Emir Sader The New Mole: Paths of the Latin American Left, trans. Ian Bruce. London: Verso, 2011,224 pp: 9781844676927 (hbk) 14.99 [pounds sterling]
Since its colonisation by European nation-states, Latin America has been deeply entwined both in the development of capitalism and the setting forth of alternatives. States in Latin America have been home to violent entrenchment of capitalist exploitation through dictatorship, as in Brazil and Chile, amongst others, but have also seen radical transformation, such as in Cuba. As Emir Sader notes, Latin America has been 'the laboratory of neoliberalism' (p. 35). Equally, its history of subordination to other elements of the global economy has been widely studied. However, Latin American states have emerged from the global financial crisis of 2008 showing positive signs that neoliberal capitalism can either be modified or perhaps transformed outright. It is towards an assessment of the possibilities for left activity in this context that The New Mole: Paths of the American Left is directed.
The title of The New Mole is derived from a quotation from Karl Marx's Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. Describing the apparent defeat of revolutionary action in France, Marx reminds us that the potential for change has not been destroyed but only deferred, and that even if the process of transformation is now obscured, it will soon emerge again like a mole from its burrow (Marx 2001 : 128). Sader seizes upon this image as a means of interpreting the winding history of the Latin American left, with all its progress, regression and suppression. At the core of this analysis stands the observation that 'Revolution never repeats itself; it always appears as a heretic' (p. xvi). This book is therefore not an attempt to see the possibilities for the future arranged in the past, but an incitement to formulate new paths of struggle which deal with the concrete requirements of contemporary reality. From the core of this enquiry comes a call for a new theory of Left action in Latin America, a strategy of the 'New Mole' (p. 79).
Across five chapters, the author offers a view of contemporary and historical struggles against capitalism in Latin America which is sweeping and inclusive as well as balanced, detailed and nuanced. The first two chapters chart the history of left-wing political agency, followed by the ascent and subsequent crisis of the neoliberal model of capitalism in the region. Chapter 3 deals in...