In 2005, Bolivia underwent a profound shift in its political power relations. The MAS-IPSP, created by a broad group of popular organisations, won the elections in a resounding manner. In the face of this, the profoundly racist Bolivian oligarchy, particularly those living in Santa Cruz, one of Bolivia’s nine departments, never ceased to conspire to regain their privileges, those lost and those threatened.

By Rafael Bautista S.

In 2019, Bolivia suffered a coup d’état that left behind 40 dead and thousands of people injured, tortured or persecuted and multiple acts of corruption. This time, the conspirators, among them Fernando Camacho, leader of the Pro Santa Cruz Civic Committee, included religion among the instruments of subversion. The bible is displayed on the balconies of the Government Palace by Camacho and Añez. On this site, the self-proclaimed president declared that “thank God, the Bible is back in the Palace”, later affirming that “I dream of a Bolivia free of indigenous satanic rites, the city is not for the Indians, let them go…!

Now, for the last four months, once again, the oligarchy is once again seeking to generate another coup d’état, playing a second card: at the same time, they are seeking to set up a “self-determined” territory, synonymous with secession and balkanisation. And as in the coup of 2019, they are instrumentalising religion. They call mass meetings at the foot of a gigantic statue of Christ; their leader, Camacho, now in prison accused of bribing police and military in the 2019 coup, always wears a rosary and in his speeches expresses his “trust in God”. They operate in this way inspired by the Brazilian experience.

Rafael Bautista, a Bolivian philosopher, dissects in his article both the strategy of subversion and domination used by the Santa Cruz oligarchy and the core of global capitalist oppression.

If hell is a Christian invention, his own history – which is the history of the West – proves it, shedding as much blood as possible “in the name of love”. But that religion of Hebrew-Semitic (not Western) origin, which proclaimed the “good news” to the poor, i.e., that we are all children of God, was adulterated by neo-Platonic dualism and Manichaeism, to become, once it had been converted into a Gnostic religion, the “good news” to the poor. Gnostic Manichaeism to become, once inverted by the same apologists turned into “saints” by the Church, the new ideological basis of a Roman Empire in decline.

Thanks to this religion, stripped of its revolutionary content (if we are all children of God, we are all equal before Caesar), the Empire is anointed with the impetus provided by the argument of “sin”, as the civilising justification for the imperial project of domination as salvation. Modernity secularises the theological terms of that project and makes domination conceived as emancipation; and capitalism (with the domination of work and nature, as well as the systematic control of production and consumption) gives it the possibility of radicalising these claims of domination as exponential domination, as a form of emancipation. domination as exponential domination, i.e. domination to infinity.

Imperial ideology becomes self-conscious: it no longer fights for something, it fights for everything and wants everything. The idea of infinity uncovers a drive that is also infinite: greed is the new cult that is universalised. The circle closes, theodicy manifests itself as political economy: God became man means, now, God became capital. The Empire is the Temple and the Holy of Holies is the financial ambit where the sacred ark of global accumulation is the divine dwelling.

This perverse transmutation is the capitalism made rational religion of modern society, turning the process of capital accumulation into the daily pious worship to acquire eternal salvation as a tangible, i.e. hard cash blessing.

This is what the “theology of prosperity”, conceived and developed in the gringo intelligence centres, consists of, once the “theology of liberation” or the Christian option for the poor has been annihilated. When Marx pointed out that the first critique is the critique of religion, he was referring to this necessary unmasking of modern fetishism, that is, critique as the dismantling of the systematic concealment of injustice and relations of domination that modernity has naturalised in the very belief system of social consciousness.

The more capitalism expands, the more social relations, i.e. relations of domination, develop; because the social form is what the modern world produces in order to develop capitalism: a world made up of pure individuals. And this is fundamental to emphasise because, in order for there to be capitalism, human beings must be reduced to mere individuals brought together by purely instrumental and mercantile relations. This produces social consciousness, i.e. the atomisation of purely individualistic expectations that operate socially through the calculation of self-utility or the calculation of immediate interest.

