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Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 1102
April 6, 2015

Socialist Project - home

Bolivia: Burdens of a State Manager

Jeffery R. Webber

In the open­ing salvos of Latin America's uneven lurch to the Left in the early twenty-first cen­tury, Bolivia dis­tin­guished itself as the region's most rad­i­cal socio-political ter­rain.[1] Left-indigenous move­ments in the coun­try­side and cityscapes alike threw the state into cri­sis and brought two suc­ces­sive neolib­eral pres­i­dents to their knees – Gon­zalo Sánchez de Lozada in 2003, and Car­los Mesa in 2005.[2] Evo Morales's party, the Movimiento al Social­ismo (Move­ment Toward Social­ism, MAS), leapt into the power vac­uum opened up by this series of revolts, and there has been seri­ous debate on the Left as to how best to but­ton down the cen­tral polit­i­cal dynamic of the coun­try ever since. In a coun­try where 62 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion self-identified as indige­nous in the 2001 cen­sus, Morales became the first indige­nous pres­i­dent through the Decem­ber 2005 elec­tions with 54 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote, assum­ing office in Jan­u­ary 2006. He repeated this extra­or­di­nary elec­toral suc­cess in Decem­ber 2009, with 64 per cent, and again in Octo­ber 2014, with 61 per cent.

The pro­lific writ­ings of Vice-President Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era offer one win­dow into the com­plex­i­ties of the polit­i­cal, ide­o­log­i­cal, and eco­nomic devel­op­ments that have tran­spired since Morales first assumed office.[3] With that in mind, the fol­low­ing detailed expo­si­tion and crit­i­cal inter­ro­ga­tion of the core argu­ments advanced in his 2011 book, Ten­siones cre­ati­vas de la rev­olu­ción [Cre­ative Ten­sions of the Rev­o­lu­tion], is meant to shed some light on what is at stake in the com­pet­ing char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of the “process of change” unfold­ing in Bolivia since 2006.[4] If for many read­ers, only pass­ingly famil­iar with the coun­try, Gar­cía Lin­era might seem to rep­re­sent Boli­vian rad­i­cal the­ory tout court, in fact his intel­lec­tual out­put over the last nine years has been com­par­a­tively shal­low, heav­ily deter­mined by his role as second-in-command of the state appa­ra­tus. The rich and demand­ing provo­ca­tions of his early work have largely been eclipsed by man­age­r­ial apologia.

Recognized by Many on the Left

Still, Cre­ative Ten­sions is arguably the most impor­tant and sophis­ti­cated intel­lec­tual state­ment Gar­cía Lin­era has made since he became vice-president. The text embod­ies, I would argue, most of the core fea­tures that dom­i­nate com­mon inter­pre­ta­tions of the Boli­vian process on the inter­na­tional Left. This is no acci­dent. Gar­cía Lin­era has care­fully cul­ti­vated the transna­tional dis­sem­i­na­tion of his per­spec­tive on the con­junc­ture. Slavoj Žižek, Enrique Dus­sel, Bruno Bosteels, Michael Hardt, David Har­vey, and Marta Har­necker are just a few of the inter­na­tional intel­lec­tu­als of the broad Left invited to par­tic­i­pate in state-sponsored forums with the vice-president. His work has been fea­tured in New Left Review, and there is now a major edited col­lec­tion of his writ­ings avail­able in Eng­lish.[5]

Gar­cía Lin­era is reg­u­larly invited to speak at events spon­sored by var­i­ous cur­rents of the Left through­out West­ern Europe, but par­tic­u­larly in Spain and France. For Íñigo Erre­jón, one of the lead­ing fig­ures in the ascen­dant Podemos party of the Span­ish state, Gar­cía Lin­era is a guid­ing intel­lec­tual and polit­i­cal light. The Boli­vian vice-president's intel­lec­tual influ­ence reaches deeply into the North Amer­i­can Left as well, as exem­pli­fied in his recent head­lin­ing of the Left Forum in New York City. The renowned Argen­tine Marx­ist Atilio Borón relies heav­ily on Gar­cía Linera's recent writ­ings in his award-winning 2012 book, América Latina en la geopolítica del impe­ri­al­ismo [Latin Amer­ica in the Geopol­i­tics of Impe­ri­al­ism],[6] and the promi­nent Brazil­ian the­o­rist Emir Sader is per­haps the Boli­vian politician's most well-known intel­lec­tual par­a­clete in Latin Amer­ica. One could eas­ily go on.

Given the promi­nence of Cre­ative Ten­sions within the vice-presidential oeu­vre, it is worth­while to unpack some of its most crit­i­cal ana­lyt­i­cal ele­ments and to assess them along­side rel­e­vant aspects of the con­crete his­tor­i­cal and empir­i­cal record. A close read­ing of this text high­lights the neces­sity of devel­op­ing alter­na­tive inter­pre­ta­tions of the present Boli­vian con­junc­ture. Any seri­ous alter­na­tive would need to adhere vig­or­ously and cre­atively to the broad tra­di­tion of his­tor­i­cal mate­ri­al­ism and indige­nous lib­er­a­tion, as well as the spirit of com­bined lib­er­a­tion on dis­play in the 2000-2005 left-indigenous cycle of insur­rec­tion. In other words, we still require starkly con­trast­ing intel­lec­tual foun­da­tions to those on offer in Cre­ative Ten­sions if we are to cap­ture both the rev­o­lu­tion­ary essence of the 2000-2005 rebel­lions, and the set­backs they expe­ri­enced once Evo Morales assumed the pres­i­den­tial office in 2006.

Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Chronologies

Gar­cía Lin­era sets the stage in the open­ing pages of Cre­ative Ten­sions by list­ing some of the his­toric con­quests osten­si­bly achieved by the Morales gov­ern­ment already by 2011, or one year into the sec­ond admin­is­tra­tion. Neolib­er­al­ism had been defeated. There had been a recov­ery of social and state con­trol over pub­lic wealth, which in the ortho­dox neolib­eral period of the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s had been con­cen­trated in pri­vate hands. The Morales regime had put a deci­sive end to the rit­ual sub­or­di­na­tion of gov­ern­ment decision-making to the Amer­i­can embassy and inter­na­tional finan­cial insti­tu­tions (IFIs), such as the World Bank and the Inter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF).

