This week ends with impossible balancing acts in Bolivia and Spain, as well as a new progress in the mobilizations on class demands in France… Before which Macron yields as soon as they gain massiveness and visibility.
In Bolivia, the exile of Evo Morales and Alvaro García de Linera left the resolution of the situation to a Parliament with a Masista majority (Evo’s party). The parallel with what happened with Peruvian Fujimorism was repeated once again. And yet, the course of events diverged from there. The key points: a context of revolt to which the very foundations of Masism are no strangers and a growing polarization around the nascent regional imperialist alliances.
- What is happening in Bolivia? (Spanish)
To begin with, the negotiations between the opposition and the MAS camp led nowhere because a headless Masism could only try to buy time by forcing an absence of quorum. Precisely what the opposition knew it had to avoid. As a result: Jeanine Áñez became president.
If from then on, Masism expected the repressive forces and the army to fracture, it was mistaken. The opposite happened. They were willing to take the oath in front of the first instalment of institutionalism that was established, and so they did. Because they were part of some coup plot? Not really. The key to understanding the attitude of the military lies in the “gas war” of 2003, which caused an anti-government insurrection led by the MAS bases resulting in the electoral victory of Evo Morales. Lozada’s government then ordered the army to intervene to defend La Paz’s gas supply and prevent an assault on parliament. The clashes between the military and Alteños left 65 dead. The military and political leaders were later accused and tried for genocide. It became clear to the army that it only had to lose as a body if it accepted orders from a failing political power to intervene against the civilian population.
But it is not the military’s inhibition what became the main problem of Masism, but rather, as we have already pointed out, having lost the support of the urban petty bourgeoisie, more and more inclined towards an alliance of power with the ranching and financial bourgeoisie of Santa Cruz. An “autonomist” bourgeoisie back then, turned “bolsonarista” today. The election and swearing in of Áñez sought to precipitate the situation. Morales, from Mexico, responded by further obstructing a political way out for his followers and allies in power, declaring that there would be no peace until he returned to the country. Áñez returned the blow by annulling the repeal of the constitutional articles that Evo Morales, ignoring both the Constitution and the referendum, had proclaimed in order to present himself again to the elections. Thus, the situation came to a standstill once again… encouraging the passage of imperialist rivalries to the forefront.
The immediate recognition by Brazil was intended to help consolidate the new government while signaling a new imperialist “triumph” for Bolsonaro. Followed by the irrelevant Guaidó with his virtual Venezuelan government and the U.S., once again lagging behind Brazil… Stumbling, even.
On the other hand, Alberto Fernández promised to take Evo to Argentina as soon as Alberto is inaugurated president. The gesture intends to transmit that he will continue to fight for Bolivia… without entering the fray of international recognition. It is not because he must wait to be formally in office, but because his whole game with the IMF depends on being able to counterbalance China. And China, as we could see at the BRIC summit, is negotiating a free trade agreement with Brazil, giving export oxygen to Bolsonaro in exchange for technological penetration. This gives China a strategic priority to strengthen its relationship with the Portuguese-speaking giant. From the Argentine and Peruvian point of view, it is prudent to wait even if it is at the expense of a momentary retreat. From the point of view of the Puebla group, ” buying time ” is not just a goal of Morales. That is why the negotiator sent by the UN can expect to be consensual.
But if the imperialist interests at stake are to lengthen the conflict, the divisions in the Bolivian bourgeois classes operate by inciting it. And a lot. Ánez is from Beni. The “crescent” province of which the TIPNIS (Territorio Indígena y Parque Nacional Isiboro-Sécure) is a part. A national park in whose defense rose environmentalists, communities, groups defending the indigenous against the directives of Morales and his coca growers… The local bourgeoisie also joined them fearing displacement if the region were to become the main producer of coca for illegal export (cocaine). Like all caciques in the region, Añez is more anti-Evo than conservative, more separatist than “oppositionist”. That is why she has left Mesa out of government and dialogue: Mesa is eccentric in his vision and objectives, centered on reaching a balance as soon as possible with the MAS. The fact this is called “pacification” should already be sufficiently illustrative of what to expect from the relations between the rural petty bourgeoisie, whether cocalera or “indigenista” and the oligarchies of the “crescent”, now allies of the urban petty bourgeoisie. Because meanwhile, the Masist bases of El Alto – that “world capital of neoliberalism” as defined by a well-known local operator of Masism – are considering a repeat of the “gas war” sixteen years later, in coordination with the cocalero columns and now with better weapons. They are now openly calling for a civil war.
The new government’s response is to currently use Colombia to obtain repressive know-how within the framework of a rapid implementation of relations with its imperialist allies, dislodging Cuban and Venezuelan aid workers, moving closer to Chile and the United States and, above all, incorporating the Brazilian embassy into the internal circuit of power consultations.