But “neighbourly love” is not the product of any calculation or interest but of absolute generosity and disinterested detachment. Conditions that make capitalism impossible; for an economy of growth, translated into greed as a way of life, cannot distribute wealth democratically. There is no wealth if we are all rich. Wealth is accumulation and can only be conceived as something private, that is, as the privatisation of common goods; that is why wealth generates misery and the more misery it generates, the more wealth is produced (that is why original Christianity must be reversed, because the gospels or “good news” are for the poor, not for the rich: if we are all children of God, the exploitation of the work of the poor is sinful).

But the basic precept of capitalism is the exploitation of the work of others. And modern society and its ideology, liberalism, expresses it in this way: the freer the individual is, the freer he is, and the freer he is the more he detaches himself from any relationship that makes him part of a community and from any belonging. This is what his “emancipation” consists in. In this case, his freedom is individualistic and is determined as a will to power and domination. He frees himself to appropriate what is common (to deprive others of what is common), because for the liberal individual, the common has no meaning; that is why as individuals they compete, to appropriate and benefit from everything they can as their own, i.e. as private property.

Thus, any critical pretension, by not developing a dismantling of modern-capitalist fetishism, leaves aside the clarification of something that is recurrent in today’s capitalism: the so-called “Doña Florinda syndrome” or aporophobia. This, which can also be interpreted as “the poor enemy of oneself”, manifests the process of naturalisation of the relations of domination, inequality and injustice produced by the meta-narratives of modernity as a bourgeois worldview and which frame the entire horizon of prejudices of capitalism as a secularised religion.

Thus capitalism, through consumption, produces above all individuals whose belief system synthesises this process of naturalisation as worldly religiosity. In this context, the “theology of prosperity” decants the horizon of bourgeois-capitalist prejudices into a salvific ideology that makes Christianity functional in an activism devoted to the defence of the values and beliefs of the system, i.e. it organises the new crusades against any alteration to the established order.

The dissemination of evangelical churches in Latin America is something that was systematically developed as an initial dissuasive strategy in the face of the “spectre of communism”; but now the imperial intelligence centres have redesigned it as an ideological offensive to interrupt democratic processes and permanently destabilise social and political stability. The narrative underpinning that makes them potentially dangerous is not only millenarianism or the yearning story of the end of the world, but the sacrificial tradition of Christianity itself.

For this tradition, life feeds on death and good no longer illuminates, therefore, evil is not converted but destroyed; conversion then ceases to be an act of faith and becomes the obligatory payment of an infinite debt. Therefore, salvation no longer saves, but, as “individual salvation”, it is presented as a holy competition to acquire the currency of admission to the kingdom of this world. This is why it is a “prosperity theology”, whose purpose is to beatify and consecrate the wealth of this world, as the perfect sacrifice for the deserving of a promised land, which can now be monetised and traded in the modern tabernacles: the stock exchanges.

The heaven of medieval theology descends to the earthliest, and represents the divine epiphany in stock market terms. Everything can be bought, even paradise, which is no longer in the afterlife but in the new condominiums and “smart cities” away from the madding crowd. This is why wealth is interpreted as a blessing and the “theology of prosperity” is a constituent part of this new spirituality as individualistic salvation. spirituality as individualistic salvation, i.e., as evasion and denial of reality. Financial bubbles are now inflamed by a new kind of faith that leaps into the abyss dragging everyone to suicide (now even desired by a social consciousness, whose death drive makes it imagine the end of the world as “salvation”).

In this sense, evangelical millenarianism disseminates armies of believers in the idea of “holy war”. It is therefore not surprising that Islamic terrorism has been promoted by the CIA in the name of Jihad or “holy war”; which is not a concept exclusive to Islam, as the Christian crusaders who, from all over Europe, marched to liberate Jerusalem, understood it as a “holy war”. It is from the Western European Christian tradition itself that the gringo empire invents the enemy of its globalisation: Islamic terrorism. But now the fiction no longer works, after the disasters that the USA and Europe have caused in the so-called – geopolitically – Greater Middle East.

Bourgeois aporophobia must point to a new scapegoat as the holocaust of the sacrificial operation needed to restore order. That new enemy is the Indian.

The “theology of prosperity” was designed to displace and definitively annul the “theology of liberation” or the option for the poor. In a continent where the poorest are the indigenous peoples, what the “theology of prosperity” actualises, as a religious purpose, is what the Conquest did not conclude: the extirpation of idolatries, that is, to de-almarise the Indian, to extirpate all remnants of the reconstitution of his own subjectivity.

