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Bolivia: The Left’s Penultimate Stronghold in South America

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Despite the domino effect of the collapse of socialism across the South American continent in the twenty-first century, one regime (notwithstanding Venezuela) keeps going without showing any signs of stepping aside. What is the key to its strength and why has it not suffered the same fate as its neighbors?

Furthermore, why do I call it the penultimate and not the last socialist regime? Because it’s noticeable that Venezuela also persists with a failed style of government, which makes it possible for Bolivia to avoid the dishonor of bearing this title. Furthermore, no one knows which of the two regimes will fall first, but the Bolivian situation seems to imply a fertile situation for change, more so than in the Venezuelan case, because there is more freedom for dissent in the former.

On the other hand, unfortunately, South America’s turn to the Right doesn’t represent any hope for those who defend Western culture and tradition. The rise of Temer, Macri, Piñera, and others can’t bring anything good for the true values of our civilization. These presidents are what we could simply call “cuckservative leaders.” They can’t commit to laudable goals that seek to defeat the Far Left and its regressive policies.

Anyway, there are still two babies who won’t give up their lollipops: Nicolás Maduro and Evo Morales. While Maduro initiated a great crisis in Venezuela and came to dominate many branches of power, Morales doesn’t seem to have everything under control, but the results don’t look too damaging for him, either.

This could be a perfect excuse for the progressive Left, which continues to insist that “Communism (sorry, the ‘Socialism of the Twenty-First Century’)[1] works.” This is clearly evinced by the fact that some Leftist intellectuals see Maduro as an example of what to avoid and Morales as a model to emulate. Others prefer to see both as saviors, without making a distinction between their successes and failures.

Pictoline, one of the most widely-cited Latin American news sites, seems to be against Maduro but in favor of Morales. Its content in relation to Venezuela maintains a partisan point of view, but not so much in the case of Bolivia. In 2016, during the water crisis in the city of La Paz, Pictoline published an image in which it downplayed the Bolivian opposition and exempted the government from blame. This wasn’t necessarily incorrect, since reality is complex. However, some ideological tendencies can be deduced from this affair.

Others, who were not as intellectual but who had an influential opinion, such as Diego Armando Maradona,[2] still can’t distinguish between what Morales and Maduro represent. Even Pablo Gentili, who promotes Marxism in Latin America’s social sciences, doesn’t condemn the Venezuelan regime. That is why there now seems to be tension among the progressive Leftists, who have a weird fetish for hating the rich and lionizing the poor.

Morales’ triumph and its counterweights

On January 21, El Deber, a well-known Bolivian newspaper, summed up in infographics the points for and against this indigenist leader throughout his twelve years in power. Likewise, there is consensus in the country regarding the positive work done by the regime of his Movement for Socialism (MAS) compared with previous governments. However, the President now wants to be reelected, and there have been other matters that have stoked the population’s rage as well.

To work on a comparative analysis between the Bolivian case and its neighboring countries would require an expert in this topic and more space than an article affords. However, it can be said that Evo Morales achieved what his neighbors did not: the rise of nationalism.

To begin with, it’s necessary to recognize the negative side of that nationalism, such as the supremacy it affords to Andean culture (Aymaras and Quechuas) over that of the lowlands (Guaranis, Ayoreos, Moxeños, etc.), or the contempt it has for what the colonial era represents (despite the long list of contributions made by the Spanish Empire to the continent). Evo Morales boasts about the achievement of greater inclusion of indigenous people in the country’s political life, but what he doesn’t say is that, for years now, only those who share his political views have benefited.

One of the symptoms of this division is the conflict among the inhabitants of the TIPNIS (Isiboro Sécure National Park and Indigenous Territory), who are polarized between supporting and rejecting the building of a highway that crosses their land. There is also the conflict in Achacachi, where opinion was split on the position of Mayor Édgar Ramos, who was a member of the MAS and who was accused of corruption. Around this issue, the idea that every person of indigenous origin was in favor of the President collapsed.

Nonetheless, it’s clear that indigenist nationalism was the main reason why the MAS was able to stoke the enthusiasm of the masses for its ideological project. In the end, who better to represent Bolivia than an Amerindian man, instead of “gringos” such as former President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada? Besides this, there was also a powerful revision of the State’s image, which made use of Andean symbolism in its ministries and institutions.

