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Petras Wrong on the Resurgent Right in Latin America

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James Petras has come out condemning the resurgence of the radical right in Latin America. He blames the centre-left for failing to make inroads into ruling class power and instead acting like they were neo-liberals, balancing budgets and protecting the interests of international capital. Well, this is exactly what the history of Latin America is all about, the middle class co-opting the unruly masses into popular fronts until the right has had time to reorganise its strength and re-asserted its political rule.

The title of Petras article is the ‘Paradoxes of Latin American Development’. But there is nothing paradoxical about the phenomenon he observes. It is very clear. Center-left governments are bourgeois governments and will not seriously challenge private property. They are actually popular fronts designed to coopt the ‘left’ -workers and poor peasants -into the center, and stop it from taking power. But in order to convince workers that popular fronts can solve their problems, left wing parties must actually claim that the center-left is ‘socialist’. The more revolutionary the workers and poor peasants are, the more apparently ‘revolutionary’ must the left wing of the popular front be to succeed in deceiving the workers.

Petras should know his history. In the very country where the popular front has been most successful, Bolivia, all of its features are well known. The most revolutionary vanguard in Latin America’s history, the miners who adopted the Trotskyist Theses of Pulacayo and led the 1952 national revolution, could only be diverted from revolution by a so-called Trotskyist party – the POR Lora.

Instead of calling for a workers’ government in which the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie would have no place, the POR Lora labeled the MNR bourgeois government ‘petty bourgeois’ and said that it could be controlled by the miners by appointing more miners as ministers in the to government. The result was that the bourgeoisie were able to recover their power and drive back and defeat the revolution over the next decades.

In Bolivia today, a new popular front, that of Morales and Linera is backed and kept in power by the same POR Lora and other fake Trotskyists, as well as by Castroite union leaders. Meanwhile, the workers and poor peasants who are willing and ready to fight are kept isolated and diverted from mobilising while the center-left organizes yet another referendum and the right is freely attacking workers and organising to secede with 80% of the nation’s resources.

The problem is that Petras doesnt want to know this history because he advocated a vote for Morales in 2005 deceiving the workers and poor peasants who had forced Mesa to resign and the government to flee from La Paz to Sucre, and trapping them in the Morales/Linera centre-left popular front that he now condemns. This is because Petras does not acknowledge centre-left governments as popular fronts. He sees them as governments that can be pressured to the left by social movements and the unions who join such governments demanding ministers and policies that require strong measures to limit the power and wealth of the ruling class.

So instead of owning up to his own popular front politics for helping to bring about the reactionary situation in Bolivia today, Petras must always ultimately blame the masses for failing to put enough pressure on the popular front to force it to attack the right instead of doing deals with it. Petras feels particularly aggrieved at the moment, because having worked so hard to get all these center-left regimes in power, they are all betraying him. He has, rightly, condemned Chavez for calling for the disarmament of the FARC. It is time that Petras recognised that his politics are bankrupt because they rely on popular fronts and an exchange theory of capitalism.

Written by raved

July 2, 2008 at 5:57 am