international left.

The historical, political, sociological, class, gender and national
aspects of THIS phenomenon -- the instinctive "don't get carried away
with Evo" groundswell -- is something that should be examined, and I
think with seriousness and urgency.

I will submit my first contribution on that discussion separately in a
few moments.


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