Evo Morales and the political economy of passive revolution in Bolivia, 2006–15
1855 - 1876
Third World Quarterly
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© 2016 Southseries Inc., www.thirdworldquarterly.com. While the government of Evo Morales rules in the name of indigenous workers and peasants, in fact the country’s political economy has since 2006 witnessed the on-going subjugation of these classes. If the logic of large capital persists, it is legitimated in and through petty indigenous capitalists. This article argues that Antonio Gramsci’s conceptualisation of passive revolution offers a superior analytical point of departure for understanding contemporary Bolivian politics than does Álvaro García Linera’s more widely accepted theory of creative tensions. However, the dominant manner in which passive revolution has been employed in contemporary Latin American debates has treated the socio-political and the ideological as relatively autonomous from the process of capital accumulation. What is necessary, instead, is a sharper appreciation of the base/superstructure metaphor as expressing a dialectical unity of internal relations between ‘the economic’ and ‘the political’, thus avoiding one determinism or another. Through a reading of Gramsci that emphasises such unity, this article interrogates the dynamics of ‘extractive distribution’, class contradictions of the ‘plural economy’, and transformations in the urban labour market which have characterised Bolivia’s passive revolution under Evo Morales between 2006 and 2015.