[Marxism] DW's questions about venezuela

michael a. lebowitz mlebowit at sfu.ca
Mon Nov 27 12:48:35 MST 2006

David Walters asked a few questions and asked specifically for my reaction.

The creation of a single-pro-Chavista party. From "what I hear" there are good
things and bad things about this proposal, and, the fact that almost nothing
has been done to make this a reality since Chavez popped this question about a
year ago. One, the main Chavista "parties" are electoral formations born out of
traditional Venezuelan electoral political super-structure and in and of
themselves hardly represent much of a change. There seems to be a lot of hatred
*by Chavistas* toward the Chavista parties now "in power". So, one argument is
that a new party, united, could help clean house of the careerists and
ultra-bureaucrats that dominate the electoral wing of Bolivarian revolution.
What do people think?

See the recent interview with me in Green Left Weekly (reprinted on 
venezuelanalysis) as well as the one due out shortly in socialist 
worker. In a word, the push for a unique party with the given balance 
of forces among the chavists would at this point be a major obstacle 
to advance of a revolutionary process. In Build it Now, I talk about 
the problem of those who want 'Chavez without socialism'. They won't 
disappear simply because you declare a new party is to be created.

Also, along these lines, HOW is this supposed to happen? In what way? Suppose
some groups try to maintain their own existence outside a supra-Chavista party?
The PSR does this now, even though it's essentially a socialist lobbying group
of the UNT's dominant faction...they would never join such a new creation as I
see it, and that goes for some of the larger formations in Congress now as

Chavez's desire for a unique party presumably reflects the 
dysfunctional character of the MVR, but it is hard to see how 
anything like this could even begin to work unless it was a broad 
front, which would be inclusive; however, the MVR would have to play 
by the rules (and there's no sign--- certainly not in the miserable 
electoral campaign they have monopolised--- that they are willing to 
do that). Incidentally, I don't know details but I've heard that the 
PSR has split.

The New Rich. This is a point I don't think we've ever discussed here, and
something I'm more than willing to be educated on. I've read that there are now
more millionaires in Caracas than *ever* before. The so-called 
"Pro-Chavez Rich"
make their money servicing the oil industry, either directly as sub-contractors
or as financiers. It *seems* that Venezuelan Finance Capital has thrown their
lot in with the Bolivarian Revolution. Makes sense on a strictly
profit-and-loss outlook...they are financing the Revolution and getting rich
doing it. I don't know if this ever comes up among the discussions inside the
revolutionary movement, but I'm curious. I did a search on apporea.org and
could find much. One would think *someone* would make this an issue.

It's necessary not to identify the growth of luxury consumption with 
the growth of a new Bolivarian oligarchy. The economy is booming and 
there's lots of money around in the hands of the usual suspects. So, 
that is not the measure of the growth of a 'pro-chavez rich'. There 
are small and medium capitalist firms that do benefit directly 
from  the government, and that is part of the mixed strategy of the 
government which at this stage is drawing upon such firms because 
there are few alternatives. However, that all noted, there is in my 
view no question about a would-be new Bolivarian oligarchy emerging 
among some leading Chavists, and (as I say in the SW interview) that 
this is the immediate threat to the progress of the revolution. 
(Well, the immediate threat is the election itself, and I think the 
incoherence of the Chavist campaign reflects the contradictions 
within the chavist camp.)

Hope this helps.

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) 573-6333, 571-1520, 571-3820 (or hotel cell: 0412-200-7540)

fax: (58-212) 573-7724

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