Anti-Imperialism/Foreign Policy

Indigenous Anarchist Critique of Bolivia’s ‘Indigenous State’: Interview with Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui

The main difference between conventional far-left anti-imperialism of the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist variety and anarchist anti-imperialism is that the former is merely about self-determination for states and national-entities (something it ironically shares with 19th-century liberal-nationalism) while the latter is about groups and individuals. Anarchist anti-imperialism really has to start with native peoples’ rights because in virtually every country everywhere in the world it is native people who are most under the boot the state, whether the state in question is left-wing or right-wing.

In the Western world, the Marxist-Leninist line of support for self-determination of the Eastern world and the Global South is the correct position to take. The “West,” in its present form, is really just the American Empire, with US “allies” in Europe, the Pacific Rim, and the Middle East really being just addition states, territories, colonies, or protectorates, in addition to the formal 50 states and 14 territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, etc.). The priority for anti-imperialists in the West should be to oppose US aggression against other societies, whether in the form of the neoliberals’ saber-rattling against Russia and Syria or the neocons’ (the right-wing of neoliberalism with an uber-Zionist bent) saber-rattling against China and Iran.

But we also need to oppose imperialism everywhere, even when practiced by ostensibly anti-imperialist regimes. For example, in the 1980s, I used to have arguments with pro-Sandinista leftists who defended the Ortega (who has ironically reinvented himself as a conservative Catholic in more recent times) regime on anti-imperialist groups. I would point out that Sandinista aggression against indigenous communities was just as bad as those of right-wing regimes in Latin America (as Russell Means documented at the time).

By Bill Weinberg

Upside Down World

“I would say that the strength of Bolivia is not the state but the people. And the people have been strong and stubborn enough to be what they are, and to put their own desires as the terms and conditions of what is going to be the change. And that is what saves this process of Evo.” – Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui

Originally published on June 7, 2014 at World War 4 Report, with a shorter version on May 26, 2014 at Indian Country Today Media Network.

Bolivian historian and social theorist Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui is author of the classic work Oppressed But Not Defeated: Peasant Struggles Among the Aymara and Quechua in Bolivia, and has recently emerged as one of the country’s foremost critics of President Evo Morales from an indigenous perspective. Indian Country Today Media Network spoke with her in New York City, where she recently served as guest chair of Latin American studies at New York University’s King Juan Carlos Center. The complete text of the interview appears for the first time on World War 4 Report.

What are you doing here in New York City?

I have been invited as chair of Latin American studies by the King Juan Carlos Center, which is sort of funny, it sounds like a horrible place for me. But Spain should give us back a little bit of what they took! And my salary is like a millionth part of what they owe us.

And what are you doing now in Bolivia?

I used to teach at the Universidad Mayor de San Andrés, which is the biggest public university in Bolivia. And I was very much involved in university politics, because I was trying to fight corruption in the university. In 2005, I had a 15-day-long hunger strike, and we managed to kick the dean out. But he left a lot of corruptos were still there, and I was forced to retire.

Since then, I have been doing community things, trying to network and create micro-politics… Since I wrote my study on anarchism, I discovered the importance of community to politics, as opposed to the individualist liberal conception…

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