What’s happening in Bolivia has an unprecedented significance to human civilization, and it alludes to a bleak future of climate breakdown, signified by imperial states hoarding rare minerals, which will - unfortunately- come in decades, if we don’t turn the tide.
While lithium, a key element for modern batteries - whose developers were awarded with a Nobel Prize in Chemistry just a month ago - and thus modern high-tech industry is spread across the globe, the biggest known reserve is in South America, called “the Lithim Triangle”.
The lithium triangle comprises of three countries - Chile, Bolivia, Argentine - but the biggest known reserve is a salt flat called Salar de Uyuni, which is known to contain 50-70% of all lithium in the world. Despite geographic disadvantage, the flat gives Bolivia an advantage.
Evo Morales, a quite decent manager of economy, has managed a state-run corporation to export lithium and has raised a decent amount of capital, but there has also been a rush for privatization both from inside and from outside. https://amp.france24.com/en/20190915-bolivia-with-huge-untapped-reserves-gears-up-for-soaring-lithium-demand
Automakers and battery producers from capitalist states like Germany, China, South Korea, and the US are hungry for the alkaline metal, and they’re pushing hard to gain more control over the region via capital investment. The pressure is quite severe. https://www.bnamericas.com/en/news/privatization/bolivian-president-sees-us44bn-in-potential-lithium-projects
Privatizing natural resources has also been a main agenda of the European-descent, plutocratic elite, with which they can gain take a huge cut while the rest of the population starve. They’ve already tried it with Bolivia’s natural gas. https://www.telesurenglish.net/amp/news/Bolivian-Opposition-Will-Privatize-Gas-Reserves-Minister-Warns-20190724-0014.html
On top of this is the high crime Morales has committed: pursuing an independent development. The Bolivian government dares to cease to be a source of natural resources but a real manufacturer of high-tech goods, potentially undercutting multinationals. https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Bolivia-Morales-to-Industrialize-Lithium-for-Battery-Exports---20190619-0009.html
Morales’ mere existent has been a significant threat to international order. He defied advices from the IMF and World Bank and pursued a monetary and economic sovereignty, which is the reason for Bolivia’s stable economic growth. https://amp.ft.com/content/721fdac6-ee93-11e9-bfa4-b25f11f42901
“Notably, the Bolivian government ended 20 years of IMF agreements in 2006; many of the policies responsible for Bolivia’s economic success since 2006 were previously opposed by the IMF, including most importantly the renationalization of hydrocarbons” http://cepr.net/press-center/press-releases/new-report-reviews-changes-in-bolivia-s-economy-under-evo-morales-s-presidency
“Public investment has increased with the growth of Bolivia’s economy, even during periods of unfavorable terms of trade. Bolivia has had the highest public investment, as a percent of GDP, in the region.” http://cepr.net/press-center/press-releases/new-report-reviews-changes-in-bolivia-s-economy-under-evo-morales-s-presidency
I have to reemphasize that, as John Perkins and Noam Chomsky have noted, this crime of pursuing economic sovereignty can never be accepted. That’s the reason many democratic government were removed by the US for “democracy promotion.”
Despite the foreign reserve Bolivia will earn and the necessity of lithium mining for global transition to electrified grids and renewables, it will cause a lot of damage to the people of Bolivia - due to the excessive usage of groundwater for extraction. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2019/02/lithium-is-fueling-technology-today-at-what-cost/
Local biodiversity is already damaged by pollutants produced during the mining production, and local quinoa farmers are unable to grow crops because there’s no groundwater left. Yes, this is a dirty process, and the people living here will pay the price.
This is the reason, as @jasonhickel
points out, renewable energy cannot be the panacea to the climate breakdown we’re seeing now: it’s just not clean enough. Unless the demand for energy and natural resources decreases, we won’t survive this century. https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/09/06/the-path-to-clean-energy-will-be-very-dirty-climate-change-renewables/
This is also the reason, as Larry Elliott pointed out and as argued by @johnmcdonnellMP
,only the global-scale investment and economic reparation for the Global South will bring us to the “just transition” to the habitable future. https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/23/greening-your-life-global-approach
As argued by @RaulACarrillo @andresintheory @NathanTankus
,any Green New Deal plan should not be another scheme through which advanced economies extract surplus values from resource-rich countries. https://www.businessinsider.com/green-new-deal-climate-change-government-spending-no-private-money-2019-9
But certainly that’s just not the acceptable option for capital. No - we should not replace the automobile supremacy with public transits and bicycles. For the accumulation of capital, everyone must buy Tesla. There’s no alternative. https://www.theatlantic.com/author/gregory-h-shill/
And Bolivia should remain as a source of cheap materials and should never pursue its own development and redistribution of wealth. That’s the reason the US, since Evo’s inauguration, had planned for his assassination. https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Bolivia-to-Investigate-US-Plans-to-Topple-Kill-Evo-Morales-20151004-0015.html
As Eduardo Galeano wrote, this colonial, imperial, and neoliberal conquest of the Global South has persisted since the arrival of the Conquistadors in Latin America. As climate crisis looms, this conquest will only get intensifled. But we certainly can stop it. FIN/
Really finally - a quote from Rosa Luxemburg’s <The Accumulation of Capital> that encapsulates why imperialism a key aspect of capitalist pursuit of accumulation of capital.
Tip: mention @twtextapp on a Twitter thread with the keyword “unroll” to get a link to it.