By 2011, as never before, indige­nous and mes­tizo (mixed race) cit­i­zens had equal say in the man­age­ment of state power. The cor­rupt polit­i­cal class asso­ci­ated with the imple­men­ta­tion of neolib­er­al­ism had been defeated through the implo­sion of their tra­di­tional polit­i­cal par­ties. Var­i­ous right-wing con­spir­a­cies ema­nat­ing from bour­geois auton­o­mist forces in the east­ern low­land depart­ments of Santa Cruz, Tar­ija, Beni, and Pando had been defeated, secur­ing once more the inte­gral unity of the Boli­vian nation-state.[7] In the place of these prob­lems of the past, the “Process of Change” had – through a com­mit­ment to pluri­na­tion­al­ity, indige­nous ter­ri­to­r­ial auton­omy, and a plural econ­omy – brought to life a new, com­mu­ni­tar­ian repub­li­can­ism rooted in the growth of the col­lec­tive wealth of all Bolivians.

A fun­da­men­tal con­ti­nu­ity, accord­ing to Gar­cía Lin­era, links the extra-parliamentary begin­nings of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process in 2000 and its con­sol­i­da­tion in the var­i­ous admin­is­tra­tions of the Morales gov­ern­ment. The process, from this per­spec­tive, con­sists of five stages, through which we can track the his­tor­i­cal deep­en­ing and exten­sion of a rev­o­lu­tion­ary epoch, full of poten­tial and instability.

Phase I: 2000-2003

The ana­lyt­i­cal high­lights of the first phases of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary epoch in Gar­cía Linera's account broadly par­al­lel the con­tours of most rad­i­cal accounts of the left-indigenous cycle of revolt in its open­ing years. Aspects of my own his­tor­i­cal sur­vey in Red Octo­ber are indebted to a whole series of his jour­nal­is­tic and the­o­ret­i­cal writ­ings com­posed over that period.

The first phase begins in 2000 with the Cochabamba Water War against the World Bank-driven pri­va­ti­za­tion of munic­i­pal water ser­vices in that city. A punc­tu­ated process of rural and urban mobi­liza­tion cul­mi­nates in the pop­u­lar seizure of the city and the emer­gence of local­ized forms of dual power. The movement's suc­cess­ful rever­sal of the pri­va­ti­za­tion of water marks the first defen­sive vic­tory of left-indigenous forces in Bolivia since the intro­duc­tion of neolib­eral restruc­tur­ing in 1985. The strate­gic hori­zons of the Cochabamba insur­rec­tion and the reper­toire of coor­di­nated road block­ades, civic strikes, street bat­tles, and urban pop­u­lar assem­blies begin to rever­ber­ate through­out the rest of the coun­try over the next few years.

The Cochabamba Water War reveals the fun­da­men­tal weak­ness of the neolib­eral regime and sev­eral of the key pil­lars of state dom­i­na­tion begin to irrev­o­ca­bly unravel. The insti­tu­tion­al­ity of Boli­vian neolib­er­al­ism begins to come apart at the seams with the ter­mi­nal decline of the three main­stream par­ties respon­si­ble for its gov­er­nance – in the form of coali­tions and pacts – since 1985. The legit­i­macy of neolib­eral ideas recedes as the promised tide to lift all boats fails to arrive. The rulers can no longer con­tinue rul­ing as they have, and the ruled will no longer accept the estab­lished frame­work of dom­i­na­tion. The cor­re­la­tion of forces begins to change.

Draw­ing, with­out acknowl­edge­ment, on the work of Boli­vian anthro­pol­o­gist Sil­via Rivera Cusi­can­qui, Gar­cía Lin­era argues that the Cochabamba moment brings together a set of long and short term con­tra­dic­tions.[8] The long term con­tra­dic­tions accu­mu­lated over cen­turies. They involve a clash between a mono­cul­tural state run by white and mes­tizo elites and a pluri­na­tional soci­ety in which a major­ity are indige­nous peas­ants and work­ers, as well as a cen­tral­ized state in prac­tice, against a pop­u­lar appetite for a decen­tral­ized society.

The short-term con­tra­dic­tions run­ning in and through those of the longer durée include the pop­u­lar demand for the nation­al­iza­tion of nat­ural resources against the neolib­eral regime's com­mit­ment to per­sis­tent pri­va­ti­za­tion, as well as the monop­o­liza­tion of polit­i­cal power in the hands of tra­di­tional neolib­eral par­ties and the appetite from below for social democ­ra­ti­za­tion which emerges with the first expe­ri­ence of pop­u­lar power in the neolib­eral epoch. The sub­al­tern classes have in this moment begun to con­test the ter­ri­to­r­ial, ide­o­log­i­cal, and sym­bolic con­trol of soci­ety.[9]

Phase II: 2003-2005

The sec­ond phase endures for five years of what Gar­cía Lin­era, draw­ing on Gram­sci, calls a cat­a­strophic equi­lib­rium. The regime of state dom­i­na­tion is par­a­lyzed. Two power blocs emerge, with com­pet­ing projects for power. An east­ern low­land bour­geois bloc mobi­lizes around an auton­o­mist agenda but ulti­mately desires to regain con­trol over the national state, and to deepen and extend the neolib­eral project ini­ti­ated in pre­ced­ing decades. A national-popular bloc of left-indigenous forces that began to take form in Cochabamba in 2000 extends over the com­ing years and achieves regional hege­mony in the West­ern high­lands, includ­ing the cap­i­tal city of La Paz. The high points of this emer­gence are the so-called Gas Wars of 2003 and 2005, in which the entire west­ern part of the coun­try is repeat­edly shut down for weeks on end as hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple mobi­lize and suc­cess­fully oust pres­i­dents Sánchez de Lozada and Mesa in suc­ces­sion. But nei­ther bloc enjoys suf­fi­cient ide­o­log­i­cal, social, eco­nomic, polit­i­cal, or mil­i­tary power to reign over the other and con­sol­i­date itself on a national scale. Thus an embat­tled equi­lib­rium per­sists. There's sand in the gears of the old rou­tines of dom­i­na­tion, but no viable machin­ery of the pop­u­lar is yet able to take its place.[10]

Phase III: 2006-2008

It is in phase III that Gar­cía Linera's account begins to diverge from oth­ers on the Left. Unsur­pris­ingly, the moment of the Decem­ber 2005 elec­tions is one of gen­er­al­ized polit­i­cal and intel­lec­tual dis­pu­ta­tion inside the Boli­vian Left, as the chal­lenges of relat­ing to a ris­ing elec­toral rhythm of events begin to sup­plant those of nav­i­gat­ing the unleashed ener­gies of street barricades.

