Papers

Bolivia and Counter-Hegemony

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The current global political economy is highly characterized by neo-liberal economic approaches to the development of the nation-state.  This model of macroeconomic management is currently accepted as the only model for “maximizing global welfare”. (Duffield 1990)   Development, in this context, is defined strictly from a market-oriented approach focused on economic growth, which is the raison d’être of multilateral organization like the IMF and World Bank in there application of modernization theory.  These organizations along with those who dominate world finance capital serve Western interests and have managed to set the standard for how nation-states are to develop towards Rostow’s ideal “Age of High Mass-Consumption” (1970).  Fearing being left out of the development process, the plutocracy of the “lesser developed countries” attempt to insert the nation-states they represent into the global economy to compete with other nation-states.  However, the playing field is nowhere near level and while the plutocracy may benefit from these actions, many of the general population of these “lesser developed countries” go through the process of becoming further underdeveloped.  This process of underdevelopment is due to the historical and structural forces that have contributed to their continued exploitation and oppression.  The approach that best describes this process of underdevelopment is the world-systems approach contributed by Wallerstein (1979), which highlights the exploitative relationship between what Wallerstein labels core and periphery areas.  Wallerstein’s focus on the relationships between the core and periphery areas juxtaposes those who have and those that have not, pointing out an important correlation. There are poor because there are rich and there are oppressed because there are oppressors. It is this social reality that needs to be quantified further through greater critical analysis and research.  However, the world-systems approach does not suffice in elaborating detailed descriptions of the objective social reality of the Global South in relation to the global political economy.  Alejandro Portes argues that,

“the pursuit of national “competitiveness” within an increasingly bound global economy is consonant with the world-systems approach and places this perspective in a theoretically privileged position to analyze current trends.  Yet by its resolute focus on long-term historical evolution, this school has failed to capitalize on that advantage.  The postulate of a single universal unit of analysis is a major weakness since the level at which most development problems, dilemmas, and decisions take place is the intermediate one of nations and communities seeking to cope with the constraints of their particular situations” He continues, “By refusing to budge from the level of global generalization, world-systems theorists remain outside these concrete policy debates, and their influence has weakened the sociology of development.” (Portes 1997: 354)

Portes proposes that in confronting the policy dictates of international finance organizations and their influence over the nation-states,

“…we must abandon modernization-versus-dependency debates and move beyond sweeping historical statements.  For this task, it is necessary to take advantage of insights from other bodies of theory. Such a shift includes greater attention to factors of a domestic order, including characteristics of states, the relationship of states with classes in civil society, population size and density.” (Portes 1997: 354)

The focus of this paper will be to further elaborate on the characteristics of states and the relationship of the state with civil society in the current context of neo-liberal globalization.  This will be accomplished first, by introducing Gramscian and neo-Gramscian theories of political formation and change; second, by introducing the work of Paolo Freire and popular education; and third by applying these two bodies of knowledge to the current history of Bolivia to further understand the effect that new social movements have on the nation-state and what significant ideas this helps us to form in building an alternative development strategy to counter the currently accepted model of neo-liberalization. 

Gramscian and Neo-Gramscian Theories of Political Formation and Change

The greatest contribution of Antonio Gramsci was in a rethinking of classical Marxism.  Gramsci played an important part in critically analyzing the historical realities after World War I and called into question the orthodox theories of the Second International, specifically the understanding of historical change in terms of economic determinism.  Classical Marxists affirmed that changes in the economic base would determine changes in the superstructure.  Gramsci stated that, “To understand capitalist domination, the student must also be familiar with the political, ideological, and cultural aspects of class struggle.” (Cohn 2000: 121)  He integrated a more social and cultural understanding into the critical analysis of the capitalist system developed by Marx.

For example he stated that,

“changing socio-economic circumstances do not of themselves ‘produce’ political changes.  They only set the conditions in which such changes become possible.  What is crucial, in bringing about these changes, are the ‘relations of force’ obtaining at the political level the degree of political organization and combativity of the opposing forces, the strength of the political alliances which they manage to bind together and their level of political consciousness, of preparation of the struggle on the ideological terrain.” (Forgacs 2000:190)

In Gramsci’s work the rethinking of historical events led to the conceptualization of the following key notions; hegemony, historic bloc, counter-hegemony and the idea of the “organic intellectual”.

Gramsci’s concepts of hegemony and historic bloc are very important in defining how the state functions to serve the interests of various local groups that make up a specific class.

“The hegemonic rule of a particular class, according to Gramsci, is based not only on coercion but even more importantly on social-moral leadership.  In other words, the ruling class gains the active consent of the subordinate class on the basis of shared values, ideas, and material interests.” (Cohn 2000:122)

The state apparatus, supported by and supporting a specific economic group, may use coercion through the institutions of law, police, army and prisons; however, more importantly Gramsci highlights that the social institutions; such as education, religion, and the microstructures of everyday life contribute to the production of meaning and values that maintain consent of the subordinate classes.  Gramsci arrived at these conclusions by focusing on Marx’s understanding and relation between the structure (base) and the superstructure.  Gramsci emphasized that the structure is not static; he asserts that, “Politics in fact is at any given time the reflection of the tendencies of development in the structure.” (Forgacs 1988:189)  Individuals gain consciousness of structural conflicts at the level of ideas and through the application of analysis and action in turn effect the structure.  Gramsci established that, the development of the structure and superstructures are intimately connected and necessarily interrelated and reciprocal. (Forgacs 1988:190)  It is through this process of analysis and action that economic groups or classes then form hegemony and establish themselves into an historic bloc. Gramsci used the term historic bloc to refer to the congruence between state power on the one hand and the prevailing ideas guiding the society and the economy on the other. (Cohn 122, 2000)

“An historic bloc refers to the way in which leading social forces within a specific national context establish a relationship over contending social forces.  It indicates the integration of a variety of different class interests that are propagated throughout the society ‘bringing about not only a unison of economic and political aims, but also intellectual and moral unity…on a “universal” plane’” (Andreas Bieler and Adam David Morton 2003:39-75)

Considering that Gramsci was writing during the early 1900’s many of his ideas have been effective in analyzing the development of the global capitalist system and its current influence on the development of the nation-state.  However, with the separation of U.S. finance capital and the U.S. nation-state to establish global financial capital as an entity on its own some updates to Gramsci’s theories are needed. “Writers such as Robert Cox and Stephan Gill have extended his [Gramsci’s] ideas and applied them to international relations.  They argue that in this age of globalized production and exchange, a transnational historic bloc may be developing. (Cohn 2000:122)  Therefore, what Cox, Gill and other neo-Gramscian theorists are proposing is that the leading social forces that influence the neo-liberal market economy have moved beyond the nation-state to impose their ideology on the broader world-system.

“Neo-Gramscian theorists… use the term hegemony in a cultural sense to connote the complex of ideas that social groups use to assert their legitimacy and authority, and they also extend the concept of hegemony to include nonstate actors such as multinational corporations and international banks as well as nation-states.” (Cohn 2000:123)

Like classical Marxists, Gramsci’s true intention in formulating these ideas was to develop theories of political revolutionary change and not to remain a passive observer of these socio-economic and political processes.  Engaged by the question of political change, Gramsci sought to devise strategies that would aid the working class and the oppressed masses to break from the authority of the state.  Already utilizing a dialectical framework, it was natural for Gramsci to create the concept of counter hegemony in order to effect a revolutionary socialist change in the structure and superstructure.  “A counterhegemony is an alternative ethical view of society that poses a challenge to the dominant bourgeois-led view.” (Cohn 2000, 122)  As is the case for hegemony, a historic bloc is also needed for counter-hegemony.  It is formed by subaltern groups who subscribe to an alternative view of society and propose a distinct system of political formation and development.  Historically, to Gramscians and neo-Gramscians alike, this proposed system is socialism.  In today’s contemporary reality, analysts such as Hagai Katz further qualify this socialist movement as,

“A counter-hegemonic historic bloc is characterized also by an egalitarian structure in which power is decentralized and fairly evenly distributed between all the groups that participate in the historic bloc.  Moreover the counter-movement must involve organizations interested in different issues, and representing different interests, groups and regions –it should be diverse and inclusive.” (Katz 2006: 338)

To Gramsci an important part of building a counter hegemonic movement was the role of intellectuals. Gramsci proposed that, “in order for the working class to challenge [the] existing order, and become hegemonic in its own turn without becoming dependant on intellectuals from another class, it must create ‘organic’ intellectuals of its own.” (Forgacs 1988: 300)  Gramsci foresaw the revolutionary educational process occurring through the mass political party that trains individuals in deliberative and organizational skills.  As well as, through schools, which to him had to be reformed by synthesizing manual and mental skills allowing for there to be an equilibrium between them. (Forgacs 1988: 300)  Therefore, to Gramsci the concept of intellectual was redefined, “…to designate anyone whose function in society is primarily that of organizing, administering, directing, educating or leading others.” (Forgacs 1988: 300)  Building upon these ideas the role of the intellectual left in current Latin American history further characterized the intellectual as, “…almost anyone who writes, paints, acts, teaches or speaks out, even sings becomes ‘an intellectual’” (assigned class reading) The primordial concern of the ‘organic intellectual’ is to contribute to the collective political consciousness of the people and to strengthen their alliances and networks to form a political force that may engage the socio-economic circumstances that allow true political transformation.

