In a story published on my 45th birthday last year, Christian Parenti seems somewhat impressed by the story of Bolivia's vice president -- his economic policy, however, seems to be drawn from a pre-neoliberal text on economics:
...many Bolivian businesspeople have been won over by the notion that the only way for them to start selling more product is to make sure their customers have money to spend.The actual origin of this sort of thinking should be obvious to anyone who has learned any macroeconomics in school: this is the "multiplier effect.". Alvaro Garcia is, then, a Keynesian.
The problem, here, is that the "traditional marxism" of the sort that was once popular in Latin America rests upon a thinly materialist basis of the sort that is easily assimilated to capitalism. To a certain extent, the problem lies with Marx: after having explained carefully that nature is the source of use-values, he then went on to write volumes about working-class revolution. But in the final analysis one can still agree with John Bellamy Foster, for instance in his review of Burkett's "Marx and Nature" -- the ecocritique of capitalism is there in Marx, but marxists have simply ignored it in their rush to build a revolution against the oppression of people.
At some point, it will be necessary for Latin America, in its struggle against neoliberalism, to recognize that flying Keynesianism under the banner of "socialism" will not suffice, and that economy will have to face up to ecology. For now, what we have are regimes such as that of Rafael Correa in Ecuador, whose leverage on power seems tied to Ecuador's oil industry. Nikolas Kozloff points to the contradiction that supporting "the people" with kinder, gentler capitalism turns up:
The dilemma for Ecuador is that, while oil represents about a quarter of the country's GDP, many disadvantaged communities have been unhappy with development. The north eastern section of Ecuador, the "Oriente," has long been the scene of serious social unrest. I know something about the social and environmental conflicts in the area, having written a couple of articles about the Huorani Indians for the Ecuadoran magazine 15 Dias and the Quito daily Hoy.