[Marxism] Juan Carlos Monedero, Snipers in the Kitchen, NLR 120, November–December 2019

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Dec 5 12:18:34 MST 2019

NLR 120, NOV DEC 2019



State Theory and Latin America’s Left Cycle

The question of state power is one of the most complex issues for 
emancipatory politics. Even when popular parties with redistributive 
agendas have won electoral majorities and gained, in principle, access 
to the governmental levers of power, they face a host of obstacles in 
implementing their campaign promises. They do not enter into full 
possession of the state, as if it were a new home: the rooms may be 
booby-trapped, the stairs barricaded; there may be snipers in the 
kitchen—shooters who are unseen because they are taken for granted, and 
all the more effective because unseen. As Lenin reminded Kautsky, even 
if they have been ejected from office, ‘the exploiters’ still retained 
many practical advantages: money, property, superior education, 
knowledge of the ‘secrets’ of rule, norms of organization, close 
connections with higher officialdom and so forth.footnote1 In liberal 
democracies, enormous pressures can be brought to bear upon radical 
administrations, whether at municipal, state or federal level. The 
mainstream media, the judiciary, the intelligence services, opposition 
parties may all come into play, with scandals whipped up out of trifles, 
judicial harassment, dirty tricks or political manoeuvres—and this even 
before market pressures are taken into account. If we are not to become 
trapped in a permanent state of melancholy, we need a careful analysis 
of the state’s enormous capacity for reaction in defence of capital’s 

These questions are central for an assessment of the cycle of left 
governments in Latin America that opened with Chávez’s victory in 
Venezuela in 1998—followed by the advent of Lula in Brazil, Néstor 
Kirchner in Argentina, Tabaré Vázquez in Uruguay, Evo Morales in Bolivia 
and Rafael Correa in Ecuador. The end of the cycle might be dated to the 
2015 victory of Mauricio Macri in Argentina, followed by the victories 
of Sebastián Piñera in Chile and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. But at the 
time of writing this political landscape remains fiercely contested, 
with new rebellions against neoliberal orthodoxy in Chile and Colombia, 
counter-revolution in Bolivia, successive attempts to overthrow Maduro 
in Venezuela and new victories of the centre-left in Mexico and Argentina.

full: https://newleftreview.org/issues/II120/articles/snipers-in-the-kitchen

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