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IW 03

Bolivia

Bolivia in the face of the elections

Bolivia

The Bolivian masses —last May and June-- threw themselves solidly into the struggle once more and, once again, the profundity of the mobilization is not comparable with what has been achieved. In contrast to October, 2003, the mobilizations spread to important regions in the East, and even, for various reasons, to Chaco itself.

However, a complete account of the mobilized sectors leads us to the conclusion that the urban sectors —principally in the interior of the country-- have been almost on the margins, with most of the conflict being concentrated in the city of El Alto, and the roadblocks having been in the hands of peasants, rural teachers, members of cooperatives and wage-earning miners. Santa Cruz, once more, has been turned into a fortress of the right-wing currents, who were betting during the last days of the conflict on the eventuality of bouts of repression.

The absence of a leadership, the relative strength of the Santa Cruz bourgeoisie, the great dispersion of the leaders of the conflict, the notable specific weight of the centrist leaders and opportunists, the irresponsibility of the ultra-left leadership (trying to maintain the struggle in the highlands when the demobilization had already started), are factors which demonstrate clearly that the combative masses could not have been able to take power.

In spite of which, we certainly have a bourgeoisie profoundly damaged, but not defeated in any sense of the word. Recent reports lead us to affirm that the conflict among its various factions are tending towards being overcome. If this is so —taking into account the growing polarization of positions among the middle class--, the popular movement will have to be more prepared than ever.

It has become clear that radicalism for the sake of radicalism, the taking of power as a slogan round the clock and at all times, without the analysis of the concrete situation, is completely useless. It is also clear that the fact that a political group shouts the loudest or puts forward the execution of the most “revolutionary” tasks does not turn them into the leadership. The tasks before the popular movement —if a massacre and the triumph of the reaction, and another 60 years in the limbo of the radicals are to be avoided-- are arduous and imply serious and responsible work.

Following the outcome of the crisis, the revolutionary organizations should discuss, removing themselves from dogmatism that negates reality and strengthens reformism, whether or not to participate in the December general elections. We believe —as the Bolsheviks taught-- that any revolutionary perspective should combine the legal work (the possibility of utilizing at certain times the democratic spaces in order to strengthen the revolutionary struggle) with clandestine and illegal work.

The results of the recent conflict show us the potency of the direct democracy of the workers, on the one hand, and the limitations on the level of consciousness of broad social layers who still believe in democratizing forms (Constituent Assembly, calling for elections, etc.), on the other.

The possibility of the triumph of a workers and peasants governments lies —of course-- in the potency above all of the first tendency: this implies working among the grassroots to adjust accounts with the opportunists and traitors, and struggling for organizations that have a purpose other than promoting whoever is their leader. On the other hand, the neutralization of Parliament, the task of “making it explode on the inside,” as Lenin explained, does not enter into conflict with the struggle for structuring the organs of power of the masses. Without a doubt, the possibility reaching Parliament and of participating in the elections should be discussed more profoundly, since it is not about simply getting votes but rather about making effective a revolutionary line in order to overcome the great obstacle before the Bolivian revolution: the absence of leadership.

Lora y la cuestión electoral

Since 2000, political debate was centered on the political solution which should be given to the current “economic, political and social collapse” (which is what the businessmen call the present situation in the country). The days of May and June have give way to a new process of a democratic way out, the anticipation of elections, and pose new tasks for the protetariat and the vanguard of our country.

The political current of Lorism (POR) has once again put forward its unalterable position of rejecting any possibility of participating in these elections, leaving —whether wishing to or not-- the political field open for reformism (MAS) to emerge strengthened at this juncture.

Inviability of bourgeois democracy

For the revolutionaries bourgeois democracy, strictly representative, is historically inviable, the period in which it played its revolutionary role has passed. “The epoch of bourgeois parliamentarism has ended,” Lora pointed out. The eighty-year-old leader of the POR affirms: “Bunder the long dominion of the ramifications of liberalism, practically since 1900 until after the Chaco war, the structuring of formal democracy has not been able to be achieved.” According to Lora, “liberalism has sunk and exhausted itself politically due to the fact that it has not been able to build a generous bourgeois democracy, in spite of that being at the time the political expression of the most advanced sectors. Neither was it capable of materializing the integral and independent development of capitalism.” The liberals came onto the scene as “the most popular and most national party up until that moment.”

Bolivian bourgeois democracy never became like the “classic democracies (where) the vote was useful and was used to perpetuate the class dictatorship, but within the balanced play of the different tendencies” and thereby is capable of being “supreme arbitrator of politics, but rather of the general interests of the ruling class.” Now, any democratic perspective, for Lora, “encourages the illusion of this still being able to be structured.” It is on this point where we distance ourselves from Lora, in order to take up Marxism once again.

The democratic illusions

When the discussion is centered upon democratic illusions, that is where an enormous distance exists between what the POR puts forward and the reality and the tactics of revolution. It is about whether “parliamentarism is politically obsolete,” it is not about taking Lora's wishes and those of his devoted followers as “an objective reality” for the working class and other broad layers of the population.

Every revolutionary party, if it wishes to be a mass party, must be inserted in the masses. That does not mean lowering revolutionary tactics to the “democratic-bourgeois and parliamentary” prejudices of the workers; it is about “serenely observing the real state of consciousness and preparation of the entire class” so that the latter may overcome those “democratic illusions.” What the POR demonstrates in these moments is a profound separation between the masses and their party, which is why it attributes its wishes to its broadest layers. That is the case with the illusions that have been awakened by the convening of new elections among the workers of town and country.

Moreover, even if the illusions in democratism of the workers, the peasants and the teachers were a minority, it is incumbent upon the revolutionary party to raise a revolutionary tribunal in the new elections or, in the future, in the Constituent Assembly.

Lenin and bourgeois parliamentarism

Although Lora may not like it, we revolutionaries have quite some accumulated experience on tactics regarding parliamentarism, of which the Constituent Assembly is its maximum expression.

For the Bolsheviks the reality was richer and the tactics more concrete. Once in place the regime of the soviets, the latter never said at any time that “parliamentarism is politically obsolete,” but instead educated the workers ideologically, politically and on a practical level “to accept the soviet regime and to dissolve or countenance the dissolution of the bourgeois democratic Parliament,” “since it is not about whether or not parliaments —crowned by a Constituent Assembly- have been in existence for too long or whether they have just begun to exist.” The Bolsheviks even participated, after the triumph of the Soviet Republic, in the elections to the Constituent Assembly, an Assembly having clearly reactionary objectives: “Allow the backward masses to see for themselves why such parliaments deserve to be dissolved facilitates the success of their dissolution, facilitates the 'political elimination' of bourgeois parliamentarism.” This revolutionary tactic is much further from Lora and his servile followers' nationalist nonsense; the Bolivian exceptionability; a theoretical creation of Lora's, is in reality the illusion. The revolutionary program at no time leaves the democratic demands of the working classes, even minimal ones, to one side.

Electoral abstentionism

Electoral abstentionism has always been used as a parameter with which to verify the posture of Lora, given the percentage of people who do not vote, attributing to it a revolutionary character. The new studies on abstentionism have not been able to identify the dominant tendencies among the two million non-voters. Lora has never studied this phenomenon with profundity and is therefore incapable of scientifically making his posture precise, except for the subjectivism to which he has accustomed the POR militancy.

By César Uscamayta