Ant climb on Möbius strip in image inspired by Robert Lea inspired by MC Escher

Left and right “primitive, Euclidean” concepts says Bolivian VP

The MAS [the governing Movement Towards Socialism party] is no longer the MAS of 2005, it has been changing its proposal, it is not as communitarian anymore, now it has embraced the Santa Cruz model, which is capitalist.

El MAS ya no es el de 2005, ha ido mudando la propuesta, ya no es tan comunitario, ahora ha abrazado el ‘modelo cruceño’, que es capitalista.

Bolivian Vice President Álvaro García Linera
November 2014 interview
with El Deber

In one line, García Linera offers a dramatic summary of the shifting alignment of the government led by Evo Morales. This quote comes from a remarkable and clarifying interview, both to understand the vision of the government and to decipher its increasingly complex political rhetoric. Addressing the leading paper of the establishment in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the Vice President redefines the socialism that the state is moving towards:

We think of socialism not as a new economic regime, but rather as a transitional stage. Socialism is that struggle among dominant forms of capitalism and communitarian traditions that emerge and then fall back. All led by a state power which maintains its rule towards a communitarian vision.

Pensamos en el socialismo no como un nuevo régimen económico, sino como una etapa de transición. El socialismo es esta lucha, entre formas capitalistas dominantes y tendencias comunitarias que emergen y vuelven a retroceder. Todo conducido por un poder estatal, que mantiene el mando hacia una mirada comunitaria.

For the time being, the Vice President invokes Italian communist theorist Antoni Gramsci to explain the embrace of the Cruceño model, which essentially consists of large-scale, mechanized agricultural export. Evo Morales’ promise that “the era of the latifundio” is over, threatened large landholders who feared redistribution of their territories. Despite limits on landholdings in the new Constitution, no redistribution has come. The government’s new position includes plans to massively increase the land farmed by large businesses, from 5 million hectares now to 12 to 15 hectares in the years to come. In his political writing, García Linera calls this “the embrace of the adversary,” an essential part of maintaining hegemony.

Many observers—myself included—have instead called this a move to the right on the part of the government. However, the Bolivian Vice President now wants to move beyond left and right, terms he now calls primitive.

I’ve critiqued those analysts for moving in a primitive Euclidean space. My academic, intellectual, and political proposition reads the political space as curve and the reasoning is very simple. … Since 2010, but confirmed in [the] 2014 [elections], there aren’t two poles, but now a unipolar political field. … In a unipolar space, what happens is that it submerges, it curves the space. The proposals turn around them [those at the pole]. This is the center now, but before it was the left. It doesn’t have a counterweight and everything revolves around it.

He criticado a esos analistas por moverse en el espacio euclidiano, primitivo. Mi propuesta académica, intelectual y política lee el espacio político como curvo y el razonamiento es muy sencillo. … Desde 2010, pero verificado en 2014, no hay dos polos, ahora un campo político unipolar. … Un espacio unipolar, lo que hace es hundir, curvar el espacio. Las propuestas giran alrededor de ellas. Este es el centro ahora, pero antes era la izquierda. No tiene contrapeso y todo gira alrededor de él. 

Drawing on his mathematical background (and a bit of handwaving with relativistic gravity), García Linera has moved beyond left and right. Outside of his metaphorical world, however, the government has stepped away from its base of small farmers and towards the large agroindustrial landowners who were its principal opponents during Evo Morales’ first term.

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