Monday, April 19, 2010

"Communitarian Socialism" as an alternative to Capitalism

The Bolivian Vice President Garcia Linare lends expression to the Bolivian road to socialism, "communitarian socialism" that is, and his contention that  Bolivia differs from Europe and the United States because community structures that have resisted capitalist subjugation have survived is echoed by David Choquehuanca the Foreign Minister who says in an interview that by incorporating traditional values Bolivia will find its way to "communitarian socialism". Nevertheless, while the new Political Constitution of the State along with a rejection of the neo-liberal dictates of the World Bank and the IMF have to be welcomed, there remains an almost "utopian socialist" naivety in Bolivia's "Movement Towards Socialism."

As Jim Petras, a Marxist scholar who has written extensively on Latin American politics for half a century, argues, Evo Morales's government still gives a very high priority to orthodox capitalist growth and that he does so to the detriment of an alternative. There is, indeed, much to suggest that the government (MAD-ISP) in La Paz is adopting policies aimed at appeasing the ruling, "white", elite rather than overthrowing them and Mr Petras would appear to hit the nail on the head when he says, that there is an “increased size and scope of foreign owned multinational corporate extractive capital investments." Just one of the repercussions of this is voiced by the community teacher, William Ávalos, from the Bolivia's southern Tarija department, who contends that, Morales wanted Caraparí the gas capital of Tarija, to be a model city but if you go there you won't find a model city but "just a cloud of dust. And they keep extracting gas." However, it might be added that these ecological problems are just one consequence of a socialist transition at the expense of socialist revolution. After all, this is a process which Garcia Linare admits, won't be easy, saying "it could take decades, even centuries." Of course, there are those who might contend that the Vice President, as someone who backs the development of an "Andean-Amazonian capitalism" is not too upset by the fact that the "socialist transistion" in "communitarian socialism" might take centuries. My mind almost drifts to tthe British Labour Party's annual conference and the delegates singing the "Red Flag".

It is that last point which brings me onto my contention that much of what is being done in Bolivia is like old wine in new bottles and one is reminded of the collapse of the Second International and the advent of a reform socialism, which like the Bolivian "revolution" was to have its successes but was to ultimately fail the planet. Therefore, while it would be wrong not to welcome the developments that we are seeing in Bolivia, we would do well to see them for what they are and when we do that, we will come quickly to the conclusion that progress towards a real socialist society cannot take "decades" or "even centuries", for there can be no compromise with a capitalism which prefers a "cloud of dust" to a model city and there most certainly cannot be any agreement with "foreign owned multinational corporate extractive capital investments." Therefore, it might be concluded that it is a sad indictment on mankind that in the year 2010 stalinism, reform socialism and communitarian socialism are the only "practical" models that most people look to as an alternative to capitalist exploitation. However while this should not lead us to reject any realignment of the real democratic forces in society, it should also not prevent us from looking for another real socialist alternative which, indeed, might be found not in a "third way" but rather in the "fourth way", namely, in revisiting the Fourth International.

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