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October 19, 2003

Bolivia-the past & the future

The Los Angeles Times has an in depth report on the goings on in Bolivia. The basic events reflect what was depicted in Amy Chua's World on Fire, a market disadvantaged majority (the indigeous Aymara of Bolivia) revolting against the push toward globalization spear-headed by the market dominant minority (whites). The article regales us with details that sketch out the revolution going on among the indigenous people who are generating an alternative polity based around their communitarian traditions. But these people need to do more than just look to the past as their model, they need to reformulate their traditions to suit the modern world. These tensions have surfaced many times in Latin America, the conflict between communal land-holdings and liberal conceptions of individual right to property loomed large in late 19th century Mexico, and the same issue seems to be coming to the fore. Whatever response the indigenous community made 100 years ago, it has not resolved the issues. One specific item that encapsulates the problem is a musing by one activist that perhaps they should abandon Christianity and return to their original religions. But of course they can't just return to their original religions, which were predicated on a historical context that no longer exists, and often included unsavory practices like human sacrifice. Certainly Catholic Christianity as practiced in Spain is perhaps an uncomfortable fit for the Aymara, but if they are to discard that religion, their new faith has be congenial with the modern world that they seem inclined to join, though on their terms.

Posted by razib at 01:06 AM

The tragic thing is that a marxist model might fit the Aymara situation best. Collective ownership od "the means of production" and atheism that gets rid of the white man's religion without putting in some other superstition. Maybe it's no accident that the Shining Path in neighboring Peru followed a Maoist line.

Posted by: Dick Thompson at October 19, 2003 10:51 AM

They'll be poor no matter what, but at least with Marxism they won't live in poverty while watching people of a different race living in luxury. That may be their best realistic option. Hell, in the same circumstances I might go along with it.

Posted by: duende at October 19, 2003 02:07 PM

They won't have too watch another living in luxury, because the history of applied marxism (as opposed to it's scriptural beliefs) relegates these people to a less than human status. Which, in the end, means that they can be killed to advance the cause of marxism.

Posted by: scott at October 20, 2003 08:28 PM