[Marxism] The Socialist Revolution in Venezuela

Joaquin Bustelo jbustelo at gmail.com
Fri Nov 9 19:22:35 MST 2007

Paula writes: "What I actually think is that there may be a revolution in
process, but it will not succeed in establishing a socialist regime for as
long as there is a standing army in place."

If that's your criteria, then there will NEVER be a socialist revolution in
Venezuela. Because as long as imperialism exists, countries like Venezuela
will have to have a professional military cadre. It is NECESSARY. This means
there would have to be revolution FIRST in the imperialist countries. But as
the Second Congress of the Communist International taught (in the case of
Europe), this is not possible until imperialist superprofits have finally
been "stopped up."

And Cuba has a standing army -- do you believe there's been no socialist
revolution there?

"We should also be reading about the Spanish revolution, and what happens
when the left defends a 'democratic' capitalist regime with a powerful
standing army."

Leaving aside that Spain was an imperialist country, and that very directly,
immediately and concretely shaped the course of events there, and that
Venezuela is not, the way that Paula poses this raises the question of
whether Paula thinks "the Left" should not have been on the Republican side
in the Spanish Civil War at all. 

*  *  *

On the new amendments to the Venezuelan constitution, Paula writes: "I would
consider each reform individually. Some of them seem to be democratic
(lesbian and gay rights), some are anti-democratic (presidential terms)."

Why should letting the people elect who they want as president as many times
as they want be "anti-democratic"? 

"Sufragio Efectivo - No Reelección" was the slogan of the Mexican PRI's
one-party regime for decades. True, against the "Porfiriato" --the Porfirio
Diaz dictatorship-- it was a weapon. But first of all because it had been
Porfirio Diaz's own slogan against Benito Juarez decades before. 

Limiting presidential terms to one or two was such a cheap and demagogic
measure for the bourgeoisie to adopt that it exists in almost all Latin
American countries, and even the United States has it. For the privileged
classes, it also provides a certain protection from becoming the victim of
its own servants. And, of course, it has never prevented the perpetuation in
power of a right-wing dictatorship for many years no matter what the
constitution says. See, for example, the cases of Somocista Nicaragua and
Pinochet in Chile.

But as for the political role this slogan or similar ones play, that has to
be based on a concrete analysis. "No reelection" directed against a Chavez,
a Morales, a Peron or a Fidel is a reactionary rallying cry, which is why
the imperialist-controlled media in Latin America is so avidly promoting the
protests of students and others against the Venezuelan constitutional

Popular movements in Latin America have often (not always) given rise to a
central leader who plays a decisive role, for good or ill, and sometimes for
both. The reasons for this I don't fully understand, but I DO know that this
is the case, and not just simply a question of the (re)writing of history as
the tale of the acts of "great men." And not just today but historically --
look at the role of people like Bolívar and Martí.

Some not very clever people decry such "cults of the personality," trying to
make it seem that Fidel or Hugo Chavez are another Stalin. They "forget"
that the "cult of the personality of Stalin" was a euphemistic
pseudo-explanation cooked up by Stalin's heirs to whitewash THEIR OWN
culpability and not IN THE SLIGHTEST a true explanation or description of
what went on in the Soviet Union. 

*  *  *

As for the rest of it, Paula's theory of imperialism grows more threadbare
with each reiteration.

She says, "The process whereby former colonies become new imperialist powers
was described by Lenin himself, in relation to Japan (as I keep saying). The
logic of his analysis is that, as capitalism develops around the world, so
do monopolistic tendencies. It is not my methodology that has extended and
transformed Lenin's; it is world capitalism itself that has been extended
and transformed. As Lenin himself expected."

This quite effectively drains anti-imperialism of any real content. Because
if anyone and everyone can be imperialist, then no one is an imperialist.
And the effect of helping a country to free itself from imperialist
domination is simply to create a new imperialist power. Thus, mostly you
don't have any REAL national liberation struggles, just conflicts between
nascent and full-fledged imperialist countries. And the essential
precondition for supporting some semicolonial country against imperialism is
that it abolish capitalism FIRST; otherwise the country will morph into an
imperialist itself.

Although Paula claims this derives from Lenin and even is "as Lenin himself
expected," that is a crock. As anyone who bothers to read Lenin's "last
word" on the subject can easily verify for themselves. In introducing the
discussion of the national and colonial question at the second World
Congress of the Comintern in 1920, this is what Lenin said:

"What is the most important, the fundamental idea of our Theses? It is the
difference between the oppressed and the oppressor nations. We emphasise
this difference – in contrast to the Second International and bourgeois

"Imperialism is characterised by the fact that the whole world is now
divided into a large number of oppressed nations and a very small number of
oppressor nations that are enormously rich and strong in the military

THIS --and not the existence of monopolies, as Paula argues-- is the HEART
of the matter, although the configuration of imperialism TODAY is not like
that in Lenin's  time, one of several roughly comparable powers, but rather
--as it has been since WWII ended-- than of an imperialist camp headed by a
"superpower," the United States, with interimperialist rivalries and
conflicts playing a much more subordinate role than earlier in the XX

A glance back over the past several decades shows that the main axis of
revolutionary struggle on a world scale has been national struggles against
imperialist domination. Thus Paula's positions on this are not some abstract
theoretical dispute with only hypothetical political implications, but tends
to place her in in a different camp than I daresay the overwhelming majority
of people on this and similar lists.

And the issue of presidential re-election in the Venezuela referendum is an
illustration of this.


More information about the Marxism mailing list