Letter on Bolivia: Defend the Bolivian Revolution!

The unfolding revolutionary events in Bolivia have inspired a Tyneside supporter, active in the local unemployed workers’ movement, to send us this letter.

In the Latin American country of Bolivia, a workers and peasants revolution is under way following mass demonstrations calling for the nationalisation of energy and a political general strike has paralysed the Bolivian ruling class. To be sure, the ongoing situation in Bolivia, like that of Venezuela, is barely reported in the Western bourgeois media – or if it is, it is reported wrongly. But the Bolivian and Venezuelan revolutions are indeed an inspiration to the labour and progressive movements everywhere.

Without doubt Bolivia and Venezuela speak the last word on the myth that socialism and communism are finished – as they do on the equally false premise that the working class and its allies cannot run society. The revolutionary situations now unfolding in Latin America also demonstrate that capitalism’s survival strategy of maintaining a ‘relatively’ affluent centre at the expense of an enormously impoverished periphery (the so-called ‘Third World’) is beginning to unwind, and once again at its weakest link – in the twenty first century, in this era of globalization – where the extremes of wealth and poverty are most glaringly obvious; and, where it is self-evident, capitalism cannot provide the solutions to the most pressing problems confronting humanity.

What was once rational and ‘real’ appears no longer so. Capitalism has long since outlived its historically progressive role, and is therefore no longer ‘rational’. As the Bolivian revolution shows, the prevalent capitalist ‘reality’ is threatened to be terminated by the new necessity, which in turn, will become real and rational and therefore necessary in the course of its own development: a genuine democratic socialism and communism of the Bolivian workers and peasants. This new necessity of socialism and communism which was posed during the course of Marx and Engels’ lifetime, is being proved forcefully again today in the Bolivian and Venezuelan revolutions on the Latin American continent. And the .New Left’ critics and everyone else who can only view socialism and communism through the prism of Stalinism will be forced to rethink their positions!

The socialism and communism of the twenty first century is precisely that of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Trotsky and the best of their followers. However, the Bolivian working class and its allies have yet to seize political power, but the conditions are favourable for that seizure as Socialist Appeal’s Alan Woods points out . The creation of the Bolivian People’s Assembly and the establishment of a revolutionary HQ in the city of El Alto is a giant step forward from which to expose the illegitimacy of bourgeois political institutions. And the moral authority displayed by the masses in the streets is forcing splits within the repressive apparatus of the state. These are two vital conditions for the success of the revolution. The absence of a distinctive Marxist revolutionary party is nonetheless worrying, but a revolutionary party can perhaps be quickly constructed out of the most class conscious elements who intend to carry through and implement the policies stipulated in the People’s Assembly (see below).

On the other hand, the capacity for working class self-organisation is another favourable sign for the revolution’s success. And having seized power, the nationalisation of the energy industry must clearly be shown to be a ‘first step’. Other expropriations and what Marx calls, ‘despotic inroads on the rights of property’ must surely follow, and the workers’ and peasants’ government must not hold back on dealing with their class enemies – the population of Miami must be forced to swell with the refugees of Bolivian capital and landlordism.

Remember: ‘The critique of religion ends in the doctrine that man is the supreme being for man; thus it ends with the categorical imperative to overthrow all conditions in which man is a debased, enslaved, neglected, contemptible being’ . The Bolivian and Venezuelan revolutions provide living proof of this categorical imperative of Marxism, i.e., of modern ‘philosophy’, i.e., of life itself. Whether one adheres to religion or not, this categorical imperative demanding the overthrow of all forms of human enslavement remains the overriding objective of the epoch of modernity; our current epoch of ‘wars, revolutions and counter-revolutions’.

The Bolivian People’s Assembly, established following the ‘First Enlarged Meeting of the National Originaria People’s Assembly of Bolivia, stands on the following resolutions, and they are worth quoting in full:

‘The transnational corporations, North American imperialism and the treacherous rulers of the Bolivian state have plunged the whole nation into a deep political, economic and social crisis, with the country currently on the verge of total collapse. The aroused masses in the city of El Alto and throughout the country have a decisive role to play: to save the country through a people’s government elected from below and with real accountability.

1) That the city of El Alto be the General Headquarters of the Bolivian Revolution in the XXI century.

2) To create a United Leadership of the Originaria National Peoples’ Assembly as an INSTRUMENT OF POWER, at the head of the Federation of Neighbourhood Juntas of El Alto (FEJUVE), the Regional Workers’ Union of El Alto (COR), the Bolivian Workers’ Union (COB), the United Trade Union Confederation of Peasant Workers of Bolivia (CSUTCB), the Trade Union Confederation of Artisan Workers, Small Traders of Bolivia, the Trade Union Federation of Mine Workers of Bolivia, the Interprovincial Transport Federation of La Paz and the other mobilised social organisations in the interior of the country.

3) To create SUPPLY, SELF DEFENCE, PRESS AND POLITICAL Committees whose aim is to guarantee the success of the organised peoples’ organisations.

4) We reiterate that our struggle for the NATIONALISATION AND INDUSTRIALISATION OF HYDROCARBONS is non-negotiable.

5) To organise the formation of Peoples’ Assemblies in every department under the leadership of the COB, the Departmental Workers’ Federation, and the delegates elected from the rank and file in mass meetings and cabildos.

6) To reject all manoeuvres of the ruling class either through a constitutional succession or elections involving the same old “politicians”.

In the city of El Alto, the eighth day of June of two thousand and five.

[Note: ‘Originaria refers to the “original” inhabitants of the country before Spanish colonisation, i.e., the indigenous people’] ”

John Kelly,

Tyneside, June 14, 2005