Paolo Freire and Popular Education

Although Gramsci focused a great deal on education; Paolo Freire, a Brazilian linguist, further developed his ideas of education for social transformation. Freire exposed what he called the ‘Banking Approach” of education, where reality is talked about as if it where motionless, static, compartmentalized and predictable (Freire 1979).  Within this approach, the task of the teacher is to fill the student with the contents of narration.  Freire claims, that more often than not, this narration is not related to the experience of the student and is detached from their reality and void of significance. (Freire 1979)  Freire continues by stating that this form of education leads to a lack of creative formation and knowledge and the more students work at storing information, the less they dedicate themselves to developing their critical consciousness. (Freire 1979)  Therefore, for Freire as well as Gramsci, education was seen as being more effective by taking a dialogical approach.  In this context, analyzing dialogue and the root of that process, which is the word, is fundamental.  It is important to work towards comprehending the definitions of words as being authentic and to understand that words are capable of changing the world.  Freire stated that,

“…within the word there are two dimensions: reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is sacrificed – even in part – the other immediately suffers.  There is no true word that is not at the same time praxis.  Thus, to speak a true word is to transform the world.” (Freire 1979: 79)

To Freire action and reflection is the same as the word, which equals work, which in turn equals praxis.  Therefore if one sacrifices action, one is left with verbalism and if one sacrifices reflection, one is left with activism.   Freire saw this understanding as the basis of true dialogue between individuals, which allows them to address the challenges that they face in society and work towards its transformation.  This process of dialogue focused on oppressed subject transforming their reality is now commonly known as popular education.

These concepts that focused on dialogue and social transformation then led Freire to characterize both anti-dialogical and dialogical theories of cultural action.  The anti-dialogical approaches are the common hegemonic approaches to domination which include: conquest, divide and rule, manipulation and cultural invasion.  However, these will be addressed within the section dealing with the forms of the state within the Bolivian case study.  For now the dialogical approaches of cooperation and unity are more important due to their relationship to building counter-hegemony.  Gramsci’s concept of the ‘organic intellectual’ is synonymous with Freire’s reference to the revolutionary leader or organizer, who plays fundamental roles within the processes of cooperation and unity.  According to Freire, cooperation occurs through communication and trust.  Freire elaborates,

“Trust results from the encounter in which men/women are co-subjects in denouncing the current worldview of the elite, as part of the world’s transformation.  It is when trust is established that true dialogical theory can become action or true revolutionary action.” (Freire 1979)

Moreover, Freire explains that

“Unity requires class-consciousness, but before this can occur the oppressed must achieve the consciousness of being an oppressed individual due to the reality they live.  The unity of the oppressed occurs at the human level not at the level of things.  It occurs in a reality that is only authentically comprehended in the dialectic between the sub- and superstructure.” (Freire 174)

These two dialogical approaches to cultural action serve to clarify to the oppressed the objective situation which binds them to their oppressors, no matter how visible or not that oppression is.

The Nation-State, Civil Society and the Response to Neo-Liberal Economic Policy

Although proponents of the neo-liberal economic agenda assure that there is no alternative to their model for development, there are groups within civil society that are adamantly opposed to the authority of the current historic bloc that promulgates neo-liberal hegemony.  In order to elaborate on Gramscian, neo-Gramscian and Freire’s theories of social transformation and political change the historical case of Bolivia is presented to aid in understanding the historical and structural effects of the capitalist world-system as well as how the oppressed classes of Bolivian civil society have worked to build a counter-hegemonic movement dedicated to a more human approach to development.

A Bolivian Case Study

When contemplating alternative forms of development and especially social transformative change the contemporary history of Bolivia is in an important history to engage.  The people of Bolivia are the first Latin American Republic to elect an indigenous person as its president while at the same time shift state policy away from the neo-liberal economic model of development.  I argue that these results are an outcome of decades of not only resistance but of the oppressed classes of Bolivia organizing themselves into a counter-hegemonic movement.

Bolivia and Relations of Production

Bolivia’s post-colonial economy was based on an export sector, which in turn was based on silver and later tin mining, and an agricultural sphere of landed estates and corporate communities worked by mostly Quechua and Aymara-speaking peasants.  Throughout most of Bolivian history, mining and landed elites competed for control of the state and generally sought to influence state policies to advance their own interests. (Sanabria1999: 536)  In 1952 a populist coalition of miners, urban workers and peasants took control of the state and began to nationalize key industry sectors, such as the largest tin mines, later organized into the state mining company (La Corporación Minera de Bolivia, COMIBOL), as well as investment strategies favouring capitalist sectors in mining, oil and agriculture. (Sanabria1999: 537)  This exercise in state-centric capitalism was impressive but by the 1980s  it had reached its limit: revenues from exports by state enterprises (such as tin and oil) sharply fell, the external debt swelled, deficits mushroomed, external capital flows dwindled, investment plummeted, massive capital flight ensued, and hyperinflation rapidly eroded wages. (Conaghan and Malloy 1994)

The Bolivian state begun to introduce a neo-liberal program in 1985 after the economic crises that resulted from Bolivia’s state-centric capitalist approach.  Bolivia’s neo-liberal economic approach was labeled the Nueva Política Económica (NPE) and was viewed by the dominant classes as a last resort to avert socio-economic anarchy and state collapse. (Sanabria1999:537)

“Thus facing a serious threat from below, a key objective of neoliberalism has been to “arm” an obsolete state and reestablish its control over a (supposedly) weak, lethargic, and disintegrating society that was, nevertheless, craving to be modern, vigorous and strong. In an unprecedented consensus, Bolivia’s military, various traditionally rival political parties, and key business interests have joined together to consistently support the neoliberal agenda.” (Conaghan 1992:15)

A historic bloc was necessary to move the neo-liberal agenda forward.  Part of this agenda was then to privatize previously nationalized industry, the priority being the Bolivian state mining company.

“Restructuring state mining, undermining union power and potential challenges to state authority, and doing away with seemingly anachronistic and inefficient state enterprises, were all top political and ideological goals of the neoliberal project’s overhaul of the state economy.  On this point the Bolivian state apparatus was solidly united and ideologically committed, and followed a strategy perhaps as carefully orchestrated, determined, and successful as that carried out by the Thatcher government during the 1984-1985 mine uprisings in Great Britain (Richards 1996)

Regardless, a new division emerges amongst the dominant classes to create a socio-economic opportunity for political change with the rise of coca cultivation in Bolivia.  The 1952 revolution included land reform objectives which focused on the expropriation of large landed estates, which were then handed over to former tenant peasants.  “Peasants soon organized themselves into local and regional unions and a national federation wedded to Bolivia’s national labor organization.” (Sanabria 1999: 549)  The agrarian reform encouraged the migration of many peasants to the subtropical and tropical eastern flank of the Andes, especially the Chapare area east of the city of Cochabamba. (Sanabria 1999:549)  The Chapare is an enormous and sparsely populated rain forest of over twenty-four thousand square kilometers, currently Bolivia’s most important coca growing region.  The main producers of the coca are peasant farmers commonly known as Cocaleros.  Although there is mass resistance to the growing of coca by both national and international interests the Cocaleros are not the only ones that are gaining from this production. “The coalescence of drug trafficking in Bolivia has been undisputedly linked to members of the military, the state apparatus, and the agro-industry elites who capitalized on development assistance during the 1970s.” (Sanabria 1999:549)  Evidently there has been a split in the upper classes between those who actively pursue the eradication of coca cultivation and those who do not.  However there is another key socio-economic factor to consider in the Cocaleros resistance to the state, “in opposing the state they [Cocaleros] have had the advantage of being far more economically autonomous than miners, whose livelihood was narrowly based on wage labor.” (Sanabria 1999:551) Moreover, Chapare peasant coca cultivators, “…have successfully followed a number of microtactics designed to circumvent efforts to undermine their livelihood.  These include: sabotage and hit-and-run attacks, slowing down the work of eradication teams; “voluntary” destruction of unproductive coca fields, and the use of compensation funds to plant new coca crops” (Sanabria 1999:551-552) Through these practices coca cultivators in the Chapare have been far more successful in defending their livelihood and mode of life compared to the Bolivian miners who suffered greatly with the onset of neo-liberal economic policies.  The coca cultivators had “…larger numbers, far greater economic autonomy, ability to rally public opinion on their behalf, and the crucial weight of the coca economy in Bolivian society” (Sanabria 1999:553) compared with the miners and for this reason were able to move the entire country towards political change.