As journalist Gary Áñez’s analysis indicates, the MAS is currently the only Bolivian party with a clear and structured ideological project. The opposition’s inability to unite greatly assists the MAS’ “capacity to govern,” if that is what we should call it. The problem emerges when this project is orientated incorrectly, towards a demonization of the West and a political inclination destined to failure: Marxism.

The Bolivian government doesn’t apply the principles of Marxist socialism (which only works on paper, by the way), to such an extent that many call its style (and rightly so) “state capitalism.” Its ideological orientation is more evident in its approach to culture, and here is where the application of Cultural Marxism arises. Gender ideology and feminism are being discussed in Parliament and in institutional propaganda every so often.

However, where does the ability of the MAS to create a “project of the people” originate? Maybe part of the answer lies in its Falangist past. Throughout history, Third Position movements have demonstrated a worldview that is better defined than that of its enemies. The Party was born as the Movement for Unzaguist Socialism (MAS-U), which is why it inherited the blue color and the principles of the Bolivian Socialist Falange (FSB),[3] which had Óscar Únzaga de la Vega as its most important leader.

The Party doesn’t deny its past, but conceals it more than does its Argentinian equivalent: the Justicialist Party. For the Kirchner couple,[4] reinventing a successful figure of the past such as Perón was a strategy that helped them win power. Ironically, Perón was an anti-Communist President. In the same way, Únzaga, the founder of the FSB, was strongly against Marxism, but the MAS was very wise to ignore that and has instead focused on indigenism as its political doctrine. No Catholic convictions are allowed, and no Falangism, just more Pachamama[5] and Twenty-first Century Socialism.

It seems that this weird combination of capitalism, Communism, and Falangism/fascism is part of a global trend that might help us to understand the principles that unite both Left-wing (Morales, Maduro) and Right-wing (Putin, Modi) leaders. It’s the Fourth Political Theory, and it seeks to take elements from each one of the three primary ideological currents in order to apply them and see what happens. Regardless of whether or not the Socialism of the Twenty-first Century takes part in this way of thinking, we have already witnessed its economic failure in Venezuela and Argentina, among others places. Bolivia may not have suffered a complete economic failure, although it did in other areas, such as education and justice.

What comes after?

The referendum that was held on December 3 to elect a new judiciary triggered strong protests across the whole country because it was viewed as a political show to distract people from real problems. The rage came in the form of drawings and other messages of rebellion on the ballots. Discussion of a new criminal code also enraged some people, most of them doctors. This initiated protests that lasted for several months. This, along with overpopulation in the prisons and corruption and bureaucratic delays in the justice system, also sparked anger against the government.

In terms of education, although the MAS tried to reform the system, the monster of Cultural Marxism made its biggest appearance there. For some years now, new textbooks have been distributed. They elevate the indigenous worldview and deemphasize the European one under the pretext of promoting “diversity in beliefs,” which is the basic idea of moral relativism.

Moreover, there are new institutions with suggestive names, such as the Anti-Imperialist Military School, the Hugo Chávez Frías School, and the Ernesto “Che” Guevara School. Finally, Bolivia doesn’t participate in PISA tests, which determine the quality of education at a worldwide level. Curiously, the progressive Leftists in the Bolivian opposition ignore the educational implications of indigenism, because although they reject the MAS, they approve of its ideological principles.

Nationalization, industrialization, social inclusion, and economic growth are some of the successes of the current Bolivian government, which are sometimes recognized even by those most strongly opposed to the regime. What is clear, and what will define the country’s future, is the sharp disapproval of the citizens for a fourth Morales presidential term. He already won the elections in 2005, 2009, and 2014. The last was the year in which he announced that, when his term was finished, he would go and run a restaurant in the Chapare region. It seems that he has forgotten his promise, and he is now trying to cling to power, because “the people want [him] to stay.”

Fortunately, there are more and more people who have awakened to what the MAS government represents to the country. Marches, strikes, and civil disobedience have proliferated in recent months to oppose Morales remaining in power. For now, this citizens’ movement lacks a political orientation. Will it incline toward the progressive Left, akin to Hillary Clinton’s? Will it advocate for an “alternative Right,” such as Donald Trump’s? As time goes on, we’ll know. The only thing that is certain now is that we understand why Evo Morales is where he is, and that there’s only one thing left to know: how and why he will fall.

 

Notes

[1] Socialism of the Twenty-first Century is an ideology that was first coined in the 1990s and has gained currency in many Latin American political movements, which cites the failures of both capitalism and twentieth-century socialism and calls for a type of socialism that puts greater emphasis on social justice causes and democracy, making it in some ways akin to the socialism of present-day Western Europe.

