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

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Aug 13 19:20:36 MDT 2005

David writes:

Fred writes that the new party is opposed to "pro-Chavez managers". No,
it doesn't. You are wrong. Its says *supposedly* <"pro-Chavez
managers">, ergo, just the *opposite* of what you are stated. Here is
the important paragraph:

"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

Fred replies:
David makes a good catch here. The additional word changes the meaning
significantly, although not as radically as David indicates.
"Supposedly" does not mean "fake" but merely leaves the question open,
as this -- supposedly the revolutionary socialist party in Venezuela --
does throughout, at least if this report is accurate.

They are opposed to "some" in the government.  Who? They don't say.  Is
Venezuela in a political situation where names can't be named?  Does
this group face repression if they say who they are against and who they
are for?  Isn't that something that a revolutionary socialist party is
supposed to do?

They criticize Chavez's "apparent confusions" from a speech that isn't
quoted and I haven't read, and the criticism appears to constitute a
sharp criticism of his course.  

The only pro-Chavez comment is from a former guerrilla fighter who has
been an official of the government. Frankly, to my reading ear, he comes
across as a little on the defensive in this gathering, but admittedly
that's just my ear.

David chides me sweetly: "Or are you taking a Walter Lippmann
'head-in-sand' approach so that all these nasty issues can just
disappear?"  I am not trying to make any of the nasty issues disappear.
But I do note that that seems to be the approach of this group to the
"nasty issue" of Hugo Chavez's leadership of the revolution, a VERY bad
sign in my opinion.  

[I assume we have concluded the discussion over the baiting of Walter

David himself does a deft job of disappearing the nasty Chavez issue in
his response to one of my comments. He writes: "The article seems to
show a discussion among trade unionists, socialists and Marxists that
*support* the revolution, not 'tactically' as Fred projects in his own
insecurity about anyone suggesting deviant political behavior."

But I never suggested that their support for the revolution was only
tactical. Noting a summary of their programmatic aims in the article, I
wrote: "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!)"

David responds by disappearing the reference to Chavez and replacing it
with a claim, which would be slanderous from anything I know, that they
only "tactically" support the revolution.  Apparently they are not the
only ones who find the Chavez issue anxiety-inducing.

David writes: "You write that the new party is opposed to the Bolivarian
parties. No, it's not, according the article, it's discussing how to
relate to them, how the fit in, etc."

Here is what the article describes the new group as saying on the
Bolivarian parties: "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

Nothing about "how to relate" and no suggestion at all that they should
"fit in." Instead the new party is implicitly counterposed to the whole
political movement coming out of the fifth republic (the Chavez regime).
Further the new party is projected as a pure workers or labor-party type
organziation, with nothing that indicates a nationalist or "Bolivarian"

David Walters talks extensively about the right to criticize and the
right to organize around their differences. Although his attacks are
directed at me, the overall content could indicate that their right to
do this is an issue in Venezuela, or likely to become one.  There is no
sign of this as yet.

What is involved is not workers hashing out problems but the formation
of the "revolutionary socialist party" in a country experiencing a
revolution.  There's no law saying they must support or oppose Chavez.
Why can't they say what their position is? 
And if they are unable to state their position on the head of state, how
can they possibly anywhere near ready to give rise to a revolutionary
socialist party.

The problem they seem to be having is not the danger that they will be
silenced, but the obstacles that taking a clear position might mean for
the growth of their party.  Beecause of the support for Chavez that
exists among working people and the poor, whom some advanced cadres may
regard as politically confused  -- those sad cases who declare their
love for him or call him "papa" and so on.

David, who seems to have run into a momentary block on accurate citing,
says that my calling the new group Posadistas was "disgusting."
Disgusting or not, that's not what I said.  But I did describe them as
"Yet another version of the Posadistas, Simon Bolivar Brigade, and other
exciting adventures of the post-Cuba Fourth International."

In fact, however, I may have been to quick to load responsibility for
this outfit on the Fourth International.  The author of the article, at
least, noticed the hole in the bucket that David himself is in denial
about: "There are also big strategic and tactical challenges ahead. What
exactly should be the relationship of this new party to Chavez himself?"

The main real political issue at the conference seemed to be "workers
control." Is this the central political axis of class struggle in
Venezuela today? "Workers control" usually arises out of fights around
other questions that pose the necessity for the workers to take over the
operations at plants -- the bosses strike being one prominent example
and recent nationalizations another.  But workers control is not an end
in itself, it is a weapon in the class struggle.  Yet it seems to emerge
here outside of a braoder political framework -- except perhaps as a
counter for Chavez's "confusions."

The International Viewpoint ended with a declaration that everyone
(presumably every supporter of the Venezuelan revolution) who is
watching the process from afar should support this group. But I see no
convincing reason here why I should do so.

Frankly, this seems to me to be a group that is going off on a sectarian
course vis a vis the revolution and in particular its leadership and
national character. I suspect some kind of "councilist" or "workers
control" bender. I think this arises at least in part out of problems
that the revolution is having -- involving matters like the partial
stymying of the land reform in some areas (at least as of a month ago or
so) and divisions in the government etc.  Frankly, this group does not
strike me as a healthy response to these problems but a symptom of them.

I want to thank David for catching the inadequate quotation and helping
me realize that my attempt to get away with a few quick dismissive
comments on this group would not work.  Such, in part, is the
collaborative nature of sharp political debate.
Fred Feldman

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