Venezuela today and "mixed economy"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at
Thu Sep 26 03:11:40 MDT 2002

Re: Venezuela

I think Louis' suggestion that the masses in Venezuela are becoming more
alienated from the Chavez government because of the deepening economic
crisis is open to factual challenge -- and requires
factual proof, not simply derivation from an economic premise.

My own impression, including from reading the capitalist media,  the
on-the-spot articles in the Militant, and the other limited sources
available to me as an English-language reader, is that Chavez still has
broad and  active support among the most oppressed and exploited working
people, precisely among those most devastated by the crisis,  and that this
support takes the form in part of growing demands on the government to take
measures in defense of  the living standards of the workers and farmers
against the ruling oligarchy -- and the capitalist-landlord oligarchy still
rules Venezuela.
Nor do I think that the primary or dominant question facing revolutionary
fighters in Venezuela right now  is the overturn of capitalist property
relations.  Despite, for example, the Militant's judgment that the
"strongman," bourgeois character of Chavez's course  is determined primarily
by the fact that capitalist property relations are not being dismantled, I
believe that the tasks, including  in the realm of property relations, are
determined by the current balance of class forces and the level of
preparedness and consciousness of the masses.

>From this standpoint I would consider the carrying out  of  the
bourgeois-democratic land reform officially adopted by the regime, or
enforcing the laws favoring fishermen to be big steps forward even though
these actions would hardly overturn or even threaten, in any immediate way,
capitalist social relations.

I also look for battles over
raising, legally or in other ways, the minimum wage, providing housing for
the poorest workers, the fight against illiteracy, issues involving racial
discrimination,  and,
in general the assertion of the human dignity and right to equality of the
masses of Venezuelans who have experienced true second-class citizenship --
at best --
under oligarchic bourgeois democracy.

Responding to the oncoming U.S. imperialist war on Iraq will also be an
important challenge.

>From what I can see, pressure from below for changes has increased
rather than lessened in the past period,  and the government and its
representatives continue to advocate them even though implementation has
often been sparse or inconsistent..

The information in the Times article shows that, in Venezuela as in other
including the United States, capitalism is getting into deeper trouble and
exacting a higher toll from working people.  But is this leading to a lower
level of class struggle -- as can definitely happen in some circumstances --
or a higher one?

Right now, it seems to me, the level of struggle and political
radicalization of working people is rising, not declining in Venezuela --
and not only in Venezuela but in Brazil and Bolivia as well.

I have never been fond of the phrase "mixed economy."  For one thing, every
country in the world has one.  The United States has one, and the state,
"socialized" element in the mix is going to increase, not decline, in coming
years and at the demand of the capitalist rulers, not just the plundered

Cuba has a mixed economy today.  Everyone recognizes that.  But it had a
mixed economy under Batista, and when
Cujba had a socialist revolution, and not just today when important
concessions have had to be made to capitalist and potentially capitalist
elements, resulting in sharpening class distinctions and tensions.

The idea of a permanent SYSTEM  of mixed economy has basically served as an
apology for
the continuation of capitalist rule and the dominance of capitalist property
relations and for freezing the class struggle on the basis of   permanent
collaboration between the proletariat and
peasantry on the one side and the exploiters on the other..

The issue  is not mixed economy --  I don't think anyone alive today will
see the end of that -- but which class rules, and which class interests are
reflected in the dominant class relations.  I assume there will be elements
of "mixed economy" as long as there are classes. This is not, however,  the
same as saying forever.  Workers and their allies will be fighting for years
to come, even after the overturn of capitalism and sometimes very patiently,
to overcome these conditions.

Venezuela has a mixed economy today and, when the workers and
peasants overturn capitalism at some point in the future, it will still have
one. In my opinion,  phraseology about mixed economy as though it were a
particular "economic system"-- although based on undeniable
realities that are present universally --- tends to obscure  rather than
questions about the poltiical direction of the class struggle in a given
Fred Feldman

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