René Zavaleta Mercado lived politics. He lived the Bolivian nationalist revolution of 1952, the coup that ended it twelve years later, the revolutionary Popular Assembly in La Paz in 1971, and the brief Allende electoral experiment in Chile. He endured imprisonment, flight, and expatriation during Latin America’s dark 1970s. He was a revolutionary, diplomat, politician, educator, and exile. And through it all, he never stopped writing. If Zavaleta’s written work proves difficult, this is in part because he was an interpreter of the conjuncture – of these many conjunctures – the details of which may be distant to some readers today.
The Bolivian revolution of April 1952 inspired Zavaleta’s early, nationalist phase. Workers and popular militias mobilized to support an attempted putsch by the Movimiento Nacionalista Revolucionario (MNR) against the conservative government installed by the military a year before. But workers and peasants, self-organized and led by the militant miners unions, also contested the limits of the revolution that politicians sought to rein in. By demanding the nationalization of the mines and seizing estates in anticipation of land reform, the popular classes opened conflicts with the MNR government that intensified as the latter reanimated the fractured military and took out an IMF loan to stabilize the economy. Amid conflicts between right and left wings of the party, Zavaleta, as a deputy and then Minister of Mines and Petroleum in the third and final MNR government in the early 1960s, argued that the only path to real national self-determination was through socialism. He proclaimed in a 1962 speech:
We are not anti-capitalists because we are bothered by the so-called ‘American way of life,’ nor socialists because there is socialism in the Soviet Union or in China, or Cuba. We are, compañeros, because national existence cannot realize itself except within a Latin American socialism. 1
Zavaleta thus prioritized “national existence,” with socialism a means to that end. “The national” functioned in an idealist way in this problematic, influenced by earlier Bolivian nationalist thinkers like Carlos Montenegro and Augusto Cespedes. As Mauricio Gil Q. writes, the theoretical assumption underlying this position was that “the nation is a sort of essence that only anti-national contingency impedes from reaching the surface of history.” 2 These anti-national forces were represented in this line of thought by international capital, the subservient “mining superstate,” and the small group of tin barons who controlled the country’s largest industry. 3 While the 1952 revolution was about throwing off this yoke, the MNR government’s plans for development relied on international capital and the disciplining of workers, which led the coalition of bureaucrats, middle class reformers, and workers to fracture by the 1960s. 4
The workers’ movement, while autonomous and well organized into a national Centro Obrero Boliviano, was not powerful enough to push forward a socialist resolution without support from within the ideologically hegemonic ruling party. But Zavaleta was the exception, and as the economic crisis of the 1960s worsened, the MNR lost its grip. The tense nationalist revolutionary project thus met its end in 1964 through a coup led by General René Barrientos. 5
The relationship between socialism and national self-determination would concern Zavaleta throughout the rest of his life. By the early 1970s, however, the theoretical problematic of his revolutionary nationalism had given way to a deeper engagement with Marxism, culminating in his 1973 book El poder dual, influenced by his experiences with the Bolivian Popular Assembly in 1971, in which Zavaleta had returned from exile to participate, and Allende’s Unidad Popular in Chile, where he had fled for his second exile after the collapse of the Assembly and the overthrow of Juan José Torres’ “revolutionary” military government.
The turn from revolutionary nationalism to Marxism that was established in El poder dual implied, on the one hand, a theoretical departure in Zavaleta’s conception of a historical subject, which he now located in the working class rather than the nation, and on the other hand, a political continuation of his focus on national self-determination. 6 Socialism was still in some sense a means to a nationalist end; however, Zavaleta now believed it had to be carried out by the workers movement with its own political party. 7 He argues that the concept of dual power should be understood specifically in revolutionary situations of less advanced capitalist countries, with a non-majority proletariat, carrying out two overlapping revolutions, bourgeois and socialist, at once. 8 He opposes this definition, attributed to the precise “localism” of Lenin, to a Trotskyist interpretation that he considers abstract and overly capacious. 9
This focus on the local analysis, which he then brings to bear on the contingencies of the “embryonic” dual power scenarios in Bolivia and Chile, means sharp attention to the concrete terrain of class struggle, as well as to an emphasis on the overdetermination and articulation within social formations. It is precisely the non-totalized articulation of social formations like Bolivia and Chile that present both a political and an epistemological challenge for Zavaleta in the 1970s. Since the character of a given social whole, as both a material setting and an object, conditions the kind of knowledge that social science can produce both of and within it, Zavaleta asks: what kind of knowledge is proper to a sociedad abigarrada, or motley society, like Bolivia? And what are the possibilities to establish a kind of national unity when the state lacks an organic connection with the rest of society? The working class has an important role, for Zavaleta, in any possible resolution to these questions: it provides a material link to modernity, revealing through its participation in capitalist productive relations a horizon of knowledge and politics that exceeds the limitations of its broader material situation. 10
Throughout 1970s, this epistemological terrain was fleshed out with an emphasis on crisis. If the working class as a subject provided some basis for insight into sociedades abigarradas, moments of crisis were essential conjunctures by which to understand them. The role of worker and peasant protest in the 1979 political crisis of the Banzer military dictatorship, installed after 1971, revealed the resilient constituent power the popular classes. 11 It was also linked, for Zavaleta, to the very crisis of 1952 that continued to govern social relations, despite the various changes in the state apparatus: “In a certain way, the subsequent history of Bolivia is nothing but the development of the characteristics of the crisis of 1952. The class subjects do nothing but reproduce the conditions of their conduct in that crucial moment.” 12 Moments of crisis, then, can also become constitutive, where multiple overdetermined causal relations burst into relief and are then potentially re-organized on the basis of political intervention.
The “epistemology of social crisis” underlies all of Zavaleta’s late works, including the following translation, “Problems of Dependent Determination and Primordial Form,” originally published in 1982. It is characteristic of Zavaleta’s mature methodology, and through its dense, winding prose and unconventional organization, his form. It also shares key concepts that had become central to his thought: surplus, state optimum, social receptivity, social democratization, and, indeed, the titular notion of primordial form. This tight constellation of ideas serves the author’s goal to identify variables and relationships in the constitutive moment/crisis of a given socio-economic formation. However, Zavaleta often avoids defining these concepts, or does so only briefly. His method instead involves detailed attempts to probe the efficacy of each concept in distinct historical situations, and to thereby develop the theoretical relationships between them through concrete analysis.
Examining moments of crisis and constitution, Zavaleta’s late works explore how the potential for national self-determination becomes manifest through variable relations of class power, distinct articulations of the mode of production, and specific historical accumulations. He invokes the concepts listed above to make sense of such moments. Social receptiveness, or disponibilidad, denotes the openness within a society to this kind of ideological adjustment, a material condition of availability to ideological interpellation. Surplus, elaborated on the basis of Paul Baran’s use of the term, has the potential to create receptivity if distributed among the masses, and support a state in which “ideological inflections predominate over the repressive factum,” and “democratic mediations substitute or hide the traditional forms of domination.” 13 This concept is significant for the trajectory of post-colonial states, as their natural resources constitute a kind of surplus, for Zavaleta, that may be lost through foreign domination, squandered by ruling classes, or used to construct a more democratic integral state.
The level of integration between a state and civil society, potentially reached through the political use of a surplus, is the level of the social optimum, which Zavaleta links to a series of other terms that similarly indicate such an integration:
Historic bloc, socio-economic formation, state axis – these are all meanings that refer to the same thing, the successful or frustrated, high or low, relation between state as summum of all the issues of power and civil society as the collection of material conditions in which this power is managed. 14
The Gramscian influence here is clear, and Zavaleta further refers to Gramsci’s famous differentiation of state–civil society relations in the East and the West to argue that the real subsumption to capitalist relations of production is the basis for a high social optimum. This may be a result of the mediating capacity of representative institutions, or the more general phenomenon of social democratization, meaning substantial and material juridical equality that allows greater national political and economic participation. In any case, advanced capitalist formations with high state optimums are counterposed to heterogeneous ones, characterized by idiosyncratic arrangements of pre- or non-capitalist elements alongside capitalist ones, and politically disarticulated states that are more “apparent” than substantial in their unifying power. 15
It is possible to read Zavaleta’s collection of concepts in a somewhat mechanical way. Each one appears to denote a particular process, and often defined in relation to an ideal type of capitalism represented by Europe or the United States. At another level, however, Zavaleta never ceases to throw his own categories into question by using them to analyze particular cases, and thereby grab hold of historical contingencies. While his concepts imply a kind of abstract picture of capitalist development and modernity, his entire method is nonetheless based, as Elvira Concheiro Bórquez puts it, on a “permanent calling attention to that which does not enter into any scheme.” 16
In fact, in the present translation, Zavaleta precisely sets out to attack an overly mechanistic conception of dependency. To understand a given dependent socio-economic formation, and to understand the political possibilities therein, Zavaleta searches for constitutive moments and moments of crisis. Imperialism, colonialism, and dependency are only elements in a broader set of historical processes in social formations like those of Latin America. The basic limitation of dependency theory, according to Zavaleta, is that it cannot allow for contingency in its conception of a “closed correspondence” between center and periphery.
