Álvaro García Linera: A Bolivian Marxist Seduced

Alejandra Delgado, Untitled
Ale­jan­dra Del­gado, Unti­tled

Editor’s Introduction: A Bolivian Marxist Seduced | Robert Cavooris

From time to time, his­tory throws some unsus­pect­ing left­ist intel­lec­tual the reins of state power. Sud­denly, the­o­ret­i­cal prac­tice meets its dou­ble, polit­i­cal prac­tice; the com­plex­i­ties and stakes of each begin to mul­ti­ply. We are see­ing the begin­ning of this process, no doubt, with Greece’s Alexis Tsipras and his coterie of Syriza MPs inspired by Louis Althusser and Anto­nio Gram­sci. In Spain, Podemos’s Pablo Igle­sias may find more the­o­ret­i­cal affin­ity with Ernesto Laclau and Perry Ander­son, but the sit­u­a­tion is sim­i­lar: a pro­fes­sional intel­lec­tual must begin to take seri­ously the idea of con­trol­ling a sig­nif­i­cant appa­ra­tus of state power. Years of writ­ing, polemi­ciz­ing, and orga­niz­ing open up to an almost mirac­u­lous acces­sion. As Georges Bataille says: Impos­si­ble, yet there it is!

But the con­tra­dic­tions lead­ing to a pos­si­ble reju­ve­na­tion of the Euro­pean Left have already left their mark else­where: Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era, vice-pres­i­dent to Bolivia’s Evo Morales, was per­haps the first Marx­ist intel­lec­tual to sit in state power in the 21st cen­tury. His work reflects a con­tin­ued engage­ment with a unique polit­i­cal exper­i­ment in Bolivia, and can be read, there­fore, as a guide to a ter­rain on which some are try­ing to plow an even­tual road to social­ism. It is the wager of this dossier that much can be learned by more closely exam­in­ing both Linera’s the­ory and his polit­i­cal prac­tice – not only to under­stand the man him­self, but also, to under­stand the inno­v­a­tive polit­i­cal process from which he can­not be sep­a­rated, and which may por­tend some­thing of the future for the elec­toral Left in other parts of the world.

The Re-encounter of Indianismo and Marxism in the Work of Álvaro García Linera | Irina Alexandra Feldman

One of the cru­cial dimen­sions of Alvaro Gar­cia Linera’s con­tri­bu­tions is to bring Marx­ism and Indi­an­ismo together. Lin­era shows that Marx­ists and Indi­an­istas share par­al­lel con­cerns. Namely, they denounce the injus­tice of exploita­tion of the work­ers and the peas­ants, who hap­pen to be, in the Boli­vian case, mainly indige­nous, as well as their alien­ation from the means of pro­duc­tion, which yields their total depen­dency on the cap­i­tal­ist own­ers for the ful­fill­ment of their basic needs. Ulti­mately, in the post-colo­nial Andean con­text, this alien­ation and exploita­tion is accom­pa­nied by the epis­temic col­o­niza­tion, which robs the indige­nous sub­al­terns of their way of inhab­it­ing the world, dis­pos­sess­ing them of their lan­guage, knowl­edge and cos­mol­ogy. Thus, for Lin­era, Marx­ism can deepen the con­tri­bu­tions of Indi­an­ismo, and Indi­an­ismo can sharpen some of the posi­tions advanced by Marx­ism, in order to shed light on the real­ity of the post-colo­nial con­text, and to artic­u­late rel­e­vant polit­i­cal projects.

The Phantom, The Plebeian and the State: Grupo Comuna and the Intellectual Career of Álvaro García Linera | Peter Baker

In the year 1999, a col­lec­tion of essays con­cern­ing the rel­e­vance of Karl Marx’s Com­mu­nist Man­i­festo to the con­tem­po­rary con­junc­ture in Bolivia was pub­lished. It may have gone by unno­ticed, were it not for the fact that its authors were about to become the prin­ci­pal inter­preters for the irrup­tion of new social move­ments in the wake of a state cri­sis that took place in Bolivia between the years of 2000 – 2005. What this group of intel­lec­tu­als were look­ing for, the project that would inau­gu­rate their work, was no less than a rein­ven­tion of the left capa­ble of iden­ti­fy­ing new strate­gies appro­pri­ate for the con­tem­po­rary moment.

Burdens of a State Manager | Jeffery R. Webber

The pro­lific writ­ings of Vice Pres­i­dent Álvaro Gar­cía Lin­era offer one win­dow into the com­plex­i­ties of the polit­i­cal, ide­o­log­i­cal, and eco­nomic devel­op­ments that have tran­spired since Morales first assumed office. With that in mind, the fol­low­ing detailed expo­si­tion and crit­i­cal inter­ro­ga­tion of the core argu­ments advanced in his 2011 book, Ten­siones cre­ati­vas de la rev­olu­ción, is meant to shed some light on what is at stake in the com­pet­ing char­ac­ter­i­za­tions of the “process of change” unfold­ing in Bolivia since 2006. If for many read­ers, only pass­ingly famil­iar with the coun­try, Gar­cía Lin­era might seem to rep­re­sent Boli­vian rad­i­cal the­ory tout court, in fact his intel­lec­tual out­put over the last nine years has been com­par­a­tively shal­low, heav­ily deter­mined by his role as sec­ond-in-com­mand of the state appa­ra­tus. The rich and demand­ing provo­ca­tions of his early work have largely been eclipsed by man­age­rial apolo­gia.

Author of the article

is a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz.