Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bolivia: Decisive Action Needed to Confront the Oligarchy

By Darrall Cozens
Tuesday, 21 October 2008



After the massacre of up to 30 men, women and children on September 11th in the village of El Porvenir, some 20 miles outside the provincial capital city of Cobija in Pando province, a feeling of revulsion and anger swept across all parts of Bolivia.

Those who were murdered formed part of a caravan of about 1000 members of the Amalgamated Federation of Pando Agricultural Workers (FUTCP) and their families. They were supporters of Evo Morales marching on Cobija with the aim of retaking government offices that had been occupied and ransacked by pro-fascist gangs. These gangs were supporters of the oligarchy in the Media Luna (provinces of Pando, Beni, Santa Cruz and Tarija) who were attempting to carry out a coup against the Morales government in La Paz.

The caravan was ambushed at a bridge over the river Tiahuamanu. Some 300 armed thugs, many with submachine guns, attacked the caravan and fired upon those who formed part of the caravan of vehicles. As they fled to escape, some in to the jungle and some attempting to ford the river, they were shot in the back and in the head. Some 100 are still missing apart from those confirmed dead.

When news leaked out across Bolivia, there was a spontaneous mobilisation of the numerous organisations that had always supported Morales – trade unions, peasant and indigenous movements. They marched on the provincial capital in Santa Cruz and put it under siege. The scale and anger of the protestors shocked the oligarchy who up until that moment had assumed that they would be able to establish separate political entities, with their own tax systems, police force and army, in their provinces, thus establishing de facto separate states, resulting in the Balkanisation of Bolivia.

Over the past few days, both government and opposition have been negotiating. On the one hand, the opposition has constantly tried to disrupt the negotiations by breaking them off with demands for the government to release their political representatives who had been arrested after the El Porvenir massacre. One of those arrested was Leopoldo Fernandez, governor of Pando province, who had given orders that MAS supporters on the march had to be stopped at all costs and had organised the fascist gangs which shot at them.

To put pressure on the oligarchy, a march from Caracallo in Cochambamba province to La Paz will arrive in the capital on October 20th. Once again, the mass organisations of workers and peasants and indigenous peoples are showing their strength in support of Evo Morales. On the march are members of CONALCAM (The National Coordinating Committee for Change), CIDOB (The Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia), CONAMAQ (The National Council of Markas and Ayllus of Qullasuya – indigenous peoples organisation), the Coordinating Committee for the Integration of Peasant Economic Organisations of Bolivia representing 775 different organisations and finally the march will be joined by members of COB, the Bolivian Workers Central Organisation. In other words, all of the organisations representing workers’ and peasant movements will be on the march in support of the Evo Morales government.

With such support, which reflects the real balance of forces in Bolivia, one might have thought that Morales would deal firmly with the opposition and stick to his guns in relation to the content of the new CPE (The Political Constitution of the State) and the referendum date of December this year or January 2009 to ratify the CPE. But instead of exercising the Mano Dura (Iron Fist) in his dealings with the opposition, a policy demanded by workers and peasants on many of the marches, Morales has once again taken the road of compromise and conciliation.

The Constituent Assembly which drafted the CPE has set up a special commission to investigate the contents of the CPE and to agree a date for the referendum. This commission (Comision Especial de Concertacion) has 14 members, 4 from MAS (Morales’ movement), 4 from PODEMOS, 3 from MNR and 3 from UN (these latter three represent the rich and powerful in Bolivia). In other words, Morales’ forces have 4 out of 14 seats on this committee, a built-in minority. Yet in the elections for the 255-member Constituent Assembly (CA), that began its deliberations on the CPE in early 2006, MAS had 137 deputies, PODEMOS 60, MNR 18 and UN 8. From having a majority in the CA, a majority that was endorsed in the recall referendum of August this year where Morales took 68% of the popular vote, Morales has let MAS become a minority in this special committee.

What are the objections that the three opposition forces have to the CPE? Among many objections, PODEMOS opposes the clauses in the CPE which deal with control of natural resources (mainly gas and oil) and UN wants the autonomy status of the Media Luna provinces to be constitutionally recognised and maximum land holdings to be 10,000 hectares per person, not 5,000. Having become a minority in the CA after the December 2005 elections and after having lost the battle of the streets in the past few weeks, these political representatives of the oligarchy have had handed to them by Morales a majority on a committee to revise the CPE proposals. This will obviously not be the last word, as that will be had by those who are descending on the capital in support of Morales, the workers and peasants who have provided the backbone to Morales and MAS in their dealings with the oligarchy and their attempted coup. Each time that Morales has held out the olive branch of conciliation, the oligarchy has been emboldened. In addition, each time that the oligarchy has attempted to destabilise and overthrow the Morales’ government, the masses have come to defend their government. Moreover, this will be the case until the three burning issues of poverty, ownership and control of the land and the hydrocarbon industries have been resolved.

Poverty





It is worth restating the figures for poverty for they are ample proof of the inability of the capitalist and landlord class that owns and controls Bolivia to raise the standards of living of the masses in Bolivia. The population of the country is some 9.8 millions, the average life expectancy is 47 yet the country sits on hydrocarbon reserves of an estimated $250 billions. The poverty rate is 60% but 38% live in extreme poverty, which means that on a day-to-day basis they have no regular and guaranteed access to the basic necessities to sustain life. Some 28% have no access to safe and clean drinking water and 24% of children under 3 years of age are malnourished. Some 39% of the population work in agriculture and rural poverty is 76%. Indigenous Bolivians have greater levels of poverty, extreme poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition than non-indigenous. Income from work amongst non-indigenous peoples is 2.2 times greater than for indigenous peoples. Schooling for non-indigenous peoples is on average 9.8 years but for indigenous on average 5.9 years. In the province of La Paz, which contains 27% of the population, some 77% are of indigenous origin and the poverty rate is 66%. On the other hand in Santa Cruz, the stronghold of the oligarchy, where some 26% of the total population are concentrated, the indigenous peoples number 37% and the poverty rate is 38%. While it is true that there is a strong correlation between poverty and the majority indigenous population, there is also poverty amongst the mestizo (mixed blood) section of the population and those of “pure” Spanish descent. In Tarija province, for example, where 85% of Bolivia’s natural gas deposits are located, there is only 5% of the population, some 20% of which is indigenous, yet the poverty rate is 50%. In other words, the national question in Bolivia is also a class question.

An attempt was made by Morales back in February this year to meet the needs of one section of the population, those over 60 and retiring. Between 700,000 and 800,000 retired people would get a state pension. Those without a pension would get 200 Bolivianos ($26) per month, and those with another pension, say from work, would get 150 Bs (about $20). The total cost was calculated at $205 millions per year, some 30% of the taxation raised from the exploitation of the hydrocarbon reserves. These pensions will be guaranteed in the new CPE proposals and that is one of the many reasons why the oligarchy opposes the CPE. If the pensioners are to get 30% of the revenue from taxes on the hydrocarbon companies, then that will mean less going to the provinces in the Media Luna area of the country, less going into the pockets of the oligarchy. The ownership and control of the hydrocarbon industry is here a key question, for without Morales having this control there is no way that his programme of social reforms can be carried out.

Hydrocarbons



Between 2004 and 2007, government revenue from this industry increased by £1.3 billions or 10% of GDP. Per capita, it went up from $31 in 2004 to $160 in 2007. This increase was due to three factors; the 2005 Hydrocarbons Law, the May 2006 partial nationalisation of 51% of the industry and the worldwide increase in energy prices. From the total amount collected in taxes, the redistribution has followed the age-old formula in Bolivia of inequality. The government takes 25% of the revenue, the state company YPFB takes 25.2% and the remaining amount is given out to regional governments, municipalities and universities in the provinces. The four provinces in the Media Luna with 3.5million people get 30% of the total revenues and the other five mainly much poorer provinces with 6.3 million people get 19.7% of the total revenues. Even among the Media Luna provinces, there is an unequal distribution. In 2007, Santa Cruz with 26% of the total population got $117.2m., yet Tarija with 5% of the population received $237.7m. La Paz, a MAS stronghold, with nearly 28% of the population, only got $73.3m. In other words, even under the present system of tax revenue distribution, the relatively better off areas of Bolivia are getting the lion’s share of the revenue, and the poor areas a beggar’s share. For the oligarchy however even this is not acceptable. Behind their referendums for autonomy lies the aspiration to own and control the gas and oil reserves of Bolivia for themselves. They have even managed to convince poor people in their areas that if they controlled the hydrocarbon industry, then the poor would also benefit, as everyone in the province would be looked after with such untold wealth in the hands of the oligarchy. In reality, it would mean the rich getting even richer. However it is not only the gas and oil industry that stands behind the oligarchy. The land question is equally important.

The Land



The Revolution of 1952 was meant to have solved the land question. Pre-1952 land ownership in Bolivia was the least efficient and least egalitarian in Latin America. Land was concentrated in a few hands and the overwhelming majority of land workers existed by means of sharecropping and peonaje, free peasant labour to the landlord in exchange for a share of the produce. A semi-feudal social structure existed and only 0.3% of the land was used for agricultural purposes.




In 1950, some 0.7% of the total number of farm units was over 10,000 hectares in size and occupied 49.6% of the land. At the other end, some 59.3% of all the units were smaller than 5 hectares and occupied 0.23% of the land. This was a time when the population was 2.5 million yet 30,000 voters elected presidents.

In 1951 the MNR, a petty bourgeois party with allies on the Left, won elections. There was a military coup to prevent them taking political power. A battle ensued and the miners entered the scene, destroying the bourgeois army and setting up a 100,000-strong armed trade union militia. However this workers’ revolution gave political power to the MNR. In May 1952, Victor Paz Esstensoro becomes president. Under strong pressure from the mass movement, the programme of government was universal suffrage, nationalisation of the tin mines, land reform and the establishment of the state oil company YPFB.

In 1953, the Agrarian reform law was passed in which the state did not recognise latifundismo, large-scale land holdings. This attempt by a capitalist state machine to limit the land holdings of the oligarchy ended in miserable failure. From 1955 to 1967, a period of 12 years, only 200,000 peasant families had received some land. The legal process to confirm redistribution was taking between 2 years and more than 10 years. By 1963, only one tenth of the agricultural workers had benefitted and only 16% of the land that had been redistributed could be cultivated. In Santa Cruz, the power base of the oligarchy today, only 3% of land had been redistributed. In addition, with the meagre share out that did happen, there was no credit, no technical advice and no organisation. The standard of living of the peasant masses did not improve. All kinds of bureaucratic and corrupt practices were employed by those in the state machine to ensure that the 1953 Law was ineffectual.

In the 1960s, 70s and 80s, under various military dictatorships, land was re-concentrated in fewer hands. In 1984, only 3.9% of farm units were over 100 hectares in size, yet they occupied 91% of the land area. Recent statistics from the World Bank and UDAPE have revealed an even greater concentration of land ownership. Some 686 farm units, a total of 0.22% of landowners, had farms that were larger than 5000 hectares in size with some larger than 100,000 hectares, the average being 16,000. Combined with 1300 farm units greater than 2,500 hectares, the number of farm units is only 0.63% of the total number yet they occupy 66.42% of agricultural land. At the other end of the scale, 86% of farm units occupy 2.4% of agricultural land.

In Santa Cruz and Beni provinces, some 14 families of opposition politicians and businessmen have land holding of 313,000 hectares, or roughly 800,000 acres. It is these large landholdings that provide the power base for the oligarchy in the Media Luna and the source of opposition to Morales’ promise, enshrined in the CPE, to limit landholdings to either 5,000 or 10,000 hectares.

State control of the hydrocarbon industry, redistribution of land and an end to poverty cannot be accomplished on the basis of Bolivian capitalism and landlordism. Morales stands at the head of a movement called MAS, the Movement towards Socialism. When on December 16th last year in the Plaza Murillo in La Paz Morales received the draft constitution in a public ceremony watched by tens of thousands including me, he stated that the worst enemy of humankind was capitalism and then went on to call for a “democratic cultural” revolution. The power of the oligarchy cannot be blunted by the setting up of conciliation committees in the Constituent Assembly. It can only be ended by expropriating them through a socialist revolution and the creation of a democratic workers’ and peasants’ state as the first step in the revolution in the Andes of Latin America.

October 10th, 2008

RENEGADE EYE

31 comments:

FJ said...

Bolivia doesn't work for one simple reason. There's no respect for private property. The minute you own a piece of property, the government confiscates it. The moment you're given a piece of property, your "title" becomes disputed and you cannot borrow a penny upon the "equity" inherent in the property.

Until Bolivians learn to respect private property, the situation will NEVER improve. And more talk of "land redistribution" and confiscation of mineral wealth in deeded properties already privately held does NOTHING to improve the situation.

Socialism can only exist as a parasite upon free market capitalism. Plutus is blind and cannot by healed by those who would redistribute wealth in a so-called "fair" or "just" manner. Every attempt at redistribution simply adds to the number of fleas and other parasites that the host-animal must feed. And eventually, the animal needs a flea bath and time to regain its' health.

