[Marxism] Bolivia (was something else with too many exclamationpoints)

rrubinelli rrubinelli at earthlink.net
Sat Jan 14 11:31:45 MST 2006

MG writes:
----- > I hope the above puts my question it better context for you,
Andy, and
> others who may have misunderstood what I was getting at. I wrote:
> "Is it your position that the Morales government should immediately
> publicly declare its intent to replace the National Congress with a
> parliament of workers' and peasants' deputies, from which the
> disenfranchised Bolivian bourgeoisie would be excluded?"
> Unfortunately, your reply the other day was uncharacteristically
> circumlocutious. You said you wouldn't presume to tell Morales
> (although a day earlier, you had recommended "all power to the
soviets" as
> an appropriate slogan in Bolivia, which prompted my question). You
said that
> "real" nationalization and a "real" Constituent Assembly and building
> mass organizations were the demands arising from of the mass movement
> needed encouragement, all of which is true enough (although I am sure
> will inevitably be debate about how "real" the Morales reforms are
when they
> are enacted), but which still didn't directly address my question. I
> pursue it because your silence spoke these words to me: "no, I don't
> it would be wise for Morales to declare on January 22nd that he
intends to
> close down the bourgeois parliament in favour of a soviet government
and to
> expropriate the Bolivian bourgeoisie - not at this time."  If my
> interpretation is accurate, then we agree on the most fundamental

RR:  I really wasn't trying to be evasive in my answer.  I was trying to
make the point that the "demand," the impetus for "all power to the
soviets"  can't, won't, come from the Morales government itself.  That
demand becomes realistic in the course of continued struggle, class
struggle, for real resolution of the economic conflicts at the heart of
the current rebellion in Bolivia (and elsewhere).  That "demand,"
"slogan" has meaning to the degree that those councils, assemblies are
functioning in a condition of dual power; when the "formal" government
is proving itself incapable of acting as a vehicle for resolution of
economic conflicts and thus, incapable of being the vehicle for the
actualization of the aspirations, needs, of the workers and poor.  I do
not think at any point, no matter what the "objective conditions" are,
Morales will ever state, not on this January 22, not on the next January
22, not on any future Jan 22  "we are closing down the bourgeois
parliament.  All power to the soviets."  His government, and his
movement, will necessarily split, be replaced, somewhere down the line.
Remember Joaquin's analogy to the government of Kerensky? -- the
"necessary" liberal-democratic phase, a necessity I argue not based on
the ability of the "liberal-democratic" phase to resolve the conflicts,
the struggles, but a necessity based on precisely its inability-- a
necessity that is in essence, a necessity of displacement, replacement.

This is where I think we really differ-- the struggle in Bolivia is not
identical with the existence, actions, policies, elections of the MAS
and Morales.  It is co-incident, but not identical.  The MAS is
appearance, manifestation;  It is not the origin, source, or "essence"
of the conflict.

In regard to the "timing" of the demand "All power to the (soviets,
Bolivarian circles, factory committees, popular assemblies....)" timing
it is.  It's a timed move, base on, and most importantly on, the
concrete functioning of those organizations as the voice, the arm, the
UNITED FRONT, of the workers movement, of the CLASS STRUGGLE as a whole.
It is dependent upon "growing" those organs as organs of replacement,
displacement of the inadequate, archaic, and impotent pre-existing
structure of bourgeois class rule.

And absolutely, when that "time," comes, it just doesn't come.  It's
prepared-- developed-- organized.  And you have to have a lot more than
a .22 caliber rifle.  You have to have prepared, developed, organized,
defended continuous class struggle in the cities, the countryside, and
in the military itself-- which is why I said to Nestor, that "Land,
Bread, and Peace"  meant nothing without that struggle, without that
agent, without that organization, without the soviets.

So I think a question you might ask me, a fair question, rather than
Morales calling for shutting down the government, is would I recommend
at this time launching a slogan:  "Down with the class collaborationist
Morales/MAS government.  All power to the (soviets, committees,
assemblies....)!"?  And the answer is NO, not yet..  The demands now are
for the CA, for nationalization.

> As to your question:
> > Let me pose a question to the supporters of the "national salvation"
> > program:  Should Marxists organ-
> > izations,  enter the Morales government?  Should Marxists except
> > portfolios in such a government for
> > the implementation and administration of the MAS programs?
> -------------------------
MG: Why not? Marxists have participated in Lula's government. They've
> portfolios in social-democratic and  other of what we used to commonly
> "workers' parties". Or do you regard the MAS as a party of the
> bourgeoisie rather than the masses? I woud thnk that if Morales named
> Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, you'd probably want to take
> knowing you could always resign and make your reasons known to the
> movement. More generally, as we know from our own experiences, modest
> otherwise, the members of any movement or organization rightly expect
you to
> accept leadership responsibilities if you're asked to do so, and will
> interpret a refusal as a rejection, which isn't the way to win friends
> influence people. That's why that SWP policy - I don't know if it
> exists - of declining steward and executive responsibilities in unions
> struck me as hare-brained. The fact that you end up administering a
> collective agreement you want to change or, on the political level,
that the
> MAS will be administering a "social contract" it wants to change, is
> unfortunate but unavoidable part of the job.

RR:  This again is where we fundamentally disagree.  The answer is clear
based on the example you cite, Brazil.  No Marxist organization or
individual Marxist has any business accepting a portfolio in a bourgeois
government; even a "progressive," "labor-oriented" version of the
bourgeois government, as the first and last concern of a bourgeois
government is just that, the bourgeois government, the governing of the
bourgeoisie.  Those government, as have been the cases with Mbeki, Lula,
etc are clearly determined to suppress class struggle; to preserve
bourgeois property at the expense, literally, of the workers and poor.

I regard the MAS to be, as I think Nestor and JB do, a "national front."
A class collaboration organization where the real "progressive" elements
are the poor, workers, agricultural laborers, indigenous who have found
in it an expression for their aspirations.  But the movement,
organization, and the government are inadquate to the tasks of the
economic conflicts, of the class struggle, and therefore will shift,
change, separate.  The centrifugal forces of the class struggle will
overwhelm, at a certain point, the centripetal forces of "natioanlism,"
or the personal popularity of Morales.   Marxists and marxists
organization can partipate in united front actions with MAS groups and
organization, but the determination of a united front, is class, not
national, not mass, not liberal-democratic.  Being in the government
itself means opposing the actual needs that must be satisfied if the
revolution is to defend itself, survive, advance, and conquer.

Minister of Energy and Mines?  No thanks.  And not because of a lack of
experience or self-confidence. I would not even accept the position as
Minister of Railroads.


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