In summary, the relations of production in Bolivia, pre-1952 could be characterized as having been controlled by two opposing interests; mining and agriculture both struggling to maintain their power over the state.   However in the revolution of 1952 the middleclass along with the support of miners, peasant and the urban working class managed to take control of the state altering the relations of production by nationalizing key industry sectors, the most import being the mining and oil industries.  In 1985, the neo-liberal economic agenda was introduced by a collective of the dominant classes and the military to impose structural changes to Bolivia’s economy thus once again changing the relations of production.  Interestingly enough with the rise of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), headed by Evo Morales a Cocalero himself, we see once again a shift back to the nationalization of key industries in Bolivia.  What is important is how this shift towards an alternative development occurred once again; however this time exercised not by the middleclass of Bolivia but the indigenous people and the working class.

Indigenous Identity

Bolivia has one of the largest indigenous populations of all the Latin American countries, roughly 50% or more of the population is indigenous.  Historically, “rural organizing within and between indigenous communities has traditionally been the reserve of peasant unions, political parties, churches and revolutionaries.  These movements have historically attempted to mobilize Indians to forge class, partisan, religious and/or revolutionary identities over, and often against, indigenous ones.” (Yashar1998:23) Yashar (1998) makes the argument that with the neo-liberal agenda there has also been the focus of democratization, which has expanded political opportunities for the development of civil society, weak and/or nondemocratic state institutions have often restricted political access, participation, and local autonomy, particularly for historically marginalized groups.  “Social movements have emerged in this context to contest the institutional boundaries and practice of citizenship.” (Yashar 1998:24)  Moreover, he argues that, “As political liberalization legalizes the right to organize, state reforms have restricted access to state resources and jeopardize pockets of local political, material and cultural autonomy that indigenous communities have carved out.” (Yashar1998:24)  Bolivia’s contemporary indigenous movement can be traced to a heterogeneous movement in the late 1960s and early 1980s called the Kataristas that sought to reclaim indigenous voices and autonomy in the Andean-based peasant movement and universities.  “By 1979 Kataristas assumed control of the military-dominated peasant organization, and asserted greater independence from the national labour federation.” (Yashar 1998:25)  The Kataristas and other indigenous groups focused on creating greater consciousness regarding indigenous subjectivity while at the same time incorporating many Marxist and neo-Marxists approaches to critically analyze their society.  As well,

“recent state reforms have forged a different kind of state, in some ways more technocratic and lean, in others less capable of acting as a political authority, particularly in rural areas.  As the “rewards” for controlled participation have been withdrawn, the terms of interaction with official politics have become more contested, and indigenous peasants have both gained and used greater autonomy to contest the terms and practice of citizenship.  In this changing institutional and social context, indigenous movements have emerged to (re)gain access to the state and to secure local autonomy.

Women in Bolivia and the Use of Popular Education

Adult education in many areas of Latin America have done away with formal models of education giving way to popular education, which focuses on the implementation of transformative learning and critical theory.  Many of the new social movements in Bolivia apply this approach to engage their members and the rest of civil society.  Specifically, I will focus here on the work of Judith M. Kollins and Catherine A. Hansman who describe the work of a Bolivian NGO called, La Oficina Juridica Para la Mujer.

“The OJM [Oficina Juridica Para la Mujer], the site chosen for this project, is an innovative non-governmental organization (NGO) that was conceived in 1984 as an option for poor women who needed training in the defense of their rights and in protection from family and societal violence.  The mission of the organization is threefold: to change power relations in Bolivian society in order to eliminate social, economic, political, and cultural injustice; to eliminate all forms of discrimination against the women of Bolivia and the world; and to construct a truly democratic society that respects life, peace, liberty and diversity.” (Kollins and Hansman 2005: 9)

An important aspect of this training, as in all popular education, is the direct link to the daily lives of the participants.

“Through researcher’s observations of the program and from discussions with the facilitator, the methodology of the program is “participatory and living,” making use of roleplays, small group work, story telling, presentations, field visits, and research homework.  A primary method of learning is through reflection and discussion. (Kollins and Hansman 2005: 10)

As a part of this program, participants are trained to provide legal assistance to women, particularly those with limited resources, and to refer them to the OJM for further free legal assistance.  As this program impacts the lives of Bolivian women it incorporates gender issues into a larger social movement, affecting both personal experience and public policy and creating greater degrees of cooperation and unity amongst the dominated classes of Bolivian society.

Conclusion
The world-systems approach is often criticized for being to general and as Portes stated too focused on long-term historical evolution; however, what is important to consider regarding this approach is the general tendencies of exploitation and oppression that occur between core and periphery areas in relation to economic development and underdevelopment.  Detailing this objective social reality is not only possible through continuing historical and structural analysis of the capitalist world-system but necessary for the construction of a counter-hegemonic movement to be effective and efficient.  By characterizing the role of the state and the relation of the state to civil society in Bolivia within the Gramscian and neo-Gramscian ideas of historic bloc and hegemony I have explained how the nation-state and the broader world order dominate the subordinate classes of Bolivian society through the control of policies.  These policies affect the relations of production and contribute to the objective formation of the subordinate classes of Bolivian society.

However, the connection to Gramsci and Freire were also used as a framework in order to explain the influence of new social movements in Bolivia on the state.  As mentioned, the relations of production in Bolivian society were used to explain the objective formation of the subordinate classes and to further demonstrate that socio-economic circumstance give the opportunity for political transformation.  This must be seen as a historical process.  In Bolivia, the revolution of 1952 played an important role in forming the collective consciousness of the Bolivian people.  Although the 1952 revolution was mainly middleclass driven they did implement some socialist policies that aided in the overthrow of the neo-liberal economic model in the present.  By this I mean that the nationalization of key industries during the 1950’ and 1960’s contributed to an increase in class consciousness that remained in the collective memory of the people regardless of the neo-liberal push that was implemented in 1985.  However an important aspect to the collective consciousness that arose later was the respect of diversity to incorporate gender and race subjectivities to further strengthen a counter-hegemonic movement.  Incorporating the subjectivities of indigenous peoples and women, people involved in the social movements where able to release revolutionary ideology from its Eurocentric and patriarchal hold.  This allowed the social movement to take on a more egalitarian and democratic nature.  Critics may point out that the equality of women and indigenous people in Bolivia are a long way away; however, I would state that it is easier to make policy changes within a democratic socialist state then one driven by the neo-liberal interests of a plutocracy and the broader influence of the global capitalist system.  True democratic socialist hegemony is a process of which we are just now beginning to experience.

Bibliography

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Katz, Hagai. “Gramsci, Hegemony, and Global Civil Society Networks.” Voluntas 17 (2006):  333-348.

Kollins, Judith M., and Catherine A. Hansman. “The Role of Women in Popular Education in Bolivia: a Case Study of the Oficina Juridica Para La Mujer.” Adult Basic Education 15 (2005):  3-20.

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Morton, Adam David. Unravelling Gramsci. London: Pluto P, 2007.

Rostow, W. W. “The Stages of Economic Growth: a Non-Communist Manifesto.” (1960).

Sanabria, Harry. “Consolidating States, Restructuring Economies, and Confronting Workers and Peasants: the Antinomies of Bolivian Neoliberalism.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 41 (1999):  535-562.

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Yashar, Deborah J. “Contesting Citizenship: Indigenous Movements and Democracy in Latin America.” Comparative Politics 31 (1998):  23-42.

Leftist Feminism and the Contributions to Latin American Socialism
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The intellectual left in Latin America is not contained within the halls of academia, because of the fact that leftist political theory is constantly disseminated through the popular culture of Latin America through its literature, theatre, canto popular and other forms of cultural expression.  Castañeda argues in his book Utopia Unarmed that, “…the term “intellectual” encompasses a broad spectrum: almost anyone who writes, paints, acts, teaches, or speaks out, even sings becomes an “intellectual”.  Therefore, to be considered a Latin American leftist intellectual one does not need to study in the finest or most popular universities; but instead to be able to apply a progressive political social analysis to ones reality of oppression. Within this process one becomes conscious of that socio-economic and political reality in which they live and then speaks out against the oppression in a dialogue with others seeking emancipation.