It's time for Bolivians to dip their dog. But instead, the fleas have taken over the airport in La Paz to keep the dogs from fleeing.

In other words, opposition members meeting w/Evo Morales are currently being held hostage by radical MAS elements.

troutsky said...

FJ, Augusto Pinochet could not have said it better himself. History is overtaking your bankrupt ideology and you can get out of the way or be trampled.

Morales set a referendum date yesterday. He is proceeding a bit to cautiously for many but I believe it is strategically wise.World opinion counts and democratically disarming the oligarchs plays better than 'expropriation".

FJ said...

Evo's window is certainly closing. Taking governor's hostage and threatening them with violence isn't tolerated for very long.

FJ said...

...and the list of Morales' crimes grows longer and longer...

celticfire said...

I beginning to think you're right on this Renegade Eye. Things should be moving along a lot more faster then they are, and it's giving the reactionary/fascist forces a lot of time to devise a coup.

Hopefully we will see some more revolutionary developments soon.

Renegade Eye said...

Celticfire: I agree.

Troutsky: I see your point. I don't think what you are saying applies. He is moving so slow, that the fascists, are arming, and run around with immunity, while the progressive forces, get no protection. Legal demos are attacked all the time.

At this time MAS should be supported, since that is the party of the working class, unless it splits.

This is a situation where the rank and file, are much more radical than their government.

Chavez wouldn't put up with what Morales does.

FJ: The richest 10% receive 35% of the income.
87% of land owned by .07%
90% No shower or bathtub.
64% No electricity
59% No running water.
.05% Roads paved.

FJ said...

90% No shower or bathtub.
64% No electricity
59% No running water.
.05% Roads paved.


And why is that? Every time a bank loans someone the money to build a power plant or water system, the government confiscates it. Then nobody loans them any more money...

And every time a private enterprise tries to charge people the "market rate" for the electricity or water they use, the government steps in and forces the company to sell it for half of the cost it takes to produce it.

Like I said previously, until the people learn to respect private property, the Bolivian situation will continue to be a mess. And a state appropriation of energy revenues is NOT going to help the situation, since the state will NEVER invest the revenues in productive infrastructure... they'll waste it on food and social/medical services for meeting the ever increasing demands of an already socially oversupplied indigenous flea/parasite population.

FJ said...

...just like what Obama wants to do in the USA...

FJ said...

Government needs to invest in "productive" infrastructure, not making "welfare payments".

Adam Smith, "Wealth of Nations"

THERE is one sort of labour which adds to the value of the subject upon which it is bestowed: there is another which has no such effect. The former, as it produces a value, may be called productive; the latter, unproductive labour. Thus the labour of a manufacturer adds, generally, to the value of the materials which he works upon, that of his own maintenance, and of his master's profit. The labour of a menial servant, on the contrary, adds to the value of nothing. Though the manufacturer has his wages advanced to him by his master, he, in reality, costs him no expense, the value of those wages being generally restored, together with a profit, in the improved value of the subject upon which his labour is bestowed. But the maintenance of a menial servant never is restored. A man grows rich by employing a multitude of manufacturers: he grows poor by maintaining a multitude of menial servants. The labour of the latter, however, has its value, and deserves its reward as well as that of the former. But the labour of the manufacturer fixes and realizes itself in some particular subject or vendible commodity, which lasts for some time at least after that labour is past. It is, as it were, a certain quantity of labour stocked and stored up to be employed, if necessary, upon some other occasion. That subject, or what is the same thing, the price of that subject, can afterwards, if necessary, put into motion a quantity of labour equal to that which had originally produced it. The labour of the menial servant, on the contrary, does not fix or realize itself in any particular subject or vendible commodity. His services generally perish in the very instant of their performance, and seldom leave any trace or value behind them for which an equal quantity of service could afterwards be procured.

sonia said...

Morales should be careful not to repeat Chavez's disastrous mistakes.

FJ said...

That isn't possible, sonia.

“Beggars mounted, run their Horse to death.”-- Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3,

Ducky's here said...

If 40% of your population is fucking hungry you fucking feed them.

End of story. You stop pissing and moaning about some damn oil and gas executives who want to siphon off the natural wealth.

Those guys, you zip strip their hands, get the cameras set up, kneel them down and give the poor baseball bats to start opening heads like melons.

FJ said...

That's what I like about mr. ducky. He knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

I thank G_d, he stole the handle and the train it won't stop going, no way to slow down...

Best return to page 1, Gideon. You've still too many men for the job.

sonia said...