Since 1994 and the Mayan-Zapatista insurgency, until the establishment of the plurinational state of Bolivia in 2009, a new narrative has been taking root on the political horizon, questioning and calling into question the current paradigm of life. The Empire, its intelligence agencies and think tanks have understood this very well: politics is defined in the dispute over narratives. If a project is no longer credible, no longer desirable, then it has no future.

The current cynicism of the power groups has method, logic and religious performativity, which is why the racism and fascism they unleash is not rejected but adopted as a theological creed. In Bolivia, the appearance of these churches coming from Gringolandia is not recent; they constitute a long-term plan that began before the Second World War and determines them as one of the operative arms of the Monroe Doctrine. Today, they operate above all in the lower classes and contribute to the formatting of the common sense into a business sense. In Santa Cruz, the apparatuses of ideologisation are the churches and the media, while the Catholic Church appears as the “moral” mouthpiece of the power groups. In such a context, not only the truth but also the soul of a society is stolen.

In such a situation, state action is besieged, encircled and reduced to the purely dissuasive character of legal procedures. Whatever it does does not have sufficient state force, because the blackmail activated by the most influential media constitutes the power that mobilises an activism religiously consecrated to “holy war”.

This is the drama that perverts politics into a suicidal Manichaeism.

For in order to activate such a “sanctification” of a conflict, the scapegoat (whose sacrifice supposedly brings us back to order, because he is supposedly the culprit of all evils) must be transformed into a monster. But in order to kill a monster, one must also become a monster, so that the scapegoat story takes on a drama that perverts even the political usefulness of this resource. To assign all the blame to the colla becomes the best pretext for transferring exclusive responsibility from the Santa Cruz elites to the central state; but this only exacerbates the resentment of the camba 1 against the colla, that is, against the Indian, and becomes the ideological device for unleashing the politics of hatred, which only leads to confrontation, that is, to war.

This danger is what the Empire and its intelligence agencies have designed very well to undermine from within democratic processes that seek to restore their own sovereignty in the midst of the decadence of the unipolar world. The world will cease to be imperial property but its own arrogance will not allow a world of equals. That is why, geopolitically speaking, the Empire does not seek, for example, in the provoked war in Ukraine, to maintain the strategic balance, but always to achieve strategic advantages. A world of equals is impossible for the Empire. strategic advantages are what maintain the inequality of principle that an empire needs to maintain in order to remain an empire.

It is the same lordly logic of our oligarchies: they can negotiate everything, but never their superiority; for it is a condition for there to be lords that there be serfs. This is the hatred that gathers the urban social consciousness (deformed by seigniorial values) as a recruiting ground for fascism and makes it legitimise a bloody coup d’état in 2019. “Holy war”, which feeds an irrational resistance because, moreover, it is encouraged and justified by a media power that intoxicates public opinion to make it complicit in the first crime that war commits: killing the truth.

Those who raise the name of God and spread anxiety left and right and arrogantly mock the law they “say they respect”, as the coup leader Camacho did, do not know one thing: human justice exists so as not to have to appear before divine justice. Psalm 73 portrays them: “the peace of the wicked.

For there is no torment for them; they are healthy and plump. They have no share in human afflictions and are not troubled like other men. Therefore, pride girded them as a collar, and violence covered them as a garment. They set their mouth in heaven and their tongue wags on the earth. That is why the people turn after them. Behold, they are ungodly, but quietly they constantly increase their fortune.”

“The people turn after them”. That is why they always see the people as the real danger to their fortune, to their wealth. Anathematizing the people is therefore essential for the preservation of order. When “prosperity theology” calls itself that, it is because it has deified the existing order and its purpose is the consecration of the defence of that order; in that sense, aporophobia is not a simple discrimination but an act of faith: if wealth is a blessing, then poverty is a divine curse and the poor are cursed. This is why “prosperity theology”, in its pedagogy of biblical indoctrination, prepares disciplined, submissive and obedient individuals, fit for an ever more demanding labour market. The economy is increasingly restricted, but evangelical churches now administer the kind of admission that capital pontificates.

Now, if order cannot be restored, then, in the name of God – the God-capital – Christian Jihad is unleashed. Hell on earth has already been lived on our continent, since the Conquest. Recently we have seen Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc., burn because of the geopolitics of the Antichrist. The Empire was distracted by destroying that region, while in our region the “democratic spring” was beginning. Since then, the oligarchies have converged in the systematic destruction of popular insurgencies, having at their disposal all the de facto powers that were co-opted by neoliberalism. But the indigenous narrative, which in many cases gave new meaning to the political horizon of our popular projects, is still valid, and is what the Empire and the oligarchic complicity are trying to annihilate.

In this sense, what the “theology of prosperity” does as the extirpation of idolatries can be interpreted as the attempt to annihilate the spirit of our peoples. This was evident in the coup carried out in 2019; for with Bible in hand, the coup plotters tried to exorcise the ajayu of our people. That is why the psalm says: “the people turn back after them”. For the last ambit from which all resistance makes sense is the spiritual one. The political field is a contested field, but what is ultimately contested is a way of life. That is why it is a struggle of narratives, of worldviews, of ultimate beliefs.

In 14 years of MAS government, there was no understanding of what a democratic-cultural revolution meant; it was supposed to promote a pedagogical revolution in all ambits, above all, strategically, in the military and police. Now the government is facing its own reality: it has the government, but it does not have the power. At its peak of legitimacy, with 55% as the maximum commonly available, it did not make the far-reaching changes that should have been proposed by a party that was the depositary of the popular triumph over the coup and the dictatorship (it should never, for example, have allowed the coup leaders to be authorities, as they are violators of the Constitution itself).

Now it is necessary to know how to pinpoint the type of conflict that is being unleashed and, in response to the hybrid wars that the Pentagon and NATO are setting up as a strategic containment of their decline, to do what any popular government should do: promote popular power. Imperial ideology can calculate everything, but it cannot calculate the people factor, because it is the indeterminate, the hard unknown that political equations do not know how to define. There is no algorithm that can solve the metaphysical aspect of all politics.

The hell that is to be unleashed has, with the federalist discourse, a purpose that is not even noticed by the adherents of the Camba narrative: territorial division is impossible in practical terms, Santa Cruz is fuller of collas than is believed, and that is what establishes a connectivity with the altiplano that is impossible to break. One could even say that El Alto and its influence is extensible to Santa Cruz itself. The hell that would be unleashed has, rather, the physiognomy of an unfinished balkanisation, that is to say, the spread of undefined chaos. For all the scenarios of a hybrid war, war by all possible means, are already unfolding, and with the Manichean drama of the “holy war” narrative.

Today, more than ever, naivety in politics is a fatal imprudence. The violence unleashed has its own agenda, its own temporality and its own magnitude.

It has the power of the media to show itself as an obscene spectacle, but which functions very well as an “inspirer” of the urban fascist remnant, fed by the lordly dogma of superiority over the Indian. This power has captivated public opinion, which believes that the violent is a saint, justifying the inflammation of violence that will always be attributed to those who try to stop it. Violence made spectacle generates its addiction and that already represents its normalisation.

This is the role of the media in a process of Balkanisation: normalisation produces the dissemination of chaos; if the violent appear as “saints” and the law can be flouted, then there are no limits, everything is permitted: the end justifies the means and there is no morality to be admitted. Even defence becomes revenge. To make matters worse, if violence is interpreted as “holy war”, the drama becomes tragedy and death is the only thing that counts in a situation where nothing counts any more. This is the essence of original sin: unleashing evil in the name of good, sowing death in the name of life. Wars are justified in this way, which is why the first casualty of every war is truth.

Why should we have to respond with another such force to the war they intend to unleash on our country? Real power is strategic, even if the danger is imminent. An organised people, does not mean being on the streets all the time; it means having an awareness of what you are, of your force and your power and knowing how to manage it strategically, that is to say, innovatively and ingeniously. That is why, in the struggle, the people return to themselves, to their history and culture, and from there reinvent themselves to face adversity, because the struggle is always of all times, of all history. The struggle is ours and that of all our ancestors.