Patrícia Galvão, in her novel Industrial Park, did exactly that.  Galvão, a well known militant of Brazil’s left, brought the reality of the streets of one of South America’s greatest industrial centers; Sao Paulo and its reality of poverty and oppression, lived by its working class, and integrated it with a political theory to produce a literary work that encompasses an intriguing critical analysis.  A literary work coined at that time by her and other leftist Latin American intellectuals: a proletarian novel.  However, she did more that just apply a political theory to the reality of Sao Paulo; she also introduced a female subjectivity into the world of historical materialism by documenting the reality of women in that specific time period.  Galvão participated in an important historical process that would occur in Latin America, the contribution of women within leftist political parties to the broadening understanding of oppression within Latin American society.  What begins to develop within the Latin American context at this point in history is a modification of a Euro-centric Marxist political theory and the way that those theories are applied in the Latin American struggle towards socialism.  This process incorporates the subjectivity of women and other oppressed groups, such as indigenous peasants and eventually gay, lesbian and trans-gendered communities as well as the point of view of young people.  That is the people of Latin America.  Although there exists a multiplicity of feminisms in Latin America this paper will focus specifically on the historical process of how the leftist women’s movement came to be unified with an indigenous Latin American Marxist approach and the contributions made by Latin American leftist feminists in advancing the Latin American struggle towards socialism.

A Brief History of the Women’s Movement in Latin America

In most Latin American countries women did not gain the right to vote until well after the Second World War and until then women’s activity and contribution to the historical political and socio-economic processes of the day were, “… indirect, tangential, a reinforcement of the masculine struggle” (Chaney 1973: 331) conquest and independence being the main examples. “Few women acted on their own; almost all notable women were wives, mistresses or daughters to notable men involved in the public affairs of their day.” (Chaney 1973:331)  It was not until the turn of the century that women began to form associations and to collectively question their social condition and status within society.

According to Chaney (1973), only relatively privileged women, mainly of the middle and upper classes, worked for female suffrage or were active in politics.  Moreover, the feminism of the British-North America model of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries found little resonance among the women of Latin America.  Since inception Latin American women’s groups were run by and for women focusing on local struggles, for example in 1915 the leader of Chilean Feminism, Amanda Labarca founded a Circulo de Lectura (Women’s Reading Circle) where university and professional women met to study literary and philosophical works and this group was the first of its kind to be organized without clerical sponsorship (Chaney 1973:336).  Soon afterward there were many more women’s groups that were founded with the focus of reaching women and to awaken them to a more and more active intellectual and cultural (and later social reformist and political) life (Chaney 1973:336).

All over Latin America women’s groups began to organize and eventually began to associate more broadly founding National Councils which would become the principle avenues of agitation for the future feminist movements of Latin America.  These National Councils aided in the formation of broad coalitions, for example in Chile the first National Congress of Women was held in 1944 and the movement for women’s rights began to awaken mass support. (Chaney 1973:336)  This coalition incorporated women leaders from all political ideologies from the extreme right to the extreme left and it was this aspect of creating a united front that aided in gaining women the right to vote.  But according to Stoner (1987) winning the vote depended upon more than just the organization of feminist groups, it also depended on two other conditions as well: a crises in democratic rule, and the involvement of feminists in national struggles for political order. These conditions highlight a trend that will continue well into the current political context of Latin America.  As well, these conditions are important to consider due to the formation of the Latin American women’s movement, which in fact focuses more on local then global issues, thus formulating a more indigenous approach.  This is important when comparing the Latin American approach to others, such as Europe or North America.

On this topic of difference, Stoner (1987) states that, “Latin American feminists, however, felt that their issues differed, and they created their own brand of feminism emphasizing the importance of dignity of bearing children and caring for the home.” And “Latin American feminists were quick to distinguish themselves from their North American counterparts, whom they viewed as anti-male and anti-family.  Latin women were loath even to apply the term feminist to themselves because it had originated in the Anglo cultures and did not belong to their own lexicon.”

It is important to make note that it was in this historical context that Patrícia Galvão participated and introduced her perspective of sexuality and oppression and it’s relation to historical materialism.  From 1928 to well into the 1960s Patrícia Galvão contributed countless works of poetry, prose and journalism, which made it into journals and magazines all over the world. (Jackson 1993) It was this continuous dialogue within the Brazilian intellectual left that gained Galvão the title of Brazil’s modernist muse.  She became known as a nonconformist who opposed Brazil’s patriarchal system.  Later in her life she dedicated herself to publishing social criticism and personal reflections, “In 1945-46 Pagu (Patrícia Galvão) contributed twenty –four articles to Mario Pedrosa’s journal, Vanguardia Socialista, which lucidly analyze the lack of direction in national life and values while introducing existentialist ideas.” (Jackson 1993:121)  Like Patrícia Galvão there have been many other feminist writers who have contributed to the Latin American intellectual left.  Their contributions would spark movements of working class feminist thinkers and activists that would consolidate the application of women’s subjectivity within the Latin American context and its movement towards a broader socialism.

During the 1950s Latin American Marxists became critical of traditional communist parties’ intellectual and strategic dependence on the Soviet Union and embarked on a search for an indigenous version of Marxism capable of guiding movements for social change within Latin America. (Chinchilla 1991: 297)  This prompted the search for the works of earlier Latin American socialist and nationalist revolutionary thinkers, such as José Carlos Mariategui (Peruvian), and Agusto César Sandino (Nicaraguan); as well as the works of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci.  Through the influence of Brazilian linguist, Paolo Freire these ideas synthesized into what is currently known as popular education. This new methodology of education for the masses was adopted by most groups caught in oppression which were working to politicize themselves: among them working class and peasant women’s group which chose to focus on human rights as a main avenue for becoming active in the political struggle. (Chinchilla 1991).

As with the women’s suffrage movement, a crises in democratic rule again plays a fundamental part in the women’s movement facilitating a beginning to the unification of an indigenous Latin American Marxism and the feminist movement in Latin America.  In the mid 1980s women became involved in politics to a degree and in a variety of forms without precedent in Latin American history.  At this period, women’s organizations began to carve out a space for themselves in local and national political life and feminism was slowly making inroads into political and academic institutions as reflected a growing number of consciousness-raising and political action groups, service and popular education centers, research institutes, and university-based women’s studies programs. (Chinchilla 1991).

As well, it was in this period that a conscious Marxist-feminist tendency began to appear, in theory and practice, and the diffusion of a feminist perspective and agenda within popular movements had been adopted as a priority by a number of feminist groups. (Chinchilla 1991)  The participation of women in the discussions of “…the unilateral “either/or” choices that dominated Latin American Marxist discussions in the 1970’s (reform or revolution, class or ethnicity, rural or urban, armed or electoral struggle, etc.) gave way to a more complex view of how individuals and social groups influence the course of history” (Chinchilla 1991: 293).  Participating both inside and outside of the political parties of the left, gave women the opportunity to engage in the national struggles for political order at a time of authoritarian rule as well as gave them the opportunity to critique the practical application of Marxist theory within the Latin American context.

However, it was the organizing of women against authoritarian regimes that created further consciousness-raising among the left and the experiences that women gained in these struggles created fertile ground for links between a gender-specific consciousness and social consciousness (class, social sector, nation, etc). Right-wing military dictatorships had replaced civilian governments in a majority of countries in Latin America (e.g. Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru Guatemala, El Salvador); officially sanctioned repression and torture became commonplace.  These trends, together with changes in the demand for women’s labour, heightened women’s importance as economic producers, sustainers of household units, and spokespersons for human rights, social justice and peace (Chinchilla 1991).  For example, it was the Mother’s of the Disappeared in both Argentina and Chile that protested against the military dictatorships in defense of human rights that became a moral force against repression.  As well, throughout Central America women in rural areas became active in peasant organizations and in urban areas they became involved in ethnic/racial movements.  In both rural and urban areas women formed the backbone of neighbourhood-based grass roots movements like the Christian-based communities and human rights movements (Chinchilla 1991).

Women’s visibility in human rights organizations and groups for the defense of basic survival, in turn, encouraged women in traditionally male-dominated class organizations (such as trade unions) to form women’s caucuses and commissions and create mechanisms for greater representation of women in leadership (Chinchilla 1991).  This was a major influence in prompting Marxists to join the feminist movements in denouncing authoritarianism in the name of human rights and according to Chinchilla (1991) the defense of life replaced the defense of a political agenda.  Within this context Latin American Marxists began to argue that, “Democracy is not a problem of “political form” or institutional “superstructure”: it is the very content of socialism as a social formation in which workers and peasants, young people, women, that is the people, effectively exercise power and democratically determine the purpose of production, the distribution of the means of production and the allocation of the product.” (Lowy 1986:264)  Therefore, the attempt to elaborate a Latin American Marxist understanding of democracy and daily life was an important step forward and an essential precondition for a convergence with contemporary feminism and with contemporary social movements in general (Chinchilla 1991: 300).