Phase III, as Gar­cía Lin­era con­cep­tu­al­izes it, notably cor­re­sponds with the first period in which he is for­mally inside the MAS party – he was never a mem­ber until accept­ing the vice-presidential can­di­dacy in late 2005. Whereas some crit­i­cal observers saw the dynamic of the 2005 elec­tions as one which imme­di­ately posed the dan­gers of bureau­cra­ti­za­tion and coop­ta­tion of the 2000-2005 rev­o­lu­tion­ary epoch – a poten­tial damming of the flood of com­bined lib­er­a­tion – Gar­cía Lin­era sees fun­da­men­tal con­ti­nu­ities with phase II.[11]

For the Vice Pres­i­dent, the sym­bolic order of the uni­verse is over­turned as the first indige­nous pres­i­dent of the repub­lic assumes office in Jan­u­ary 2006. The capac­ity for mobi­liza­tion revealed in the 2003 and 2005 Gas Wars is par­tially trans­formed by a new ter­rain, one in which social move­ments are now present within the state appa­ra­tus. Still, over­lap­ping log­ics con­nect phase III with the sec­ond phase, espe­cially inso­far as the cat­a­strophic equi­lib­rium has not been resolved, and indeed can­not be resolved merely through the elec­toral suc­cess of one of the two com­pet­ing socio-political blocs. The sym­bolic over­turn­ing of the old order embod­ied in the rise of the first indige­nous pres­i­dent has brought about the loss of gov­ern­men­tal power for the old polit­i­cal elites, but the eco­nomic power of the dom­i­nant classes and their exter­nal allies still enjoy ulti­mate, infor­mal con­trol of state power. The gov­ern­ment is con­trolled by insur­rec­tion­ists, whereas state power – its eco­nomic and insti­tu­tional logic as an appa­ra­tus of cap­i­tal­ist repro­duc­tion – is still in the hands of the dom­i­nant classes.[12]

Phase IV: 2008-2010

A fourth phase unfolds between 2008 and 2010 and marks for Gar­cía Lin­era a “point of bifur­ca­tion,” or the Jacobin moment of the rev­o­lu­tion. Two irrec­on­cil­able projects are set against one another in com­bat for hege­mony within soci­ety. They are forced to square off in this stage, to openly mea­sure the strength of their num­bers in unmedi­ated con­fronta­tion. There is no other exit here but for one to come out on top.

The most intense moments in this naked show­down play them­selves out between August and Octo­ber 2008. Over these few months the con­ser­v­a­tive east­ern low­land bloc launches a civic-coup attempt in an effort to desta­bi­lize the Morales admin­is­tra­tion. Air­ports are seized in the low­land depart­ments; offi­cial state build­ings are attacked in these areas; and gov­ern­ment planes are pre­vented from land­ing in parts of the coun­try. The civic-coup attempt reaches its apogee in a mas­sacre of peas­ant sup­port­ers of the gov­ern­ment in the depart­ment of Pando.

The gov­ern­ment then counter-mobilizes its social base. The coup-plotters lose momen­tum as the trav­esty of the peas­ant mas­sacre is linked to the gov­er­nor of Pando, an impor­tant fig­ure in the east­ern low­land bloc. The coor­di­na­tion of their social base frag­ments rapidly, and they are forced to capit­u­late. The gov­ern­ment marks its vic­tory with the expul­sion of the Amer­i­can ambas­sador, Philip Gold­berg, from the coun­try fol­low­ing accu­sa­tions of his involve­ment in the desta­bi­liza­tion campaign.

This is the point of bifur­ca­tion. The pop­u­lar defeat of the east­ern low­land insur­rec­tion­ists by the national-popular bloc is con­sol­i­dated through the pass­ing of a new Con­sti­tu­tion in Con­gress in Octo­ber 2008, fol­lowed by its approval in a pop­u­lar ref­er­en­dum. Finally, Morales wins the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions in Decem­ber 2009 with an his­toric 64 per ­cent of the pop­u­lar vote, ush­er­ing in the fifth phase of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process which con­tin­ues into the present.[13]

Gar­cía Linera's care­ful depic­tion of the fourth phase offers a neat jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for the oft-employed offi­cial expla­na­tion of the slow pace of reform ini­ti­ated by the MAS gov­ern­ment dur­ing its first term in power. On this view, the Right was too strong in 2006 for the state to move for­ward with full nation­al­iza­tion of nat­ural gas and other strate­gic sec­tors, or to offer a gen­uine trans­for­ma­tion of agrar­ian land tenure and social prop­erty rela­tions, or to ini­ti­ate a truly par­tic­i­pa­tory and trans­for­ma­tive Con­stituent Assem­bly; instead, nego­ti­a­tion and com­pro­mise with the east­ern low­land bour­geoisie was nec­es­sary. Even with such nego­ti­a­tion and mod­er­a­tion, the civic-coup attempt revealed the bel­liger­ence of the Right and the sound­ness of the mea­sured hes­i­ta­tion on the part of the government.

A more plau­si­ble inter­pre­ta­tion might be that in the recent his­tory of Bolivia the Right had never been as weak as it was in the open­ing months of 2006. It had been utterly defeated polit­i­cally and ide­o­log­i­cally through the events of 2000 to 2005. Had bel­liger­ent forces from the east­ern low­land been capa­ble of pulling off a mil­i­tary coup, it would have hap­pened in Octo­ber 2003 or June 2005, at the height of the con­sti­tu­tional crises brought on by the Gas Wars. So a counter-revolution in the Chilean reg­is­ter of 1973 was not in the cards.

The MAS gov­ern­ment had a mobi­lized social base and faced a polit­i­cally defeated oppo­si­tion in 2006. Had it encour­aged social mobi­liza­tion and inde­pen­dent self-organization for deter­mined class strug­gle in the cities and the rural areas, much deeper trans­for­ma­tion may have been pos­si­ble. The civic coup of 2008 might never have happened.

Else­where in South Amer­ica, the dynamic of extra-parliamentary activism was in its strongest state of recent decades. U.S. impe­ri­al­ism, mean­while, was over­stretched mil­i­tar­ily in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the global com­modi­ties boom had ini­ti­ated an unsta­ble moment of rel­a­tive auton­omy for South Amer­ica vis-à-vis the usual dic­tates of the inter­na­tional finan­cial insti­tu­tions and inter­na­tional capital.

Instead of rec­og­niz­ing this oppor­tu­nity, how­ever, the Morales gov­ern­ment actively reigned in its social base, decel­er­ated social and eco­nomic reform, and used its polit­i­cal hon­ey­moon to nego­ti­ate with an effec­tively defeated Right, allow­ing time for the latter's reartic­u­la­tion. As a result, what had been an anaemic east­ern low­land oppo­si­tion in 2006 was by 2008 a renewed polit­i­cal force – by now actu­ally capa­ble of desta­bi­liz­ing the process of change for a period, even if ulti­mately too clumsy to retake state power altogether.