Zavaleta’s approach here is less to tell a story where each of his concepts plays its presumed teleological role than to look for cases in which they do not. So he asks, for instance, how does Uruguay, a country without a historical surplus comparable with Peru’s guano industry, nonetheless achieve a higher level of social democratization? Or how does Mexico, despite an outwardly weak civil society, emerge as the site of one of the great social revolutions of the 20th century? Finally, how does a uniform imperial policy, vertically imposed by the United States on Latin America in the 1970s, produce distinct results in each case?
In all of these cases, if the general concepts do not explain specific histories, then it is because there is a political space in each social formation that is irreducible to the structure of capitalism at a global level. 17 This space, in turn, is defined by the primordial form of a social formation, or the existing articulation of state and civil society during its “reception” of the imperial and core countries’ efforts at political and economic domination. The primordial form, more than just a concept, however, is what Tapia calls an “explanatory matrix,” whereby one is compelled to begin with the political analysis of the social formation – the relationship between state and civil society, the class struggle, the level of self-determination – and then turn outward to see how these have affected its particular “dependency”. 18 As Tapia writes, the search for political space through this approach has implications for political practice:
The question that guides the analysis is not in what measure nor in what form we are dependent, rather, what margins and conditions are there to be able to think in and for oneself and to constitute a local identity rich in endogenous referents? And furthermore, what are the conditions to be able to think about political self-determination? 19
The key political term here is the last: self-determination. But this idea, rather than taking for granted a national subject as in Zavaleta’s earlier revolutionary nationalist problematic, is precisely about the constitution of such a subject, which he still recognizes as directly related to class struggle, and which can take more or less democratic, and more or less socially revolutionary forms. Against a local elite that may claim to represent the nation in a situation of dependency, Zavaleta proposes a national-popular alternative, where the very concept of the nation is contingent. As Zavaleta concludes, “it is one thing to imprint one’s own character on dependency, and it is another to erect a structure of self-determination.”
Two potential weaknesses of Zavaleta’s essay are worth addressing here. First, it may be disappointing that Zavaleta, in challenging the broad strokes of dependency theory, does not directly engage with many of its terms or key thinkers. Whereas debates in dependency theory focus on terms of trade, relative levels of exploitation, the international division of labor, etc., Zavaleta instead shifts away from economic analysis, turning toward political and sociological theory to analyze the phenomenon of dependency. Of course, it would be too sweeping to say that dependency theory always ignores internal political and social relations, and by taking Andre Gunder Frank, Anibal Quijano, and less explicitly, Theotonio Dos Santos, as representatives of the entire intellectual formation, one could argue that Zavaleta is being ungenerous to other tendencies; in fact, some in the “reformist” wing of dependency theory, like Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Falletto, have emphasized the importance of historical particularity and class relations in dependent formations against what they view as a teleological fallacy in the Marxist wing. 20 Still, Zavaleta’s focus on these issues and his insistence on rigorous conceptual development through local conditions offers, more than a polemic, an attempt to bend the stick: away from the economic, toward the political; away from generalizing formulations, and toward “the production of local knowledge.” 21
One may therefore suspect in reading Zavaleta that his approach is too local, too mired in the specificities of Latin American or Bolivian history. This is the second potential weakness, and it is a view that would make it easy to dismiss his relevance. Indeed, it has likely worked against his broader translation outside of Latin America. Fortunately, a translation of Zavaleta’s final, unfinished work Lo nacional-popular en Bolivia is forthcoming, and as its translator Anne Freeland writes, it presents an opportunity “to learn from a particular historical process with Zavaleta, rather than about an insular local history and its specific intellectual expression.” 22 I hope that the following translation can contribute to this approach, in particular by showing, through the explanatory matrix of the primordial form, how local histories are never merely local. His method rather suggests the importance of a dialectical overdetermination: questions about internal political and social articulations open onto the possibility of external causality, and questions about the external relationships between social formations have recourse to the causality of internal articulations.
Beyond dependency theory, then, Zavaleta presents an important consideration for any study of imperialism: this concept and the history it addresses are irreducible to either relations between states or the transnational aspects of production relations. Rather, imperialism encompasses a plurality of local histories that, in turn, re-shape its global political, economic, and ideological character through their reception. Furthermore, even though Zavaleta sometimes overgeneralizes about the supposed homogeneity of “developed” capitalist countries, his method implies that to grasp an imperialist conjuncture, we must explore the historical articulations of state, civil society, and class struggle in both the dominated and the dominant countries in the imperialist chain. 23
Zavaleta died in 1984, during the era of regional “democratization” that would also become a period deepening neoliberal reform in Latin America and elsewhere. Imperialism changed along with the prevailing methods of accumulation. Reacting to this in the late 1990s and 2000s, and arguably fulfilling Zavaleta’s national-popular hopes, the popular strata of Bolivia and others in the Latin American “Pink Tide” managed to mitigate and leave their imprint upon the new model. Whether or not these projects can endure today and whether they ever posed a substantive alternative to neoliberalism are open questions. One may even ask whether, as Zavaleta asserts at the end of “Problems of Dependent Determination and Primordial Form,” the nation is necessarily the locus of any collective self-determination to oppose empire and capital. Whatever the case, Zavaleta’s work reminds us not to settle for easy answers.
– Robert Cavooris
It is said that imperialism in its contemporary sense connotes or reveals “both the capitalist system as a whole and the political and economic dominance of the advanced countries within it.” 24 It wasn’t always so. In its original usage, imperialism only signified the monopoly phase of capitalism, which is to say that “imperialism is not a political or ideological phenomenon but expresses the imperative necessities of advanced capitalism.” 25 We prefer the first definition because, although the structural outline or model of regularity which a concept itself grasps is important, a process never appears only in its essence or core: a structural determination is always revealed by its ideological form, and the combinatory of both structure and ideology must always produce a politics.
In this work we want to consider the question of the construction of politics [la política] in relation to the tension between authoritarian forms and democratic movements, considered in their points of origin. We refer here to the current authoritarian experiences in Latin America. This supposes a consideration of the contradictory movements between the flow (decree or ukase) from the global centers, especially the United States, toward the periphery, which speaks to an exogenous determination of political form (which we consider as the moment of homogeneity of the regional political model, inasmuch as it refers to a common statute for a number of key countries and the ability to impose a political norm) 26 and the local-historical causation within a formation (that is, its heterogeneity, because here we focus instead on the differentia specifica of societies) or its primordial form. 27 We will also pose some considerations about the relationship between economic surplus 28 and democratic-representative receptivity [disponibilidad], as well as about the margins of hegemonic constitution or negative hegemony that tend to appear within authoritarian experiences. 29
I. Cycles of Determination
The first aspect to examine is the degree of self-identity that these societies have, the extent to which they determine their own politics and, in short, the degree to which they have constituted a self-determining nucleus. The tendency in current studies is to suppose that, if this self-determining nucleus exists, it is diminishing. Harry Magdoff, for example, speaks of “the emergence of the multinational firm as more powerful entity than the nation state” 30 while authors like Raymond Vernon have been able to write that “concepts such as national sovereignty and national economic strength appear curiously drained of meaning.” 31 Poulantzas, in one of his recent works, has gone farther. We are supposedly living through the very dissolution of the old national States: “What we are faced with is not the emergence of a new state over and above the nations, but rather with ruptures of the national unity underlying the existing national states.” But not only that: “The metropolitan mode of production reproduces itself, in a specific form, within the dominated and dependent formations themselves.” 32 Here, in other words, Poulantzas assigns to the multinational entity not only the ability to dissolve old nation states, but also to reconstruct in its image and aspect the very “dominated and dependent formations,” which certainly goes beyond the most extensive dependency thesis (that of Quijano) which spoke of a closed correspondence between local history and the historical phase of the center, but not of the occupation of the former by the latter.
