[Marxism] The Socialist Revolution in Venezuela

Paula Paula_cerni at msn.com
Tue Nov 13 15:54:53 MST 2007

Craig wrote
> Oh Hai! I'm from the International Socialist Critical Theory Central
> Commitee.  Would you puleeze disband your curent standing defensive
> force as a gesture of your commitment to a socialist revolution.  If
> you do so, you will find a wealth of resources at your disposal,
> blogs, phone trees, and some of the best mailing lists in the
> developed countries.

The job for socialists is to strengthen the resources of the working class, 
not those of the the standing army. The prospect of this army carrying out a 
coup in Venezuela, perhaps costing many innocent lives, is no joke.

Fred wrote
>Note in passing Paula's persistent reduction of imperialism to monopoly,
>enabling her to see imperialist development in any semicolonial country
>that, for example, nationalizes its oil industry.

Imperialism is not state monopoly, but monopoly capitalism, which is a 
different thing. Please see Lenin's work, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of 
(http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/index.htm) for an 
explanation of this concept.

>Where did Lenin use Paula's method to describe
>the evolution of Japan into an imperialist power.

In the same text.

>Paula does not say whether she regards Venezuela as an imperialist country,
>though I asked the question directly.

Venezuela is one of the richest and most powerful nations in Latin America, 
and one of the world's largest oil producers. I suspect it is imperialist, 
but I cannot say for sure until I know more about how Venezuelan capitalism 
operates. What I can say with a degree of certainty is 1) Venezuela is not a 
colony or a semi-colony; 2) Venezuela is a key ally of some of the world's 
top imperialist powers, China and Russia.

>In these circumstances she would not support Venezuela, she
>says, but she does not cite any scenario in which she would support

If a foreign power invaded Venezuela with the aim of occupying and 
controlling it, I would support Venezuela. I would also support the US or 
China in a similar situation. If I had been around in the 1940s, I would 
have supported France against German aggression - even though France was 
also imperialist.

>In a war between the US and Venezuela OR EVEN THE
>US AND RUSSIA, will Paula consider the defeat of "our" imperialism to be 
>lesser evil, or will she simply condemn both sides.

In WWI, did the Bolsheviks tell Russian workers that the victory of Russia's 
enemies would be a 'lesser evil'? Of course not.

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

I don't believe Cuba is socialist now; otherwise it would not need a 
standing army. I don't agree with Joaquin's argument that professional 
armies are the effective opposition to imperialism. One can only conclude 
this if one does not really believe that the popular masses are the true 
agency of radical social change.

>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.

No, it should not have been on the Republican side. It should have worked to 
bring about a socialist state, not to defend the existing bourgeois one. 
Spaniards paid for that mistake with 35 years of dictatorship, at the end of 
which Franco calmly appointed King Juan Carlos as his successor.

>"No reelection" directed against a Chavez,
>a Morales, a Peron or a Fidel is a reactionary rallying cry

It is only because the left so often falls for undemocratic regimes and/or 
strong-men personalities that the right can pose as democrats. A true 
socialist democracy in Venezuela would not have to rely on any particular 
individual being the president; and it would not want to.

>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 
>that it abolish capitalism FIRST; otherwise the country will morph into an
>imperialist itself.

This gets us to the crux of the matter. I thank Joaquin for his genuine and 
non-sectarian attempt to address this. Joaquin, I do support what you call 
REAL national liberation struggles. I just don't think that has anything to 
do with what is going on in Venezuela, China or Turkey today. Venezuela 
achieved its national liberation a long time ago. So did the United States. 
Both of these achievements were enormously progressive, in their time; yet, 
at the same time, both of them strengthened national capitalism. Economic 
development then turned these new capitalist nations into imperialist 
powers, albeit at different speeds and to different degrees. Seriously, what 
else would you expect? Wouldn't it be absurd to continue to treat the US as 
an 'oppressed' nation, just because it once fought a progressive war of 
independence? Why then do the same kind of thing with Venezuela?

Joaquin quotes Lenin in 1920:

"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

I would put the stress on the word 'now'. What was true in 1920 is not 
necessarily true today. I know Joaquin agrees with me on this; we differ 
only in our analyses of what has actually changed since then. We also agree 
that the difference  between oppressor and oppressed nation still stands. 
However, my view is that, after eight decades of world capitalist 
development, a number (not all) of what were formerly oppressed nations have 
become 'rich and strong in the military sense'. Japan was already becoming 
rich and powerful when Lenin was writing. Today, Venezuela is relatively 
rich and strong. And Turkey also has become rich and strong - an oppressor 
nation that is attacking Kurdish Iraq as we speak. China is enormously rich 
and militarily very strong. It is wrong to characterize any of these nations 
as 'semi-colonies', and if we do we will totally misunderstand what is 
happening in the world today.



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