Bolivia beyond the Impasse

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  • Prix régulier $16.80
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    Michael Hardt & Sandra Mezzadra

    Publisher: Common Notions

    Year: 2023

    Format: Paperback

    Size: 80 pages

    ISBN: 9781942173977

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A militant reading of struggles and developments in Bolivia form a balance sheet of possibility for a Left program in the country, hemisphere, and the world.

Bolivia beyond the Impasse sketches the primary characteristics of the current political, social, and economic situation of Bolivia. Longtime militant researchers Michael Hardt and Sandro Mezzadra explain not only how this situation came about but also the obstacles that confront today’s progressive forces and have led to an impasse. Right-wing political and social forces continue to gain strength and constantly hinder or thwart progressive initiatives. Obstacles also arise from within movements, including the vexed question of leadership, which has increasingly surfaced between Evo Morales as leader of the MAS party and Luis Arce as president of the government.

Hardt and Mezzadra do not dwell on these obstacles, however, because they also recognize the extraordinary power and innovation that a new phase of political struggle in Bolivia could unleash beyond the impasse. The current situation, they argue, remains open to new political inventions rooted in the wide range of progressive and revolutionary forces both inside and outside the government and the MAS party. 

Firmly grounded in the Bolivian situation, Hardt and Mezzadra keep their eye on the Latin American context because they believe that, just as it was twenty years ago, many of today’s most stubborn political and economic obstacles can only be overcome through mechanisms beyond national boundaries, by inventing effective mechanisms of regional cooperation. Although the path forward is not clear and that new and old right-wing forces constitute continuing and increasing threats throughout the region—from Brazil to Argentina and from Colombia to Chile—Hardt and Mezzadra offer a reading of the struggles that form the balance sheet of possibility for a Left program in the country, and consequently the hemisphere, and world. 

Despite all the threats and obstacles that feed the impasse, however, dynamics of insurgency and struggle continue to resonate and circulate throughout Latin America. As they powerfully demonstrate, discovering how to defend against violent reactionary forces while furthering democratic initiatives and projects for liberation will be a key task for social movements and progressive governments. Bolivia beyond the Impasse makes the claim with passion and rigor that this regional space of political action and innovation is where the potential for moving beyond the impasse is most promising.

What People Are Saying

"Bolivia beyond the Impasse is a brilliant and timely analysis of Bolivia in the current conjuncture of global politics. Hardt and Mezzadra investigate Bolivia’s society as a laboratory for the present and future of politics that involves innovation from above and below in their antagonistic cooperation. Their work brings about new political maps in which the tension between social conflict and the reconfiguration of institutions gives rise to critical possibilities for new politics of autonomy.” Massimiliano Tomba, author of Insurgent  Universality: An Alternative Legacy of Modernity

“In Bolivia beyond the Impasse , Michael Hardt and Sandro Mezzadra draw on years of solidaristic activism with the contentious ‘process of change’ in Bolivia, inaugurated electorally by the Evo Morales government following a wave of social movement insurgency at the outset of this century. Pointing to the impasse that the process faces today, their essay offers a sweeping contribution to the debate on the prospects for its renewal and radicalization. Written from a perspective of open and honest sympathy with the governments of Morales and his successor, Luis Arce, Hardt and Mezzadra are nonetheless attentive to a number of the limits and contradictions faced by these administrations, not least because the authors have spent time with clear-eyed Bolivian social movement activists and intellectuals on the ground. Perhaps the most important contribution of their intervention is that it reveals, once again, how the last two decades of concrete and particular social struggles in a landlocked Andean-Amazonian country are of pivotal and universal significance to the anticapitalist international left.” Jeffery R. Webber, coauthor of The Impasse of the Latin American Left

“Bolivia’s Movement for Socialism Party (MAS) has been a leading force in the struggle to build socialism, break the chains of imperialism, and dismantle racism. This timely book analyzes many of MAS’s most important achievements, while also addressing impediments it has faced, including the 2019 coup d’état. In their analysis of the opportunities and challenges facing MAS and Bolivia’s progressive social movements in the current conjuncture, Hardt and Mezzadra bring much-needed nuance to key debates around development, extractivism, and the relationship between movements and parties. They point to promising paths for development that could further challenge the international division of labor and advance the project of a just transition to sustainable energy.” Jennifer S. Ponce de León, author of Another Aesthetics is Possible: Arts of Rebellion  in the Fourth World War

“The Bolivian crucible, heated by revolution and counter- revolution alike, has much to teach us about the accomplishments and limitations of the first Pink Tide, and more importantly, about the prospects of a second. Bolivia beyond the Impasse gives us exactly what we need: a concise and even-handed analysis of what has happened, what is happening, and what radical possibilities can be glimpsed on the horizon.” Geo Maher, author of We Created Chávez  and Building the Commun


About the Authors

Michael Hardt teaches political theory in the Literature Program at Duke University. He is coauthor of several books with Antonio Negri, including Empire . His most recent book is The Subversive Seventies . Together with Sandro Mezzadra, he hosts The Social Movements Lab.

Sandro Mezzadra teaches political theory at the University of Bologna, Department of Arts. He is the author of In the Marxian Workshops: Producing Subjects and coauthor of Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor and The Politics of Operations: Excavating Contemporary Capitalism .


Bolivia’s political, social, and economic achievements since Evo Morales took office in 2006, and since the Movement Toward Socialism Party (MAS) has been the predominant force in national politics, are indicative of the accomplishments of the entire cycle of Latin American progressive governments (also known as the “pink tide”) that began in the 2000s. Although small in geographical terms compared to many of its neighbors, Bolivia provided a privileged position for understanding the potential and results of progressive continental developments. Today, however, the political conjuncture in Latin America has changed. The socialist projects are constantly threatened by the aggressive and often violent oligarchic and right-wing forces, but they also face internal obstacles. There is widespread recognition, in particular, that, although they made great accomplishments, the dynamic of progressive policies that animated the left for over a decade has now been exhausted. Bolivia and the MAS are faced with an impasse, and therefore with the need to break with the policies of the long first phase and launch a new political, social, and economic project. In all these respects, Bolivia once again serves as bell weather for gauging the obstacles and potential for further developments across the continent as a whole. The impasse in Bolivia, in fact, is symptomatic of not only the exhaustion of the first wave of progressive governments in Latin America which began in the early 2000s but also the challenges that must be overcome today in order to realize a second wave across the continent. 

Tags: anticapitalism ....... Common Notions ....... latin america ....... Michael Hardt ....... Sandro Mezzadra .......