Women within the Latin American left argued that, “It is not part of the [feminist] project to deny the reality and validity of the analysis of class domination.  On the contrary, a feminist analysis, which exposes the economistic bias of class analysis, enriches it… In fact, feminism truly constitutes a social movement for liberation because it successfully links the struggle against class and sex oppression simultaneously.” (Burbach and Nunez 1987: 8-9)

It is my opinion, that at this important period in history, Latin American Marxism and feminism cease to be forms of political expression in juxtaposition to each other and begin a synthesis towards formulating a praxis in unison that highly contributes to the overthrow of military regimes as well as begin moving collectively towards concrete expressions of socialism within the Latin American context.

The Contributions of Leftist Feminists to Socialism in Latin America

The most important modification that feminism has made to Marxism and the practical application of Marxist theory towards socialism in Latin America has been the recognition of the existence of patriarchy or sexual division.  The struggle of women in Latin America has been to effectively describe “the working class” as indeed sexed, and not only in an empirical and contingent fashion. (Delphy 1980)  Before this recognition, women workers were invisible and absent from the analysis of the labour market and their domestic work and it’s exploitation was taken as a given. (Delphy 1980)  This recognition of patriarchy leads Latin American feminist intellectuals, along with their North American sisters, to define reproductive labour, an insightful contribution to an understanding of oppression.

Reproductive labour at its crudest can be taken to mean the reproduction and maintenance of workers.  Feminists developed this notion of reproductive labour, including some who argued that women are central to the capitalist mode of production because, through their unpaid household labour, they produce labour power itself. The raising of children, on the one hand, and the maintenance of workers on the other is largely thanks to the unpaid work of women. (Anderson 2001)  I would argue that this initial contribution was a door that opened many others towards generating a socialist feminism in Latin America.  However awareness of women’s roles in reproduction was not the only important contribution.  According to Chinchilla (1991), the social movements of the 1970s and 1980s, that anchored themselves on the writings of Antonio Gramsci and specifically the experience of the Nicaraguan revolution contributed to the view that the contradictions of contemporary capitalism created a plurality of potential social subjects that any broad or revolutionary movement must learn to articulate for long-term revolutionary change.

What occurred in Nicaragua specifically was the fostering of the political empowerment of women by the Sandinista Front.  The logic of emancipation in the Nicaraguan revolution reversed Marxist orthodoxy and welcomed the subjectivity of women within the revolutionary struggle. (Ray and Korteweg 1999:61)  At the time, Latin American women were concerned with how to link practical (women’s) interests derived from the existing gender division of labour and strategic (feminist) gender interest derived from a critique of the existing gender hierarchy (Chinchilla 1991: 302).

It was from this theoretical perspective that Latin American women envisioned a diverse starting point compared to the women in the North American feminist movement, which inevitably lead to diverse forms of action through which Latin American women contributed to the construction of not only an individual, but also a collective gender identity that incorporated class-consciousness.  Chinchilla argues that, a high level of class-consciousness, has generally distinguished contemporary Latin American feminism since its emergence, and this class consciousness is central to its theoretical and practical discussions (Chinchilla 1991).  The synthesis between class and gender in the Latin American historical context has lead to a radical-pluralist conception that contributes to counter-hegemony by incorporating a “multiplicity of antagonisms” that evolved in and by way of social relations in Latin American civil society.  It is this broad counter –hegemonic force, which is concrete contribution of Latin American leftist feminism, which continues to drive Latin America towards a socialist future.

A Third important contribution made by feminism to the advancement of socialism in Latin America is closely related to the issue of a plurality of social subjects.  Associated to this theoretical concept is the argument that popular organizations (feminist or any other) have the right to autonomy in relation to the state and political parties, that is, the right to carve out a political space within which they can choose their own leaders, criteria for membership and political agenda (Chinchilla 1991:302).  For women this was very important because it meant the existence of “…safe places where women can discover their identities, give mutual support, build trust, explore previously forbidden topics (such as women’s bodies and sexuality), and invent new forms of political struggle or definitions of what it means to do politics.” (Chinchilla 1991:303).

The women’s autonomous movement drew attention to the many ways in which women suffered discrimination, even within the working class.  They stressed the importance of the things that happened in everyday life and the connections between micro and macro levels in politics and between public and private life in the perpetration of various degrees of violence against women. (Castro 2001:18)  Women’s participation in these autonomous groups led to greater self-esteem and recognition by women of their rights and produced changes in Latin American women’s self-definition; A redefinition of women’s roles from a purely domestic image as guardians of the private sphere into equal participants as citizens in a democratic state. (Safa 1990:363)  These autonomous groups then began influencing, “…community-based organizations as well as small advocacy-oriented nongovernmental organizations, entities with a Marxist-feminist or emancipatory orientation, the women’s sections of some trade unions and political parties, and various social movements.” (Castro 2001:18)  This approach came to be known as a socialist feminism, “a feminism with a community base, and projects of social transformation – whose attack on the inequalities suffered by women is combined with attention to those other inequalities – of gender, race and class.” (Castro 2001:18)  Women were the facilitators in synthesizing their incorporation into the class struggle of Latin America and creating a new socio-economic and political consciousness that transformed the current understanding of Marxism and contributed to a more indigenous version of Marxism capable of guiding movements for social change within Latin America.

The new consciousness that cam about due to the understanding of plurality and autonomy gave women the inroad to provide opportunities to then educate themselves.  The process that they used was that of popular education.  “In Latin America, formal models of education have largely given way to popular education, thus pushing implementation of transformational learning and critical theory.  By definition, popular education is participatory, egalitarian, and designed to eliminate the power component of the educator’s role.  Popular education strives to develop among targeted social sectors a critical social awareness and understanding of how society functions.” (Kollins and Hansman 2005:7)  Through these processes of popular education women in these groups began to share their experiences with oppression and began formulating ways of meeting these challenges.  Upon meeting these challenges, women began to see that popular education could extend beyond the personal and community level to a national level, and thus gender issues could be incorporated into the actions of social movements resulting in possibilities of shaping public policy. (Kollins and Hansman 2005:9)  These process aided in the steps towards socialism in Latin America because it strengthened the voice of women and other marginalized groups and their opportunity to contribute to socio-economic and political change.  Together these marginalized groups came together to form a conscious collective: a new civil society.

Civil society is the active and positive moment of historical development.  It is the creative space, where subaltern groups, encouraged by intellectuals, can coalesce, from a historical bloc, and engage in a counter hegemonic war of position to alter society. (Sassoon 1982) Popular education was the methodological approach to concretely realizing the contributions of leftist feminists to Latin American socialism.  This union between socialism and feminism at the community base challenged Latin American leftist intellectuals to strengthen the links between theory and practice and to revise theories to accommodate new forms of analysis arising from experience.  This process of reflection and action among the Latin American intellectual left is an ongoing process.  A process by which a counter-hegemonic culture of revolution is enriched daily through the cultural expressions of music, art and literature which continues to strengthen all the people of Latin America and their struggle towards a socialist future.

Patrícia Galvão played an important role at a specific time within the history of Latin America.  Her role was to speak out about oppression and contribute to a dialogue and understanding of how women perceive themselves within the struggle against capitalist commodification of production, reproduction and their own sexuality.  Her contributions as a Latin American leftist intellectual were part of a wave of new understanding and consciousness.  It is often said, but in the case of Patrícia Galvão, she truly was a head of her time.  Her contributions to historical materialism sparked a new understanding of exploitation and oppression that included the reality of working class women and their sexuality.  Her contributions along with that of other Latin American leftist feminist writers would encourage the continued unification between women’s subjectivity and class consciousness, which has made all the difference in building a broad pluralistic and democratic movement towards socialism in Latin America.  As stated by Mary Garcia Castro (2001) this is a socialism reshaped by the concept of class in such matters as race, gender, and the recognition of various sexual preferences – that is, a humanist and liberating socialism.  For a new future in Latin America, there needs to be a new consciousness; one that moves away from fixed positions (old boxes).  By adding the subjectivity of those who are most marginalized within society the people of Latin America can continue to strengthen their understanding of a truly collective class consciousness that leads all people towards socialism.

Works Cited

Burbach, Roger and Orlando Nuñez. Fire in the Americas: Forging a Revolutionary Agenda. New York, 1987.

Castañeda, Jorge G. Utopia Unarmed: The Latin American Left After the Cold War.

Castro, Mary García. “Engendering Powers in Neoliberal Times in Latin America: Reflections from the Left on Feminism and Feminisims.” Trans. Laurence Hallewell. Latin American Perspectives. 28. 6, (Nov., 2001): 17 – 37.

Chaney, Elsa M. “Old and New Feminists in Latin America: The Case of Peru and Chile.” Journal of Marriage and the Family. 35. 2, (1973): 331-343.

Chinchilla, Norma Stoltz. “Marxism, Feminism, and the Struggle for Democracy in Latin America.” Gender and Society. 5, 3 (Sep., 1991): 291-310.

Delphy, Christine. “A Materialist Feminism is Possible.” Trans. Diana Leonard. Feminist Review. 4 (1980): 79-105.