We propose deliberation on this subject based on a sketch of two relative cycles that, in our judgement, correctly express moments of homogenous input or political provision. It should be clear from the outset that we assume the existence not only a structural oppression, but a conscious political proposition of one kind or another. The two cycles to appraise would be:
A. The cycle of the dissolution of the populist-representative experiences that occurred between 1963 and 1965. This is a characteristic example of the flow or issuance from the center to the periphery. In this period, various Latin American countries lived through a series of coups d’etat or forced displacements of power with identical characteristics and modi operandi between them, even in countries completely distinct from one another. It is a sequence that begins with the fall of Juan Bosch in the Dominican Republic at the end of 1963. In the course of 1964, Carlos Julio Arosemena in Ecuador, João Goulart in Brazil, and Víctor Paz Estenssoro in Bolivia will also be defeated. In 1965, in what could be considered the apex point of this cycle, Arturo Illia is deposed in a coup headed by General Onganía in Argentina. 33
B. The cycle that constituted the current authoritarian regimes in the Southern Cone. These begin with the defeat of the populist government of Juan José Torres in Bolivia (1971), the effective militarization of power under a representative-democratic cloak in Uruguay (around 1973), the coup that ended the Allende government in Chile during that same year, and that of the Argentine armed forces against the second period of Peronism in 1976. It is of course pertinent to consider the Brazilian military dictatorship as a premonitory experience for these models. 34
It’s clear that the key point of Cycle A is given by the controversy surrounding the diplomatic isolation of the Cuban Revolution. All of the defeated regimes coincide in only two features: in having a representative origin, that is, being the product of an electoral process, and in their opposition to North American diplomatic pressure that promoted the collective break with the Cuban regime. For different reasons, only Bosch and Goulart appeared as the resulting phenomena of greater social efforts that exceeded them. 35 Nonetheless, what interests this kind of analysis is the existence of homological [homológico] episodes, that is the capacity to produce homogeneous results or forms by a political decision (an emission or decree) from the center of power. The exogenous formation of the coups d’etat shows that, although at the price of an undoubtable expenditure, the North American political apparatus had the strength necessary to impose such displacements on national conditions that perhaps would not have been carried out on their own. Here, punishment diplomacy only begins to define itself, but it contains the revelation of a virtuality. In contrast with this, in Cycle B the homological tendency is more organic and direct, it appears more structural: it is not a question only of punishment but of the subsumption of a political model, which turns out to be very illuminating because it demonstrates at the same time a conception of the real insertionality [insercionalidad] of political models, a sense of practical obedience to a functional plan.
What is notable is that in all of the examples of Cycle B the democratic autonomy of the masses had previously acquired an eloquence and a greater extension than in the prior democratic-representative frame, a bursting of democratic institutions by the democratic surge of the multitude. 36 Representative democracy appeared as a primer for real democratization or self-determination, but the latter, democracy as self-constitution, overflowed the feeble rules of representative democracy. The cases can be summarized in the following way, following the chronological order of their existence.
BOLIVIA. In the antagonistic contradiction between a rightist military conspiracy headed by general Rogelia Miranda and the substitution-defense of Ovando by the populist military group of Juan José Torres (October 1970), a forceful general strike imposes the triumph of the counter-coup by the latter. The proletarian mobilization imposes the populist-military success, but this does not include a parallel success of the populist-military idea in the proletariat. There is then an external intervention in the military contradiction, a determination achieved through the workers’ movement, which speaks to a division within the repressive apparatus in an advanced phase of state crisis (there is no revolutionary crisis without a split in the repressive apparatus), and at the same time reveals a combination between a certain capacity of political action [hacer política] and a relative hegemonic incapacity, which is manifested in the Popular Assembly, on the part of the working class. In any case, although Torres aspired to the reconstitution of the relative autonomy of the State, back to its form of existence between 1952 and 1964, events exceeded any plan. The coexistence of a motley [abigarrada] civil society, unknown and for the most part self-constituted, and the State, militarized since 1964, turned out to be infeasible. Torres had, in the end, a derivative existence, and the working class tended toward the expansion of its area of political-ideological command. 37
URUGUAY. An advanced degree of social democratization 38 and a political structure with a fairly consistent democratic-representative base – although accompanied by semi-corporative modalities – composed the elements of the Uruguayan system dating back to the constitutive moment principally manifested by the figure of Batlle y Ordóñez, which encompasses an entire epoch. 39 Just as surprising as the formative amplitude of this system is the loss of its hegemonic validation that begins toward the end of the 1960s: this will not manifest itself until the 1970s with the growth of the armed movement (the Movimiento de Liberación Nacional) and the development of a powerful labor movement, which acquires an unprecedented pugnacity; between them, an electoral coalition comes together that threatens to put an end to the corporativist dead end of the two-party electoral system. The virtual defeat of the officialist candidate was the prediction of a sure social offensive against a structure that had lost its distributive margin (because of the dissolution of the classical surplus [excedente], which had been proportionally so vast) and also, immediately, its hegemonic margin. 40 The practical militarization of power defenestrated a political logic that no one believed in anymore.
CHILE. In what was one of the few stable representative democracies of the global periphery (because here we suppose that the democratic locus has to do with the capture of what could be called, in a debatable term, the global surplus), Chile had configured a political system comparable in all its structures to the political model of European democracy in its paradigmatic form, that is, multi-party formation, with universal electoral freedom, wide-ranging union expansion, and relative autonomy of the State, i.e., a detachment between political domination and class domination to the extent that such a thing could exist. Nonetheless, the dichotomy of the Chilean formation permits one to distinguish between a sophisticated political and state apparatus and (in contrast to Uruguay and Argentina, which were a sort of inversion of the case) a weak pattern of social democratization. Political equality (although rooted in a deep loyalty to the state) coexisted with an essentially oligarchic social rule. With the use of the relative autonomy of the state, converted here into a conception or myth of the masses (power, supposedly, achievable by the vote), these masses who were excluded by the second aspect of the dichotomy (weak social democratization), threatened without a doubt to follow their representative triumph with a hegemonic reconstitution that was not any less dangerous for its being erratic. The robust reaction from the authoritarian depths of the Chilean State and society demonstrated the limited reach of the democratic form wherever it does not express the substantiality of social equality. 41
ARGENTINA. In this country, one of the world’s great social experiments, the democratic form coincides in the most literal form with the disposition of a surplus (in fact associated with a democratic constitutive moment, although within its own limitations, that was its massive European immigration). Representative democracy will never be able to return to the levels reached in the decades that accompanied a surplus that is simply enormous at a global level (1880–1930). The country demonstrates a capacity for capture or maintaining of a surplus [excedente] much superior for example to that of Peru in relation to the guano industry. Peronism engenders or expresses (this is something to specify) a new society and also a new state model (although for a limited time). It is at its base an extremely extensive phenomenon of social democratization, and as such, while Argentina’s mode of political change from the time of Uriburu may appear more like Bolivia or Guatemala, it also nonetheless reached the highest level on the continent with respect to real democratization. The various subsequent attempts to reimplant legitimacy, with pre-peronist civil forms or in anti-peronist military forms, will thus fail before what was an authentic constitutive moment of the masses around the peronist interpellation. The peronist bureaucracy itself, powerful among unions but politically indigent (because Argentine politics are oligarchic), after the return of Peron [in 1973] felt itself at the mercy of the masses who were only complying with their constitutive pattern. 42
Identical even in its programmatic enunciation, the model that the North Americans attempted to impose on these countries is based on the following assumptions:
a) In the verticalist reorganization of civil society, it is necessary to replace the natural organizational and group forms (those produced by the operation of society itself) with forms of a corporative type. It is obvious that the problems of originary determination and form lead not just to a reading of civil society by power, but to the reconstruction of social anarchy in terms of “governability.” This means in reality something like a “constitution” or appellation of classes, forms, parties, and mediations from the State, or rather, from the neoconservative vision that is embodied in the braintrust that is here identified with the State. 43
b) The economic strategy is based on the dogma of the world system, which is the sense that nothing outside its rites or utility has a rational perspective; i.e., the dogma of the unassailability of the world system. For this reason, the transnationalization of productive activity moves away schizophrenically from any national logic. In other words, the national State – it is thought – only peaks when the economy is completely refigured toward transnationalization. The logic of viable insertion into the world system is more important than the logic of national aggregation. The manicheism of world “bipolarity” drives the desire to be committed or connected in the deepest way to the center which in this case is not only dominant but also hegemonic (this is the rationality of the privileged satellite state), a consequence explained by the seductive technological-economic development of the leading power. 44
c) The so-called national security doctrine, which is the political-military side of the theory of democratic ungovernability, is its explicit official ideology. There is a logical scission involved in this: the solution to dependency is the final organization of dependency. The massive use of the media is founded on the principle of reception, on “public opinion” as its output. An irrationalist Weltanschauung is diffused whose components include the ideologemes of occidentalism, eurocentrism, hispanism or its equivalent, anti-communism, pan-Catholicism, etc. In a way, all of this is but the expansion or exploitation of reactionary sentiments that exist in the collective unconscious of these societies (although here we should consider the question of dual traditions). 45
d) The model distinguishes between small and great terrors. While the first tends to be a means for contestation, the second contains a representation of the world, or rather a substitute representation of the world. The model proposes a generalization of terror as a movement of ideological reconstitution; the function of repression is not directed toward a verifiable entity of resistance, but rather toward the reconstruction of a horizon of references. This is what is called the construction of a negative hegemony.
