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New Left Review 68, March-April 2011


Michael Löwy

CONTINENTAL LABORATORY

The mole is a gentle mammal that steadily excavates tunnels in the earth, and then, when least expected, breaks the surface and emerges above ground. Its subterranean activity and, above all, its unpredictable upsurges made the insolent little beast a symbol of Revolution in the 19th century. Marx famously adapted a line from Hamlet to salute its endeavours in the 18th Brumaire: ‘Well burrowed, old mole!’ Emir Sader’s A Nova Toupeira—to be published in English by Verso as The New Mole—is devoted to the appearance of the creature’s offspring in Latin America in recent years. For at the start of the 21st century, the continent presents a striking contrast to most of the rest of the globe: left-leaning governments, often backed by radical popular movements, are in power across much of its territory, from Argentina to El Salvador, in a span embracing the region’s largest power, Brazil, and its major oil producer, Venezuela.

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