Katz, Hagai. “Gramsci, Hegemony, and Global Civil Society Networks.” Published On-Line by International Society for Third Sector Research and John Hopkins University. 17, (2006): 333-348.

Kollins, Judith M. and Catherine A. Hansman. “The Role of Women in Popular Education in Bolivia: A Case Study of the Oficina Juridica para la Mujer.” Adult Basic Education. 15. 1, (Spring 2005): 3-20.

Ray, R. and A.C. Korteweg. “Women’s Movements in the Third World: Identity, Mobilization, and Autonomy.” Annual Review of Sociology. 25 (1999): 47-71.

Safa, Helen Icken. “Women’s Social Movements in Latin America.” Gender and Society. 4. 3, (Sep., 1990): 354-369.

Stoner, K. Lynn. “Directions in Latin American Women’s History, 1977-1985.” Latin American Research Review. 22. 2, (1987): 101-134.

Bolivia and Counter Hegemony
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The current global political economy is highly characterized by neo-liberal economic approaches to the development of the nation-state.  This model of macroeconomic management is currently accepted as the only model for “maximizing global welfare”. (Duffield 1990)   Development, in this context, is defined strictly from a market-oriented approach focused on economic growth, which is the raison d’être of multilateral organization like the IMF and World Bank in there application of modernization theory.  These organizations along with those who dominate world finance capital serve Western interests and have managed to set the standard for how nation-states are to develop towards Rostow’s ideal “Age of High Mass-Consumption” (1970).  Fearing being left out of the development process, the plutocracy of the “lesser developed countries” attempt to insert the nation-states they represent into the global economy to compete with other nation-states.  However, the playing field is nowhere near level and while the plutocracy may benefit from these actions, many of the general population of these “lesser developed countries” go through the process of becoming further underdeveloped.  This process of underdevelopment is due to the historical and structural forces that have contributed to their continued exploitation and oppression.  The approach that best describes this process of underdevelopment is the world-systems approach contributed by Wallerstein (1979), which highlights the exploitative relationship between what Wallerstein labels core and periphery areas.  Wallerstein’s focus on the relationships between the core and periphery areas juxtaposes those who have and those that have not, pointing out an important correlation. There are poor because there are rich and there are oppressed because there are oppressors. It is this social reality that needs to be quantified further through greater critical analysis and research.  However, the world-systems approach does not suffice in elaborating detailed descriptions of the objective social reality of the Global South in relation to the global political economy.  Alejandro Portes argues that,

“the pursuit of national “competitiveness” within an increasingly bound global economy is consonant with the world-systems approach and places this perspective in a theoretically privileged position to analyze current trends.  Yet by its resolute focus on long-term historical evolution, this school has failed to capitalize on that advantage.  The postulate of a single universal unit of analysis is a major weakness since the level at which most development problems, dilemmas, and decisions take place is the intermediate one of nations and communities seeking to cope with the constraints of their particular situations” He continues, “By refusing to budge from the level of global generalization, world-systems theorists remain outside these concrete policy debates, and their influence has weakened the sociology of development.” (Portes 1997: 354)
Portes proposes that in confronting the policy dictates of international finance organizations and their influence over the nation-states,

“…we must abandon modernization-versus-dependency debates and move beyond sweeping historical statements.  For this task, it is necessary to take advantage of insights from other bodies of theory. Such a shift includes greater attention to factors of a domestic order, including characteristics of states, the relationship of states with classes in civil society, population size and density.” (Portes 1997: 354)
The focus of this paper will be to further elaborate on the characteristics of states and the relationship of the state with civil society in the current context of neo-liberal globalization.  This will be accomplished first, by introducing Gramscian and neo-Gramscian theories of political formation and change; second, by introducing the work of Paolo Freire and popular education; and third by applying these two bodies of knowledge to the current history of Bolivia to further understand the effect that new social movements have on the nation-state and what significant ideas this helps us to form in building an alternative development strategy to counter the currently accepted model of neo-liberalization.

Gramscian and Neo-Gramscian Theories of Political Formation and Change

The greatest contribution of Antonio Gramsci was in a rethinking of classical Marxism.  Gramsci played an important part in critically analyzing the historical realities after World War I and called into question the orthodox theories of the Second International, specifically the understanding of historical change in terms of economic determinism.  Classical Marxists affirmed that changes in the economic base would determine changes in the superstructure.  Gramsci stated that, “To understand capitalist domination, the student must also be familiar with the political, ideological, and cultural aspects of class struggle.” (Cohn 2000: 121)  He integrated a more social and cultural understanding into the critical analysis of the capitalist system developed by Marx.

For example he stated that,

“changing socio-economic circumstances do not of themselves ‘produce’ political changes.  They only set the conditions in which such changes become possible.  What is crucial, in bringing about these changes, are the ‘relations of force’ obtaining at the political level the degree of political organization and combativity of the opposing forces, the strength of the political alliances which they manage to bind together and their level of political consciousness, of preparation of the struggle on the ideological terrain.” (Forgacs 2000:190)
In Gramsci’s work the rethinking of historical events led to the conceptualization of the following key notions; hegemony, historic bloc, counter-hegemony and the idea of the “organic intellectual”.

Gramsci’s concepts of hegemony and historic bloc are very important in defining how the state functions to serve the interests of various local groups that make up a specific class.

“The hegemonic rule of a particular class, according to Gramsci, is based not only on coercion but even more importantly on social-moral leadership.  In other words, the ruling class gains the active consent of the subordinate class on the basis of shared values, ideas, and material interests.” (Cohn 2000:122)
The state apparatus, supported by and supporting a specific economic group, may use coercion through the institutions of law, police, army and prisons; however, more importantly Gramsci highlights that the social institutions; such as education, religion, and the microstructures of everyday life contribute to the production of meaning and values that maintain consent of the subordinate classes.  Gramsci arrived at these conclusions by focusing on Marx’s understanding and relation between the structure (base) and the superstructure.  Gramsci emphasized that the structure is not static; he asserts that, “Politics in fact is at any given time the reflection of the tendencies of development in the structure.” (Forgacs 1988:189)  Individuals gain consciousness of structural conflicts at the level of ideas and through the application of analysis and action in turn effect the structure.  Gramsci established that, the development of the structure and superstructures are intimately connected and necessarily interrelated and reciprocal. (Forgacs 1988:190)  It is through this process of analysis and action that economic groups or classes then form hegemony and establish themselves into an historic bloc. Gramsci used the term historic bloc to refer to the congruence between state power on the one hand and the prevailing ideas guiding the society and the economy on the other. (Cohn 122, 2000)

“An historic bloc refers to the way in which leading social forces within a specific national context establish a relationship over contending social forces.  It indicates the integration of a variety of different class interests that are propagated throughout the society ‘bringing about not only a unison of economic and political aims, but also intellectual and moral unity…on a “universal” plane’” (Andreas Bieler and Adam David Morton 2003:39-75)
Considering that Gramsci was writing during the early 1900’s many of his ideas have been effective in analyzing the development of the global capitalist system and its current influence on the development of the nation-state.  However, with the separation of U.S. finance capital and the U.S. nation-state to establish global financial capital as an entity on its own some updates to Gramsci’s theories are needed. “Writers such as Robert Cox and Stephan Gill have extended his [Gramsci’s] ideas and applied them to international relations.  They argue that in this age of globalized production and exchange, a transnational historic bloc may be developing. (Cohn 2000:122)  Therefore, what Cox, Gill and other neo-Gramscian theorists are proposing is that the leading social forces that influence the neo-liberal market economy have moved beyond the nation-state to impose their ideology on the broader world-system.