Phase V: 2010-

The defin­ing fea­ture of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process since 2010, accord­ing to Gar­cía Lin­era, is the emer­gence of what he calls “cre­ative ten­sions” or con­tra­dic­tions. In this fifth stage, con­tra­dic­tions between two com­pet­ing projects for soci­ety are resolved with the vic­tory of the national-popular bloc, but ten­sions remain within the con­sti­tu­tive sec­tors of the process of change itself. In this optic, the cre­ative ten­sions, if prop­erly man­aged, can help push along the course of the rev­o­lu­tion. They can pos­i­tively rein­force one another and mutate into pro­duc­tive sub­jec­tive and objec­tive forces of the revolution.

The point of ref­er­ence shifts momen­tar­ily at this point in the nar­ra­tive from Gram­sci to Mao, as Gar­cía Lin­era out­lines what he takes to be the pri­mary and sec­ondary con­tra­dic­tions of the con­junc­ture. The fis­sures of the for­mer divide the sup­port­ing ele­ments of the national-popular project, on one side, and the array of impe­r­ial forces lined up against it, together with the rem­nants of the recal­ci­trant domes­tic Right, on the other. The sec­ondary con­tra­dic­tions are the cre­ative ten­sions inter­nal to the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process itself. Specif­i­cally, a four­fold array of cre­ative ten­sions among the peo­ple can be tran­scended through demo­c­ra­tic and rev­o­lu­tion­ary means within the process of change itself.

(i) State-society relations

The first of the four involves the rela­tion­ship between state and soci­ety.[14] The open­ing ide­o­log­i­cal move here is to advance the claim that the Morales admin­is­tra­tion is a “gov­ern­ment of social move­ments.”[15] The state is con­cep­tu­al­ized in this sec­tion as a con­cen­tra­tion of decision-making power, coer­cion, bureau­cratic admin­is­tra­tion, and the ideas that artic­u­late soci­ety. Social move­ment, on the other hand, is under­stood to be a democ­ra­ti­za­tion of decision-making, involv­ing wide-scale and con­tin­u­ous social­iza­tion of delib­er­a­tive processes, and the col­lec­tive self-governing of com­mon affairs by the lower orders. A gov­ern­ment of social move­ments rep­re­sents a cre­ative ten­sion between the two, a dialec­tic, in which the simul­ta­ne­ous con­cen­tra­tion and decen­tral­iza­tion of decision-making power occurs. A gov­ern­ment of social move­ments exists in con­stant ten­sion between these two poles, between the nec­es­sary short-term monop­o­liza­tion of exec­u­tive action to achieve results, and the longer-term processes of pop­u­lar demo­c­ra­tic decision-making.

Here, too, we encounter the first men­tion of Gramsci's notion of the “inte­gral state,” under­stood by Gar­cía Lin­era as the dialec­ti­cal over­com­ing of the ten­sion between the state as a machine of decision-making con­cen­tra­tion, and a social move­ment as a machine of demo­c­ra­tic decen­tral­iza­tion.[16] The achieve­ment of an inte­gral state will only be pos­si­ble over the long durée, and will depend on the per­pet­ual motion of strug­gle from below for decades, per­haps even for cen­turies. This ten­sion remains alive in this way until, in a given moment, the dis­so­lu­tion of the state into soci­ety occurs, and the his­tor­i­cal res­o­lu­tion of the con­tra­dic­tion is achieved.[17]

The notion of a “gov­ern­ment of social move­ments” is per­haps the most sin­is­ter turn in Cre­ative Ten­sions thus far, allow­ing as it does for the easy denun­ci­a­tion of any inde­pen­dent trade union action or social-movement for­ma­tion as, by def­i­n­i­tion, if not nec­es­sar­ily by con­scious deci­sion, an expres­sion of the inter­ests of the domes­tic Right and impe­ri­al­ism. If the gov­ern­ment is social move­ment, inde­pen­dent orga­ni­za­tions of the oppressed nec­es­sar­ily become suspicious.

(ii) Multi-class Bloc

A sec­ond cre­ative ten­sion cen­ters on the multi-class char­ac­ter of the social bloc sup­port­ing the MAS gov­ern­ment. Here the fun­da­men­tally pop­ulist tenor of Gar­cía Linera's pol­i­tics by this stage come to the fore, as the dis­tinct class inter­ests of each com­po­nent of the national-popular bloc are waved away as ulti­mately non-conflictual. Devel­op­ment, despite still being ruled by the logic of cap­i­tal­ist accu­mu­la­tion, can be under­stood as a vir­tu­ous cir­cle in which each com­po­nent part ben­e­fits, rather than a conflict-ridden, zero-sum game of exploitation.

We find in this sec­tion an explicit endorse­ment of the inclu­sion of the national bour­geoisie, or patri­otic cap­i­tal­ists, in the national-popular bloc.[18] There will be ten­sions, Gar­cía Lin­era rec­og­nizes, between work­ers and cap­i­tal­ists, but the way to resolve this ten­sion is through the con­ver­sion of the mean­ing of “the peo­ple” to include all Boli­vians – with­out excep­tion – who sup­port decol­o­niza­tion, the pluri­na­tional state, equal­ity between peo­ples, com­mu­ni­tar­i­an­ism and the indus­tri­al­iza­tion of the plural econ­omy. In these pas­sages Gar­cía Lin­era comes remark­ably close to argu­ing that key ele­ments of class con­flict can be over­come merely through an ide­o­log­i­cal bat­tle of ideas. The full con­ver­sion of the national bour­geoisie to the project of com­mu­ni­tar­ian social­ism and decol­o­niza­tion hinges here on an ide­al­ist notion of re-education.

The ten­sion at work in the multi-class char­ac­ter of the national-popular bloc, Gar­cía Lin­era rec­og­nizes, has to do with the dan­ger of broad­en­ing its social base so widely that the hege­mony of indige­nous work­ers and peas­ants is com­pro­mised. But this is under­stood to be an unavoid­able risk.[19]

(iii) Uni­ver­sal and Par­tic­u­lar Interests

A third ten­sion piv­ots on the notion of the gen­eral inter­ests of all of soci­ety and those which reflect merely the inter­ests of par­tic­u­lar indi­vid­u­als, sec­tors, or groups.[20] Here we encounter the log­i­cal esca­la­tion and tight­ened exclu­siv­ity of the notion of a gov­ern­ment of social move­ments. After 2009, for Gar­cía Lin­era, once the cat­a­strophic equi­lib­rium and point of bifur­ca­tion had been tran­scended, there rose to the sur­face a ten­sion between the fur­ther insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion and con­sol­i­da­tion of the uni­ver­sal and gen­eral demands of the social-revolutionary bloc, as embod­ied in the MAS party, and the var­i­ous cor­po­ratist, sec­tional, frag­mented parts of the national-popular bloc.

