[Marxism] Venezuela exchanges

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Nov 26 08:10:52 MST 2006

 From Doug Henwood interview with Tariq Ali 

Tariq Ali: So the reforms which he has pushed 
through of using the oil money to create
know people in the states sometimes get shocked 
when I say this but look he is very radical in 
attacking imperialism and all that but the 
internal reforms which are taking place in 
Venezuela today are a combination of Roosevelt's 
New Deal and social democratic reforms which were 
pushed through in every European country after 
the Second World War. [Presumably, Ali is referring to Western Europe.]

Doug Henwood: So this is what he means by 21st century socialism?

Tariq Ali: Yeah, that's what he means. It is left 
social democratic reforms. And he has said that 
to me a number of times that we are not living in 
an epoch of proletarian revolution. It is just 
crazy to think you can just jump over everything and do that.


PEN-L thread beginning on 11/3:

Doug Henwood: I interviewed Tariq Ali the other 
week for my radio show, and finally got to 
broadcast it last night; it'll be up on my web 
archive today. Tariq speaks with Chavez fairly 
often, and says that Chavez regularly says that 
we are not living in a revolutionary epoch, and 
all we can accomplish now is a left social 
democratic set of reforms. "We cannot leap" 
beyond history, he says - and Castro reportedly 
agrees. This is what Chavez means when he talks about 21st century socialism.

Michael Lebowitz reply: Bunk.

Doug Henwood: Could you elaborate? Tariq says he got this directly from Chavez.

Michael Lebowitz: You could start by looking at 
'The Revolution of Radical Needs: Behind the 
Bolivarian Choice of a Socialist Path', the 
concluding chapter of my 'Build it Now: Socialism 
for the 21st Century'. Suffice it to say that 
Tariq wrote about the basic New Dealism of Chavez 
way back (Venezuela being a wonderful Rorschach 
test in which the casual visitor gets to see what 
he wants), and it is certainly possible that 
Chavez has said something like that in a 
conversation with Tariq (he's a very agreeable 
guy). But you need to know a bit more before you 
say, 'This is what Chavez means when he talks 
about 21st Century socialism.' Of course, for 
foreign consumption (especially before an 
election), spreading the word that we're all just 
chickens here, boss, can't hurt much.


Perry Anderson: What kind of stance should NLR 
adopt in this new situation? Its general 
approach, I believe, should be an uncompromising 
realism. Uncompromising in both senses: refusing 
any accommodation with the ruling system, and 
rejecting every piety and euphemism that would 
understate its power. No sterile maximalism 
follows. The journal should always be in sympathy 
with strivings for a better life, no matter how 
modest their scope. But it can support any local 
movements or limited reforms, without pretending 
that they alter the nature of the system. What it 
cannot-or should not-do is either lend credence 
to illusions that the system is moving in a 
steadily progressive direction, or sustain 
conformist myths that it urgently needs to be 
shielded from reactionary forces: attitudes on 
display, to take two recent examples, in the 
rallying to Princess and President by the 
bien-pensant left, as if the British monarchy 
needed to be more popular or the American 
Presidency more protected. Hysteria of this kind should be sharply attacked.

Full: http://www.newleftreview.net/A2092

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