Ideological Conditions of Emission
The model described, which is of course its formal origin but not its practical conclusion, suggests the hypostasis of a synonymous state superstructural nucleus and divergent and at times isolated socio-historical material bases. 46 The superstructure, it is said, should be autochthonous, or originary in nature. One can extend this logic and say that the superstructure expresses the diversity of world history. One cannot speak of it as a regularity or identity with respect to the reiterative model or paradigm of the capitalist mode of production, since its character is given by the articulatory slant [sesgo] or economic-social formation. 47
The fact itself that such an authoritarian-vertical model or project exists speaks directly to the form of the “construction of the political” in the region. 48 Of course, every organic moment implies superstructural effects because that is the nature of society as a totality of totalities. But if we separate the political periphery from the political center, and still more if we focus on the ideal type of the construction of politics (which is that of Cycle B), it is clear that, at least in these circumstances, there is a homogeneity in the state enunciation (in the suggested model for this component of the superstructure) and a heterogeneity or motleyness in the historical base or civil society toward which it is directed. This is a false form of unity in a geographical region that nonetheless possesses other much more verifiable features that tie it together.
The North American authoritarian-vertical paradigm demonstrates, by other concepts, a particular conception of political science, in the sense of social knowledge with power over practices. Indeed, it is assumed here that the adequate composition of inputs permits one to arrive at a prototype and that this, emitted from its point of origin, should be functional in relation to a geographical-political zone that can be considered homogenous (this, naturally, is an ideological vision). From this distance we can only guess at the reasoning behind this. The capacity for spatial impact (for example, Texas) of certain determinations and even the emission of examples or seductions in the manner of the American Revolution must be considered as representational antecedents of the ideology with which North Americans (policymakers and common people alike) look toward Latin America -- that is, manifest destiny. In large part, theirs (in all its grandeur) is a country made against or by holding back all that is today Latin America. To imagine that the vertical-authoritarian model or the structure of the highest stage of the capitalist mode of production are somehow unrelated to this collective subjective fact would no doubt put us on the wrong path.
Whatever its origin, we are speaking of a voluntarist vision of history. This would in no way be an aggregation of material compounds, of cycles and complex processes with a causal-explicative coherence, but would instead enunciate the principle that a “technique” or demonstration is transformative in itself to the extent that it is ex ante located in a correct survey of the terrain for the output, which is, in this case, an important part of Latin American society. Scientific knowledge [saber] is thus attributed the capacity of an effective political will wherever we, no doubt from a very distant position, speak of rational and verifiable processes.
All of this is from the point of view that considers that history is the act of the core country and its reception in the periphery. Even if this point of view is situated outside the core, it could arrive at an equally monist conclusion, in the sense that things would always occur only in one direction. This is what happens for instance with the theory of dependency which was, at least, an attempt to think things from the other point of view. Let us leave aside, for the time being, the temptation to think of the capitalist mode of production as something whose uniqueness was fixed from the beginning, and also the other closely connected temptation to assume dependency as a productive mode given to its own laws. By contrast, in its general reasoning, if the basic character of Latin American social formations is given by dependency, and if this imbues the collection of its instances in such a way so as to be determinant in each one of them, then the central aspect of the world structure would already have definitively subordinated all that in their moment were local histories, national moments. 49 The very image of a world system, in the manner of Immanuel Wallerstein, entails a certain global accounting of value that is itself useless for all concrete analysis of class struggle. We might add that, with Latin America’s insertion into the world system being even more intense than other peripheral regions, what occurs in Latin America, above all with reference to its political determination or character of domination, would be nothing but the reflection or correspondence of processes, decisions, or impulsions that come from the determining centers of the world.
We mentioned above the role of national history converted into analytical bias when speaking of the North American application of the structural mechanism of imperialism. This means that notwithstanding that dependency may in technical terms be similar, for example, in Taiwan and Bolivia, there is nonetheless something specific in the Latin American form of dependency, and this has no other explanation than ideology. We are a constitutive reference point for the North American nation, and the Taiwanese are not. Let us now see the consequences that our own prejudices have in this order of things. The problem that a postulation like this raises is the effective relations between the local form and the existence of a world system, which certainly does not refer only to the market. 50 The anti-colonialist tradition itself has induced Latin American social scientists to take for granted that the backwardness and marginality of the region are consequences of an extrinsic and structural interference, which would thus form the historical frame or composite of dependency. 51It is for this reason that anti-imperialism is more alive in Latin America than the study of base social formations. It is for this reason that there is more discussion of U.S. military intervention than of the role of what is now Latin America in the development of world agriculture, that is to say, the native appropriation of the environment. In whatever form, this is like the relationship between tactical action and strategic action. There is not a single fundamental problem in the region that is unrelated to the question of interference, but none will have a solution if the initial reasons are ignored. Dependency itself must be considered in relation to the constitutive historical patterns of each social formation. In this case, we presume it would become very clear that the obliterations of capitalist development do not arise only from its late installation in the area, which is true in a relative sense, but rather that the Latin American historical depths already contain them in their constitutive principle, as productive ossifications and as traditional ideologies. In other words, that the preparation for political independence turned out to be simpler here than intellectual reform.
In the present context of what we could call a Latin American irredentism, there would be no national histories. What would usually be categorized as such would in that way only be the repercussion in this territory of the history of the core or benefactor countries. Dependency would permanently beget dependency. Such is the sort of manichaeism that emerges from an overly structural point of view. 52 Without a doubt, if something can be demonstrated with certainty, it is that movements and conjunctures of the economic centers (which here are not given the character of historical centers) act as a cause for certain inflections or derivations that must produce effects in the peripheries linked to them. About this there can be no mistake: today there are no uncontaminated histories, and there is a world element in every local or national history. Such is the connection between the world economy and national processes. What is important is to define is the degree of self-determination [autodeterminación] that a national history can have, the conditions in which a self-determining process is produced.
The world center’s capacity for effectiveness owing to its structural location is well known by its organic intellectuals. There is a famous aphorism: the breeze in Washington is a hurricane in Managua. We are, nonetheless, facing something new. The emission of models or political paradigms like those that configure what we have brought together under the heading of model B is thus the result of a particular conception (social science as social technique) and at the same time an absolutization of that causal ability. This has to do with one of the foundational insights of Marxism itself: each person sees things from within their own horizon of visibility. In other words, the position of dominance produces effects at the level of knowledge. An advanced country is so because, among other reasons, it is a unified, continuous, quantifiable, and expressible one. Backward, underdeveloped, or dependent ones are so because, among other reasons, they are not knowable through the capitalist terms of social science; because they have a deep motley [abigarrado] and unquantifiable core. It is clear, then, that this is a case of applying one’s own method of knowledge to the consideration of foreign countries. 53
The manner in which the current authoritarian model in Chile was established is very illustrative of these uneven correlations. It is known, for example, as demonstrated by the ITT documents published by the Popular Unity government, that the relations between this transnational company and [the prior president and coup supporter] Frei were important, to put it one way. The U.S. embassy and the business acted as a single entity. 54 This was not enough to prevent Allende’s victory. The activity of intelligence agencies undoubtedly organized the destabilization of his government and accelerated its fall, but it cannot be said that the efficient cause was U.S. intervention. In truth, what was obtained and then lost was obtained and lost on the terms of Chilean class struggle, that is, on the terms of its national history. In other words, although it is true that Pinochet is almost a classical application of the authoritarian-vertical model, he himself would not have been possible if Chilean conditions did not create a space for its reception.
We have then a certain inter-complimentary development between the conception that assumes a model can be emitted and dispensed (which carries certain assumptions of its own about the type of axis or relation between state and society in developed countries like Germany or the United States) and a sort of fatalism that accompanies at least certain visions within what is called dependency theory. It is necessary now to state that not even if such premises were verifiable (which is doubtful) could one claim that the center-periphery flow and its opposite, the dependency-flow reception point, are something constant, linear, or homogenous. We therefore no longer retain the issue of the general ideological conditions that produce movements between center and periphery, but are instead interested in the moment, site, or conjuncture of both the imperialist flow and the dependent reception. Of course, it is a common sense observation to say that the emission or flow (determination from the dominant viewpoint) is in no way a constant. There are undoubtedly moments of greater emission, of simple emission, or even of a clear ebb, what might be described as an overdetermination of the flow owing to changes in world co-relations. One moment of greater emission, for instance, was the phase of the constitution of the mode and sphere of North American imperialism itself which is related, for example, to the Monroe Doctrine. This emission therefore has to do with the history of its installation and our conditions now are the difficulties (in Cuba, in Nicaragua, in El Salvador) that the North Americans have in abandoning the fetishized circumstances of their own national history. In this sense, the U.S. interventions and territorial conquests, above all in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America, were something like originary moments of U.S. national mythology, like the spirit with which the imperialist structure exists as a phase of capitalism. Contrario sensu, the Second World War appears as a relatively weak moment of such emission. The consequences for Latin American industrialization are well known.