Ducky,

, If 40% of your population is fucking hungry you fucking feed them.

... or you buy Russian tanks and other weapons. They will be very useful to defend Chavez's presidential palace from the hungry mob of his former supporters...

The day of reckoning is coming....

FJ said...

Thomas Malthus, "Essay on the Principle of Population," 1798.

Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will shew the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.

By that law of our nature which makes food necessary to the life of man, the effects of these two unequal powers must be kept equal.

This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence. This difficulty must fall some where and must necessarily be severely felt by a large portion of mankind.

Through the animal and vegetable kingdoms, nature has scattered the seeds of life abroad with the most profuse and liberal hand. She has been comparatively sparing in the room and the nourishment necessary to rear them. The germs of existence contained in this spot of earth, with ample food, and ample room to expand in, would fill millions of worlds in the course of a few thousand years. Necessity, that imperious all pervading law of nature, restrains them within the prescribed bounds. The race of plants, and the race of animals shrink under this great restrictive law. And the race of man cannot, by any efforts of reason, escape from it. Among plants and animals its effects are waste of seed, sickness, and premature death. Among mankind, misery and vice. The former, misery, is an absolutely necessary consequence of it. Vice is a highly probable consequence, and we therefore see it abundantly prevail, but it ought not, perhaps, to be called an absolutely necessary consequence. The ordeal of virtue is to resist all temptation to evil.

This natural inequality of the two powers of population and of production in the earth and that great law of our nature which must constantly keep their effects equal form the great difficulty that to me appears insurmountable in the way to the perfectibility of society. . . .> And it appears, therefore, to be decisive against the possible existence of a society, all the members of which should live in ease, happiness, and comparative leisure; and feel no anxiety about providing the means of subsistence for themselves and families.

Consequently, if the premises are just, the argument is conclusive against the perfectibility of the mass of mankind.

I have thus sketched the general outline of the argument, but I will examine it more particularly, and I think it will be found that experience, the true source and foundation of all knowledge, invariably confirms its truth.

Larry Gambone said...

I just love when a right-whiner starts howling about "respect for property." Respect for property would be to return the property to the people from whom it was stolen. The European invaders and their offspring the oligarchs stole the land and resources from the people of Bolivia. These same people are now taking it back. Justice is being served and the right of property is thus being respected. Capitalism was based upon an original expropriation and furthered and maintained by the state. All talk of the "sacredness of property" and "free markets" is just tall tales to fool the rubes like FJ.

Larry Gambone said...

"a 100,000-strong armed trade union militia."

This sounds like something worthwhile reviving, not just in Bolivia either, but Venezuela as well. My contention has always been, that contrary to US propaganda, Morales and Chavez are actually moderates and they need to be pushed to action, or pushed to one side. But it should come as no surprise that these leaders are demonized as sinister radicals, many of these same propagandists moronically refer to Obama as a radical socialist.

FJ said...

The European invaders and their offspring the oligarchs stole the land and resources from the people of Bolivia. These same people are now taking it back.

No they're NOT. LOL!

Like the Aymara and their Incan allies of the Andean highlands hadn't been exploiting the nomadic aboriginals on the eastern plains and lowlands of Bolivia where all the gas is now being discovered for milennia under the Incan mita system (which the conquistadors simply took over AFTER the Spanish conquest)...

I'm so glad you're for returning ALL THAT property to its' original owners (NOT the Aymara), who happen to live in the autonomous states instead of allowing those resources to be expropriated to the conquering ex-Tiwanaku's in La Paz.

So you can play the North American class warfare white-guilt game all you like, but Morales and his MAS supporter's "claims" to the energy resources contained in the eastern lowlands are NON-EXISTENT.

So best go take a South American history course Gambone/baloney. Or better yet, go see "Apocalypto". The Conquistadors did the Aztec/ Incan/ Mayan/etc. aboriginal a FAVOR by conquering them.

Larry Gambone said...

I have been reading South American history, not to mention archeology and anthropology for more than 40 years FJ. Evidently you haven't. I suggest you start with Eduardo Galeano's OPEN VEINS OF LATIN AMERICA. Apocalypto is a shitty movie made by a Catholic apologist and anti-Semite.

Renegade Eye said...

Sonia: I agree a day of reckoning is coming for Chavez. The idea of the gradual 21st century socialism approach doesn't work. He has to expropriate the oligarchy or perish.

The electric grid is being fixed. half of his budget, goes for social services.

When the US provides tanks to Colombia, they are not to fight FARC.