If the inde­pen­dence of par­tic­u­lar­is­tic demands of social move­ments and unions are expressed, the dan­ger of a right-wing reartic­u­la­tion can­not be under­es­ti­mated.[21] By con­trast, the uni­fied con­sol­i­da­tion of the vic­tory of the uni­ver­sal­ist will, expressed in the pop­u­lar bloc and the MAS itself, would allow for the expan­sion and hege­monic deep­en­ing of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary process. If cor­po­ratist and union­ist par­tic­u­larisms assume a dom­i­nant posi­tion in the actions of the peo­ple, it would mark the begin­ning of a degen­er­a­tive stage in the rev­o­lu­tion­ary dynamic. It would pro­vide a point of depar­ture for the con­ser­v­a­tive restora­tion of a busi­ness bloc, in oppo­si­tion to the peo­ple.[22]

With these con­ve­nient turns of phrase, the stage is set for a series of con­dem­na­tions. The indige­nous low­land strug­gle against the build­ing of the high­way through con­sti­tu­tion­ally rec­og­nized indige­nous ter­ri­tory and a national park is reducible to a par­tic­u­lar­is­tic expres­sion of sec­tional inter­ests against the uni­ver­sal­ist and rev­o­lu­tion­ary will of the MAS gov­ern­ment.[23] Sim­i­larly, strikes ini­ti­ated by the Boli­vian Work­ers Cen­tral (COB) are cor­po­ratist devi­a­tions from the gen­eral inter­ests of the revolutionary-social bloc. A pop­u­lar mobi­liza­tion inde­pen­dent of the party, in the impov­er­ished depart­ment of Potosí, is like­wise con­demned.[24] Urban and rural teach­ers’ strikes are sim­i­larly deemed out of order, and some­how set out­side the realm of gen­uinely work­ing class pol­i­tics. The notion of a gov­ern­ment of social move­ments, express­ing by def­i­n­i­tion the uni­ver­sal­ist will of the pop­u­lar classes, obvi­ously leaves lit­tle room for inde­pen­dent class strug­gle and self-organization. Omi­nously, Gar­cía Lin­era closes this sec­tion with a call for the ide­o­log­i­cal elim­i­na­tion of resid­ual traces of the Right and Trot­sky­ism – lumped together – within the labor move­ment.[25]

(iv) Vivir Bien (Liv­ing Well), Ecol­ogy, and the Indus­tri­al­iza­tion of Nat­ural Resources

Ecol­ogy is the weight behind the fourth con­tra­dic­tion. There is a ten­sion, Gar­cía Lin­era con­tends, around the government's com­mit­ment to indus­tri­al­ize nat­ural resources – par­tic­u­larly nat­ural gas and min­ing min­er­als – to meet basic needs, and its simul­ta­ne­ous pledge to sus­tain the envi­ron­ment and sup­port the indige­nous con­cept of vivir bien (liv­ing well), at the heart of which is a har­mo­nious rela­tion­ship with the pachamama, or Mother Earth. (Ibid., 62-71.) While this con­tra­dic­tion is some­thing that can­not be eas­ily escaped, Gar­cía Lin­era sug­gests that there has already been move­ment in the Boli­vian state under Morales of using the sur­plus gen­er­ated through indus­tri­al­iza­tion to remove itself grad­u­ally from the cap­i­tal­ist logic of pri­vate appro­pri­a­tion.[26]

This move­ment is seen as a communitarian-communist foun­da­tional ten­dency toward the expan­sive devel­op­ment of the logic of use-value, of the sat­is­fac­tion of human needs, as the prin­ci­pal dri­ver of eco­nomic activ­i­ties. While it is a process that has expe­ri­enced set­backs, Lin­era argues, there has nonethe­less been a gen­eral move­ment in the direc­tion of use-value over exchange-value, or the sub­or­di­na­tion of profit by human need as the dri­ving logic of eco­nomic activ­ity.[27] This is an extra­or­di­nary claim, which any­one even cur­so­rily aware of the con­tem­po­rary dynam­ics of Bolivia's polit­i­cal econ­omy will have dif­fi­culty tak­ing seri­ously. How are we to rec­on­cile these pas­sages with the repeated praise received by the MAS admin­is­tra­tion for its sound macro­eco­nomic man­age­ment, fis­cal aus­ter­ity, and extra­or­di­nary accu­mu­la­tion of inter­na­tional reserves from the likes of the World Bank, the Inter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF), the Econ­o­mist Intel­li­gence Unit, the Finan­cial Times, and the Wall Street Jour­nal, among other rep­re­sen­ta­tives of global cap­i­tal. Have they all become communists?

To sum­ma­rize, then, accord­ing to Gar­cía Lin­era a rev­o­lu­tion­ary process opened up in 2000 and went through a vari­ety of phases. It cul­mi­nated in the elec­tion of Morales in 2005 and 2009, with its lat­est con­sol­i­da­tion work­ing its way through the Octo­ber elec­tions in 2014.[28] Hege­mony was achieved by 2010, after which ten­sions and con­tra­dic­tions of the process became cre­ative, inter­nal forces oper­at­ing within the national-popular bloc sup­port­ing the gov­ern­ment. The Boli­vian “peo­ple” were thus united around pluri­na­tion­al­ity, indige­nous ter­ri­to­r­ial auton­omy, and a plural econ­omy – involv­ing pub­lic, pri­vate, and social-communitarian forms of prop­erty, with the state pres­ence in the econ­omy sub­or­di­nat­ing the other forms of prop­erty. The process is in motion toward an inte­gral state, under­stood as the state's ulti­mate dis­so­lu­tion into soci­ety, while the econ­omy is mov­ing – even with set­backs – to one dom­i­nated by the logic of use-value over exchange-value. Again, there is every rea­son to be sus­pi­cious of the post-2006 com­po­nents of this story, and it's no sur­prise that a num­ber of left intel­lec­tu­als in Bolivia are increas­ingly insist­ing on a series of counter-narratives. These, in turn, are con­sti­tu­tive parts of a wider debate unfold­ing in Latin Amer­ica on the char­ac­ter and con­tent of the New Left gov­ern­ments across the region.

