From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia

Class Struggle, Indigenous Liberation, and the Politics of Evo Morales

Evo Morales rode to power on a wave of popular mobilizations against the neoliberal policies enforced by his predecessors. Yet many of his economic policies bear striking resemblance to the status quo he was meant to displace. Based in part on dozens of interviews with leading Bolivian activists, Jeffery R. Webber examines the contradictions of Morales' first term in office.

About the author

Jeffery R. Webber is a Lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations at Queen Mary, University of London. He splits his time between Canada, Europe, and various countries in Latin America, where he conducts field research. He is the author of Red October: Left-Indigenous Struggles in Modern Bolivia (2011), and a member of the editorial collectives of Historical Materialism and Latin American Perspectives.


"Everyone concerned with contemporary social movements and class struggles urgently needs this book. Not only does Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia bring us up to speed about what is happening in the heart of the Bolivian struggle—it also offers enormous lessons for struggles for global justice across the planet.” —David McNally, author of The Global Slump

“This book provides a comprehensive and illuminating look at the dramatic changes that have taken place in Bolivia over the past decade. Drawing from extensive research, interviews, and firsthand experiences, Webber engages the intricate landscape of Bolivian politics in its entirety, assessing the victories, shortcomings, and prospects of the country’s diverse left.”
Benjamin Dangl, author The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia .

“Webber’s book cuts bravely against the grain of the fashionable left-wing romanticizing of Evo Morales and the Bolivian process. It meticulously documents the extent to which neoliberalism still shapes Morales’s economic policies…..”
Tom Lewis, coauthor ¡Cochabamba!

“This striking critique from the left of Evo Morales’s MAS government is a position that needs to be heard and absorbed. In a spirit of politically engaged analysis, Webber ably and admirably exposes the difficult contradictions that must be grappled with….”
Sinclair Thomson, coauthor of Revolutionary Horizons: Past and Present in Bolivian Politics

“Much of his book is taken up with an unabashed Marxist critique of the MAS government for its ‘new’ reformist course; for failing even to reduce appreciably the acute levels of poverty among indigenous people at a time of high national income from gas exports; and for allowing the ‘re-articulation of rightwing forces’.... [Of the three books under review] Webber offers the most informative account of the confrontations of 2008, which many observers at the time predicted would lead either to secession or to civil war.”
Philip Chrimes, International Affairs

“In understanding and explaining the social forces at work in Bolivia, Webber's book is a model of the application of Marxism to contemporary history.”
Lance Selfa, Socialist Worker

“Webber … lays out sixteen theses in a methodical and convincing work… well-researched, interesting, and important.”
Jason Farbman, International Socialist Review

“….Webber’s book provides a badly needed corrective to the uncritical and celebratory views often presented about Evo Morales and the MAS, and their role in contemporary Bolivian politics. It is also a courageous and principled defense of Bolivian workers and communities engaged in class struggle on the ground, whether against transnational corporations or the MAS. This book therefore demands that we rethink our common sense assumptions about Bolivia, but also Latin America’s ‘pink tide’ more broadly.”
Manuel Larrabure, Socialist Studies

"From Rebellion to Reform is a scientific, serious, and at times almost severe work, marching the reader through a meticulous argument of how a revolutionary epoch in Bolivia could so quickly slide back into neoliberalism with a different face … Webber... represents a more measured, academic Left that is generally uncompromising in criticizing political missteps, even if that criticism happens to be unpopular."
Ethan Earle, Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society

From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia … is one of the few attempts to honestly analyse the impasse that appears to have been reached by the Latin American left, for all its great achievements. This is a question of global importance, and for this we should be very grateful to the author.”
Jacqueline Mulhallen, Counterfire

“Webber’s study focuses on the mass movements ‘from below’ of 2000–2005 and how these have been canalised into parliamentary reform by Evo Morales’ MAS government. Where the general strikes and mass demonstrations of the first half of the decade displayed an epic degree of participation, radicalism and popular empowerment, the Morales government has been marked by cautious change initiated by the state apparatus alone... a major strength of the book is that the author punctures the myth that Morales’ critics are mere ‘armchair revolutionaries’. He portrays a vibrant and continuing movement from below, for instance the Huanuni miners’ struggles, and the mass resistance to the oligarchs’ September 2008 coup attempt at a time when the government merely preached ‘calm’.”
David Broder in Red Pepper (UK)

“Two terms into Bolivia's first indigenous led government, this book by Jeffery Webber presents a sober intervention in a climate where all too often Morales and the Movimiento al Socialismo (Movement Toward Socialism, MAS) are either demonised by the right or lauded uncritically by the left.... Webber's politically engaged analysis is meticulous yet always clearly presented and accessible throughout. It assumes no prior knowledge of Bolivian history or politics, making it ideal for anyone who is concerned with contemporary social movements and class struggles regardless of familiarity with the subject matter.”
Marcos Schneider, Socialist Review (UK)

“This is an excellent book, well informed and politically engaging. It deserves to be read, especially by those on the Left interested in the present day political developments in Bolivia. It provides an incisive and in-depth critique of the politics and economics of the MAS government of Evo Morales.”
—David Spence, Permanent Revolution

From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia offers well documented critiques of how the Morales administration is failing to live up to the expectations of those who expected radical change to come through a state that has been reclaimed, at least in part, by individuals who come through social movements.”
Dawn Paley, Against the Current

“Jeffery Webber makes a provocative argument about contemporary Bolivian political economy. He says that, despite all its anti-neoliberalism rhetoric, Evo Morales’ government has continued many of the features of Bolivia’s neoliberal past, instituting what he calls ‘reconstituted neoliberalism’ …. Webber is aware that his interpretation of events in Bolivia will go against the grain for many on the Left, who hoped Morales would bring about the ‘cultural and democratic revolution’ he promised. Yet he argues forcefully for a reading that goes beyond discourse and rhetoric to a careful accounting of what the Morales government has actually done…. This book will be a significant intervention to the ongoing scholarly discussion about post-neoliberalism…. Webber’s book gives us more to think about as we observe this fascinating political process.”
—Nancy Postero and Devin Beaulieu, Journal of Latin American Studies

"With reforms coming in just the past few years, Jeffrey R. Webber provides a studious break down of the dynamics the country has faced and where it is going. From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia is a strong addition to any modern issues and social issues community library collection.” —Midwest Book Review


Listen to Jeffery Webber discuss the new economic turn across Latin America, and its continued reliance on neoliberal policies: