Ellner rejects the pendulum metaphor that some analysts use. He maintains that, in comparison to previous progressive waves in Latin America, the recent socialist and progressive governments were or have been in power for a much longer period of time, and there have been many more of them. And unlike progressive governments in Latin America in the past, they formed regional associations dedicated to promoting unity (see the category Latin American Unity).
Ellner briefly mentions the fact that the Right governments of Brazil and Argentina have extremely low ratings. I develop this a bit further in the above-mentioned April 5 post. I maintained that, in the current political and ideological situation, any other result is unlikely. The Latin American Right intends a return to neoliberal economic policies and to subordination to the interests of international capital. Such a project has been rejected by the peoples, and they have sufficient political maturity to continue to reject it as a project that undermines the social and economic needs of the people and the sovereignty of the nation. The Right’s return to power in three Latin American nations was based on deception and corruption, and not on a promise of returning to the delegitimated policies of the past. Now that these governments have turned to enactment of these policies, they have lost a significant level of support among the people. In order to sustain themselves in power, they would have to create a new project that moves beyond both neoliberalism and the progressive/socialist alternative to it, and that could attain a popular consensus. I have not yet seen such a formulation, which perhaps would require a creative combination of ideological manipulation and science fiction. Lacking a political program that could attain legitimacy, the restored governments of the Right have little probability of sustaining themselves. In contrast, the progressive and socialist forces of the Left made important political and ideological gains beginning in the late 1990s, on the foundation of the historic Latin American anti-imperialist movements and a scientific understanding of the contradictions of the neocolonial world-system.
Ellner also mentions the relations of the Pink Tide governments with China and Russia, which especially has significance in the context of the declining U.S. economic presence and political prestige in Latin America. In a similar vein, but developing the idea further, I have argued that the deepening economic and political relation of the progressive and socialist governments of Latin America with China and Russia is pointing to the necessary road for humanity, an alternative to the inherently exploitative structures of the capitalist world-economy and the neocolonial world-system. China is seeking to ascend in the context of a world-system which has overextended its geographical and ecological limits and in which the prospects for the assent of nations are limited and necessarily involve confrontation with the core powers. Accordingly, China seeks ascent, not via the modern European road of colonial domination and superexploitation, but on the basis of an alternative road of cooperation and mutually beneficial trade. Meanwhile, a revitalized Russia is seeking to reestablish its presence as a global power through key alliances that stand against U.S. and to some extent Western European interests. In the process, these actors are developing relations on a basis of alternative principles that, they declare, should guide international relations, principles that are fully consistent with the UN Charter and various UN resolutions. Therefore, the so-called Pink Tide governments are part of a global process that seeks to develop an alternative world order at a historic moment in which the established world-system is demonstrating its incapacity to resolve its contradictions and problems. See “The fall & rise of South-South cooperation” 07/24/2914, “China-CELAC cooperation” 07/25/2014, and “China treats Latin America with respect” 07/28/2014 in the category South-South Cooperation.
Ellner notes that leftist criticisms of the Pink Tide governments focus on their failure to transform their nations’ peripheral role, which makes them dependent on the exportation of primary commodities, such as oil in the case of Venezuela. Ellner maintains that such critiques evaluate political decisions in the abstract, removing them from a political context shaped by the opposition of the business elite and the need to secure the support of the popular sectors. And, focusing on the thus far limited transformation of global economic structures, the critics underestimate the significance of the gains of the progressive and socialist governments: social programs for the benefit of the people, a foreign policy that defends the sovereignty of the nation, and state control of strategic sectors of the economy. Ellner maintains that these are important steps, building a foundation for the long term.
In am in agreement with Ellner’s observations concerning leftist criticisms of the failure of the Pink Tide governments to transform the peripheral role of raw materials exportation. Revolutionary Third World leaders do not need leftist scholars to offer lessons on the importance of transforming global economic structures. Since the 1950s, Third World leaders have declared the importance of diversifying their economies, and they have understood South-South cooperation as a necessary strategy for attaining this goal. But the diversification of production, important substitution, and South-South cooperation have confronted numerous obstacles, including the hostility of the global powers, insufficient capital to develop industry, and a transportation infrastructure that had been developed for core-peripheral trade. The transformation of the global economy is a relatively slow and long-term process, which the progressive and socialist governments of Latin America have been developing step-by-step, seeking cooperation with one another and with China and Russia as well as other nations of the global South. Meanwhile, it makes good political sense to channel significant resources toward attention to social needs, inasmuch as it has immediate and important results, and it demonstrates the commitment of the leadership.
In the title to this blog post, I have “Pink Tide” in quotes, because I am not in agreement with this designation for socialist and progressive governments in Latin America, even though Ellner uses it. It seems to me that the phrase connotes that the governments that have proclaimed “socialism for the twenty-first century” are not really “red,” in that they are not developing socialism in a form that had been previously understood, on the basis of the European experience of socialism, or on the basis of an abstract definition of socialism. I maintain that socialism and Marxism-Leninism have continually evolving concepts and theories, developing on as basis of political and social practice. Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador under Correa have been developing socialism with characteristics that are appropriate for their conditions, to the extent that it is politically and economically possible (see various posts in the category Marxism-Leninism). Inasmuch as the phenomenon has included progressive governments (Brazil under Lula and Dilma Rousseff, Argentina under the Kirchners, Uruguay, and El Salvador) that are allied with the socialist governments in the forging of a new political reality in Latin America, I prefer to refer to them as socialist and progressive governments.
In our efforts to form an integral philosophical-historical-social science (see “Universal philosophical historical social science” 4/2/2014 in the category Knowledge), we understand knowledge as including the identification of future probabilities, on the basis of understanding of historical and current systemic tendencies. For this reason, in the title of this blog post, I refer to the “probable” endurance of the socialist and progressive governments of Latin America.