The Last Day of Oppression, and the First Day of the Same
The Politics and Economics of the New Latin American Left
Throughout the 2000s Latin America formed the leading edge of antineoliberal resistance. But what is left of the “pink tide” today? How have governments established in its wake related to a changing global economy and a right-wing resurgence? In this penetrating volume, Jeffery Webber traces evolving, often contradictory relationships between left-wing governments and the social movements that propelled them to power.
"One of the best Anglophone Marxists writing about Latin America, Webber hits on all of the main questions facing the Latin American left today."
—Lance Selfa, author of The Democrats: A Critical History
"If you have ever wondered what happened to the beacon of hope that was, until recently, Latin America, this is the book to turn to. With supreme grasp of the continent’s politics, Jeffrey R. Webber unpacks the contradictions of the Left governments that once inspired dreams of a twenty-first century socialism. Most importantly, he shows how they banked on extracting natural resources for the global market and then distributing the crumbs to the masses – and how dismally that strategy failed. Weaving together GDP data and traditions of anticolonial resistance, individual biographies and debates in Marxist theory, always with a pulse of street movements running through the text, this is concrete analysis of the conjuncture as it should be done."
—Andreas Malm, author of Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming
“At a time when most scholars of contentious politics have abandoned political economy, Jeffery Webber's latest book is a breath of fresh air. He shows how the rise of the new Latin American Left was linked to a regional crisis of neoliberal capitalism at the turn of the millennium. And he shows how the delayed effects of the global economic crisis of 2007-2008 pushed Left and Center-Left governments to adopt a politics of austerity, creating new opportunities for the Right. Webber's analysis is also sensitive to the class and other struggles within and between Left parties and movements, struggles which shaped how these formations would react to changing material circumstances. In all, this is simply the best book we have on the rise and current crisis of the new Latin American Left. It's also a model for how to analyze contentious politics.”
—Jeff Goodwin, New York University
“Combining Marxist and decolonial theoretical frameworks, Webber brings us much more than a study on economic policies: an insightful assessment of class struggles against the capitalist oligarchies and the market dictatorship in Latin America. In a brilliant discussion of José Carlos Mariátegui, he brings to the fore the relevance, for the present popular, peasant, and indigenous rebellions, of a utopian-revolutionary dialectic between the precapitalist past and the socialist future.”
—Michael Löwy, author of Ecosocialism: A Radical Alternative to Capitalist Catastrophe
“A lucid, incisive and indispensable contribution for understanding the rise and fall of left and center-left governments associated with Latin America’s ‘pink tide.’ Webber validates the superiority of a critical Marxian and decolonial approach for slicing through the thick layers of the center-left’s self-serving rhetoric and for clearly identifying the tactical and strategic tasks popular movements have confronted in recent years. In the context of a fleeting commodities boom, the center-left’s embrace of extractivism, compensatory state politics, as well as its penchant for servicing the interests of domestic and foreign capital while demobilizing social movements, lie at the core of its ultimate defeat. His meticulously-crafted analysis examines the ebb and flow of social movements in diverse Latin American countries, and spans the critical years that opened up with Venezuela’s 1989 Caracazo and are seemingly being brought to a close by right-wing resurgence evidenced most clearly in the 2016 institutional coup against Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff. The end of the cycle of progressive governments poses new historical challenges. If they are to be successfully navigated, Latin American scholars (and societies) must overcome the stultifying effects of prevailing liberal conceptions about democracy, markets, capitalism and the root causes of inequality; Jeffery Webber’s book unflinchingly and brilliantly shows us ‘why’ but also ‘how’ to begin doing so.”
—Fernando Leiva, author of Latin American Neostructuralism: The Contradictions of Post-Neoliberal Development.
“[Webber’s] marxist analysis, informed by a grasp not only of the extensive literature on contemporary Latin American politics but also firsthand experience of many of the continent’s social movements, offers a complex and subtle analysis the rise to power and then the crisis of [Latin America’s] leftist governments, parties, and societies… Today, with many of these states in profound economic and political crises, Webber’s new book, most accessible for Latin American specialists and those interested in leftist political theory, provides us with a guide to understanding the challenges and in some cases the catastrophes they face. Professors of Latin American studies will want to use this in their graduate seminars, as I am this fall, while those interested in contemporary Latin American situation or in the application of Marxist political theory to actual contemporary situations will find this book to be stimulating.”
—Dan LaBotz, New Politics