Samuel Grove and Pablo Navarrete,
Particularly controversial has been the issue of land reform;
This crisis would seem typical of politics in ‘third word countries’ and far removed from our own concerns here in
Conflict of Interests
In Civil War is not a Stupid Thing, political economist Christopher Cramer critically reflects upon the prevailing ideology surrounding conflict in the ‘third world’. He argues that historically the West has looked upon conflict in these places as a ‘deviant… aberration from a more normal world of liberal peace, best exemplified by Northern prosperity and stability.’ For Cramer, in the last few years this prejudice has been integrated into a neoliberal analysis that emphasises the immediate economic costs to societies of conflict; with these two assumptions combining to support the notion that conflict is 'development in reverse'.
A cursory look at the British media’s reporting of the crisis in
It would be ironic if the West’s detached attitude to events in
The symbiotic relationship between events abroad and at home can also be seen if we look closely at the modern history of
Buoyed by victory in the Falklands War and a landslide victory in the 1983 election, Thatcher set about privatising the industries that had been nationalised under Atlee. These new reforms continued under John Major (the railways) and Tony Blair (the Post Office and welfare services).
War on Democracy
The similarities between
At approximately the time that Keynes was warning us about the tyranny of global free trade, George Orwell was reflecting upon the lack of democracy in
Unemployment took its heaviest toll on
While ultimate responsibility for the NEP lies with Paz and his ‘emergency team’ of technocrats and business leaders, the reforms were also largely a product of the aggressive influence of international financial institutions, particularly the IMF and World Bank. The NEP was largely designed to court their approval, while the waves of privatisations in the 1990s were on the explicit instructions of the IMF – in fact, the IMF was so impressed with the results that Bolivia was ‘held up as a model for Less Developed Countries around the World’.
The Bolivian government’s pandering to the demands of the IMF in the 1990s can be interpreted as a consequence of the devastation wrought on
The looting of
In voting for Morales and his party in 2005, the Movement towards Socialism (MAS), Bolivians voted for democracy. Morales was elected on a platform of facilitating popular participation in the running of the country and the economy through the widening of the public sphere, the representation of social movements in executive office and the introduction of indigenous rights. Nationalisation of key industries ensured that profits stayed in
However Morales’s victory was much more a victory of Bolivian democracy rather than for it; or as Forrest Hylton and Sinclair Thomson elegantly put it, ‘the election of Evo Morales did not bring about a revolution. It was a revolution that brought about the government of Evo Morales’. Prior to the 2005 election, popular mobilisation had already brought down two presidents and vetoed the accession of a third. The toppling of these governments was not led by MAS; rather the MAS leadership trailed a popular mobilisation led by indigenous groups, trade unions and federations of coca growers.
It was out of this coalition that the proposals for nationalisation, constitutional reform and economic and political restructuring emerged. MAS itself was a political organisation founded by civil groups in the 1990s to articulate popular demands. In his inauguration speech Morales appealed to these groups saying ‘Control me. If I can't advance, push me, brothers and sisters. Correct me constantly, because I may err.’
Morales was reliant on these groups during the crisis. That Morales’s supporters continue to resist the opposition’s campaign of violence is testament to their overwhelming national support and ability to mobilise to defend their the government’s legitimacy.
While the British media openly discussed the possibility of a civil war, Morales’s popularity has risen since the 2005 election, including in the richer provinces. It is this support that pressured opposition members in Congress to ratify a new draft of the Bolivian constitution on 21 October. A national referendum on whether or not to make the document official is scheduled for 25 January next year.
It is significant that
A Revolution Without Borders
In the 1980s, the
The reality is that the distortion was intended to conceal something far more threatening - what Oxfam rather shrewdly described at the time as ´the threat of the good example’.
[Republished from Upside Down World. This is the original and longer version of the article entitled 'The threat of the good example' that appears in December/January 2008 issue of Red Pepper].