Jugo Chavez & Whats Left?

Chris Brady chris_brady at SPAMearthling.net
Wed May 31 00:50:41 MDT 2000


José introduced an important point in his description of Venezuela’s
President Hugo Chavez as a nationalist clashing with imperialism, and
that putting “this in the framework of the "left-right" spectrum of
imperialist bourgeois politics is a misunderstanding.” Depending on
one’s purpose, I think it can be viewed in either way if one accepts the
popular perceptions, or more to the point: if one accepts the existence
of popular perceptions. José’s view is what I would call of a “higher
power” (I mean as in microscopy, not religion!).  It is correct.  It
also can be helpful to take a general, “low power” overview so as to
bring to light an analysis that can lead to a higher resolution. We
cannot take simply for granted that the popular perception is
conditioned by the capitalist media; we must engage it head on, not only
to reveal what is but how it got that way and what we can do about it.

In my initial message “Peru/Venezuela/Mexico” I alluded to a New York
Times article by Clifford Krauss.  The Krauss article was headlined
“Peru's Message: Not Class War, but Stability vs. Democracy (May 30,
2000)” and can be read in its entirety at:
http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/americas/053000peru-fujimori.html

Depending on your mood or temperament, you might find the Krauss article
amusing or infuriating.  Here are some quotes that should give you an
idea of what I mean:
Krauss wrote: “Issues that were important before the end of Communism
are not the issues any longer, and the same is true around the region.
      “Old issues of land, class conflict and resistance to imperialism
that were foremost during the waves of guerrilla insurrections,
university revolts and military coups in Peru from the 1960's into the
early 1990's are no longer setting the sparks.
      “The new dominant issue facing Peruvians is whether the nation is
best served by politicians who put democracy first, or those who put
stability first. …
      “`Now it's about whether the virtues of authoritarianism are to be
replaced by the growing desire of people for broader political
participation [illustrative quote in article].’”
      “The question crosses class and ideological boundaries. It raises
uncomfortable choices for a nation whose few experiments in democracy
brought corruption, inefficiency, instability and economic chaos.”

My first response:
Krauss’s quotes are from mouthpieces from the bourgeoisie, not from any
incendiary leftist –which he makes NOT exist in his proffered world by
paying them no attention.  Tis a familiar technique of bourgeois
reportage.

2nd:
Krauss and his ilk array the middle class moderates against the
antediluvian authoritarians because the job of the latter is concluded;
they have dutifully eliminated the leftist threat and disciplined the
workers.  The “sparks” indeed… hah, as if capitalism would intentionally
set fire to itself.  (Krauss invokes
Lenin's Iskra [Spark])

3rd:
How can democracy exist in Latin America, or anywhere else for that
matter, as long as capitalism calls the shots?  To twist around the
history of Peru and “the region” (almost a code for “rationalized
imperial portion”) as Krauss does is to ignore the fact that “the old
issues of land, class conflict and resistance to imperialism” had
everything to do with the historic struggles of popular and democratic
movements against authoritarianism.

4th:
In that context nationalism has an association with leftism, if it is a
nationalism tending towards democratic populism and not toward pandering
to the home-grown elites over flushing the country’s wealth North for
favors.

Furthermore:
You will note that I use the (dictionary) term leftism/ist primarily as
in opposition to capitalism and not necessarily Marxist, socialist, or
c/Communist.  That is because I think we should be arriving at the point
where as Marxists we regard fellow leftists not so much as antagonists
but as potential allies if not future comrades.  (That is because I was
not born a Marxist, but had Marxism “thrust upon me” [to paraphrase
Malvolio], and therefore see the development toward revolutionary
socialism as a possibility in most individuals as well as with people
generally).  Related to an emphasis on a “glass half-full” militance, I
point to the development of Fidel Castro from a nationalist leader to an
anti-capitalist internationalist and suggest that a similar potential
may exist in the future of Hugo Chavez, who has indeed been hobnobbing
with El Maximo in Cuba.  That is, I am dead sure, the reason the Church
and the Imperial Capital view his regime with more distrust than that of
a murdering “stabilizer” such as Fujimori.

This leads to another point:
The Imperium often regards as “leftist” such individuals and/or
organizations that we on this list might not accept as leftist or define
as Marxist, socialist, etc.  (“Where is the party in opposition that has
not been…” “¿Donde está el partido opositor al cual sus adversarios en
el gobierno no hayan tildado de …?”) But the mere fact that they are
categorized as left by the imperialists should be enough to stimulate a
cheer from those of us who may not subscribe to that particular section
but nevertheless maintain a tolerant opposition to the status quo. (I
would say this in the general sense, for there are some that would have
to be exceptions: e.g., Pol Pot (but then again, the “red” Pol Pot was
strengthened, perhaps facilitated, and purposefully aimed by the United
States as a weapon against “red” Vietnam.  That could be considered a
form of gross biological warfare… but, by any measure, has more to do
with the needs of capitalism than with the realization of socialism).

Ultimately, we must address the shortcomings of our allies –to help
them, to help us, to save humanity.  Today that would include both
organized labor (on the right of us) and the anarkids (to our infantile
left).

--Chris Brady







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