“Neo-Gramscian theorists… use the term hegemony in a cultural sense to connote the complex of ideas that social groups use to assert their legitimacy and authority, and they also extend the concept of hegemony to include nonstate actors such as multinational corporations and international banks as well as nation-states.” (Cohn 2000:123)
Like classical Marxists, Gramsci’s true intention in formulating these ideas was to develop theories of political revolutionary change and not to remain a passive observer of these socio-economic and political processes.  Engaged by the question of political change, Gramsci sought to devise strategies that would aid the working class and the oppressed masses to break from the authority of the state.  Already utilizing a dialectical framework, it was natural for Gramsci to create the concept of counter hegemony in order to effect a revolutionary socialist change in the structure and superstructure.  “A counterhegemony is an alternative ethical view of society that poses a challenge to the dominant bourgeois-led view.” (Cohn 2000, 122)  As is the case for hegemony, a historic bloc is also needed for counter-hegemony.  It is formed by subaltern groups who subscribe to an alternative view of society and propose a distinct system of political formation and development.  Historically, to Gramscians and neo-Gramscians alike, this proposed system is socialism.  In today’s contemporary reality, analysts such as Hagai Katz further qualify this socialist movement as,

“A counter-hegemonic historic bloc is characterized also by an egalitarian structure in which power is decentralized and fairly evenly distributed between all the groups that participate in the historic bloc.  Moreover the counter-movement must involve organizations interested in different issues, and representing different interests, groups and regions –it should be diverse and inclusive.” (Katz 2006: 338)

To Gramsci an important part of building a counter hegemonic movement was the role of intellectuals. Gramsci proposed that, “in order for the working class to challenge [the] existing order, and become hegemonic in its own turn without becoming dependant on intellectuals from another class, it must create ‘organic’ intellectuals of its own.” (Forgacs 1988: 300)  Gramsci foresaw the revolutionary educational process occurring through the mass political party that trains individuals in deliberative and organizational skills.  As well as, through schools, which to him had to be reformed by synthesizing manual and mental skills allowing for there to be an equilibrium between them. (Forgacs 1988: 300)  Therefore, to Gramsci the concept of intellectual was redefined, “…to designate anyone whose function in society is primarily that of organizing, administering, directing, educating or leading others.” (Forgacs 1988: 300)  Building upon these ideas the role of the intellectual left in current Latin American history further characterized the intellectual as, “…almost anyone who writes, paints, acts, teaches or speaks out, even sings becomes ‘an intellectual’” (assigned class reading) The primordial concern of the ‘organic intellectual’ is to contribute to the collective political consciousness of the people and to strengthen their alliances and networks to form a political force that may engage the socio-economic circumstances that allow true political transformation.

Paolo Freire and Popular Education

Although Gramsci focused a great deal on education; Paolo Freire, a Brazilian linguist, further developed his ideas of education for social transformation. Freire exposed what he called the ‘Banking Approach” of education, where reality is talked about as if it where motionless, static, compartmentalized and predictable (Freire 1979).  Within this approach, the task of the teacher is to fill the student with the contents of narration.  Freire claims, that more often than not, this narration is not related to the experience of the student and is detached from their reality and void of significance. (Freire 1979)  Freire continues by stating that this form of education leads to a lack of creative formation and knowledge and the more students work at storing information, the less they dedicate themselves to developing their critical consciousness. (Freire 1979)  Therefore, for Freire as well as Gramsci, education was seen as being more effective by taking a dialogical approach.  In this context, analyzing dialogue and the root of that process, which is the word, is fundamental.  It is important to work towards comprehending the definitions of words as being authentic and to understand that words are capable of changing the world.  Freire stated that,

“…within the word there are two dimensions: reflection and action, in such radical interaction that if one is sacrificed – even in part – the other immediately suffers.  There is no true word that is not at the same time praxis.  Thus, to speak a true word is to transform the world.” (Freire 1979: 79)
To Freire action and reflection is the same as the word, which equals work, which in turn equals praxis.  Therefore if one sacrifices action, one is left with verbalism and if one sacrifices reflection, one is left with activism.   Freire saw this understanding as the basis of true dialogue between individuals, which allows them to address the challenges that they face in society and work towards its transformation.  This process of dialogue focused on oppressed subject transforming their reality is now commonly known as popular education.

These concepts that focused on dialogue and social transformation then led Freire to characterize both anti-dialogical and dialogical theories of cultural action.  The anti-dialogical approaches are the common hegemonic approaches to domination which include: conquest, divide and rule, manipulation and cultural invasion.  However, these will be addressed within the section dealing with the forms of the state within the Bolivian case study.  For now the dialogical approaches of cooperation and unity are more important due to their relationship to building counter-hegemony.  Gramsci’s concept of the ‘organic intellectual’ is synonymous with Freire’s reference to the revolutionary leader or organizer, who plays fundamental roles within the processes of cooperation and unity.  According to Freire, cooperation occurs through communication and trust.  Freire elaborates,

“Trust results from the encounter in which men/women are co-subjects in denouncing the current worldview of the elite, as part of the world’s transformation.  It is when trust is established that true dialogical theory can become action or true revolutionary action.” (Freire 1979)
Moreover, Freire explains that

“Unity requires class-consciousness, but before this can occur the oppressed must achieve the consciousness of being an oppressed individual due to the reality they live.  The unity of the oppressed occurs at the human level not at the level of things.  It occurs in a reality that is only authentically comprehended in the dialectic between the sub- and superstructure.” (Freire 174)
These two dialogical approaches to cultural action serve to clarify to the oppressed the objective situation which binds them to their oppressors, no matter how visible or not that oppression is.

The Nation-State, Civil Society and the Response to Neo-Liberal Economic Policy

Although proponents of the neo-liberal economic agenda assure that there is no alternative to their model for development, there are groups within civil society that are adamantly opposed to the authority of the current historic bloc that promulgates neo-liberal hegemony.  In order to elaborate on Gramscian, neo-Gramscian and Freire’s theories of social transformation and political change the historical case of Bolivia is presented to aid in understanding the historical and structural effects of the capitalist world-system as well as how the oppressed classes of Bolivian civil society have worked to build a counter-hegemonic movement dedicated to a more human approach to development.

A Bolivian Case Study

When contemplating alternative forms of development and especially social transformative change the contemporary history of Bolivia is in an important history to engage.  The people of Bolivia are the first Latin American Republic to elect an indigenous person as its president while at the same time shift state policy away from the neo-liberal economic model of development.  I argue that these results are an outcome of decades of not only resistance but of the oppressed classes of Bolivia organizing themselves into a counter-hegemonic movement.

Bolivia and Relations of Production

Bolivia’s post-colonial economy was based on an export sector, which in turn was based on silver and later tin mining, and an agricultural sphere of landed estates and corporate communities worked by mostly Quechua and Aymara-speaking peasants.  Throughout most of Bolivian history, mining and landed elites competed for control of the state and generally sought to influence state policies to advance their own interests. (Sanabria1999: 536)  In 1952 a populist coalition of miners, urban workers and peasants took control of the state and began to nationalize key industry sectors, such as the largest tin mines, later organized into the state mining company (La Corporación Minera de Bolivia, COMIBOL), as well as investment strategies favouring capitalist sectors in mining, oil and agriculture. (Sanabria1999: 537)  This exercise in state-centric capitalism was impressive but by the 1980s  it had reached its limit: revenues from exports by state enterprises (such as tin and oil) sharply fell, the external debt swelled, deficits mushroomed, external capital flows dwindled, investment plummeted, massive capital flight ensued, and hyperinflation rapidly eroded wages. (Conaghan and Malloy 1994)

The Bolivian state begun to introduce a neo-liberal program in 1985 after the economic crises that resulted from Bolivia’s state-centric capitalist approach.  Bolivia’s neo-liberal economic approach was labeled the Nueva Política Económica (NPE) and was viewed by the dominant classes as a last resort to avert socio-economic anarchy and state collapse. (Sanabria1999:537)

“Thus facing a serious threat from below, a key objective of neoliberalism has been to “arm” an obsolete state and reestablish its control over a (supposedly) weak, lethargic, and disintegrating society that was, nevertheless, craving to be modern, vigorous and strong. In an unprecedented consensus, Bolivia’s military, various traditionally rival political parties, and key business interests have joined together to consistently support the neoliberal agenda.” (Conaghan 1992:15)

A historic bloc was necessary to move the neo-liberal agenda forward.  Part of this agenda was then to privatize previously nationalized industry, the priority being the Bolivian state mining company.

“Restructuring state mining, undermining union power and potential challenges to state authority, and doing away with seemingly anachronistic and inefficient state enterprises, were all top political and ideological goals of the neoliberal project’s overhaul of the state economy.  On this point the Bolivian state apparatus was solidly united and ideologically committed, and followed a strategy perhaps as carefully orchestrated, determined, and successful as that carried out by the Thatcher government during the 1984-1985 mine uprisings in Great Britain (Richards 1996)

Regardless, a new division emerges amongst the dominant classes to create a socio-economic opportunity for political change with the rise of coca cultivation in Bolivia.  The 1952 revolution included land reform objectives which focused on the expropriation of large landed estates, which were then handed over to former tenant peasants.  “Peasants soon organized themselves into local and regional unions and a national federation wedded to Bolivia’s national labor organization.” (Sanabria 1999: 549)  The agrarian reform encouraged the migration of many peasants to the subtropical and tropical eastern flank of the Andes, especially the Chapare area east of the city of Cochabamba. (Sanabria 1999:549)  The Chapare is an enormous and sparsely populated rain forest of over twenty-four thousand square kilometers, currently Bolivia’s most important coca growing region.  The main producers of the coca are peasant farmers commonly known as Cocaleros.  Although there is mass resistance to the growing of coca by both national and international interests the Cocaleros are not the only ones that are gaining from this production. “The coalescence of drug trafficking in Bolivia has been undisputedly linked to members of the military, the state apparatus, and the agro-industry elites who capitalized on development assistance during the 1970s.” (Sanabria 1999:549)  Evidently there has been a split in the upper classes between those who actively pursue the eradication of coca cultivation and those who do not.  However there is another key socio-economic factor to consider in the Cocaleros resistance to the state, “in opposing the state they [Cocaleros] have had the advantage of being far more economically autonomous than miners, whose livelihood was narrowly based on wage labor.” (Sanabria 1999:551) Moreover, Chapare peasant coca cultivators, “…have successfully followed a number of microtactics designed to circumvent efforts to undermine their livelihood.  These include: sabotage and hit-and-run attacks, slowing down the work of eradication teams; “voluntary” destruction of unproductive coca fields, and the use of compensation funds to plant new coca crops” (Sanabria 1999:551-552) Through these practices coca cultivators in the Chapare have been far more successful in defending their livelihood and mode of life compared to the Bolivian miners who suffered greatly with the onset of neo-liberal economic policies.  The coca cultivators had “…larger numbers, far greater economic autonomy, ability to rally public opinion on their behalf, and the crucial weight of the coca economy in Bolivian society” (Sanabria 1999:553) compared with the miners and for this reason were able to move the entire country towards political change.

