[Marxism] Re Tariq Ali on the Chavez victory

Marvin Gandall marvgandall at rogers.com
Wed Aug 18 13:01:13 MDT 2004

Scotlive wrote:

> In a message dated 8/18/2004 2:13:52 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
> michele at maui.net writes:

> Is this is a reformist message, flat out? A stagist message? Can he do it?
> It might be either. As yet we just do not know. It seems very likely that
> Chavez is taking a lot of advice from Fidel, hopefully this includes
advice on
> political strategy. There's no doubt that the opposition (backed by the
CIA) is
> determined to do whatever it takes to get rid of Chavez and bring his
> Bolivarian Revolution to a halt. The fact is, however, that in Venezuela
there hasn't
> been a revolution, which means that every reform and gain made is
> Chavez will have to move at some point from a social-democratic, reformist
> position to a socialist, revolutionary one at some point or risk disaster.
> is cluttered with examples of just such a scenario as presently exists in
> Venezeula ending in defeat, with disasterous consequences. Chile,
> Greece, Spain...Let's hope that Venezuela doesn't join them.
> Scot

Why do you suppose Chavez will "have to move from a social-democratic,
reformist position to a socialist, revolutionary one at some point or risk

And what do you consider moving to a "socialist, revolutionary position"
entails in the context of Venezuelan politics? Interrupting the oil supply
to the US? Expropriating US corporate affiliates in Venezuela? Sending
military advisors and arms to Latin American guerrilla movements?

My own view is that the US won't do more than it is currently doing
(unsuccessfully) to squeeze and undermine the Chavez government so long as
the latter refrains from doing any of the above. On the other hand, I think
the US will be forced to accept any further measures the government may take
to alter class relations in Venezuela, including a radical land reform. The
Venezuelan bourgeoisie and landowners might like to launch a civil war in
defence of their privileges, which would raise the issue of their
expropriation, but I think the US would discourage them from embarking on
this course -- both because of the conspicuous weakness the Venezuelan
bourgeoisie has already demonstrated in three elections and one coup, and
especially because of oil. An interruption of the oil supply resulting from
civil war or other turmoil in Venezuela is much more significant to the US
than an interruption in the supply of bananas (Guatemala), sugar (Cuba), or
nutmeg (Grenada). In Cuba, of course, the inspiring example of a successful
armed struggle, the nationalization of US interests, and the support of the
USSR, helped shape US policy -- considerations which are absent in the
present case.

The Chavez government does not consider it in its interests to tamper with
US oil shipments, nationalize the economy, or promote armed insurrection
elsewhere. It is seeking a more just distribution of capitalist profits from
foreign trade and domestic production, which places it squarely in the
global justice movement alongside Brazil, India, China, and the other poor
countries who are agitating for a "New Deal" on the international level. Its
aim is to redistribute property and to raise the living standards of the
Venezuelan masses without expropriating the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, ie,
without moving to socialism. Unlike yourself, I think the likelihood is that
it will be allowed to proceed in this direction by a Bush or Kerry
administration dependent on Venezuelan oil, provided it continues to retain
the support of the Venezuelan masses. Of course, if there is a generalized
crisis in the world economy, which the capitalists cannot contain as they
did in the 30s, then Chavez, along with many others, will "have to move from
a social-democratic, reformist position to a socialist, revolutionary one"
in order to escape the disaster.

But Chavez and Ali were both forthright and correct in stating this was not
a "realistic" perspective for now (I think this also reflects the Cuban
advice to Venezuela) and in their characterization of the Bolivarian
Revolution as reformist --radically so, but still reformist.

Marv Gandall

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