[Marxism] International Viewpoint on new party in Venezuela -- about as bad as could be expected

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Aug 13 10:34:50 MDT 2005

The new party is needed to oppose "some" in the government, the
Bolivarian parties, "pro-Chavez managers" and so on.  About as bad as
could reasonably be expected.  Yet another version of the Posadistas,
Simon Bolivar Brigade, and other exciting adventures of the post-Cuba
Fourth International. Aim: "to provide the kind of
democratically-organized leadership Venezuela needs."  Not an
organizational question, you may be sure, but a question of a
qualitatively different kind of leadership than Chavez.  (But don't
attack him directly -- tactics, comrades, tactics!)

A bunch of "leaders" attempting to leap over the heads of the actual
leadership of the revolution to create the REAL "revolution from below"
which will be so much better than the inadequate one that is taking
place.  You can't have the real "revolution from above," we all know,
unless there is a real "Trotskyist" party "above."

I'm quite sure the Venezuelan revolution and the Chavez leadership make
many mistakes and face many challenges.  The new party shows every sign
to me of being part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Fred Feldman

International Viewpoint
IV Online magazine : IV369 - July-August 2005 
Move to form new party
Stuart Piper 

Several hundred people packed into the Imperial Theatre in the centre of
Caracas on Saturday 9 July to launch a movement for a new revolutionary
socialist party in Venezuela. The meeting was called by the
Revolutionary Left Option (OIR), an existing regroupment of
revolutionary socialists, along with three radical trade union currents,
a student organisation and a number of independents. 

Inside the Imperial Theatre 

The mood was serious but enthusiastic as an overflowing auditorium
listened to national leaders of the union confederation, the UNT, to
leaders of the oil workers in Puerto La Cruz and the steel workers in
Puerto Ordaz, and to representatives of student organisations and the
alternative media, explain why they thought a new party was needed.

There were differences of emphasis but the general drift was the same:
the revolutionary process in Venezuela is at a crossroads, it must
either go forwards or backwards; there is resistance from some within
the government and the Bolivarian movement; in order to deepen and
radicalise the process it is indispensable to build a mass revolutionary
party with a clear socialist perspective.

In the words of the draft theses drawn up by the organisers of the
meeting, "the moment is ripe". The Venezuelan people have definitively
broken with the old bourgeois parties of the IVth Republic, and "they
are beginning to distance themselves from the new, corrupt,
clientelistic and bureaucratic parties of the Vth Republic. ...To all
these fellow Venezuelans we say: let us build our own political
organisation, just as we are consolidating other organisations of great
importance for our struggle, like the UNT, the co-operatives, the land
committees and the UBEs , in order to confront the enemies of this
revolutionary process. Now we urgently need to build a party of our own,
of the workers and of the people, in order to struggle for socialism."

Although not formally sponsoring the movement for a new party, the
meeting received important support from the legendary guerrilla leader,
Carlos Lanz, who was appointed earlier this year by President Chavez to
head up the introduction of "revolutionary co-management" in the basic
industries of the south-eastern state of Guayana. This experience,
unfolding first in the ALCASA aluminium plant and now spreading to other
state-owned factories in the area, has many of the characteristics of
workers' control and even full-blown self-management. It is undoubtedly
one of the most advanced expressions of the Bolivarian revolution. It is
also bringing together in the factories union activists and
revolutionary militants from several different traditions, including
those of the mainly Trotskyist OIR and those of Carlos Lanz' own 13
April current. He told the meeting that what they were doing at ALCASA
"prefigures the socialism of the 21st century" which President Chavez
has begun in recent months to identify as the goal of his Bolivarian
revolution. But he also pointed out that there were some in the
government deliberately trying to derail these plans for revolutionary

A leader of the electricity workers, Joaquin Osorio, described how
supposedly pro-Chavez managers in the state electricity company were
persecuting the trade unionists struggling to introduce co-management

There was also polite criticism of some of Hugo Chavez' own apparent
confusions. Referring to the president's claim last Mayday that in
Venezuela there was already a government of the workers, Gonzalo Gomez,
a founder of the Aporrea alternative news service, asked: if that is
what he thinks, then he has to tell us where the mechanisms are, that
allow Venezuelan workers to discuss and decide whether or not to pay the
foreign debt, or whether or not to devalue the currency.

It was announced that an organising committee from the sponsoring groups
would begin meeting to draw up a calendar of activities, as well as
proposals for an action plan, a programmatic platform and statutes. The
aim would be to hold a founding conference for the new party in January,
at the time of the Americas and World Social Forum in Caracas. The
movement for the new party is provisionally called UNIR, and the name
currently proposed for the party itself is the PTRS, the Workers Party
for the Socialist Revolution.

This movement for a new party has quite a bit going for it. Its
significant roots in Venezuela's industrial workplaces - clear from the
very 'proletarian' turn-out for Saturday's launch - is an important
start. So is its commitment to building a mass workers' party with a
profoundly democratic internal life, including the rights of minorities
to organise and be represented. The participation of diverse currents,
as well as the draft theses themselves, show that the movement's
ideological identity, and therefore its potential appeal, is also
broader than that of the more narrowly Trotskyist character of its main

But there is still a long way to go before this promising start can hope
to provide the kind of democratically-organised leadership the
Venezuelan process clearly needs. The movement's comparatively weak
presence in Venezuela's poor urban communities is a real problem. (In a
country where those in formal employment make up a minority of the
workforce, it not surprising that the epicentre of the Bolivarian
revolution has been in the communities and not in the workplaces.) So
too is the low proportion of women - several protested when the platform
for Saturday's launch at first sported only one woman and more than a
dozen men - and the still limited involvement of young people.

There are also big strategic and tactical challenges ahead. What exactly
should be the relationship of this new party to Chavez himself ? And if
Chavez and those close to him were to succeed in their apparent plans to
relaunch the Vth Republic Movement as a genuine mass party of the
Bolivarian revolution (with tendency rights and all), would a future
PTRS join up, or stand aside? Most fundamentally of all, what kind of
strategic vision is needed to try to build the current revolutionary
process into one of workers' power and socialist democracy?

This movement for a new party has big responsibilities. And those of us
following the process from afar have a big responsibility to support
them in every way we can.

Saturday's launch meeting heard international greetings given by
representatives from the MST and the MAS in Argentina, from the ISO in
the United States, and from the French LCR and the Fourth International.
Other organisations sent written greetings, including the MES/PSol in
Brazil and the PST in Colombia.


 Stuart Piper is a correspondent for IV in Venezuela and elsewhere in
Latin America.

More information about the Marxism mailing list