The end of the Progressive Cycle? Or a process that goes through Revolutionary Waves? Part 1

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Photo Credit: El Orden Mundial
Photo Credit: El Orden Mundial

By: Álvaro García Linera/ Source: Cuba Debate / The Dawn News / June 27, 2017

This is the first part of a two part article. The next part will be published next week on The Dawn News.
This is a summarized version. Read the full article on its original language here.

The continent is living a moment of historical inflexion. Certainly, after 10 continuous years of expansive political victories of the revolutionary and progressive forces at Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Nicaragua and El Salvador, there is a stagnation of this irradiation and even a territorial setback. This is how to the conservative political conspiracy at Honduras, Paraguay, Venezuela and Brazil, is added the electoral defeat in Argentina.

Through the electoral ways, and many times followed by actions of collective mobilization added to systematic economic aggressions and an unhideable external conspiracy, the conservative forces have taken the control of several governments in the continent over the last year.

Numerous social conquest, achieved years befores, have been eliminated and there is an ideological-mediatic effort to pontificate an alleged “end of cycle” that would show the inevitable defeat of the progressive governments in the continent.

While saying “end of cycle” as something inevitable and irreversible the objective is to mutilate the human praxis as the motor of the human future and as the explaining source of history, throwing back the society to the impotency of a defeatist contemplation before some events that supposedly are deployed at the margin of the own human action. This implies not only a mediocre setback to a pre Renaissance ideological conception, but also a deliberate effort to remove any intention of social autodetermination as main founder of the social world.

Clearly, the forces of right and the imperial forces have done and will continue doing everything they can to stop the emancipatory process of the peoples. This is their social reason and the energy of their existence. Whatever happens in the world,they will never change their antagonic behaviour before leftist governments and processes of social emancipation.

The actual imperial counter offensive at Latin America has a different form to he one lived in the 60s, 70s and 80s of the past century. In those years, the naked use of force was preferred, and behind it, politicians and businessmen sustained the dictatorial-military above the society.

Now, the spearhead is mediatic, economic, social and cultural, and only after the failure of those and if the case needs it, they recur to social confrontation, with possibilities to resort to armed forces. Today, the main tools of brutal attacks are concentrated in the economic weakening of the countries, the economic boycott and an ideological-cultural siege against governments and social revolutionary forces.

As the American Armed Forces had to include in their programs the readings of Sun Tzu in order to face the world guerrillas, today, the State department is introducing as an obligatory reading for their counterinsurgency strategist, Gramscian texts, due to the prevalence of the cultural battles in this new scenery of continental power dispute. All of this to focus the concentric attack towards that we can consider as the golden age of Latin America.

For over 10 years, from the beginning of the new century, the continent has lived in a plural and diverse way the period of biggest autonomy and biggest construction of sovereignty that anybody can remember since the foundation of our states in the XIX century. Different process, some more radical than others, some urban, others rural, with distinct languages, but in a really convergent way.

The virtuous decade of the continental sovereignty. Four historical achievements:

The enlargement of the political democracy

Since the retirement of the militaries as the political commando of the imperial geopolitical interests, democracy represented for the subaltern classes the validity of constitutional guaranties, freedom of speech, free transit, the possibility to vote in elections, the instauration of elemental human rights and, in a lesser extent, the freedom of syndical association.

However, under no circumstance the post dictatorial democracy meant the participation of the lower classes in the political decisions and in the management of the State. So, it was a democracy of rights, not a democracy of decisional participation in the State.

In the XXI century, a powerful rise of the leftist social classes and popular forces began, which in a direct way, through syndicates or social movements, take over the control of the State power.

This does not only mean the electoral victory of popular and leftist forces, formerly excluded from the government structure, but it also overcomes the debate initiated in the moments of global popular withdrawal after the fall of the Berlin Wall and of the weakening of the socialist ideas referred to the possibility to “change the world without taking over power”, a slogan that echoed on the generalized popular defeatism and demanded to abandon the big political battles for power to reach a “corpuscular” transformation, almost individual, of the life conditions.

2. Redistribution of wealth and enlargement of the social equalness

On a second instance, in the social, in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua y El Salvador, we assist to an extraordinary redistribution of social wealth which began to close the scissor points of the inequality and richness generation, that in the last decades had open as wide as it almost could.

Before the neoliberal policies of ultra-concentration of wealth that had converted our continent to one of most unfair in the world, since the year 2000 and headed by the revolutionary and progressive governments, we witnessed a powerful process of common wealth redistribution, that notoriously improves the life conditions of the working class taking millions of Latin Americans from extreme poverty, and creating for the middle classes objective options of social ascension.

