Observations on Bolivia

Capitalism grants equal rights and opportunities. Capitalism drastically reduces poverty. Capitalism brings societal transformations that elevate the downtrodden. Capitalism brings increases in the political participation of women.

None of the above is true. But all of it is what the ruling capitalist class wants you to believe. Indeed, some of them believe it themselves.

It is for this reason that the Observer in London, in an editorial today, at once voices its approval for the coup that forced Bolivian President Evo Morales to flee Bolivia, while lauding the achievements of Evo Morales and his government, along the lines mentioned above.

But in so far as Morales achieved these things, as far as the Observer and a host of other liberal organs would have it, it wasn’t because of any movement towards socialism.

It was because capitalism allowed him. You have capitalism to thank for that.

In reaching political power, the indigenous people of Bolivia did not have to contend with colonization, racist oppression or imperial plunder, as far as the Observer is concerned. It was just something that flowed naturally, from capitalism.

In so far as the popular forces in Bolivia elaborated a democratic constitution with a host of progressive guarantees, it was because capitalism allowed it. Capitalism does that, not Latin American Indians.

And once the Indians violate the rules -which amounted to resorting to a Constitutional Court to allow for seeking election to a third term in office- capitalism, by the Observer’s lights, is entitled to heap every punishment upon them. Never mind that voter suppression in the United States of America, the imperial power that endorsed the coup saying it would restore ‘democracy’, is of a far greater scale and consequence than any electoral fraud even imaginable in Bolivia.

In fact, they brought it on themselves, and if they object, as the Observer portends, they deserve even more punishment.

Yesterday, I pointed out on Twitter that the Guardian in England could decide that Evo Morales had “stayed too long in power” even when England’s unelected monarch was crowned in 1953. An individual objected, in a way that I think typifies the approach to democracy and to international politics of the likes of the Observer.

They said: the Queen has no executive power. You would only have an equivalent situation if Boris Johnson had refused to vacate 10 Downing Street despite a constitutional provision requiring him to do so.

Never mind that the Queen is a symbol of hereditary wealth and power whose function is to inspire awe and deference towards the ruling class and its institutions: Britain -in the form imagined by the liberal political and media establishment of that country- knows best when it comes to democracy.

Never mind that Britain does not have a written constitution voted on by the people: Britain knows best when it comes to holding forth how others should abide by their constitutions.

Never mind that the current British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, unlike Evo Morales, has never been elected leader of the country, and, even if he were to be elected, he would still fail to achieve anything approaching the share of the vote won legitimately by Evo Morales in the most recent Bolivian elections. Britain can decide that the Indian broke the rules, and so Bolivia must be punished.

And, once Morales is deposed, once the gloves are taken off, once Nazis are brought into the Bolivian presidential palace and the military is given carte blanche to massacre protesters, we can forget any qualms we ever had about legality in Bolivia. The 23 people already dead, killed by Bolivian state forces, in the repression following Morales’s ejection, can be forgotten too, and so can anyone else among the ranks of the people who struggled to democratize Bolivia who might be killed in days to come. Because Britain knows more about democracy than Bolivia.

In fact, in these quarters, the question of democracy in Bolivia can be forgotten about forever now, or at least as long as it takes for the indigenous majority of Bolivia to regain political power. Hopefully the former.

Back in 2013, when Evo Morales’s plane was denied permission to fly over French and Portuguese airspace (in a foreshadowing of his circuitous escape from Bolivia to Mexico in recent days) on the orders of the US government, Bolivia’s vice-president Álvaro García Linera told the world that ‘European Enlightenment is long gone, gone are the lights with which Europe lit up the culture, democracy and pluralism of the world’.

There is scarcely a better example of this than the Observer’s putrid piece of coup laundry, published today.

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