History has not ended in Bolivia (or anywhere else, for that matter), and those who expect the inevitable victory of the global democratic revolution as defined from Washington are now encountering full-on resistance in the new government of Aymara Indian nationalist and redistributive socialist Evo Morales. Anyone in doubt about this should take a look at this WSJ article (sorry, subscription only) about the new Bolivian foreign minister, David Choquehuanca. Representative of Mr. Choquehuanca’s general frame of mind was this paragraph:
Mr. Choquehuanca says he doesn’t turn to Western books for advice–indeed, he boasts of not having read a book of any kind in years because he doesn’t want to cloud his mind with European concepts. “We have been in the hands of people who have read books, and look what a mess the Earth is in,” he says. Far better to tap into the knowledge of Aymara elders. “When I say we have to read the wrinkles in our grandfathers’ brows, it’s to recover the wisdom that our grandfathers still have,” he says.
I don’t cite Mr. Choquehuanca and the policies of Morales (which will invariably perpetuate the country’s grinding poverty) to pour particular scorn on them, strange and wrongheaded though they seem to me in many ways (Mr. Choquehuanca’s veneration for the wisdom of his elders is perhaps the one place where he is probably making the most sense), but to emphasise the power and significance that local traditions and culture will have on the course of every nation’s development and the importance of these cultural realities for how “democracy” of one kind or another may evolve in different countries (if democracy of any kind appears at all–democratic reforms are in retreat across the Arab world, according to last week’s Economist).
For the Aymara in Bolivia, one goal is a commitment to promoting a natalist program to overwhelm completely the white minority in Bolivia by continuing to maintain high birthrates. They understand democracy in its crudest and most universal form, the form that it will likely take in most nations where it appears: strength in numbers is power, and collective identities of ethnicity, race or religion will be the predominant alignments in the new world of democracy. Someone will have to remind me why this is a Good Thing for America or for the people who will experience this new democratic age.