Gram­s­cian Wars of Posi­tion and Cap­i­tal­ist Continuities

In par­tic­u­lar, there is some­thing of a bat­tle over Gram­sci that is ongo­ing in con­tem­po­rary Latin Amer­ica. As against Gar­cía Linera's use of hege­mony and inte­gral state, crit­i­cal Latin Amer­i­can the­o­rists are return­ing to Gramsci's notion of pas­sive rev­o­lu­tion in an attempt to con­cep­tu­al­ize the processes of con­tain­ment occur­ring in many South Amer­i­can states presently occu­pied by left governments.

For the Italian-born, Mexican-based the­o­rist Mas­simo Mod­onesi, for exam­ple, the South Amer­i­can pas­sive rev­o­lu­tion today involves a process of mod­ern­iza­tion pushed for­ward from above, which par­tially and care­fully rec­og­nizes demands com­ing from those posi­tioned below; through this process, the state man­agers guar­an­tee the pas­siv­ity or sub­or­di­nate coop­er­a­tion of the pop­u­lar move­ments. New state-society rela­tions are built up by these regimes, cre­at­ing pre­car­i­ous but sur­pris­ingly last­ing equi­lib­ri­ums that func­tion for the repro­duc­tion of extrac­tive cap­i­tal­ism amid an expan­sion­ary period in com­mod­ity prices. At the top of the new con­fig­u­ra­tion of power rests a charis­matic pop­ulist along­side the insti­tu­tional mech­a­nisms of bureau­cra­ti­za­tion.[29]

In the Boli­vian case, Luis Tapia, a for­mer com­rade of Gar­cía Lin­era within the group of polit­i­cal the­o­rists known as Comuna, has per­haps done more than most to advance this argu­ment. He tries to under­stand how a rad­i­cal left-indigenous insur­rec­tionary process that over­threw two neolib­eral pres­i­dents through mass mobi­liza­tion was con­tained and redi­rected into the con­sol­i­da­tion of a state-capitalist process of mod­ern­iza­tion from above, built on an alliance with multi­na­tional cap­i­tal inter­ested in extract­ing nat­ural resources dur­ing a com­modi­ties boom.[30]

Mod­onesi and Tapia are ulti­mately more con­vinc­ing than Gar­cía Lin­era in every dimen­sion of the present con­junc­ture. Rather than an inte­gral state under­stood in the mode of the vice-president, Bolivia has meta­mor­phosed into a pro­to­typ­i­cal com­pen­satory state.[31] Amid a com­modi­ties boom dri­ven by China's (slow­ing) dynamism, aggre­gate eco­nomic growth has been steady in Bolivia, aver­ag­ing 4.8% between 2006 and 2012, with an ini­tial apex of 6.1% in 2008 and a low of 3.4% in 2009, in the imme­di­ate fall­out from the world cri­sis. In 2013, the coun­try hit a new recent high of 6.8% growth, and is expected to be among the top three coun­tries in growth in Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean in 2014. Accord­ing to fig­ures from the National Sta­tis­tics Insti­tute of Bolivia, gas exports con­sti­tuted 52.8% of total exports in the first trimester of 2013, fol­lowed by indus­trial man­u­fac­tur­ing (24.2%), min­ing (17.2%), and agri­cul­ture (4.5%). Last year, the coun­try logged a record peak of for­eign direct invest­ment, again mostly in gas. The Morales era has wit­nessed an unprece­dented accu­mu­la­tion of inter­na­tional reserves and rel­a­tively low lev­els of infla­tion.[32]

The MAS gov­ern­ment has been able to cap­ture a big­ger share of the rent gen­er­ated from this com­modi­ties boom than did ortho­dox neolib­eral regimes of the past, due to mod­er­ate increases in the taxes and roy­al­ties exacted from multi­na­tional petro­leum com­pa­nies, even if this doesn’t war­rant the label “nation­al­iza­tion.” As a result, there have been notable declines in poverty and extreme poverty, and improve­ments in health and edu­ca­tion. Offi­cial gov­ern­ment fig­ures sug­gest an impres­sive fall in poverty from 60.6% of the pop­u­la­tion in 2005 to 45% in 2011, and extreme poverty from 38.2% to 20.9% over the same period. Rural areas have been most affected, with extreme poverty falling from 62.9% in 2005 to 41.3% in 2011.[33] It is quite unsur­pris­ing in this con­text that the gov­ern­ment remains pop­u­lar elec­torally, but these trends in no way sub­stan­ti­ate the much more far-reaching claims advanced in Gar­cía Linera's Cre­ative Ten­sions.

In what is per­haps the sin­gle most impor­tant essay to date on the eco­nom­ics of the Morales admin­is­tra­tion, Car­los Arze and Javier Gómez sys­tem­at­i­cally expose the polit­i­cal con­tra­dic­tions and empir­i­cal incon­sis­ten­cies at the heart of Gar­cía Linera's Cre­ative Ten­sions, with­out actu­ally cit­ing the text.[34] Of their many insight­ful obser­va­tions, let me just point to their dis­cus­sion of the so-called plural econ­omy. Using the offi­cial cat­e­gories of the plural econ­omy denoted by gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments, devel­op­ment plans, and the writ­ings of Gar­cía Lin­era, Arze and Gómez mea­sure the present weight of the state, pri­vate (for­eign and domes­tic), com­mu­ni­tar­ian, and social-cooperative units of pro­duc­tion in the struc­ture of the Boli­vian econ­omy. They show how the biggest over­all weight in the struc­ture is that of pro­duc­tive units pri­vately owned by Boli­vian cit­i­zens – that is, domes­tic cap­i­tal­ist pro­duc­tion units, account­ing for 55 per cent and 53 per cent of Boli­vian gross domes­tic prod­uct (GDP) in 2005 and 2010 respec­tively. In 2005, the sec­ond sec­tor of rel­a­tive mag­ni­tude was that of for­eign cap­i­tal, with 22 per cent, leav­ing the state with 14 per cent, the com­mu­ni­tar­ian sec­tor with seven per cent, and the social-cooperative sec­tor with two per cent.[35]

In the struc­ture of the econ­omy in 2010, what we can see imme­di­ately is that the most impor­tant change has been that of the pres­ence of the state, increas­ing to 19 per cent of GDP. The five per cent change can be accounted for with ref­er­ence to the decrease in the pres­ence of for­eign cap­i­tal by three per cent of GDP, and of pri­vate Boli­vian cap­i­tal by two per cent. The com­mu­ni­tar­ian sec­tor accounts for merely 7 per cent in 2005 and drops to one per cent by 2010, while the social-cooperative sec­tor increases from 2 per cent in 2005 to three per cent in 2010.[36]

