[Marxism] Fred Feldman on Jorge Martin's response

michael a. lebowitz mlebowit at sfu.ca
Tue Jun 8 10:34:54 MDT 2004

         I  agree with Fred Feldman-- both with his characterisation of 
Jorge Martin's response as comradely and also with his identification of 
(and position on) two basic issues. I think that the use of the referendum 
struggle to deepen the organisational capacity of the masses is absolutely 
critical and, in fact, is entirely consistent with what Jorge's group has 
been calling for. Revolutionary leadership is knowing when to move and how 
to select the battles which increase your forces rather than weaken them.
         One detail in relation to Jorge's account: the reported 74,000 who 
removed their signatures this time around is not necessarily an indication 
of the extent of previous fraud. A portion of those would be workers who 
were pressured originally into signing by their employers (because of the 
demand of the latter to present the Sumate cards if they wanted to keep 
their jobs), and a portion would be people who changed their mind because 
they are seeing the benefits of the social programmes. I doubt if the data 
will allow us to distinguish among these--- but the latter two groups 
should not be forgotten.
         in solidarity,

In fact, I think there are two basic issues.  One is simply, is the
Bolivarian constitution now outmoded by the advance of the struggle and
polarization (much as the bourgeois-democratic but quite radical 1940
Constitution in Cuba, which July 26 leaders were genuinely devoted at
the beginning of the revolution, became outmoded as the revolution
emerged clearly as a worker-peasant revolution, not a
bourgeois-democratic shift.  If this is true, the argument should be
made openly as Lenin did concerning the Constituent Assembly, and as
Castro did concerning the transformation of the Cuban revolution from
democratic to socialist (and democratic).  I am not convinced that
Venezuela is at that point.

Secondly, I believe that charting a road forward in Venezuela today is
best accomplished in the way it is being carried out, by the leaders and
revolutionary population joining in military training and organization
of the people, deepening the agrarian reform, measures to fight or
relieve unemployment, and so on. If there is to be confrontation, it
should be over these issues and not whether to hold the referendum.

The referendum process -- which will be a confrontation, although I
believe the Chavez government would have been wrong to provoke a
confrontation on THIS  issue -- will offer opportunities to deepen the
revolution.  And of course, the business of improving the lives of the
people ought to and I believe will continue throughout the process.  The
legitimacy of the revolution is not on hold until the votes are counted.
Fred Feldman

Michael A. Lebowitz

Professor Emeritus

Economics Department

Simon Fraser University

Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at

Residencias Anauco Suites

Departamento 601

Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1

Caracas, Venezuela

(58-212) 573-4111

fax: (58-212) 573-7724

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