[2] Diego Armando Maradona (b. 1960) is a retired Argentinian professional football (soccer) player and current manager, who is regarded by many as the greatest football player of all time.

[3] The Bolivian Socialist Falange was a fascist party modelled on Italian and Spanish fascism, founded in 1937.

[4] Néstor Kirchner, who served as President of Argentina from 2003 to 2007, and his wife Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who was President from 2007 to 2015, espoused an ideology of Left-wing Peronist populism.

[5] Pachamama is the Earth Mother in the pagan religion of the Andean people.

 

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13 Comments

  1. GB
    Posted March 9, 2018 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    “South America’s turn to the Right brings hope to those who defend Western culture and tradition. (…) With all their pros and cons, the rise of Temer, Macri, Piñera, and others constitutes a starting point for the defeat of the Leftist danger on the continent.”

    To entertain the idea that run-of-the-mill businessmen like Piñera and Macri, proponents of the same free market, open border ideology of Republicans in the US, somehow present an opportunity for defenders of culture and tradition, is ludicrous. I give you the entire history of Latin American politics in the 20th century as an example. Piñera in particular was already in government and accomplished absolutely nothing in terms of the priorities stated in the above quote. If anything, these South American left-wing governments – and I’m not endorsing them – at least try, in spite of their colossal failures, to advance the well-being of their people (as opposed to “unleashing the forces of the free market”), refuse to sell every state industry to foreign companies (for example, Bolivian gas or Chilean copper) and are politically savvy enough to identify an enemy (the Washington, DC regime that’s also the enemy of the average American.) They don’t believe politics is just managing the economy or turning their countries into Third World grocery stores that export fruits and vegetables to the US and Europe along with unrefined commodities.

    I can’t believe people still think your typical right-wing party that advocates for precisely the opposite of culture and tradition will somehow bring you an inch closer to accomplishing anything productive. The history of betrayals from the right-wing or the military (Pinochet being the best example) against nationalists is also a lesson that some refuse to learn. I welcome Counter Currents for publishing diverse points of view but the main idea of this article is akin to saying that a Republican government of someone like Mitt Romney will somehow bring you closer to victory.

    Just because the whiter segments of Bolivia and Venezuela tend to be conservative and align with the right against people like Evo Morales or Nicolás Maduro, it doesn’t mean you should support the neoliberal parties that actually work against all you cherish by opening borders, diluting national identity, and fostering an economicist worldview that actively undermines culture and tradition. This is like thinking that just because a majority of Whites support Republican flag-waving and military adventurism, one should not just support them but delude oneself into believing this is politically constructive.

    • nineofclubs
      Posted March 10, 2018 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      Well said GB.
      There is a view, sometimes heard in Dissident Right circles, that the Overton window has shifted to the left over the past 50 years or so.
      While this is undeniably true in relation to social and cultural politics in Western nations, the very opposite is true regarding economics, trade and industrial relations. In white nations, these areas have produced unprecedented victories for the right. Since 1968, capitalism has never been so unchallenged, trade so unregulated and labour unions so impotent as today.
      Some nationalists might view these developments as positive, as representing some kind of victory for ‘the right’.
      I see nothing to celebrate at all.
      Unfettered capitalism is a threat to white nations. Confusing it’s champions with white interests is mistaken – and counter productive.

      .

    • Aarón Mariscal Z.
      Posted March 12, 2018 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the critique, GB. I agree in many points, and I have to admit that this article was written with certain pressure of political correctness (I sent it almost four weeks ago), because it was the first time that I wanted to express something about my country to foreigners in a different language (mine is Spanish), with certain fear of retaliation. I understand that cuckservatives like Piñera don’t represent any sign of hope for Latin Americans. Also, I’m aware that Morales was a better governor than his predecessors in those areas that you mention. I just hope to make better analysis in the future, either if they’re for the web or for my inner circles. I’m graduated from Communication and Media Studies, but Politics is one of my biggest passions, and I’m glad to find people like you with the most concise points of view.

      • GB
        Posted March 12, 2018 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for your kind reply. I certainly overstated my point as well. I’m allergic to the blind faith some have in what is known as the right these days (which, has nothing to do with the ideas in this website and the like) and thought you were too close to that point of view. The most important thing and something I should have acknowledged, however, is that you are shedding light on a region few know about and many make erroneous assumptions about. I look forward to reading more from you.