But this wealth redistribution also leads to a widening of the middle classes, not in the sociological political sense but on their consumption capabilities. The capacity of workers, farmers, indigenous people to consume widens.

Likewise, in decade or more, the reduction of social inequalities reached historical records. The difference between the richest 10% and the poorest 10%, which, in the 90s, reported a relation of 100, 150 or even 200 times, is reduced to a 80, 60 or 40 times relation at the end of the first decade of the XXI century, in a way that extends the participation and equality of the social sectors.

3. Post-neoliberal ways to administrate economy and wealth

The third achievement, is in regard of the economic administration, which, in a higher or lower intensity, each of these States will rehearse post.neoliberal proposals. We are not talking about post-capitalistic proposals yet, since these are the ones that will thrive at an universal scale; we are referring to post-neoliberal proposals that allow to the State to retake a strong protagonism in wealth production and in the regulation of the economical administration, prioritizing the nation interests and the popular classes.

Some countries carried on nationalization process of private companies or of creation of public companies, while others chose a bigger participation of the State in the economy, in the administration of the social excedent, in the redistribution towards the people in need or an increment in the salary of the workers, etc. Bu it is clear that all of them have tried post-neoliberal ways in economy administration while recovering the importance of the internal market, of the State as wealth distributor, of the State´s participation in strategic areas of the economy.

In this sense, the Latin American experience will set a turning point in the global trajectory of neoliberalism. Through these experiences in the continent, neoliberalism will no longer be the “only possible world”. Today other possibilities for the administration of wealth and economics have arosen, other possible horizons that show neoliberalism as a stagnant, decaying and worn-out regime.

Despite of the difficulties in the Latin American experience, the Southern countries leave an unerasable and definitive flag: in a practical way, the have shown to the peoples of the world that there are other possible worlds, that neoliberalism is not the end of history -in fact its continuity is the fossilization of history-, that wealth can be produced in another way, that it is possible to distribute this wealth so that the popular classes are the most benefitted.

4. Building a progressivist, sovereign Latin American International

In the fourth place, the awakening of the Latin American 21st century is also defined by the production (which is for the first time in the hands of national states) of a sovereign and self-determined continental foreign policy.

Since the 19th century, the big designs of foreign policy in the continent have been under the tutelage of the English empire, and then of the US empire. These empires have controlled credits, tariffs, technological transfers, discourses, and governmental stability—therefore, they’ve controlled the continent’s political order.

However, in the first decade of the 21st century this order collapsed. After the victory of governments that represented the people, a phase begins that we could informally call a progressivist and revolutionary International at the continental level. And although there isn’t a committee (like in the communist International), somehow presidents Lula da Silva, Néstor Kirchner, Rafael Correa, Evo Morales, Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega assumed what we might call a sort of Central Committee of a Latin American International, which enabled giant steps in terms of sovereign continental decisions and planning the future of our nations.

During the first decade, the OAS, which previously decided the fate of our continent under the command of the United States, and legitimated the invasion of Latin American countries, became an irrelevant institution.

Finally, continental organisms emerged: Unasur and the CELAC. They didn’t involve the United States, and thus were a place for Latin Americans to debate and build their own destiny—50 or 100 years ago this was unimaginable.

This also enables another thing that seemed impossible a while back: solidarity between sister nations as a way to internally solve extreme political conflicts that previously would have “required” at least the military intervention of the northern power. That was the case of the 2002 coup against Commander Chávez in Venezuela, or the 2008 civil coup against President Evo Morales.

During August and September 2008, neither President Evo nor I, his Vice President, could land in the departments that were under political control of the forces of the fascist right.
The democratic government had lost control of the management of the state, which had been taken over by paramilitary gangs that promoted a sort of “dual regional power”, disregarding the democratically-elected national authority and instigating a civil war.

However, it was only thanks to the presence of the Unasur, with presidents Kirchner, Chávez, Correa, and Lula, that we were able to restore democratic order, avoid giving any legitimacy to those bands of fascists and put the political power back in the hands of the national government.

Thus, in sum, this virtuous decade in the continent led to political changes (the participation of the people in the construction of a new kind of State), social changes (redistribution of wealth and reduction of inequality), economic changes (active participation of the state in the economy, expansion of the internal market and creation of new middle classes) and, at the international level, the political coordination of Latin American countries without the presence of the US. These are not small things. Since the 19th century, these ten years are the most important for our continent in terms of regional integration, Latin American sovereignty and independence.

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