2 Responses to Back in Bolivia, reading Brazil’s Dance with the Devil

  1. Mark Purcell says:

    Thanks for this Nick. The struggle to prevent cuts in the state provision of public services, like transportation in this case, complexifies my simplistic recent rant against Keynesianism and state-based strategies in general. There are real gains to be made, and people in Brazil have been quite clear in their desire to augment (or prevent cuts to) such services. Perhaps Brazil, with their PT legacy, is more sanguine on state services and redistribution policies than other populations, though I would think the same is true in Bolivia, no? As it was also in Chile with education….

    • Thanks for the comment, Mark. I think your argument against nostalgic Keynesianism is on point. I agree with you that the state form is anti-democratic. Perhaps what’s important in these cases is that the ‘social movement state’ is not nostalgic but forward-looking — part of a ‘post-neoliberal’ push. And I think you’re right to mention the student mobilizations in Chile in conjunction with this. What we’re seeing in South America, I think, are efforts to invest the state with different content. Álvaro García Linera’s 2006 article in New Left Review gives us a sense of this (http://newleftreview.org/II/37/alvaro-garcia-linera-state-crisis-and-popular-power). A recent article by John Beverley also reflects this impulse (http://www.berfrois.com/2012/01/john-beverley-latin-americas-pink-tide/). I need to revisit both before I can speak to them in any depth… I do not disagree with your strong distinction between the state form and democracy. But I appreciate your comment here, because I do think it’s important to understand these as unique trajectories, not part of the same “transition to democracy” you critique through reference to that article on the Arab Spring in The Nation. More to say, of course. Thanks for reading.

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