ISO speaker discusses neoliberalism

Jackie Valley

Tom Lewis, co-author of “Cochabamba! Water War in Bolivia,” told about 30 students and community members last night that neoliberalism hurts the masses.

In his speech, sponsored by the International Socialist Organization, Lewis defined neoliberalism as the reduction of state presence in an economy, which results in a global free market. This is done through the promotion of policies.

“Neoliberalism is said by its proponents to actually create economic growth in the countries that advocate it,” he said.

Instead, Lewis said neoliberalism widens the gap between the tiny portion of elites at the top of the economic scale, and the general population — especially in Latin American countries, such as Bolivia and Venezuela.

“For the masses of people, it spelled greater miseration and deterioration of their standard of living,” he said.

However, he said despite their opposition to neoliberalism, the presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela — Evo Morales and Hugo Chavez — have not brought socialism to their countries.

Instead, Lewis said in Bolivia, Morales has made an attempt to “build a new form of relatively autonomous state capitalism.”

“They think of themselves as working toward socialism,” he said. “In practice, it means they are building state capitals.”

Likewise, Lewis said despite Chavez denouncing the United States’ form of capitalism, Venezuela’s national economy is still largely based on capitalism.

Although the masses may support socialism in Venezuela and Bolivia, Lewis said, the countries are not quite at that point, yet.

“Latin America is an intense laboratory of revolutionary ideas,” he said. “People have real questions that can’t be answered about the way to move forward.”

ISO member Pablo Weishaupt, senior Spanish major, said many people likely overlook the effects neoliberalism has on Latin American countries.

“It’s like anything,” he said. “It’s not on the news every day.”

Contact student politics reporter Jackie Valley at [email protected].