In these notes, we outline some very brief reflections based on the inaugural speeches that Luis Arce and David Choquehuanca delivered on November 8, 2020, when they assumed, respectively, the offices of President and Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia.

(These speeches are available [in Spanish] on YouTube at SVqwKdnr408  [President Luis Arce] and Dp8JMY4GssM [Vice President David Choquehuanca (CHO-kay-oo-AN-kuh]).

Let me clarify at the outset that I am not giving an opinion on Bolivia here, which on my part would be audacious, since I write from a corner of the Southern Cone, without having any detailed information about that country. What I do here is use these speeches as bases to weave some reflections on our American situation (hoping that they might be of some use, even if they come from the pen of an isolated philosopher, lacking any concrete political influence).

In Arce’s speech, I will ignore several aspects. Thus, for example, I will not address his well-deserved and emotional tribute to the victims and fighters of the people who made possible the restitution of the bases of the Plurinational State in the elections of October 18, 2020. Nor will I pause at his just denunciation of the criminal actions and catastrophic economic and health results of the racist-pro-imperialist-coup government that devastated Bolivia in the year that passed between November 2019 and November 2020[1].

Instead, I will highlight the passage where he says that if the basic needs of the population are not met, it is not enough to hold periodic elections to realize the concept of democracy. We are speaking in terms of income, health (especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic), and education. (I add that these needs of daily material life will also include, as the ensemble of life, organic-healthy food, housing and public transport preferably reinforced with clean and renewable energy, which Arce did not mention). To meet those needs, Arce defended a return to the economy that combines the community, the public and the private, to promote growth with distribution of wealth, and he said that he has big projects for both that will be implemented shortly.

Here are our two observations:

Arce did not establish orders of strategic importance between the aforementioned areas of the economy; nor did he define the concept of “growth” (to know, for example, if he thinks more of a Human Development Index, or of the numbers of GDP and reserves).

Arce called for the unity and joint work of all Bolivians, ending his speech with a statement of the conviction that Bolivia will succeed with all of us together. We will return to this point when referring to the Vice President’s speech.

In terms of foreign policy, it is worth noting that Arce defended the sovereignty and self-determination of the people, not just economic but full integration, and he reclaimed UNASUR and CELAC as institutional mechanisms for specifying this policy at the regional level within the framework of a globalized world. In all of this, we fully agree.

President Arce’s speech had a tone that we can classify along the lines of “Latin American progressivism” (for example, the Broad Front that governed Uruguay between 2004 and 2019) supported by the slogan of “growth with inclusion and distribution”. In complementary contrast, the words of Vice President Choquehuanca had as their backbone the culture of “living well” | vivir bien of the indigenous-native peoples.

Thus, using many terms in the indigenous language, Choquehuanca explained that this ancient knowledge is the basis of Bolivian culture, history and philosophy, in which the “ayllu”[2] stands out, understood not only as a human community, but as an interrelated existence of all that exists. In this context, for example the concept of Pachamama[3] is understood. In addition, David said that this way of thinking-living defends the complementarity of opposites; thus, he said, “the condor only takes flight when its right wing is perfectly balanced with its left wing“. Then David mentioned the necessary complementarity of the young and the old, of the cult of leadership with obedient service, of the healthy and the sick. And like Arce, he emphasized starting at the metaphor for the necessity of political factions of the right and left to work together for the good of each individual, which is united with the collective common good (overcoming selfishness) and with the good of Bolivia.

At one point, David said that none of the Revolutions that had already taken place had managed to resolve the question of Power. As a result, politicians become corrupted (to the misfortune of the community), and he said that to avoid that, Power must circulate (as the economy circulates).

Now, David did not define what he means by “Power.” Here we offer our first reflection. For our part, we have defined “Power” as the asymmetric relationship that exists between who decides and who does not decide. In light of the three fundamental norms of the Ethic (which we deduced from the deep grammar of the question that establishes it), we propose that Power will have to be abolished under Ecommunitarianism (as will, among other things, salary, money, Positive and Moral Law). This follows in light of the Ethic’s three norms:

> Everyone would decide consensually, for realization of the individual freedom of decision required by the first ethical norm, followed by

> Realization of that freedom in the constant search for consensus with others required by the second ethical norm, and finally, by the

> Ongoing preservation-regeneration of the health of human and non-human nature required by the third ethical norm.

To walk in this direction, a:

> Family that makes decisions democratically will have to overcome the patriarchal family; a

> Frugal ecological economy will have to be established without masters or bosses and with clean energy and organic food (without overconsumption); a

> Politics of all based on direct democracy; a

> Free and symmetrical communication (that puts in the hands of the community the media that today is totally controlled by monopolies or oligopolies); an

> Aesthetic of liberation that teaches how to produce and enjoy art; and a

> Socially generalized e-community environmental education that trains people capable of implementing the aforementioned policies (and of overcoming machismo, racism, and individualistic-competitive-financial sports).

Now, in this context, it is clear that the economy that aims at “living well” (Arce did not emphasize this point) must progressively abolish private enterprise, and rely more and more exclusively on community-cooperative production and the public enterprise.

I conclude with an observation about something shared by Arce and Choquehuanca that I think has relevance for all of OurAmerica (and even beyond). In the name of the complementarity of opposites and in favor of a call for unity, which in principle can be shared, both wagered that the Right will agree to cooperate with a national project based on indigenous-native thinking/living and on a communal economy for the common good (with renunciation of selfish individualism).

Well, it must be noted that while the speeches that we are commenting on here were being delivered, the Bolivian Far-Right alleged a supposed “gigantic fraud” and asked for annulment of the October 18, 2020, elections (organized by the coup government itself and supervised by the OAS among others!). They spread calls for a Coup, called for a “civil-military-police-campesino [4]” Government, and organized marches to the gates of the barracks to ask the military to seize power.

All this indicates that — no matter how willing to dialogue and issue calls for unity the respective popular governments might be —, the Right in OurAmerica is NOT willing to accept any government that represents the great majority and proposes to walk toward “vivir bien” (which, from an Ecommunitarian perspective, means overcoming capitalism). For this reason, we believe that Arce’s and David’s expectations will be quickly disappointed, and we hope that they will not be shipwrecked in another coup like the one that brought down Evo Morales at the end of 2019.

Translator’s notes:

[1] The historic election following the 2019 coup that toppled Evo Morales is superbly described in Bolivians Return Evo Morales’s Party to Power One Year After a U.S.-Applauded CoupBy Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, October 19, 2020.

[2] “The ayllu, a family clan, is the traditional form of a community in the Andes, especially among the Quechua and Aymara people. They are an indigenous local government model across the Andes region of South America, particularly in Bolivia and Peru. Ayllus functioned prior to Inca conquest, during the Inca and Spanish colonial periods, and continue to exist to the present day” [Wikipedia].

[3] “Pachamama is a goddess revered by the indigenous peoples of the Andes. She is also known as the earth/time mother” [Wikipedia].

[4] A campesino is a person linked to the countryside (el campo) where crops are grown; before the arrival of the Spanish, campesinos were esteemed as stewards of the land (Madre Tierra, Mother Earth) responsible for producing the community’s life-sustaining foods.

Teaser photo credit: Amazon river basin seen in Pando Department, Northern Bolivia. By Jonathan Lewis from London i ´spose….., Blighty – Bolvian rainforest zone, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3945967