Bolivia: Burdens of a State Manager

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. •

This article was first published on the Viewpoint magazine website.


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.

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.

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.

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.]

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.

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.

Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas, 8.

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

Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas, 12-14.

Ibid., 15-16.

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.

Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones cre­ati­vas, 16-18.

Ibid., 18-22.

Ibid., 28-38.

Ibid., 28.

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

Ibid., 30.

Ibid., 39.

Ibid., 38-40.

Ibid., 41-62.

Ibid., 49.

Ibid., 48.

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).

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).

Gar­cía Lin­era, Ten­siones Cre­ati­vas, 62.

Ibid., 67.

Ibid., 67-68.

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).

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.

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

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

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


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.

Arze and Gómez, “Bolivia,” 100.

Ibid., 100-101.

Ibid., 102.

Ibid., 133-143.

Ibid., 164.

Ibid., 165.

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).

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

Jeffery R. Webber teaches in the Department of Politics at York University, Toronto. Webber sits on the editorial board of Historical Materialism. His latest book is The Last Day of Oppression, and the First Day of the Same: The Politics and Economics of the New Latin American Left. He is co-author, with Franck Gaudichaud and Massimo Modonesi, of Impasse of the Latin American Left, forthcoming, Duke University Press.