Bolivia’s New Government Pledges to Implement Buen Vivir

Ollantay Itzamná
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Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, David Choquehuanca, Pledges to Implement Buen Vivir

David Choquehuanca, Aymara, Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, on the day of his swearing-in, surprised with a powerful new discourse that challenges modernity with arguments from the horizon of Buen Vivir. The message impacts on a post-pandemic world where development myths and modern reason are on the decline.

Although the “rhetoric” of Buen Vivir was already present in the official discourse of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS), during the government of Evo Morales, nevertheless, with the passing of time, Buen Vivir was giving ground in the official discourse to the extent that the developmentalist ideology of the class-conscious left imposed itself on the MAS. To the extent that the “slogan” of Buen Vivir was assumed as one more slogan to sweeten the proposal of “Andean Amazonian capitalism”.

Choquehuanca, one of the founders and ideologues of MAS-IPSP, now as Vice President, is beginning to publicly argue the Buen Vivir proposal as the philosophical horizon that should guide the new government and the peoples of Bolivia in the post-pandemic and post-de facto government.

After hearing the message of Vice President Choquehuanca, the ideas that resonate within the ears and hearts of the people are clear. They disrupt the constituent elements of modern civilization.

Buen Vivir implies an Earth identity. “(…) we are sinchi, we are rumi, we are jenecherú, fire that never goes out, we are from Samaipata, we are jaguar, we are katari, we are ainos, we are mauríes, (…)”, says Choquehuanca.

And, indeed, we are part and parcel of Mother Earth. We are not a different or superior identity to the Earth (Kantian philosophy). We are Earth that thinks, Earth that feels, Earth that suffers. We are Earth. All of us in the cosmic community carry the same chemical elements organized differently.

Good Living focused on the well-being of the cosmic community. “We are living in a time of becoming jiwasa again, it is not me, it is us. Jiwasa is the death of self-centeredness (…)”, reiterates the Vice President.

Modernity is constituted on the premise of the disarticulated individual as the center and end of reality, in competition with others. In the face of this suicidal individualism, Buen Vivir centered on the community (jiwasa in Aymara) is proposed. The well-being of the articulated individual depends on the well-being of the community. Unlike modernity (where individual well-being is its purpose), in Buen Vivir the cosmic community in balance will be the greatest good.

Buen Vivir requires overcoming anthropocentrism. “(…) jiwasa is the death of anthropocentrism and it is the death of Eurocentrism”, continues David Choquehuanca. The idea of community does not refer to the idea of society (the sum of individual wills) that modernity poses. The community, the ayllu, refers to the cosmic community. A community made up of all the members of the cosmos and of the multi-faceted world. Here the hegemony of the modern subject disappears (human individual endowed with freedom, will and reason) and the Earth subject emerges in its different manifestations, with dignity, rights, obligations and opportunities.

Buen Vivir requires a balanced power. “We will encourage the opposing sides to seek solutions between the right and the left, between the rebelliousness of the young and the wisdom of the old, between the limits of science and unshakable nature, between the creative minorities and the traditional majorities, between the sick and the healthy, between the rulers and the ruled, between the cult of leadership and the gift of serving others,” says the Vice President.

Buen Vivir is sustained by balance, and it nurtures balance in all dimensions of life. Balance requires the coexistence of several different actors who build consensus. Equilibrium is power, and power is horizontal. For modernity, power is domination, it is hegemony, it is control…

Buen Vivir implies plurinationality. “(…) we are Maya, we are Guarani, we are Mapuche, we are Mojeño, we are Aymara, we are Quechua, we are Jopi and we are all from the culture of life, we awaken our larama, larama equally rebellious with wisdom”.

For David Choquehuanca, the condition of plurinationality is not an exclusive matter for Bolivia. All the peoples of Abya Yala have and are called to awaken their larama (creative consciousness) to undertake their paths of liberation. In Buen Vivir, political identity is not tied, as in modernity, to the chimerical idea of a single national identity.

Furthermore, the Vice President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia reiterated that Buen Vivir is based on the principles of reciprocity, interrelatedness, complementarity and correspondence.

I consider this approach not to be a nostalgic whim of the past millennium of the original peoples, from which David Choquehuanca comes, but rather an echo of the categorical existential imperative that hovers over humanity on a wounded Planet that has a tendency to “dispose of ” the human species.

Translation by Internationalist 360°