We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Evo’s Bolivia: Ten Years On

Click here to access article by Linda Farthing from New Politics
Evo Morales’ government has suffered two significant electoral setbacks in the past year and is currently mired in scandal, which has put its long term projections – planned for up to 2025 - into question. Why is one of the America’s most progressive government’s stumbling at this juncture?
It appears that another left experiment, Bolivia and its MAS party movement, in South America is coming to an end like what has already happened in Argentina, and is happening in Venezuela and Brazil.  Farthing attributes this to the usual reasons for reformist type movements to succeed over the long term:
Undoubtedly the MAS has lost sight of its original path in part because of the deals it cut with the wealthy landowners in the east. Increasingly the traditional elites don’t see the MAS as a threat, and in fact, as an ally in expanding the agricultural frontier. Political opportunists of every stripe have joined the party, as the state structure has always been perceived as a lucrative source of jobs and opportunities for corruption.

All this has seriously weakened the MAS and its original agenda, but allowed it to stay in power.  Like so many others before them and so many yet come – in Bolivia and everywhere else, the MAS’s principal objective has transformed over time into staying in power. The rationale is familiar: retaining power is seen as the only way to ensure that the ‘process of change’ as the MAS agenda is called, will continue.
Because these experiments in left-reformist governments never rid themselves of their capitalist sectors, I never held out much hope for them. They are compromised from the beginning and often with the collusion with capitalist ruling classes who see them as very co-optable (to use a new word that expresses a very useful concept). I believe their failures have implications for real political change: only revolutions that thoroughly replace capitalist ruling classes with bottom-up authority structures can be successful in the long run.

But I also think that it is true, as Soviet leaders like Lenin and Trotsky first realized, that a thorough anti-capitalist revolution in one country is not viable. The Soviet leaders knew that their chances of succeeding were slim if the Soviet revolution was not soon followed by a revolution in (especially) Germany. There was a German revolutionary party led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht that tried to take power in 1919, but they were assassinated and the movement was crushed. 

Thus revolutionaries are left with only one promising solution. Only a fairly well coordinated series of revolutions in many countries can overcome the highly organized and managed international power of capitalism that is represented most aggressively by the US-led Empire.