permanent revolution in the andes?

David Broder reviews S. Sándor John’s history of Bolivian Trotskyism

It is commonplace for western leftists to reduce Bolivia to a mere appendage of developments in Venezuela and Cuba. Yet it is in Bolivia itself that there is the strongest movement from below of any country in the Americas. Despite its relative economic underdevelopment and the small size of its working class, the rich heritage of class struggle in the country is the envy of most of the rest of the world.

Moreover, Bolivia is unique for its political culture. This has been shaped by the failure of Stalinism and classical social democracy to sink roots; significant indigenous and peasant movements; it is the only country apart from Sri Lanka and Vietnam where Trotskyism has found mass influence.

S. Sándor John’s book Bolivia’s Radical Tradition is a history of Bolivian Trotskyism written by a member of a Trotskyist organisation in the USA, the Internationalist Group. It offers a valuable insight into a much-ignored history, and is also important in what it tells us about Trotskyist politics more generally. Continue reading “permanent revolution in the andes?”

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general strike in bolivia

The last two weeks have seen a series of general strikes in Bolivia, both called by the ‘official’ union federation COB and organised on the impulse of manufacturing workers and teachers. The workers are demanding a pay increase above the 5% figure advanced by Evo Morales’ left-populist government.

With occupations and some workers going on hunger strike for over a week, and police repression which has seen two deaths and thirty injuries (as well as the arrest of fifteen people occupying the Ministry of Work), the struggle is hard-fought. In this article Martín Camacho of Socialismo o Barbarie looks at the background to the struggle. Continue reading “general strike in bolivia”

el alto, bastion of social struggles in bolivia

by Bruno Miranda

Even if in the context of the 1952 revolution the centrality of mining workers was indisputable, today the shape of the working class has changed. It is true that manufacturing workers remain an important part of the Bolivian working class, but the casualisation of labour relations and informal economy have created a large majority of the working class facing unfavourable conditions for organising.

In Bolivia there have been at least seven important uprisings in the last decade, based on the struggle over the control of natural resources [1]. Among these it is worth mentioning the battle normally called the “Gas War” of September-October 2003, and the “Second Water War” in May-June 2005, both of them in the city of El Alto. Continue reading “el alto, bastion of social struggles in bolivia”

state capitalism and communism-from-below in latin america

David Broder’s talk to The Commune’s recent Manchester forum

The class struggle in Latin America is one that has always roused great interest and a certain romanticism among the western left. The continent has seen a number of heroic struggles against often savage exploitation and state repression, whether by the industrial working class, landless peasants or indigenous peoples. But the politics of the Latin American left are complex and often mischaracterised.

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I’m going to talk about the recent history of Latin America and the relationship of US imperialism to national ruling classes; in what ways this has shaped the major left trends and the workers’ movement on the continent; and the different types of movement that exist today.  Continue reading “state capitalism and communism-from-below in latin america”

the commune’s pamphlets: reprints now available

More copies of our pamphlet series, many of which had sold out, are now available. The text of each of  the seven pamphlets is online (see the list of subjects below), but you can also order paper copies – £1 +50p postage per copy.

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Write to uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to place your order. We take payment by cheque (addressed to ‘The Commune’, at The Commune, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St. John Street, London EC1V 4PY) or by transfer to Co-op account S/C 089299, A/C 65317440. Continue reading “the commune’s pamphlets: reprints now available”

bolivia: the working class and the morales government

Bolivia’s trade unions are increasingly being incorporated into the state, but some sections of the labour movement are arguing for the re-affirmation of the historic goals of the working class and reclaiming the political indepedence of the unions faced with Evo Morales’ MAS government and the right.

by Enrique Ormachea

Since its foundation, the Central Obrera Boliviana (COB – Bolivia’s main trade union federation) has incorporated into its political principles the central points of the Pulacayo Thesis, including the political independence of trade union organizations. Today, the MAS (Movimiento al Socialismo) government of Evo Morales is trying to take absolute control of the union leaderships, with the objective of converting them into feeble bodies which cover for his ever more blatantly anti-working class and anti-peasant policies.

COB

Much of the trade union leadership has been developing policies openly contrary to the principles of political independence upheld by Bolivian trade unionism, acting against even the resolutions of the last COB Congress. Continue reading “bolivia: the working class and the morales government”

bolivia: the struggle for control of the unions

an Econoticias Bolivia editorial

La Paz, 30th April 2009 – the combative Bolivian working class has begun its May Day celebrations in the midst of a hard-fought struggle among the leadership of the Central Obrera Boliviana [the main union federation – COB], which has begun to fight actively as part of the ranks of the pro-indigenous government of president Evo Morales, whilst the radical miners’ and teachers’ unions are fighting to defend an independent class-struggle position and initiate a struggle over workers’ demands.

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Some believe that the unions should forget, at least for the moment, the poverty and exploitation workers suffer, putting their economic and social demands on hold in order to back the indigenous government which is working to humanise capitalism and make it fairer, and which is also confronted by the oligarchy and the fascists. Others argue in reply that workers must win back their independence, putting the brakes on mounting exploitation and taking back the agenda of October [2003’s general strike], smashing the power of the oligarchy by taking over the mines, factories and agricultural estates.
Continue reading “bolivia: the struggle for control of the unions”