FJ: Marx smashed Malthus long ago. Some representative comments by Marx about Malthus:
All honour to Malthus that he lays stress on the lengthening of the hours of labour, a fact to which he elsewhere in his pamphlet draws attention, while Ricardo and others, in face of the most notorious facts, make invariability in the length of the working-day the groundwork of all their investigations. But the conservative interests, which Malthus served, prevented him from seeing that an unlimited prolongation of the working-day, combined with an extraordinary development of machinery, and the exploitation of women and children, must inevitably have made a great portion of the working-class “supernumerary,” particularly whenever the war should have ceased, and the monopoly of England in the markets of the world should have come to an end. It was, of course, far more convenient, and much more in conformity with the interests of the ruling classes, whom Malthus adored like a true priest, to explain this “over-population” by the eternal laws of Nature, rather than by the historical laws of capitalist production. (Capital, Vol. 1, Ch. 17.4.a, n7)
One cannot fail to recognise that both Malthus’s Principles and the two other works mentioned, which were intended to amplify certain aspects of the Principles, were largely inspired by envy at the success of Ricardo’s book and were an attempt by Malthus to regain the leading position which he had attained by skilful plagiarism before Ricardo’s book appeared. [...] Further, Malthus’s discovery—of which he is very proud and which he claims he was the first to make—namely, that value is equal to the quantity of labour embodied in a commodity plus a quantity of labour which represents the profit; [this discovery] seems likewise to be quite simply a combination of two sentences from Smith. (Malthus never escapes plagiarism.) (Theories of Surplus Value, Ch. 19)
Utter baseness is a distinctive trait of Malthus—a baseness which can only he indulged in by a parson who sees human suffering as the punishment for sin and who, in any ease, needs a “vale of tears on earth”, but who, at the same time, in view of the living he draws and aided by the dogma of predestination, finds it altogether advantageous to “sweeten” their sojourn in the vale of tears for the ruling classes. The “baseness” of this mind is also evident in his scientific work. Firstly in his shameless and mechanical plagiarism. Secondly in the cautious, not radical, conclusions which he draws from scientific premises. (Theories of Surplus Value, Ch. 9)
And, regarding Malthus' influence upon Darwin, Mar wrote this:
I'm amused that Darwin, at whom I've been taking another look, should say that he also applies the ‘Malthusian’ theory to plants and animals, as though in Mr Malthus’s case the whole thing didn’t lie in its not being applied to plants and animals, but only — with its geometric progression — to humans as against plants and animals. It is remarkable how Darwin rediscovers, among the beasts and plants, the society of England with its division of labour, competition, opening up of new markets, ‘inventions’ and Malthusian ‘struggle for existence’. It is Hobbes’ bellum omnium contra omnes and is reminiscent of Hegel’s Phenomenology, in which civil society figures as an ‘intellectual animal kingdom’, whereas, in Darwin, the animal kingdom figures as civil society. (Letter to Engels, June 18, 1862)
Here's a bit from The Encyclopedia Britannica that sums things up nicely.
While both Karl Marx and Malthus accepted many of the views of the classical economists, Marx was harshly and implacably critical of Malthus and his ideas. The vehemence of the assault was remarkable. Marx reviled Malthus as a “miserable parson” guilty of spreading a “vile and infamous doctrine, this repulsive blasphemy against man and nature.”


Bolivia has established borders, just like England, Israel or Denmark.

There is no such thing as national liberation in a world of capitalism and global capital. The only purpose to dividing Bolivia is to create racial pogroms and destroy Morales's government. I agree with Chavez's approach: Use the laws, people in the streets and the military to smash seperatist movements.

Larry: I agree with you about Chavez and Morales. The revolution is from below. Morales is particularly cautious. I critically support MAS, until an alternative is formed from within.

Ducky: LOL

Look up the new constitution in Bolivia.

FJ said...

Ah, so you've actually READ some S. American history, then you know all about the Incan "mita" system that was so "egregiously" exploited by the European conquerors in places like Bolivia...

Mita system was one of the best invention of Inca government. Enormous construction of highways and structures were possible because of their Mita system. In this system all the people worked for government for a certain period. This labor was free to government. During Inca period people were needed to work only 65 days to provide food for his family (allowing the government to use you as a slave for the remaining 300). So they had ample time afterwards. When someone's turn came (actually Mita means turn) he joined Mita. It was like pubic service system of modern times. Government took care of the family who was absent in the while working in Mita. In Mita people worked in building highways, construction of Emperor and nobles house, monuments, bridges, temple fields, Emperor fields and also in mines.

