By Patrick Barrett, Daniel Chavez, Caesar Rodriguez-Garavito
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Additional resources for The New Latin American Left: Utopia Reborn
On the other hand, the widespread acceptance of Leninist vanguardism and the demonstration effect of the Stalinist experience had given rise to a rejection of so-called ‘bourgeois democracy’ or ‘strictly formal democracy’ by influential sectors of the old left. In their view, as Luis Tapia notes in Chapter 8 in relation to the dominant attitude within the Bolivian left until the 1970s, liberal democracy was either a form of political organisation of the capitalist class, or a stage along the road to socialism.
This is evident in all the case studies in this book, from the indigenous and campesino coalitions in Bolivia, Mexico and Ecuador, and the ‘broad fronts’ of social movements, to the various parties in Uruguay, Brazil and Colombia. Third, the diminished legitimacy and internal crises of traditional parties, which until recently were firmly rooted in the political systems of the entire region, have created political opportunities which the new left formations have succeeded in exploiting. Following the transition to democracy almost everywhere in the region, it became clear that most of the traditional parties or factions lacked the capacity or the political resolve to convert the popular will into government policies.
That is to say that one of the changes that democracy makes possible is a deepening of democracy. Put somewhat differently, democracy is an obvious arena for the pursuit of non-reformist reforms – making use of existing democratic openings to institute reforms that deepen and expand democratic practices and procedures, including those that are outside formal political institutions. In this sense, it may be more appropriate to speak of democratisation as an ongoing, dynamic process than of democracy as a final end state.