  2. Anarcocapitalist
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    This article confirms that the picture of Bolivia in “Quantum of Solace” is right on the money.

  3. Lemur
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been reading Bolivia is socially conservative and economically left wing:
    https://panampost.com/editor/2017/05/10/conservative-bolivia-evo-morales/

    • nineofclubs
      Posted March 8, 2018 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      South America has produced a number of movements which defy the overly simplistic left/right political divide.

      In my opinion, the original Argentine Justicialist movement – created by Juan Peron – is one worthy of more attention. Kerry Bolton has written a fine book about Peronism (as opposed to being a biography of Juan and Eva Peron, of which there are plenty).

      https://www.amazon.com/Peron-Peronism-Kerry-Bolton/dp/0992736544

      I haven’t found an electronic version of this work, but Amazon retails hard copies.

      .

  4. Gorgar
    Posted March 8, 2018 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone have an opinion as to which countries in South America are the most rightwing or have the most potential for the growth of rightwing movements?

    • Posted March 8, 2018 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

      If ‘Right-wing’ means Free Market capitalism, which has failed miserably in Latin America (and everywhere else for that matter) surely it is better to stay ‘socialist’, until a real alternative is formulated. Even the leader of Chile’s Fatherland and Liberty movement and son-in-law of Pinochet regretted opposing Allende. (Nine of Clubs: thanks for the plug for the Peron book, which frankly i think deserves a better circulation, given that it is perhaps the only book in English describing Peronism as an ideology, and a very well formulated one at that).

    • Senhorbotero
      Posted March 9, 2018 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      It looks as if Brazil is tending toward a right wing position. The previous Communists Lula and Rouseff have destroyed the countries economy and now the corruption in the government has been revealed quite clearly and seems to be broadly understood. I understand Lula is going to jail, unlike anything we will see in America and they have just initiated a military takeover of Rio De Janeiro in order to bring order to the streets and to kill the drug lords. I do not know the explicit thinking of the current government but things are in such disarray that something rightist is bound to emerge as the leftist approach has been a dismal failure.

      One should pay attention to Brazil it is a leading indicator for the USA if nothing changes here. At this point, I am told people are afraid of leaving their homes in Rio at night, all due to leftwing policies being in place creating a breakdown of order.

    • Posted March 17, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      No such thing as a “right wing” movement exist over here.
      We identify “right wing” as a capitalist thing, what you mean is a dissident movement, either identitarian or nationalist – we understand things in that term.

      If that is the case those already exist but are extremely new, adopting either Juan Peron’s 3rd Position or Dugin’s 4th Political Theory such parties have arrived. Such as: Nova Resistencia (Brasil – 4PT), Integralismo (Brasil – 3P/Neo-Fascism), Partido/Proyecto Segunda Republica – PSR (Argentina – 3P/Neo-Peronism), Nueva Soberania (Argentina, between 3p and 4PT), Movimiento Segunda Republica/Crisolismo (Peru, 4pT), Movimiento Escuadrista (Chile, 3P/NS Chileno), Tercera Fuerza (Colombia, 3P/NS) – there is also a soon to be Colombian 4PT.
      Those are the most interesting ones for the time being.

      Cheers.

      • Polaxe
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

        All of those amount to about 1000 people spread over three or four countries with absolutely no political weight, but about two-dozen websites giving themselves an appearance of it. Fanboys don’t constitute real political forces. Sorry, there is no room or reason for a “dissident right” in Latin America; their intellectual horizon simply isn’t that broad.

        • Posted March 21, 2018 at 2:46 am | Permalink

          That is where you are wrong, their intellectual horizon has now the ability to produce this movements and have done that in the past 2 years.
          The main difference is that, Europe has still its thinkers alive – like Faye, Benoist, Venner, etc. All of this movements first needed to come with its own thinkers in order to grow intellectually to the point where they are now, which makes something admirable on its own.

          Another thing you are either ignoring on purpose or unconcioussly is the pure demographics, most countries have less than 50 million people, so to have 5-50k in one movement (like in the case of PSR) it is already something to notice at their growth over-time rate.
          There is no such thing as the inmediate future, yes. But one would have to be a fool to think otherwise, politics isn’t something for those short-viewed, rather for those who have patience, if that wasn’t the case, all of the european movements in the 30s would have been instantly made irrelevant back when they were in formation.

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