The result is that the center or command cannot treat matters of information or investigation within its dependent societies in the same way as its own civil society. North American society is docile in the face of its State and the State is sensitive to what its society says because this relationship acquires the character of a state optimum [óptimo estatal]. It is obvious, nonetheless, that it tends to behave as if the whole world were its “civil society.” That is not the case, and without these sort of uncertain openings, history would consist only in the accrual of more power to the powerful. Instead, uncertainties accrue to uncertainties. To obstruct the formation of local apparatuses of legibility in dependent societies is part of the imperialist conception; in other words, the mere fact that exogenous determination is at least one of the components of the construction of politics impedes the existence of a relationship of conformity between society and its political condensation, which is the state. It impedes the existence of a state-optimum in the dependent country. 55
We can say in short that it is not simple to obtain general categories on this subject. The character of each dependency is given by the circumstances of transmission but also by the mode of reception on the part of a national history, that is, by a primordial compound. In other words, each social formation or country produces a particular type of dependency. Dependency is by its nature a particular fact.
Primordial Form and Economic Surplus
It is necessary then to comment on the primordial form or compound, or the frame of self-determination that each formation has, the degree to which the principium determinationis obtains an interior placement in the formation. Because it is one thing to say that the primordial form exists, and another to say that this form, sporadic by nature, converts into a structure of self-determination, what Sereni calls a “nation for itself.” This level is absolutely connected with the democratic question. 56 In reality, the degree of democratic self-determination is the negative measure of dependency and in that sense, for example, the universal and verifiable configuration of power, the participatory intensity in the enunciation of the general will, and the degree of equality in the consumption of the national product are each indicators as important as the existence of an internal market itself, the collectivization of real subsumption, or intellectual revolution. 57
In this order of things, it is clear that the “interference” or transmission has in fact very limited possibilities. The working-class accumulation, for example, is scarcely influenced by whether it occurs in opposition to a transnational or national capitalist business. It depends on other circumstances. 58 We are interested in reflecting on this topic’s relationship with the general theme of receptivity in constructing the political and, more specifically, its relationship with economic surplus.
If by receptivity we understand a moment of the general mood in which, for whatever reason, a sort of ideological vacancy or freedom is produced and with it a resulting consensual replacement of beliefs or loyalties, which is without a doubt an exceptional sociological moment, we can draw the following inferences. First receptivity does not necessarily imply self-determination; on the contrary, history offers many examples of receptivity without the capacity for self-determination. On the other hand, receptivity does not necessarily include or relate to an economic surplus. There are cases of receptivity with scarcely a surplus or even without one and, moreover, it could even be said that receptivity generates a surplus where one did not previously exist by reformulating the valence of social factors. Nonetheless, the association between these ideas is not arbitrary. The greater or lesser existence of a surplus can compensate for the lack of profundity in the constitutive moment and, in any case, is decisive to give one character or another to the exploitation or interpellation which follows the moment of receptivity.
Certainly there are possible empirical examples of all this, but they are contradictory. It is true, for example, that the representative democratic period and even the transition itself of the oligarchic State to a mass democracy occurred in Argentina between 1880 and 1930, which is to say, in the period of a surplus only slightly less than infinite; but democratic receptivity was not unrelated to immigration, and not only that, but to the particular type of immigration: that of the failed revolutions of 1848 and the 1870s in Europe. Chile, for its part, transformed its republican form (which appears to have been a kind of institutional decorum) into a representative democracy, in a process that moves from democratic oligarchy – in which bribery is the key form of interaction – toward the relative autonomy of the state. This is only consolidated with Aguirre Cerda (1938), in the period that corresponds to the surplus of nitrates (saltpeter), later expanded with the surplus from copper, both situated, in what is a contingency of great ideological significance, in the territories conquered from Bolivia and Peru. 59
It is possible to compare one of the more coherent uses of a surplus and one of the more wasteful. Costa Rica and Uruguay, with modest surpluses, achieved the tasks of modernization with considerable success. Peru, by contrast, with its formidable surplus of guano, did not manage to become anything but what Peru had always been – in Bolivar’s words, only “gold and slaves.” Why, nonetheless, should Venezuela, the typical country of depredation, regionalism, and the “oficio de difuntos,” be able produce afterward, such a paradoxical democratic phase coinciding point by point with its epoch of surplus, beginning in the 1940s? 60 We extract from these perhaps superficial observations a conclusion that is, in itself, undebatable: democracy considered as representation (this is its quantitative verification, but its quality is already the relative autonomy of the state) has only existed in a lasting way in the core zones of the world economy. From this, occidentalists deduce that the autonomy of the state, the rational form of power, the bureaucracy, social calculation, and equal right, are essential characteristics of the West and not circumstances derived from its type of access to the division of the global surplus. The surplus however successfully instigates the ideological-moral transformation, i.e., the imposition of a new historical sense of temporality (although this will be mentioned again as a “Western” sense of time), and in sum immediately produces the building of mediations or ideological apparatuses and the constitution of sociological record-keeping or the calculation of social mobility.
It is for this reason that it is so risky to reduce the presence of receptivity to the actuality of the economic surplus. Although it’s true, for example, that the arising and loss of representative democracy in Argentina was also the rise and loss of its relatively large surplus, here we cannot omit other factors as central to its originary accumulation as the foundational conception of space, the effective conquest of space, and the preparation, with all its distortions, of ideological-moral prodromes. 61 Therefore, if the correlation exists, it exists in any case as part of a complex digression.
This means that if the reduction of receptivity to economic surplus is a pyrrhic economistic variation, its reverse, receptivity as an inspired act, would bring us to understand it as a type of messianic delivery. It appears to us that what should be kept in mind is the quality of the process of totalization, or multicausal and agglutinating events. The revolutionary situation, or, if you will, the general national crisis as a catastrophe belonging to our era, is a typical form of determinative receptivity that has to do only in a mediated way with its economic cause. It is a phenomenon of social substitution or reconstruction with only superfluous reference to the economic surplus. It is the profundity of the collective epistemic rupture and the following state of fluidity that is really important.
Mexico, which in this is a true prototype, was configured in the moment of its social explosion of 1910 as a gelatinous civil society, that is, disarticulated in its elements, incapable of producing homogeneous determinations toward power or even of influencing it, with a pattern of radical dependency in the economy and at the same time almost no capacity for a project of self-government. 62 Non-self-determination was a principle almost as categorical as self-determination would later become in revolutionary rhetoric. Nonetheless, all of this – the exogenous form of its economy, the intrinsic lack of power, the weakness of civil society – would not come into play except in an “actual” cycle of formulation, where it turned out to be superficial. The proposition of the masses [proposición de masa] proved various things. 63 In the first place, that there were criteria of the articulatory impulse far beyond the economistic way of understanding civil society, which is proper to Western history; ergo, a civil society that was secretly more powerful than Porfirismo could have guessed by its appearance. Exceeding any existing state or institutional figure, the society in action produced one of the vastest experiments of social receptivity, which is of course not unrelated to the one million deaths. It must be stated, if only in passing, that this, receptivity, is the character belonging to total revolution, its crux, whatever its character. Mexican society was a dependent society by all appearances, but it showed itself, by its later developments, to have been an “unknown quantity.” To dominate in fact does not mean to know, much less to be hegemonic. On the contrary, the United States as a society dominating Mexico turned out to be completely incapable of analysis, as has almost always been the case in its political analyses of Latin America. In short, all of the U.S. preconceptions about Mexico were false, and without a doubt it was the U.S. economy that had to adapt itself to the conditions provided by the Mexican Revolution, and not the reverse. 64
The above argument could be developed in the following way: the peripheral economy, insofar as it is part of the world system, exists as if it were part of the core economy and, in this sense, exists because it is functional to it. On the other hand, without exception, there are always national or intrinsic aspects of any economy. The linking of the dependent economy with the center could even affect value formation in the latter (the central economy); but if that occurs it is because there is a certain specificity that reduces whatever the center’s value would be without it. In other words, no economy, even the most internationalized, belongs completely to the world system, and this is true in an even greater sense for those other aspects, ideological and juridical-political, of society. The primordial form, in other words, never succumbs entirely to central determination. The Mexican society of the revolution had the unseen aptitude to outwardly impose compact structures of self-determination. The clash between one factor (the external) and the other (the endogenous) was resolved in favor of the second. It is certain, in other respects, that this same triumph of the endogenous did not overflow the limits of its express project or terms because it did become but a more advanced reformulation of the dependent pattern.
