[Marxism] Further on the Venezuela referendum

David Walters dwalters at igc.org
Sun Jun 6 16:00:43 MDT 2004

Fred, I enjoyed reading your analyses of the  Venezuela referendum. It 
is hard to disagree with anything you state, or rather, anything 
observe going on there.

I had to laugh when you used the expression "bourgeois nationalist 
bonapartist demagogue" as the recluse of the sectarian left. However, 
once might say "bourgeois nationalist bonapartist anti-imperialist":). 
I think you hit on something very important, and something 
fundamentally different than Nicaragua (and Cuba, etc). I don't mean 
the transformation of the state, per se, but rather the way in which 
Chavez came to power versus the FSLN/NJM/J26M.

This is why, when you say the odds stacked against the working class 
because there has been no fundamental change in the state, is very 
true. A true workers gov't, brought about mass struggle of the working 
class in it's own name, would of handed power to the majority of the 
working class specifically, where Chavez does have a majority. However, 
it's telling, too, that in fact the left has to look at something you 
raised...the counter-revolutionary opposition is not some small group 
of conspirators, but is *mass-based* itself, even if it's not an 
absolute majority, which, clearly, it might become if the revolution 

Venezuela has always had a large 'middle-class', and layers of poor and 
working people that identify with the bourgeoisie, not unlike in the US 
and in Chile. In this sense Venezuela is severely divided, down the 
middle, more or less. But I'm convinced the majority of the working 
class is with Chavez and that's where 'democracy' is best expressed and 
why, I believe, the revolution with putter out if Chavez continues to 
straddle between his honest adherence to the poor and working masses 
and his loyalty to maintaining the Venezuelan state as simply the same 
but him in command.

Chavez, in my dime-store opinion, made his biggest mistake a few years 
ago when he refused to accede to his own supporters in the Constituent 
Assembly to make it sovereign. The movement for this, to take power as 
an executive from both the Supreme Court and the Congress, was 
motivated by some of his own supporters, and independents elected from 
the oil region in northwest Venezuela. He caved in to international and 
domestic capitalist pressure to limit the authority of the Constituent 
Assembly. It  was, in hindsight, a huge mistake.

I think Chavez will have to step down if he looses the referendum. As 
you state, he is a man of his word and has argued repeatedly that he 
defends the recall process.

David Walters

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