This sit­u­a­tion is a con­se­quence of the lim­ited para­me­ters of the processes com­monly referred to as nation­al­iza­tion. They have been cir­cum­scribed, in real­ity, to the recov­ery of major­ity shares for the state in cer­tain com­pa­nies pri­va­tized dur­ing the 1990s. Because nation­al­iza­tion has not meant the expro­pri­a­tion of pri­vate cor­po­ra­tions, and has also not meant the reestab­lish­ment of state monop­oly in any sec­tors of the econ­omy, many for­eign and national pri­vate enter­prises con­tinue par­tic­i­pat­ing in a hege­monic way across var­i­ous branches of eco­nomic activ­ity.[37]

In other words, this is a “plural econ­omy” in name only. Within the struc­tures of con­tem­po­rary Boli­vian econ­omy, fur­ther­more, Arze and Gómez demon­strate how the share of the total social prod­uct going to labor has decreased in rela­tion to the sur­plus being expro­pri­ated by pri­vate cap­i­tal. This fact cor­re­sponds with a tech­ni­cal increase in the rate of exploita­tion of the work­ing classes, even as var­i­ous social indi­ca­tors and mark­ers of liv­ing con­di­tions have improved as a result of a spike in accu­mu­la­tion in the con­text of a (recently declin­ing) global com­modi­ties boom.[38]

The notion of a plural econ­omy advanced by Gar­cía Lin­era and oth­ers within the Morales admin­is­tra­tion can­not account for the ten­den­cies of con­cen­tra­tion and cen­tral­iza­tion within cap­i­tal­ist accu­mu­la­tion. The con­tra­dic­tory dynamic between large scale cap­i­tal­ist enter­prises in the extrac­tive indus­tries and forms of smaller scale production-for-the-market which are sub­sumed into cap­i­tal­ist accu­mu­la­tion, causes an array of unsta­ble devel­op­ments across inter­me­di­ary class sec­tions in Boli­vian soci­ety. Street ven­dors, petty extrac­tivists, small-scale indus­trial pro­duc­ers, and medium-scale pro­duc­ers involved in com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture for export, all at incip­i­ent lev­els of accu­mu­la­tion, are increas­ingly mak­ing polit­i­cal demands on the Boli­vian state to improve their com­pet­i­tive prospects on the mar­ket.[39]

In the absence of struc­tural changes to social prop­erty rela­tions under the Morales admin­is­tra­tions, these kinds of demands have lead the state toward poli­cies of improv­ing the profit mar­gins of these petty sec­tors at the expense of waged labor: depres­sion of salaries, fur­ther pre­car­ity in labour rela­tions, flex­i­bi­liza­tion of ter­ri­to­r­ial rights to self-determination of rural indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties, relax­ation of envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions, and loose imple­men­ta­tion of the law vis-à-vis con­tra­band import-export activ­i­ties and the nar­cotics indus­try.[40]

Fur­ther­more, the favor­able evo­lu­tion of own-account work­ers over the last sev­eral years – through access to credit and sub­si­dies, among other mea­sures – has allowed some seg­ments of this layer of the pop­u­la­tion to trans­form them­selves into small-scale cap­i­tal­ists, who then accu­mu­late prof­its through the exploita­tion of waged labour. Such phe­nom­ena are observ­able in min­ing, con­tra­band trade, com­mer­cial agri­cul­ture, and urban trans­port sec­tors, among many oth­ers areas of the con­tem­po­rary Boli­vian econ­omy.[41]

In such an envi­ron­ment, as Arze and Gómez point out, it is dif­fi­cult to dis­cern any move­ment toward com­mu­ni­tar­ian social­ism or vivir bien. Instead, what is notable is a typ­i­cal con­fig­u­ra­tion of depen­dent cap­i­tal­ism, in which for­eign cap­i­tal dom­i­nates an extrac­tive sec­tor des­tined for export mar­kets, while a layer of smaller domes­tic cap­i­tal­ists assumes a struc­turally sub­or­di­nate posi­tion; both of these sec­tors, mean­while, live off the exploita­tion of Boli­vian labor­ing classes. The state is not “inte­gral” here, at least in the man­ner envi­sioned by Gar­cía Lin­era. Rather it is a typ­i­cal cap­i­tal­ist state which ensures, as best it can, the repro­duc­tion of cap­i­tal­ist accumulation.

What's more, the idea of a “pluri­na­tional state” in this con­text rep­re­sents lit­tle else than the bour­geois notion of the state as a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the “gen­eral inter­ests” of soci­ety.[42] As we come full cir­cle to the core con­cepts ani­mat­ing Gar­cía Linera's Cre­ative Ten­sions, we arrive face to face with the text's most basic eva­sion – that the cap­i­tal­ist class and state appa­ra­tus in a “plural econ­omy” will resist any and all inroads on capital's total domination. •

Jeffery R. Webber teaches politics at Queen Mary University of London. He is the author most recently of Red October: Left-Indigenous Struggles in Modern Bolivia.

This article was first published on the Viewpoint magazine website.


1. An early ver­sion of this paper was pre­sented at the eighth annual con­fer­ence of His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­al­ism, How Cap­i­tal­ism Sur­vives, Novem­ber 6-9, 2014, Lon­don. Thanks to Felipe Lagos for orga­niz­ing the panel on the work of Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era and invit­ing me to par­tic­i­pate. I also pre­sented a ver­sion of this paper as part of the Devel­op­ment Stud­ies Sem­i­nar Series at SOAS, Uni­ver­sity of Lon­don in late Novem­ber 2014. Thanks to Adam Hanieh, Lean­dro Vergara-Camus, and Dae-Oup Chang for their insights on that occa­sion. Finally, edi­to­r­ial com­ments from Robert Cavooris and Asad Haider also sharp­ened the text.

2. For the best accounts of the 2000-2005 period in Eng­lish, see For­rest Hyl­ton and Sin­clair Thom­son, Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Hori­zons: Past and Present in Boli­vian Pol­i­tics, Lon­don and New York: Verso, 2007; Raquel Gutiér­rez Aguilar, Rhythms of the Pachakuti: Indige­nous Upris­ing and State Power in Bolivia, Durham and Lon­don: Duke Uni­ver­sity Press, 2014. My own inter­pre­ta­tion of the period is offered in Red Octo­ber: Left-Indigenous Strug­gles in Mod­ern Bolivia, Chicago: Hay­mar­ket, 2012.