In whatever form, for the constitution of a new national State, the very expansion of the mobilized masses (mobilizations on this scale form, in themselves, constitutive acts) and, on the other hand, their very diffuse aptitude for all forms of power other than that which arose (the Mexican political class arises from the combination of the intensity and then the fatigue of the masses), gave way to a circumstance of receptivity that was able to be functional for the emergent project despite the fact that the economic surplus, prime material of mediation, was initially insignificant. The profundity of the Mexican constitutive moment contrasts for this reason with the vastness of the economic surplus in the moment of the representative-democratic accumulation of Argentina, Chile, or Venezuela.
As a postulation of this reflection (which attempts to rescue a modicum of optimism in relation to national histories) it is helpful to thoroughly examine the development of the concrete emissions of the North American authoritarian-vertical model for the Southern Cone and its current validity. This model has been classified, with a certain unscrupulousness, as fascism, or at times as dependent fascism. 65 On this there is a discussion which could be said to be unfinished. 66 If it were legitimate to speak of fascism here, we would be facing a foundational act: that of the authoritarian reconstruction of society, or the final submission of civil society to the state’s elan in the manner of the German historical example. This would mean that the refoundation of society should involve compliance, at least as a “matter of factness,” for a long period. These are models based on a certain kind of evidence. The ungovernability of democracy is, to the eyes that see the development of the social process as a hostile predestination, Kerensky engendering the Bolsheviks without knowing it. On the other hand, it is undeniable that democracy was ungovernable, that it overflowed the limits given by the dictatorship or character of the class for which it had been conceived. This is true for all of the given examples. 67
Nonetheless, to compare in a strict sense the ungovernability, in the manner of those incipient acts of the multitude in Goulart’s Brazil, with a general national crisis, would seem to express only the long terror stemming from the somber global shift caused by the cycle of revolutions, including, above all, the Russian. The truth is that none of the Latin American countries, perhaps with the relative exception of Chile, which had its own conservative history, brought together the most elemental requisites of this superstructural model that we call fascism. Not only because their ungovernability was incomparable to the general national crisis that was overcome in the Germany of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. In fact, the dispersed discontent of first-generation proletarians and landless peasants in a country with ample land (Brazil) is one thing, such events in the fatherland of peasant rebellions and the country that gave birth to the very idea of the workers’ party are another. Furthermore, does the extrinsic character of monopoly capital in Latin America mean nothing? Germany by contrast, if indeed its own capitalism lagged behind in geopolitical exploitation, is nonetheless one of the original settings of intellectual reform, and not just its recipient. The German development of chemistry in the 19th century is the manifestation of the substitution of the three-field crop rotation system through real subsumption. It is, furthermore, the origin of monopoly capital; the very idea of monopoly capital becomes an empty shell if not intrinsically associated with real subsumption. In the end, Germany, just like Italy, was emblematic of extremely potent national determinations and a weak national constitution. Hence, the banishment of the Junkers, barbarically reactionary but at the same time deeply local. It is obvious that in countries like Argentina, to give an example, the solution to the national question was easy, not delayed and also lacking in dramatic profundity when compared with Mexican nationalization, to give one example. Therefore, the symbolic intensity of the irrational as a channel for unity was not required in the same way. The facts demonstrate, therefore, the extent to which the fascist model shows that politics are the corollary of a local accumulation. In other words, if fascism was the sum of the late resolution of the national question, of early monopoly capitalism, and of the reactionary solution of the general national crisis or boom of receptivity, this was only possible on the basis of how an originary accumulation took place, i.e., the successive quelling of the peasant wars and, after, the reactionary solution to the social democratic controversy.
The fact is that the authoritarian-vertical model, leaving aside for now whether it was fascism in nuce or not, was transmitted. Moreover, and this is important, it was part of a military–military affirmation, without any initial consideration of the political-ideological apparatus and with the clear idea that society can be reformed from above. This is in fact something essential, demonstrating the apothegm that decisive repression can constitute ideology and furthermore omit (eliminate) the previous one. 68 It is notable that those who leapt to exploit the reactionary side of the ideological heritage trust so little the existing ideological apparatus, meaning that they had a precise knowledge of them. 69
Fascism, nonetheless, contains at the same time: 1) a fascist mass movement (because it is fascism of the entire people, el fascio), something characteristically totalitarian and globalizing; 2) an irrationalist project, but deeply integrated in world history; and c) a fascist structure of power, which is to say the unlimited superiority of the State over society. One should not forget what Ernst Forshoff [sic] said: the State itself transforms, that is, in “the administration of order it becomes the guardian of order in support of the production process.” 70 In other words, the current German “social State” is the result of the Nazi experience, of all the democratic defeats in the establishment of the German State and nation, but it is not so easy to install wherever such defeats have not occurred. 71 Projects or ideologemes of a fascist type exist everywhere and are not always imbued or involved in a mass movement. The social State or social control of the market are a consequence of the defeat of civil society or the anti-democratic resolution of the successive constitutive moments in Germany. 72 But, it is true, at the same time, that important conservative ideas exist in the national ideological heritages of Uruguay, Argentina, or Chile, and in every country. This corresponds to the essential duality of all tradition. 73 Without the summation of these moments, however, one cannot speak of the implantation of fascism.
The thesis of the “ungovernability” of the democracy thus becomes a dead end. The suppression of the overt act produces only an a-statism or sub-statism in the sense that the State must take up and connote that which exists in society. Representative democracy is, in this sense, a method of knowing or monitoring society. It is, in other words, a delayed mechanism of oppression. In fact, the non-automatic character of reproduction on an expanded scale not only demands the visibility of the state superstructure, that is, its consequences or mediations, but rather, in a prior moment, demands the investigation of the sense of the perpetuum mobile that is the economic base of the capitalist mode of production. This is what we could designate as the vertical function or legitimate knowledge in capitalism. Never is the capitalist mode of production so legitimate as when it “knows” in this way. The free manifestation of civil society’s meaning making acts converts its movement into something detectable and registrable.
The second movement of representative democracy consists of its presence in the construction of politics. Here the free selection of the personnel of sovereignty is a requisite of the suitability of the apparatus to take in or compute the information that has been made legible beginning with freedom of expression. Representative self-determination, in this sense, expresses the grade of the validity of the State. In other words, the myth of the efficiency of dictatorships is simply a kind of apology for extra-economic coercion.
The primordial form or form of national self-determination as well as the democratic principle continue to be the historical basis of all societies. These two dimensions of representative democracy – the dimension of reading, i.e., the vertical or gnoseological, and the horizontal or instrumental aptitude of the apparatus – should be taken into account in relation to the exogenous interference in the construction of politics (present in models A and B). The elemental advantage of the democratic enunciation revolves around its compulsion toward what society is in its reality. The dictatorial form, therefore, tries to impose on it a paradigm of panthelism [paradigma pantelista], referred to a vertical determination. Here it should be said that all real power, all real politics requires an accumulation in situ. The construction of the superstructure is the revelation of the specific difference of the formation. The contradictory results of the plebiscites over constitutional propositions in Uruguay and Chile, or the active discontent in Bolivia and Argentina, the democratic pressures in Brazil, show modes of reception of the model transmitted by the North American core: the societies reveal their democratic accumulation, even as the United States intends a homogeneous interaction. The offer (and the imposition) of a uniform model for dissimilar structures has in no way improved the conditions of the State for its planned objective, that is, the control of society. The chimera of the abolition of national sense and, even more, the agon of the dissolution of the national popular, fail before the innate sense of the human appropriation of history. The national continues to be the possible form of recognition in the terms of transnationalization. But it is true that it is one thing to imprint one’s own character on dependency, and it is another to erect a structure of self-determination.