The longing for a new constitutional charter came from the indigenous peoples of the lowlands, from Santa Cruz itself. That is why we pointed out that we need a new constituent process, a process of reconstitution of the subject people. Our country will reach the culminating consciousness of what it is to be plurinational when the lowland peoples restart the definitive transformation of our state.

Bolivia was born as a unitary country through the legitimate concurrence of the provinces that made up Upper Peru. At no time did it assume “privative treaties” with any particular region; therefore, the mere civic mention of “reviewing our relationship with the rest of the country” reveals secessionist ambitions.

To claim that a department can, at the whim and pleasure of an illegitimate civic leadership, “review its relationship with the state” is an attack on national integrity. One part cannot superimpose itself on the rest of the country, claiming a non-existent right that can condition its relationship with the national whole. That is sedition.

In such a case, the government has every argument for it to make the rule of law prevail over the power groups. A certain naïve official perception that aims, as always, to wear down the opposition, will only promote the rearticulation of the right wing, which is much more dangerous, because its objective, faithful to the imperial programme, is no longer another coup, but the balkanisation of the plurinational project.

When their coffee analysts only see a possible coup, they do not consider that a process of balkanisation is worse than a coup; because the coup still maintains the physiognomy of a state, even if it is apparent; but an unfinished and indefinite balkanisation is the definition of a failed state. To destroy a country does not necessarily require a coup d’état but, true to the imperial doctrine of “constructive chaos”, a coup is the definition of a failed state. doctrine of “constructive chaos”, it is enough to unleash a continuous and growing destabilisation for the figure of the failed state to be the argument for irreversible intervention. The policy of feudalisation or balkanisation that Washington imagines for our region is only possible if the ignition of the conflict comes from within.

Since this is a struggle of narratives, it is tactically necessary to deflate the fizz of the “successful” economic model of Santa Cruz and show it for what it really is: a literal failure. If the aim of all production is to produce the producer, what kind of “success” is that which produces openly fascist and racist individuals, ready to destroy their own country, constituting themselves into hordes thirsty for violence and making showbiz, frivolity and arrogance their only culture? That their leaders shamelessly expose a supreme ignorance shows the degree of degeneration that an ostentatious wealth of spurious origin, originating in dictatorships and “laundered” in neoliberal governments, has reached. This origin constitutes the immorality of the Cambodian elite and politically defines its anti-national and anti-democratic vocation.

Deflating the arrogant Camba regionalist discourse as what it is, a fizz, means putting an end to the myth that “Santa Cruz feeds Bolivia”, or what its mediocre intelligentsia would have us believe: that Santa Cruz is the epicentre of Bolivian economy and politics. No one denies its economic importance, but the magnification of its importance is too much overestimated when the decisive political changes in Bolivia’s recent history took place in the west, to be more precise, in the altiplano.

And what Santa Cruz is is not just a matter of the mediocre idiosyncrasies of its lodges.

Perhaps that is why our political destiny, as a plurinational state, has made Santa Cruz the stage for the balkanising pretensions of anti-national interests; because perhaps that is where we will find ourselves definitively as a diverse and plural people, as what we are historically, Jenecheru, which means: fire that never goes out.

That is why we resisted for 500 years and re-founded a State for it to make our Pacha Mama, Yvy Maraey, a land without evil. Because, as a people, as Iyambae, living without an owner, we will be our own political project, which will be a “good way of living”, living in community, in harmony, which in Guarani is known as Teko Kavio Ñandereko.

That is why East and West have always been complementary and not opposed, as she says regionalism imposed by elites who came from elsewhere and never deserved the land that gave them a place for their existence. That is why the land does not recognise them as sons, because they believe they are gods with the power to decide who lives and who does not, and they have degenerated hospitality, that Santa Cruz custom, into arrogant hostility.

The unity pact has just declared a state of emergency and permanent mobilisation in the face of the present destabilisation. It is now up to the government to rise to the occasion and respond decisively to this support. True political power comes from the people; in this sense, if a government does not promote, develop and protect popular power, it condemns itself to solitude and a power void that inevitably ends in its capitulation.

1 N of R: Camba was a term used in Santa Cruz in a derogatory, racist way. The Santa Cruz oligarchy appropriated it and managed to use it to designate all people from Santa Cruz, whether indigenous or not, in order to broaden its social base.