3. Gar­cía Lin­era was born in Cochabamba in 1962, and trained as a math­e­mati­cian while in uni­ver­sity in Mex­ico. Upon return­ing to Bolivia he par­tic­i­pated in the short-lived Ejército Guer­rillero Túpaj Katari (Túpaj Katari Guer­rilla Army, EGTK), as a con­se­quence of which he spent five years in jail, between 1992 and 1997. He was never charged and was tor­tured while impris­oned. Upon his release he became a soci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at the main pub­lic uni­ver­sity in La Paz, a pro­lific writer on polit­i­cal affairs and social move­ments, and one of the most impor­tant TV per­son­al­i­ties of the 2000s, per­pet­u­ally mak­ing the rounds of the evening-news pro­grams and talk shows. Before becom­ing Vice Pres­i­dent Gar­cía Lin­era was one of the most promi­nent fig­ures in the multi-tendency Boli­vian Marx­ist intel­lec­tual col­lec­tive, Comuna, along­side Luis Tapia, Raquel Gutiér­rez Aguilar, Oscar Vega, Raúl Prada Alcoreza, and oth­ers.

4. Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones cre­ati­vas de la rev­olu­ción: La Quinta fase del Pro­ceso del Cam­bio, La Paz: Vicepres­i­den­cia del Estado Pluri­na­cional, 2011. [Available on SlideShare.]

5. Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era, “State Cri­sis and Pop­u­lar Power,” New Left Review II, 37 (Jan-Feb) 2006, 73-85; Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era, Ple­beian Power: Col­lec­tive Action and Indige­nous, Work­ing Class and Pop­u­lar Iden­ti­ties in Bolivia, Chicago: Hay­mar­ket, 2014.

6. Atilio Borón, América Latina en la geopolítica del impe­ri­al­ism (Hon­dar­ribia: Edi­to­r­ial Hiru, 2013). This text won the Pre­mio lib­er­ta­dor al pen­samiento crítico in 2012, spon­sored by the Venezue­lan gov­ern­ment of Hugo Chávez.

7. Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas, 8.

8. See Sil­via Rivera Cusi­can­qui, Oprim­i­dos pero no ven­ci­dos: luchas del campesinado aymara y quechua, 1900-1980 (La Paz: HISBOL-CSUTCB, 1984).

9. Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas, 12-14.

10. Ibid., 15-16.

11. For an analy­sis which empha­sizes the early signs that the MAS would seek to bureau­cra­tize, co-opt, and instru­men­tal­ize the epoch of 2000-2005 toward its own mod­er­ate, Center-Left ends, see Jef­fery R. Web­ber, From Rebel­lion to Reform in Bolivia: Class strug­gle, Indige­nous Lib­er­a­tion, and the Pol­i­tics of Evo Morales, Chicago: Hay­mar­ket, 2011.

12. Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones cre­ati­vas, 16-18.

13. Ibid., 18-22.

14. Ibid., 28-38.

15. Ibid., 28.

16. Ibid., 29. It is not my con­cern here to mea­sure Gar­cía Linera's fidelity to Gramsci's own under­stand­ing of the inte­gral state.

17. Ibid., 30.

18. Ibid., 39.

19. Ibid., 38-40.

20. Ibid., 41-62.

21. Ibid., 49.

22. Ibid., 48.

23. For a fuller treat­ment of this issue see Jef­fery R. Web­ber, “Rev­o­lu­tion against ‘Progress’: Neo-extractivism, the Com­pen­satory State, and the TIPNIS Con­flict in Bolivia,” in Susan J. Spronk and Jef­fery R. Web­ber, eds., Cri­sis and Con­tra­dic­tion: Marx­ist Per­spec­tives on Latin Amer­ica in the Global Polit­i­cal Econ­omy. His­tor­i­cal Mate­ri­al­ism Book Series (Lei­den: Brill Aca­d­e­mic Pub­lish­ers, 2015).

24. For cov­er­age of the Potosí con­flict see Jef­fery R. Web­ber, “The Rebel­lion in Potosí: Uneven Devel­op­ment, Neolib­eral Con­ti­nu­ities, and a Revolt against Poverty in Bolivia,” Upside Down World, August 16, 2010 (accessed on Jan­u­ary 2, 2015).

25. Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas, 62.

26. Ibid., 67.

27. Ibid., 67-68.

28. Although Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas was pub­lished in 2011, the same basic lines of argu­ment are restated in an opin­ion piece appear­ing after the elec­tions of Octo­ber 2014. See Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era, “El Nuevo Campo Político en Bolivia,” La Razón, Novem­ber 2, 2014 (avail­able online at: (accessed on Jan­u­ary 2, 2015).

29. Mas­simo Mod­onesi, “Rev­olu­ciones pasi­vas en América Latina: Una aprox­i­mación gram­s­ciana a la car­ac­ter­i­zación de los gob­ier­nos pro­gre­sis­tas de ini­cio del siglo,” in Mabel Thwaites Rey, ed., El Estado en América Latina: Con­tinuidades y rup­turas (Buenos Aires: CLACSO, 2012), 139-166.

30. Luis Tapia, El Estado de dere­cho como tiranía (La Paz: autode­ter­mi­nación, 2011).

31. Eduardo Gudy­nas, “Estado com­pen­sador y nuevos extrac­tivis­mos,” Nueva Sociedad, 237 (January-February), 2012, 128-146.

32. Jef­fery R. Web­ber, “Man­ag­ing Boli­vian Cap­i­tal­ism,” Jacobin 13, 2014, 45-55.

33. Ibid.

34. Car­los Arze and Javier Gómez, “Bolivia: ¿El ‘pro­ceso de cam­bio’ nos con­duce al vivir bien?” In Car­los Arze, Javier Gómez, Pablo Ospina, and Víc­tor Álvarez, eds., Prome­sas en su laber­into: Cam­bios y con­tinuidades en los gob­ier­nos pro­gre­sis­tas de América Latina (La Paz: CEDLA, 2013) 45-167.

35. Arze and Gómez, “Bolivia,” 100.

36. Ibid., 100-101.

37. Ibid., 102.

38. Ibid., 133-143.

39. Ibid., 164.

40. Ibid., 165.

41. Ibid., 166. On such processes of novel processes of class strat­i­fi­ca­tion in Boli­vian soci­ety, see also William Neu­man, “A Col­or­ful Boli­vian Bas­tion, Float­ing Above it All,” New York Times, May 13, 2013. Avail­able online at: (accessed on Jan­u­ary 3, 2015); Andres Schipani, “Bolivia's Indige­nous Peo­ple Flaunt Their New-Found Wealth,” Finan­cial Times, Decem­ber 4, 2014; Miriam Shakow, Along the Boli­vian High­way: Social Mobil­ity and Polit­i­cal Cul­ture in a New Mid­dle Class (Philadel­phia, PA: Uni­ver­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia Press, 2014).

42. Arze and Gómez, “Bolivia,” pp. 165-167.


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