The System..

Once a person turned into fifteen, it became obligatory to participate in the Mita. It remain mandatory for a person until he became fifty. But Inca government always wisely calculated the amount of time one could share in Mita. Overseers were responsible to make sure that a person after fulfilling his duty in Mita still had enough time to for his own land and family.

Lands were categorized...

During Inca period people were mostly depended on cultivation of their land. All the filed of the Empire were divided into four category, like field of Temple, Curacas, The emperor and fields of the people. Field of the people meant fields that belonged to sick, widows, old persons, wives of the soldiers and that of his own land.

At the beginning of the plowing time people started to work first at the fields of widows, of sick people and of wives of the soldiers under the direction of the village overseers. Then they worked on their own field. Next they worked on the Temples fields and Curaca's field and finally they have to work on Emperor's filed. While they worked on the Emperor's field they usually wore their best dress and men and women chanted songs in praise of the Inca.

This fine structures were the produce of Mita system

Soldiers benefited..

When people were engaged in war, their fields were cultivated by Mita people. So this way soldier went to the wars knowing that their fields would be taken care of and their family would be well fed and clothed. So Inca soldiers could concentrate on what they were doing and with enhanced loyalty.

Mita during Spanish rule

Colonial administrators instituted the Mita system in 1605, requiring indigenous men to perform two to four months of forced labor in the mines or factories owned by Spanish colonials (instead of the 300 days mandatory labor required under the Inca). Thus the Incas' Mita system of forced labor for the common good was misused by the Spanish for mining gold and silver for the Crown. When people were engaged in Mita they were baptized, ultimately Mita system became slavery under the guise of educating and converting the local people to Catholicism (LOL! Like they weren't the Inca's slaves?).

Working in mines

During Inca period people had to work four months in mines, then they returned home (what was 2-4 now becomes 4). During Spanish regimes number of months required to work in mines remained same, but they had to go through other conditions of work, which made it impossible for them to come back home. While they worked in the mines they had to spend money on buying foods and paying taxes. Earning was so low that they were always in debt. Now the rule was that a miner could not leave the mine until he paid his debts. If a man died then his children had to work in mines to pay the debts, so eventually they were in a circle, and rarely came back home.
(just like the children born into the mita system when they turned 15....)

But then, I'm sure that the authors YOU read aren't biased in ANY way towards the indigenous people... I mean, why would Rigoberta Menchu lie? Or better yet, why wouldn't she explain what life was like for the indigenous people BEFORE the Europeans came and so "ruthlesslessly" exploited them?

FJ said...

FJ: Marx smashed Malthus long ago.

You mean he offered a critique of Malthus... and not a very good one.

Let's look at some of Marx's claims...

But the conservative interests, which Malthus served, prevented him from seeing that an unlimited prolongation of the working-day, combined with an extraordinary development of machinery, and the exploitation of women and children, must inevitably have made a great portion of the working-class “supernumerary,” particularly whenever the war should have ceased, and the monopoly of England in the markets of the world should have come to an end.

Does anyone on earth really believe what Marx claims will happen here? That people will "run out of work that needs to be done" and thereby become "supernumerary"? Man's desires for goods, luxeries, leisure, etc. is INFINITE. It's like "Maslow's Need Hierarchy". As soon as you satisfy one need, your inventing a new, higher, one to satsify next.

One cannot fail to recognise that both Malthus’s Principles and the two other works mentioned, which were intended to amplify certain aspects of the Principles, were largely inspired by envy at the success of Ricardo’s book and were an attempt by Malthus to regain the leading position which he had attained by skilful plagiarism before Ricardo’s book appeared.

The first refuge of a scoundrel is to impugn your opposition's "motives". I'm glad there's a Senate Rule that prevents any member to "impugn the motives of the President of the US" on the Senate floor. THAT is politics, pure and simple.

Further, Malthus’s discovery—of which he is very proud and which he claims he was the first to make—namely, that value is equal to the quantity of labour embodied in a commodity plus a quantity of labour which represents the profit; [this discovery] seems likewise to be quite simply a combination of two sentences from Smith. (Malthus never escapes plagiarism.)

