[Marxism] Venezuela debate email re-formatted (hopefully)

Andrew Splane andrew_splane at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 10 20:22:51 MDT 2005

Sorry about the formatting last time, hope this is better:
It is pure hair-splitting for Joaquin, Michael and Andy to make such a fuss ("Arrogance!" "Pomposity!" Ignorance!") about the title of the Socialist Worker article on the growing unity of Venezuela's revolutionary socialist Left. The article makes crystal clear that the Venezuelan Left goes far beyond the militants represented at the July 9 conference. If you want to have a debate with the ISO about Venezuela, state capitalism, or whatever other subject, please give your rhetorical fire-and-brimstone a rest and try to focus on actually debating on the merits. Apparently Joaquin wants to close down this debate even taking place, as he's decided he opposes socialists in the US "taking all sorts of positions about strategies and tactics in other countries and most of all in third world countries". Yet... he sees no contradiction in clearly staking out his own position: that fighting openly for workers' power in Venezuela, as do Orlando Chiniro and his comrades in the UNT, is
 counter-revolutionary! Joaquin writes: 
Calling on "the Venezuelan working class to take state power" is just an algebraic and abstract way --a shamefaced way-- of saying "Down with Chavez!" 
This kind of nonsense reeks of exactly the kind of dogmatic Stalinist method of the past that Chavez himself has made clear must be avoided at all costs in fighting for the socialism of a new century. The thing to understand about Venezuela today is that events are not static. Precisely because of what David correctly called the "wonderful heterogeneity" of struggle, debates have opened up about what the new socialism should look like and how it should be organized for and fought for. Everybody understands the very important role Chavez has personally played in this, not least by daring to call for a socialist alternative!  And of course socialists in the US should be very modest about the role we can play in solidarity with the struggle in Venezuela-- although we need to do everything we can, beginning with exposing our own rulers' plots against the government. 
At the same time, the revolutionary Marxist tradition has a contribution to make to the debate about what socialism is. Among Lenin's most important arguments was that instead of lending every national awakening "communist coloring," socialists should fight to build mass revolutionary workers' parties that could help guide the fight for a society based on workers' power. If Joaquin believes that one man, Hugo Chavez, has eradicated the need for such a mass revolutionary socialist party in Venezuela, he should argue that position instead of slandering and distorting the position of the ISO. I am personally very enthusiastic to read about the growing unity of key union militants in the UNT who believe that building a new revolutionary party based on workers' power is on the agenda in Venezuela. I think they may have something to teach us. 

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