[Marxism] Re: Calls to "socialism in Bolivia, now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at videotron.ca
Fri Jan 13 06:50:50 MST 2006

David Walters replied to Nestor G:


> You realize, of course, that following your line of reasoning (if it can
> be called that) one should never call for Popular Assemblies..or
> socialism.
> In fact we need to oppose them, heaven forbid we haven't done our work
> among the army ranks!!! Just shut up and vote, wait to see what happens,
> is that
> it?
> It's not the POR that is raising the demand for Popular Assemblies, its
> the mass organizations and even sections of Evo's MAS. Better fly to La
> Paz and straighten these coca-chewing Trots out right away!
But isn't it the case that the majority of Bolivians who voted for Morales
did so because they still have "parliamentary illusions" -that they're
genuinely hoping Morales and the MAS will be able to use the
bourgeois-democratic system to "reform" it in their interests? And that
they'll lose confidence in Morales and bourgeois democracy only if and when
they conclude the existing political system is "unreformable"? And this may
well include many of those who simultaneously support the formation of
popular assemblies but would be indifferent or hostile to calls to overthrow
the existing system and  government until Morales has been given a chance to
act on the outstanding issues?

I don't have first-hand or even much second-hand knowledge of the situation
in Bolivia, but this is at least what history suggests - not only that of
popular electoral movements like those currently sweeping across Latin
America, but also with respect to the classic revolutionary model, Russia,
where the masses first placed their confidence in the Mensheviks and the
Duma before abandoning them for the Soviets and the Bolsheviks. And, in
Russia, as you know, there was already "dual power" and Soviets and a
politically skilled party waiting in the wings from the beginning, which
made it relatively easy for the masses to find an alternative. This isn't
the case in Bolivia.

Or is it? Are you suggesting that the present direction of the Bolivians is
towards resolving an existing dual power situation by withdrawing their
support of Morales and the Congress in favour of extraparliamentary "popular
assemblies" controlled by his critics? I doubt you think so, because you
report the Bolivian mass organizations are only now "raising the demand" for
popular assemblies. It's still unclear to me whether and to what extent
these already exist, and whether they reject efforts at reform through the
National Congress or whether they mostly still see themselves as an adjunct
to it, instruments of pressure to keep Morales and the MAS representatives
"honest". If the latter, they are not demanding the transfer of "all power"
to them - not yet. But won't the proposed Constituent Assembly give us a
better idea of the internal relationship of forces between those supporting
the Morales government and trying to restructure the existing constitutional
system versus those, if any, denouncing it as illegitimate and calling
instead for its replacement by a government selected by such popular
assemblies as exist?

This is the kind of hard information I'd like to have, much as I understand
that theories of social change like permanent revolution are also important
as a guide. I'd especially like to know more about the political state of
the armed forces, both at the level of the high command and the ranks.  I
don't discount "work among the army ranks", as you curiously seem to; the
Bolsheviks couldn't have conducted a successful insurrection through the
soviets without the prior disintegration of the Czarist armed forces, and
the same would hold true of Bolivia. I can't think of a successful social
revolution where the crossover of government troops wasn't decisive.

You're wrong, incidentally, to assert that this "line of reasoning (if it
can be called that) means one should never call for Popular Assemblies..or
socialism." It was, in fact, exactly this line of reasoning which led Lenin
and the Bolshevik majority to decide the time was right to issue the call
FOR "all power" to the soviets, and they're the same factors any serious
left-wing alternative favouring the same outcome in Bolivia would have to
consider in deciding whether to follow suit. You don't play your cards
without surveying the table and calculating your chances, do you? They'd
additionally have to consider the relations which would exist, if they were
successful, between a "soviet" Bolivia and its US-led opponents as well as
its relations with friendly states in Brazil and Argentina and with its
Venezuelan and Cuban allies. Even more than was the case in Russia, tiny
landlocked Bolivia would have to take into account the prospects for a
generalized Latin American upheaval which goes far beyond the limits of the
ballot box.

It seems to me nowhere near the open-and-shut case you make it to be.

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