– Translated by Robert Cavooris
|↑1||René Zavaleta Mercado, Estado Nacional o pueblo de pastores, in Obra completa, ed. Mauricio Souza Crespo, vol. 1 (La Paz: Plural 2011 ), 78.|
|↑2||Mauricio Gil Q., “Zavaleta Mercado: Ensayo de biografía intelectual,” in René Zavaleta Mercado: Ensayos, testimonios, y re-visiones, eds. Maya Aguiluz Ibargüen and Norma de los Rios Méndez (Buenos Aires: Miño y Dávila, 2006), 98.|
|↑3||James Dunkerley, “The Origins of the Bolivian Revolution of 1952: Some Reflections,” in Bolivia: Revolution and the Power of History in the Present (London: Institute for the Study of the Americas, 2007), 230.|
|↑4||René Zavaleta Mercado, “La Revolución Boliviana y el doble poder,” in Obra completa, ed. Mauricio Souza Crespo, vol. 1 (La Paz: Plural 2011 ), 538–39.|
|↑5||This same Barrientos regime would later collaborate with the CIA to assassinate Che Guevara in 1967.|
|↑6||Luis Tapia, La producción del conocimiento local: Historia y política en la obra de René Zavaleta (La Paz: Muela del Diablo Editores, 2002), 106–107.|
|↑7||Tapia, La producción del conocimiento local, 107. To this end, Zavaleta helped found the Movimiento Izquierdista Revolucionario and later joined the Bolivian Communist Party.|
|↑8||René Zavaleta Mercado, El poder dual en América Latina, in Obra completa, ed. Mauricio Souza Crespo, vol. 1 (La Paz: Plural, 2011 ), 394.|
|↑10||Tapia, La producción del conocimiento local, 106. See René Zavaleta Mercado, “Clase y conocimiento,” in Obra completa, vol. 2, originally published in 1975. For a later, more elaborate version of this argument, see “Problemas de la cultura, la clase obrera, y los intelectuales” in the same volume, from 1984.|
|↑11||Mauricio Gil Q., “Zavaleta Mercado: Ensayo de biografía intelectual,” 100.|
|↑12||René Zavaleta Mercado, Lo Nacional-popular en Bolivia (La Paz: Plural), 10.|
|↑16||Elvira Concheiro Bórquez, “René Zavaleta: una mirada comprometida,” in René Zavaleta Mercado: Ensayos, testimonios, y re-visiones, 187.|
|↑17||Diego Martín Giller, “René Zavaleta Mercado frente a la ‘Teoría de La Dependencia’: Algunas cuestiones en torno de la noción de la determinación dependiente y la forma primordial.” Revista Intersticios de la Política y la Cultura 4, no. 8 (2015): 115–32, 130–132.|
|↑18||Tapia, La producción del conocimiento local, 283.|
|↑20||Cristóbal Kay, Latin American Theories of Development and Underdevelopment (New York: Routledge, 1989), 136.|
|↑21||This is a translation of the title of Luis Tapia’s monograph on Zavaleta. See note 6.|
|↑22||Anne Freeland, afterword to Towards a History of the National-Popular in Bolivia, 1879–1980, (London: Seagull Books, forthcoming), 276-77. Where unsure, I have generally followed Freeland’s English renderings of Zavaleta’s conceptual terminology, and I thank her for sharing this afterword.|
|↑23||Tapia, La producción del conocimiento local, 290.|
|↑24||Originally published in Susan Bruna et al., América Latina: desarrollo y perspectivas democráticas (San José, Costa Rica: FLACSO, 1982), 55–83. [Translator’s Note: This translation based on a republication in René Zavaleta Mercado, Obra completa, ed. Mauricio Souza Crespo, vol. 2 (La Paz: Plural, 2013). I have included the corrected bibliographical citations provided by Souza Crespo in this translation. The unusual, apparently incomplete bricolage of subheadings, including a single numbered heading (“I. Cycles of Determination”) and a series of unnumbered subheadings with different page alignments, is also maintained from the original and republished editions.]; Robert B. Sutcliffe, “Conclusion,” in Studies in the Theory of Imperialism, eds. Roger Owen et al. (London: Longman, 1972), 322.|
|↑25||Tom Kemp, “The Marxist Theory of Imperialism,” in Studies in the Theory of Imperialism, 17.|
|↑26||It is obvious that we do not consider in this way an imperialist act as a mere objective “emanation” from a relational structure. The objective condition could have different subjective expressions. For example, the ideology of North American imperialism toward Latin America has antecedents that are anterior to its economic domination. In any case, as emanation or as a selection, here we refer to an input [English in original] or active moment of the center upon the periphery, an undoubtedly central element for understanding the political forms in these latter societies. In some cases, the phase of the center has tended to be immediately linked to the phase of the peripheral locality.|
|↑27||By primordial form we understand the combinatory proper to the socio-economic formation as a particularity or the mode of reception for the central input. See René Zavaleta Mercado, “Movimiento obrero y ciencia social: La revolución democrática de 1952 en Bolivia y las tendencias sociológicas emergentes,” Historia y Sociedad: Revista Latinoamericana de Pensamiento Marxista, 2nd ser., no. 3 (1974): 3–35.|
|↑28||On the concept of economic surplus see Paul A. Baran, Excedente económico e irracionalidad capitalista (Córdoba: Cuadernos de Pasado y Presente, 1968). In any case, what interests us here is the ratio between a political project, the availability of material means or economic resources, and political aptitude. A type of optimum, for example, could result from a large economic surplus even if there is no great political receptivity or social malleability. The correlation between the capacity of social valuation or legibility and the receptivity within civil society can also, in some case, exceed the determination proper to the situation with its surplus. [TN: The Baran volume referenced here, which seems to be a major reference point for Zavaleta’s frequent use of the concept of surplus, includes translations of three Baran essays: “The Commitment of the Intellectual,” Monthly Review 13, no. 1 (May 1961): 8–18; “Crisis of Marxism? Part I,” Monthly Review 10, no. 6 (October 1958): 224–34; “Economie politique et politiques économiques,” Les Temps Modernes, no. 212 (Jan 1964): 1226–61. The collection also includes a brief original treatment, “The Concept of ‘Economic Surplus,’” authored by the Pasado y Presente collective.]|
|↑29||Because a deeply authoritarian act generates beliefs. This is the sense in which we speak of negative hegemony. See Norbert Lechner, Poder y orden: La estrategia de la minoría consistente (Santiago de Chile: FLACSO, 1977).|
|↑30||Michael Barrat Brown, “A Critique of Marxist Theories of Imperialism,” in Studies in the Theory of Imperialism, 57.|
|↑31||Raymond Vernon, Sovereignty at Bay: The Multinational Spread of U.S. Enterprises (New York: Basic Books, 1971.), 3.|
|↑32||Nicos Poulantzas, Classes in Contemporary Capitalism (London: New Left Books, 1975), 80, 46.|
|↑33||Juan Bosch, “Crisis de la democracia de América en la República Dominicana,” supplement, Panoramas (Mexico), no. 14 (1964); Thomas E. Skidmore, “Politics and Economic Policy Making in Authoritarian Brazil, 1937–71,” in Authoritarian Brazil: Origins, Policies, and Future, ed. Alfred C Stepan (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 3–46; Oscar Braun, El capitalismo argentino en crisis (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1973); William H. Brill, The Overthrow of Paz Estenssoro and the MNR, (Washington, DC: Institute for the Comparative Study of Political Systems, 1967).|
|↑34||See Jorge Gallardo Lozada, De Torres a Banzer: Diez meses de emergencia en Bolivia (Buenos Aires, Periferia, 1972); James Petras, ed., América Latina: Economía y política (Buenos Aires, Periferia, 1972); Oscar Landi, “La tercera presidencia de Perón: Gobierno de emergencia y crisis política,” Revista Mexicana de Sociología 39, no. 2 (April–June 1977): 531–65; Pedro Vuskovic et al., El golpe de Estado en Chile (Mexico City: FCE, 1975); Jorge Landinelli, “El movimiento obrero-popular y la crisis del Uruguay liberal,” (master’s thesis, FLACSO, 1978); Tomás Amadeo Vasconi, Gran capital y militarización en América Latina (Mexico City: Era, 1978); Gerónimo de Sierra, “Introducción al estudio de las condiciones de ascenso de las dictaduras: El caso uruguayo,” Revista Mexicana de Sociología 39, no. 2 (April–June 1977): 567–74; Peter Evans, A tríplice aliança: as multinacionais, as estatais e capital nacional no desenvolvimento dependente brasileiro (Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 1980); Jorge Rafael Videla et al., “Acta para el proceso de reorganización Nacional y jura de Junta Militar,” Argentina, March 24, 1976; See also the so called Decretos del Nuevo Orden in Bolivia, circa 1972.|
|↑35||In that time, Arosemena did nothing more than produce anti-imperialist symbols while Paz Estenssoro had already become a man who entrusted power in Bolivia to the Department of State. See Sergio Almaraz, Réquiem para una república (La Paz: UMSA, 1969). The level of mobilization in Brazil and the Dominican Republic show that beneath Goulart and Bosch much more extensive social forces were accumulating. In any case, all of these shared with Mexico the position of not isolating Cuba.|
|↑36||René Zavaleta Mercado, “Cuatro conceptos de la democracia,” Obra completa, vol. 2, 513–29. If one does not understand the distinction between democracy as a measure of the material basis of value production, democracy as a verification of the formulation of power, and democracy as a collective attitude, or as the capacity to invest the second meaning into the first, representative democracy in democratic distribution, one cannot understand the very distinct meaning that the term democracy has in one situation or another.|
|↑37||Guillermo Lora, De la Asamblea Popular al golpe fascista del 21 de agosto de 1971 (Santiago: Masas, 1973). René Zavaleta Mercado, El poder dual (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1974).|
