I’ve often complained of progressive, lefty blogs ignoring the stunning political successes of South American lefties. IMO, this myopia has to be related to the continuing failure of American progressives to muster political muscle, commensurate with their numbers, in opposing plutocratic agendas. It speaks poorly of lefties’ sincerity or, worse yet, their intelligence.

While the main, initial lessons that American lefties should be seeking to learn from South American lefties is how to gain power, a close second is how to retain power.

Well, after reading The Most Radical Conservative Regime: Bolivia under Evo Morales, it’s clear that a better 2nd priority is: “how to retain power while respecting the principles that originally gave you power”. To put it simply: Evo Morales appears to have sold out 80+% of his ideology.

Since nobody gets everything they want in a democracy, I don’t think it’d be a bad thing to compromise some significant part of a ‘pure’ lefty agenda. (E.g, German “economic democracy” may not be socialism, but a lot closer than our Wall Street Capitalism.) What I don’t get is why Morales has done so little for the poor people of Bolivia, who have the lowest incomes in all of South America.

From the article:

Fiscal Policy

The Morales regime has exercised tight control over government spending, ensuring a budget surplus and keeping social spending and public investment at levels comparable to previous neo-liberal regimes. Pay raises for public sector workers are modest, barely keeping ahead of increases in the cost of living . The government has held the line against public sector unions, strongly resisting strikes and other forms of labor pressure. As a result, bankers and business people, both national and foreign, have benefited from low taxes, a stable currency and business friendly fiscal incentives..

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Trade Policy

The Government has aimed for and secured favorable trade balances, based on the export of mineral and agricultural commodities. The Morales regime has used the billion dollar surpluses to triplicate foreign reserves, $14 billion dollars, guaranteeing foreign investors access to hard currency, when it comes to remitting profits. The boom in export earnings is a result of high commodity prices and an increase in government royalties. Only a small share of the high earnings has gone into public investments in manufacturing and social programs; most funds remain in the banks. At best the regime has increased spending on infrastructure to facilitate the transport of agro-mineral export