Monday, 4 March 2013

Latin American Review of Books - Seeing red

Available from Zed Books
TWO COUNTRIES continue to dominate arguments about the future of the left in Latin America and the Caribbean, Cuba and Venezuela, in an ironic form of dialectic.

Whereas debates about the former appear to focus wearily on how revolutionary socialism is being – or certainly among its enemies, should be – dismantled, discussions about the latter tend to take the more refreshing form of how best to ensure the continuity and survival of socialism, mindful that the days of Hugo Chávez are sadly numbered.

These examples reveal starkly that socialism in Latin America has never been a regional project, despite the internationalist or pan-Latin ambitions of every major leftwing leader or aspirant, and has always had a contradictory character informed more than anything else by local nationalisms and states.

Nonetheless, the left remains in, if not on, the ascendant with the recent re-election to a third term in office of Rafael Correa in Ecuador with nearly 60 per cent of the vote just the latest example of how socialism has successfully turned electoral politics to its advantage.

Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions explores the character of socialist movements and moments in the region with valuable candour, accepting that socialism as a state project is clearly on the wane but throwing a lifeline to the left by exploring the real movement that has been going on at the grassroots and among social organisations that exert their influence beyond and from below the realms of state power.

Cuba exemplifies this development, and it seems no surprise that it is the focus of the book’s penultimate chapter prior to the conclusion, which talks about the effort to “update” twenty-first century socialism. [To read the full article, click here]

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