|↑38||The explosive increase of surplus in the last quarter of the 19th century and the egalitarian tendencies of the immigrant masses that coincided with it “rewarded,” in effect, Uruguayan civil society for a prolonged period. Seen from posterity, social democratization was more important than political democratization and, in any case, the system broke down when facing its first crisis.|
|↑39||Carlos Real de Azúa, El impulso y su freno (Montevideo: Banda Oriental, 1964).|
|↑40||He was the officialist candidate not because he was that of the government but because the reform tendencies within the system included Frente Amplio votes as well as those of Ferreira Aldunate. In other words, semi-corporativism and the double simultaneous voting system were being disputed from within.|
|↑41||The Chilean political analyses were surprisingly weak considering the character of the events. In any case, for an analysis of the economy it is useful to see Aníbal Pinto, Chile, un caso de desarrollo frustrado (Santiago de Chile: Editorial Universitaria, 1973).|
|↑42||Tulio Halperín Donghi, Argentina: La democracia de masas (Buenos Aires: Paidós, 1972).|
|↑43||See Paulo Schilling, “Brasil: seis años de dictadura, torturas,” Cuadernos de Marcha 37 (1970); Golbery do Couto e Silva, Geopolítica del Brasil (Mexico City: El Cid Editor, 1978); Edgardo Mercado Jarrín, Seguridad, política, estrategia, (Buenos Aires: Schapire, 1975); Antonio Cavalla Rojas, El problema de la intervención institucional-militar (unpublished manuscript); Junta de Comandantes en Jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas, El proceso político: Las Fuerzas Armadas al Pueblo Oriental (Montevideo, 1978). [TN: “Braintrust” is in English in the original.]|
|↑44||Tomás Moulian and Pilar Vergara, “Estado, ideología y políticas económicas en Chile: 1973–1978,” Colección Estudios Cieplan (Santiago de Chile), no. 3 (June 1980): 65–120; Aldo Ferrer, “El monetarismo en Argentina y Chile,” Comercio Exterior (Mexico) 31, no. 1–2 (January–February 1981): 3–13 (no. 1), 176–192 (no. 2).|
|↑45||The concept of the West occupies a central place in this reasoning. It contains a messianic role that it views as proper to the European essence: “West is the West and never the twain shall meet” (Kipling). This is undoubtedly one of the key concepts to rightist thinking in the world. Still, it is also a mechanism of alienation inside of the progressive sectors themselves. There is a nationalism in Latin America, for example, that thinks that the occidental is part of the Latin American. Essentialism or culturalism reappear, barely dressed up, in various positions within the left. It is, in any case, one of the sacred words, like Christianity, in the fascist discourse [el discurso fascistizante].|
|↑46||The differences are well known. Argentina is the most fully capitalist country on the continent, and Bolivia has perhaps the largest pre-capitalist holdover sector. Brazil is the country with the largest marginal social layer, and Uruguay lacks almost anything similar. Chile, for its part, is an undemocratic socio-economic structure and nonetheless has deeply rooted habits of representative democracy.|
|↑47||René Zavaleta Mercado, “Las formas aparentes en Marx,” Obra completa, vol. 2, 425–57.|
|↑48||Claus Offe, “The Abolition of Market Control and the Problem of Legitimacy,” Kapitalistate 1 (1973): 106–16; The principle of “governability” figures in the report of the Trilateral Commission: Michael Crozier, Samuel P. Huntington, and Joji Watanuki, The Crisis of Democracy: Report on the Governability of Democracies to the Trilateral Commission (New York: New York University Press, 1975). In this sense the capacity of the State to transform or inform society becomes clear. It is true that democracy can impede governability; but governability is absolutely not guaranteed in a non-democratic regime. In whatever form, the to put the program of the “state axis” [eje estatal] in these terms is clearly reactionary.|
|↑49||The paradigm of this conception is André Gunder Frank: “This same structure extends from the macrometropolitan center of the world capitalist system ‘down’ to the most supposedly isolated agricultural workers who, through this chain of interlinked metropolitan satellite relationships, are tied to the central world metropolis and thereby incorporated into the world capitalisms as a whole.” See Frank, Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967), 16. Undoubtedly, Frank confuses capitalism’s real exposure to every last corner of the world with its productive incorporation of all such places. At its extreme, this thesis leads to the idea that “our development [is submitted] to certain specific laws that qualify it as a dependent development.” In other words, it implies that there exist two capitalist modes of production and one of them is the “dependent capitalist mode of production.” See Theotonio dos Santos, “La crisis de la teoría del desarrollo y las relaciones de dependencia en América Latina,” in Hélio Jaguaribe et al., La dependencia político-económica en América Latina (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1970) 147–87.|
|↑50||We can distinguish between a world market, which in itself is a metaphor because it refers to the great expansion of the moment of circulation that precedes the constitution of the capitalist mode of production itself, and the world economy. According to the information provided by professor Horst Grebe, world economy refers specifically to the dissemination of certain productive moments or scales. The global scaling of both, the world market and economy, nonetheless always fails in the composition of a world system because it involves prerequisite ideological-political-cultural necessities with vast local determining power.|
|↑51||Sutcliffe, “Conclusion,” in Studies in the Theory of Imperialism.|
|↑53||This is the logic of systems thinking. It makes no originary proposition of power, but rather takes it as something given. It is interested in the regulation of factors with regard to this.|
|↑54||The documents were published by the government of Allende in 1972. See Alain Touraine, Vida y muerte del Chile popular (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1974).|
|↑55||By state axis [eje estatal] we understand the type of relation that exists between civil society, the structures of mediation, and the political State. The optimum is the adequacy or correspondence between one and the others.|
|↑56||See Zavaleta, “Cuatro conceptos de la democracia.”|
|↑57||See Karl Marx, “Appendix: Results of the Immediate Process of Production,” Capital, trans. Ben Fowkes, vol. 1, (London: Penguin, 1976). [TN: The original footnote merely says, “Vease Karl Marx, El capital, Libro I. Capítulo VI (inédito).” Souza Crespo, in his edition, adds the publication information for the Spanish standard translation of Capital by Pedro Scarón, published by Siglo XXI. According to the organization of that translation, however, chapter six is “Constant Capital and Variable Capital,” the focus of which in no way corresponds to his comment here. In fact, because Zavaleta specifies that the chapter he refers to is “inédito,” or unpublished, it appears likely that he is citing “Results of the Immediate Process of Production,” a portion of the Capital manuscript that was not first published until the 1930s in German and Russian, and only later in other languages, perhaps leading Zavaleta to designate it as “inédito.” These chapters by Marx discuss the concept of real subsumption, on which Zavaleta remarks here, more extensively than at any other point in the first volume of Capital.]|
|↑58||Above all it depends on its own history or subjective accumulation.|
|↑59||On the question of surplus in the Argentine oligarchic State see Natalio Botana, El orden conservador: La política argentina entre 1880 y 1916 (Buenos Aires: Sudamericana, 1977); Ezequiel Gallo and Roberto Cortés Conde, Argentina: La república conservadora (Buenos Aires: Paidós, 1972). For the Chilean case, see Hernán Ramírez Necochea, Historia del imperialismo en Chile (Santiago: Austral, 1970).|
|↑60||TN: Zavaleta is apparently referring with this phrase, meaning “hymn of the dead,” to a novel by this name by Venezuelan author Arturo Uslar Pietri. The story deals somewhat satirically with the rise and reign of Venezuelan president Juan Vicente Gómez, who ruled discontinuously from 1922 to 1935. Relevant for Zavaleta’s mention of this work is that Gómez permitted an influx of foreign oil companies to operate after the country’s large petroleum deposits were discovered in 1918.|
|↑61||Tulio Halperín Donghi, Proyecto y construcción de una nación: Argentina, 1846–1880 (Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1980).|
|↑62||Raymond Vernon, The Dilemma of Mexico’s Development: The Roles of the Private and Public Sectors (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1963).|
|↑63||René Zavaleta Mercado, “Forma clase y forma multitud en el proletariado minero en Bolivia,” Obra completa, vol. 2, 573–91.|
|↑64||Pablo González Casanova and Enrique Florescano et al., México hoy (Mexico City: Siglo XXI, 1979).|
|↑65||Theotonio dos Santos, Socialismo o fascismo: El nuevo carácter de la dependencia y el dilema latinoamericano (Buenos Aires: Periferia, 1972).|
|↑66||Nicos Poulantzas, Fascism and Dictatorship: The Third International and the Problem of Fascism (London: New Left Books, 1974).|
|↑67||In the sense in which Samuel Huntington uses this term.|
|↑68||See note 29.|
|↑69||This was a flagrant symptom that the state crisis was expressing itself as a hegemonic vacillation.|
|↑70||Quoted in Jürgen Habermas, “Concepto de participación política,” in Capital monopolista y sociedad autoritaria: La involución autoritaria en la R.F.A. Wolfgang Abendroth et al. (Barcelona: Fontanella, 1973).|
|↑72||Ibid. By constitutive moments we refer to the peasant wars, the events of 1848 in Germany, and the defeat of the workers in the general crisis of the 1920s.|
|↑73||See Zavaleta, “Cuatro conceptos de la democracia.”|