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New Left Review 37, January-February 2006

Bolivia’s new vice-president analyses the dual crisis of his country’s state. Exhaustion of the neoliberal primary-export model, and bankruptcy of a ‘colonial’ republican order founded on mestizo superiority.



Three factors define the functioning, stability and representative capacity of a state. The first is the overall framework of social forces: the correlation between the different coalitions, both dominant and subordinate, contesting the reconfiguration of what Bourdieu called ‘state capital’—the ability to influence decisions on matters of common import. Secondly, there is the system of political institutions and rules that mediate the coexistence of hierarchical social forces. In effect, this institutional framework is a materialization of the founding correlation of forces that give rise to a particular state regime, and the means by which it legally reproduces itself. Thirdly, every state depends upon a structure of common categories of perception, a series of mobilizing beliefs that generates a degree of social and moral conformity among both ruling and ruled, and which takes material form through the state’s cultural repertoire and rituals.

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Alvaro Garcia Linera, ‘State Crisis and Popular Power’, NLR 37: £3

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