What Bolivia is proving is that the petty bourgeoisie is as hard to manage when rebelling as it is easy to manipulate into an inter-imperialist conflict. The difficulty managing it is obvious in Europe, where various forms of petty-bourgeois revolt have generalized the political apparatus’ crisis. The Spanish example is very illustrative. After the fourth elections in four years gave results that eroded both Podemos and PSOE, both parties agreed within 48 hours to… reach an agreement in the future.
🏛️ El #PSOE y @ahorapodemos hemos alcanzado un preacuerdo para conformar un Gobierno progresista de coalición que sitúe a España como referente de la protección de los derechos sociales en Europa.
Léelo aquí 👇 pic.twitter.com/lACjhoSYwl
— PSOE (@PSOE) November 12, 2019
But at this point neither PSOE nor Podemos, neither PP nor the misguided “Ciudadanos”, nor even the ultranationalist “Vox”, are the protagonists anymore. Of the 18 parliamentary forces represented in the new parliament, 13 forces presented candidates only in some regions or even provinces. Without their support a government cannot be formed. As expected, when the agreement between Sánchez and Iglesias became public, the auction began. Basque nationalism was the first to open the counter to receive offers and PSOE-Podemos started to settle accounts on how to rebalance budgets in favor of provinces with parties with a regionalist representation. In order to maintain a minimum governability in the central government, they further fuel the centrifugal forces of the periphery.
But the Catalan independentists still keep the final word. The impotent revolt of the nationalist petty bourgeoisie sees its “golden opportunity”. It is still under discussion as to what for. For some it is a question of blocking the inauguration of Sánchez (and Iglesias) in order to sink the Spanish political apparatus… this time definitively with a third general election. For others the conditions are given to force the negotiation of self-determination and independence. ERC, the majority of the independentists in the national parliament, plays all the sides trying to have it both ways. They all hope that ERC will finally abstain on Sánchez’s inauguration by making this possible in exchange for some sort of “negotiating table”. The difficulties to reach an agreement are only the prelude to the difficulties generated by this same agreement. Depending on the independentists to form a central government, the same independentists who question the borders of the state is the best expression of stagnation. A stagnation imposed by the petty-bourgeois revolt that Sánchez tried to overcome with the elections. In four years, the Spanish bourgeoisie has not managed to advance in the renewal of its political apparatus. On the contrary, it is more broken than ever.
Crisis, precariousness, class struggle
It is now urgent for the Spanish bourgeoisie to remove all the roadblocks in their way. The IBEX stock is in a hurry. Europe is in a seemingly bottomless industrial recession. The German experience is showing that after the industry sector comes services and that, even in the main European power, the industrial recession directly attacks the general employment conditions: temporality is already at a three year maximum and the waves of redundancies and layoffs in emblematic companies follow one another.
This overlap between precariousness, crisis and essential public services becomes dramatic in healthcare… and can become the spark of what the bourgeoisie fears most today: the appearance on the scene of the workers’ class struggle.
For the past two years in France, strikes in specific emergency services and the suicides of health personnel have converged into a wave of unrest and rage that materialized last March in a first wave of strikes. Last June, the unions seemed to have led it to the stage of an isolated, nationwide testimonial strike. But during the summer, strikes in emergency services across the country spread, demanding the means to do their job and escaping from union control. In September the Macron government hoped that budgetary concessions would stop the increasingly uncontrollable mobilizations… but the effect was the reverse. And when, yesterday, emergency workers took thousands of people to the streets, Macron caved in again presenting a plan of emergency measures. Three elements stand out:
The attack on the healthcare systems didn’t appear out of the blue. Since the 1970s, the dismantling of public healthcare services has been on the agenda of the bourgeoisie. It is a central element of the attack on the living conditions of the workers and will increasingly be on the front line.
Since March, the French emergency workers’ movement has taken on an increasingly marked character of struggle against the dismantling of public hospitals. It is not something strictly new, but it marks a pattern that will be repeated in the future: workers in a specific sector who uphold, based on their real experience, slogans and demands of struggle that are calling on all the workers. For this reason alone, the French movement would be important.
Macron’s “emergency plan” is effectively a concession. As we saw with the SNCF strike, when a movement of struggle goes beyond union control or, even within it, points towards overrunning this control, Macron organizes a table of concessions as he did with the “yellow vests” as soon as class demands appeared. It marks another guideline, which we have also seen in Chile: to terminate at an early stage the ascent of working class demands with concessions, later depending both on the discourse of “transversality” characteristic of the petty-bourgeois revolt and the deliberative processes organized from the state… All of this to lead the sparks of working-class movements back into nothingness.