Plagiarism? He's simply restating one of those so-called phoney "natural laws" he learned from Smith. Again, this is nothing but a baseless attack on Malthus, impugning his motives. I could just as easily point to Marx's Theory of Surplus Value and claim that HE stole it from Smith (which he did). I wouldn't attack Marx's "character" for appropriating Smith's material. Besides, Malthus was much more a contemporary of Smith. WoN came out in 1776 and Malthus' Pronciples were published 22 years later. This almost sounds like a p*ssing contest between Newton and Leibniz over who invented calculus.

Utter baseness is a distinctive trait of Malthus—a baseness which can only he indulged in by a parson who sees human suffering as the punishment for sin and who, in any ease, needs a “vale of tears on earth”, but who, at the same time, in view of the living he draws and aided by the dogma of predestination, finds it altogether advantageous to “sweeten” their sojourn in the vale of tears for the ruling classes. The “baseness” of this mind is also evident in his scientific work. Firstly in his shameless and mechanical plagiarism. Secondly in the cautious, not radical, conclusions which he draws from scientific premises.

All this because Malthus correctly concluded that..."Among plants and animals its effects are waste of seed, sickness, and premature death. Among mankind, misery and vice. The former, misery, is an absolutely necessary consequence of it. Vice is a highly probable consequence, and we therefore see it abundantly prevail, but it ought not, perhaps, to be called an absolutely necessary consequence. The ordeal of virtue is to resist all temptation to evil."

This is a very standard interpretation of ancient philosophy. The competition for the planet's resources either makes us miserable OR we commit acts of vice (like rob out neighbors and enslave and exploit them to our benefit.) This is something I see as non-controversial... as Marx's own explanation of "primitive capital accumulation" would attest. Marx would have us believe that VIRTUE is the rule and VICE the exception... which his "moral" philosophy (Marxism) utterly fails to demonstrate.

I'm amused that Darwin, at whom I've been taking another look, should say that he also applies the ‘Malthusian’ theory to plants and animals, as though in Mr Malthus’s case the whole thing didn’t lie in its not being applied to plants and animals, but only — with its geometric progression — to humans as against plants and animals.

Utterly false, here's the quote "Among plants and animals its effects are waste of seed, sickness, and premature death. Among mankind, misery and vice." Plants and animals cannot experience the burdens as "misery or vice" as they do not possess "human consciousness". Marx is talking out of his ass. Malthus clearly expected that his laws of population be applied to ALL life forms. Re-read the whole paragraph I quoted on 10/23 at 15:54.

Marx reviled Malthus as a “miserable parson” guilty of spreading a “vile and infamous doctrine, this repulsive blasphemy against man and nature.”

Marx was obviously a MORAL philosopher who couldn't handle the idea of natural laws and limits. Nietzsche was a "materialist" as well, but arrived at precisely the same conclusions Malthus stated. The world is a bellum omni contra omnes. Marx thought we should all be one big happy "herd". Like a herd never runs out of reasources during a draught or famine causing a catastrophic population correction? Marx is an obvious LOON!

R.E.II said...

hello again...my new blog is now on and I'm looking forward to seeing you in the story. Nothing like you have ever seen in blogger, I hope...
What do you think?

sonia said...

Ren,

The electric grid is being fixed

By whom ? Nobody is working in Venezuela. Why would they ? Chavez is feeding them even if they don't lift a finger. If I was paid the same for working as for not working, I wouldn't work neither...

Larry,

Apocalypto is a shitty movie

No, it's not. It's a great movie.

And are you saying that the Aztecs and the Mayas didn't perform human sacrifices ? Or that the oppressed Tlaxcalans didn't welcome Cortez as a liberator ? Or that Cortez didn't overthrew the Montezuma by effectively provoking a revolution against the Aztecs among other native tribes ?

Renegade Eye said...

Sonia: The cause of the problem with the electric grid was diagnosed in 15 minutes. I talked about this at Graeme's blog.

R.E.II: You are getting hard to keep track of. The new blog looks good.

FJ: You have a contradiction to deal with, being malthusian and opposing birth control and abortion.

thecommune said...

Econoticias Bolivia has an interesting article about the constitution -
http://thecommune.wordpress.com/2008/10/23/morales-tones-down-constitution-to-secure-his-re-election/

FJ said...

FJ: You have a contradiction to deal with, being malthusian and opposing birth control and abortion.

Who said I opposed birth control? I oppose abortion AS birth control, much as I prefer Prometheus (forethought) to Epimetheus (afterthought).

Are you familiar w/Plato's "Laws"? Population control is fundamental to political stability.

Renegade Eye said...

Being against abortion and contraception, often come as a package.

FJ said...

Not every one's a Catholic, Ren.

Anonymous said...

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