[Marxism] Morales and Obama

J.M.P.Cloke at lboro.ac.uk J.M.P.Cloke at lboro.ac.uk
Sat Apr 18 02:49:10 MDT 2009

1) Both Morales and Obama come from ethnic backgrounds 
that are ‘problematic’ for the white 
conservative/right-wing elites that have historically 
swapped power amongst themselves – Morales is an Aymara 
and therefore representative of one set of the indigenous 
peoples roundly despised by the elite criollo/mestizo 
groupings in Boliva, Obama, whilst phenotypically 
obviously African American is of mixed-race origin that 
presents another set of problems (remember the false 
‘Barack the magic negro/’is he black enough’ binary?) and 
worse still his black father isn’t even American.
2) Both Morales and Obama come to power using the 
legitimate electoral machinery of their respective 
countries in which, as it becomes more and more likely 
that they will achieve power the savagery of rhetoric 
against and opposition to them (strongly linked to their 
ethnicity) increases exponentially (Obama is a 
‘terrorist’, Morales a ‘communist’, ‘drug trafficker’).
3) Both Morales and Obama come to power at times of 
intense economic crisis (although to be fair that’s 
practically endemic in Bolivia) and at a time when the 
traditional elites have run out of options and resorted to 
particularly brutal and desperate measures to quash 
opposition to them, Goni through having the police and 
army open fire on and kill a number of unarmed 
demonstrators and Bush by, well, you name it – warrantless 
wiretapping, the Patriot Act, use of ‘anti-terrorist’ 
legislation against legitimate civil protest groups, etc.
4) Both Morales and Obama come to power at the head of 
umbrella movements containing substantial radical elements 
that do not trust them and make it plain that they expect 
the fulfilment of a radical agenda as a condition of 
continued support.
5) On achieving power ‘legitimately’ or at least through 
the accepted electoral norms, both Morales and Obama begin 
to implement parts of the agendas expected of them in the 
face of immediately hostile opposition not just from the 
right-wing elites opposed to them but from the more 
conservative members of their own coalition – this 
opposition is frequently couched in borderline racist 
terms, the right in the US through challenging Obama’s 
citizenship and hinting at ‘terrorist’ sympathies and the 
right in Bolivia through outright disparaging of Morales’ 
ethnicity – ‘Kollas’ are all drug-smugglers, thieves, lazy 
workshy filth who just want to take the wealth of Bolivia 
that doesn’t belong to them, etc.
6) After brief attempts at working through the existing 
structures of government, both Morales and Obama find that 
an increasingly hysterical conservative opposition begins 
to disengage with them and to seeks to ignore their 
electoral victory through stonewalling any attempts at 
legislation and through operating outside of accepted 
government structures by laying claim to some higher 
democratic morality which disguises the elitism and racism 
of their motives – in the US through a patently absurd 
movement to assert states rights over those of the Federal 
government, and in Bolivia through the creation of a 
made-up state based on Santa Cruz, which just so happens 
to have territorial control of the bulk of natural gas 
Remember, I’m not making any effort to equate them, their 
backgrounds, political movements or anything else except 
to look at the similarities in the ways in which racist 
dynamics, filtered through the radically different 
socio-cultural environments, express themselves.
Jon Cloke

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