Motley Society, Plurinationalism, and the Integral State

Álvaro García Linera’s Use of Gramsci and Zavaleta

In: Historical Materialism
Anne Freeland Columbia University

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This article examines Bolivian vice president Álvaro García Linera’s use of concepts originating in the work of Antonio Gramsci and Bolivian sociologist René Zavaleta Mercado. Zavaleta’s concept of sociedad abigarrada (usually translated as ‘motley society’) has a history of misappropriation in which García Linera participates by articulating it with the related concept of the estado aparente to claim that the merely ‘apparent’ state which does not effectively represent the heterogeneous social reality of a country like Bolivia is abolished with the official establishment of the Plurinational State in 2009. This ideologeme of the Plurinational State as one that faithfully represents Bolivia’s abigarramiento is equated with the Gramscian stato integrale, which in Gramsci refers to the state proper plus civil society where these are thoroughly integrated to function as an organic whole (the modern capitalist nation-state). Beyond merely misusing the borrowed terms of this discursive operation, García Linera gives a prescriptive value to concepts developed for an analytical purpose to validate the existing regime.

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