In summary, the relations of production in Bolivia, pre-1952 could be characterized as having been controlled by two opposing interests; mining and agriculture both struggling to maintain their power over the state.   However in the revolution of 1952 the middleclass along with the support of miners, peasant and the urban working class managed to take control of the state altering the relations of production by nationalizing key industry sectors, the most import being the mining and oil industries.  In 1985, the neo-liberal economic agenda was introduced by a collective of the dominant classes and the military to impose structural changes to Bolivia’s economy thus once again changing the relations of production.  Interestingly enough with the rise of the Movimiento al Socialismo (MAS), headed by Evo Morales a Cocalero himself, we see once again a shift back to the nationalization of key industries in Bolivia.  What is important is how this shift towards an alternative development occurred once again; however this time exercised not by the middleclass of Bolivia but the indigenous people and the working class.

Indigenous Identity

Bolivia has one of the largest indigenous populations of all the Latin American countries, roughly 50% or more of the population is indigenous.  Historically, “rural organizing within and between indigenous communities has traditionally been the reserve of peasant unions, political parties, churches and revolutionaries.  These movements have historically attempted to mobilize Indians to forge class, partisan, religious and/or revolutionary identities over, and often against, indigenous ones.” (Yashar1998:23) Yashar (1998) makes the argument that with the neo-liberal agenda there has also been the focus of democratization, which has expanded political opportunities for the development of civil society, weak and/or nondemocratic state institutions have often restricted political access, participation, and local autonomy, particularly for historically marginalized groups.  “Social movements have emerged in this context to contest the institutional boundaries and practice of citizenship.” (Yashar 1998:24)  Moreover, he argues that, “As political liberalization legalizes the right to organize, state reforms have restricted access to state resources and jeopardize pockets of local political, material and cultural autonomy that indigenous communities have carved out.” (Yashar1998:24)  Bolivia’s contemporary indigenous movement can be traced to a heterogeneous movement in the late 1960s and early 1980s called the Kataristas that sought to reclaim indigenous voices and autonomy in the Andean-based peasant movement and universities.  “By 1979 Kataristas assumed control of the military-dominated peasant organization, and asserted greater independence from the national labour federation.” (Yashar 1998:25)  The Kataristas and other indigenous groups focused on creating greater consciousness regarding indigenous subjectivity while at the same time incorporating many Marxist and neo-Marxists approaches to critically analyze their society.  As well,

“recent state reforms have forged a different kind of state, in some ways more technocratic and lean, in others less capable of acting as a political authority, particularly in rural areas.  As the “rewards” for controlled participation have been withdrawn, the terms of interaction with official politics have become more contested, and indigenous peasants have both gained and used greater autonomy to contest the terms and practice of citizenship.  In this changing institutional and social context, indigenous movements have emerged to (re)gain access to the state and to secure local autonomy.

Women in Bolivia and the Use of Popular Education

Adult education in many areas of Latin America have done away with formal models of education giving way to popular education, which focuses on the implementation of transformative learning and critical theory.  Many of the new social movements in Bolivia apply this approach to engage their members and the rest of civil society.  Specifically, I will focus here on the work of Judith M. Kollins and Catherine A. Hansman who describe the work of a Bolivian NGO called, La Oficina Juridica Para la Mujer.

“The OJM [Oficina Juridica Para la Mujer], the site chosen for this project, is an innovative non-governmental organization (NGO) that was conceived in 1984 as an option for poor women who needed training in the defense of their rights and in protection from family and societal violence.  The mission of the organization is threefold: to change power relations in Bolivian society in order to eliminate social, economic, political, and cultural injustice; to eliminate all forms of discrimination against the women of Bolivia and the world; and to construct a truly democratic society that respects life, peace, liberty and diversity.” (Kollins and Hansman 2005: 9)

An important aspect of this training, as in all popular education, is the direct link to the daily lives of the participants.

“Through researcher’s observations of the program and from discussions with the facilitator, the methodology of the program is “participatory and living,” making use of roleplays, small group work, story telling, presentations, field visits, and research homework.  A primary method of learning is through reflection and discussion. (Kollins and Hansman 2005: 10)

As a part of this program, participants are trained to provide legal assistance to women, particularly those with limited resources, and to refer them to the OJM for further free legal assistance.  As this program impacts the lives of Bolivian women it incorporates gender issues into a larger social movement, affecting both personal experience and public policy and creating greater degrees of cooperation and unity amongst the dominated classes of Bolivian society.

Conclusion
The world-systems approach is often criticized for being to general and as Portes stated too focused on long-term historical evolution; however, what is important to consider regarding this approach is the general tendencies of exploitation and oppression that occur between core and periphery areas in relation to economic development and underdevelopment.  Detailing this objective social reality is not only possible through continuing historical and structural analysis of the capitalist world-system but necessary for the construction of a counter-hegemonic movement to be effective and efficient.  By characterizing the role of the state and the relation of the state to civil society in Bolivia within the Gramscian and neo-Gramscian ideas of historic bloc and hegemony I have explained how the nation-state and the broader world order dominate the subordinate classes of Bolivian society through the control of policies.  These policies affect the relations of production and contribute to the objective formation of the subordinate classes of Bolivian society.
However, the connection to Gramsci and Freire were also used as a framework in order to explain the influence of new social movements in Bolivia on the state.  As mentioned, the relations of production in Bolivian society were used to explain the objective formation of the subordinate classes and to further demonstrate that socio-economic circumstance give the opportunity for political transformation.  This must be seen as a historical process.  In Bolivia, the revolution of 1952 played an important role in forming the collective consciousness of the Bolivian people.  Although the 1952 revolution was mainly middleclass driven they did implement some socialist policies that aided in the overthrow of the neo-liberal economic model in the present.  By this I mean that the nationalization of key industries during the 1950’ and 1960’s contributed to an increase in class consciousness that remained in the collective memory of the people regardless of the neo-liberal push that was implemented in 1985.  However an important aspect to the collective consciousness that arose later was the respect of diversity to incorporate gender and race subjectivities to further strengthen a counter-hegemonic movement.  Incorporating the subjectivities of indigenous peoples and women, people involved in the social movements where able to release revolutionary ideology from its Eurocentric and patriarchal hold.  This allowed the social movement to take on a more egalitarian and democratic nature.  Critics may point out that the equality of women and indigenous people in Bolivia are a long way away; however, I would state that it is easier to make policy changes within a democratic socialist state then one driven by the neo-liberal interests of a plutocracy and the broader influence of the global capitalist system.  True democratic socialist hegemony is a process of which we are just now beginning to experience.

Bibliography

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Duffield, Mark. “Global Governance and the New Wars.” (2001).

Estellano, Washington. “From Populism to the Coca Economy in Bolivia.” Trans. Kathryn Nava-Ragazzi. Latin American Perspectives 21:  34-45.

Forgacs, David, ed. The Antonio Gramsci Reader. Liverpool: Derek Doyle & Associates, 1988.

Katz, Hagai. “Gramsci, Hegemony, and Global Civil Society Networks.” Voluntas 17 (2006):  333-348.

Kollins, Judith M., and Catherine A. Hansman. “The Role of Women in Popular Education in Bolivia: a Case Study of the Oficina Juridica Para La Mujer.” Adult Basic Education 15 (2005):  3-20.

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Sanabria, Harry. “Consolidating States, Restructuring Economies, and Confronting Workers and Peasants: the Antinomies of Bolivian Neoliberalism.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 41 (1999):  535-562.

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Yashar, Deborah J. “Contesting Citizenship: Indigenous Movements and Democracy in Latin America.” Comparative Politics 31 (1998):  23-42.


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