[Marxism] Socialist Action: Chavez projects a non-Marxist 'petrosocialism' in Venezuela

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Tue Aug 21 20:23:35 MDT 2007

In the 1960s, Cuba was the acid test which defined where one stood 
in relationship to a living revolution which had not been forseen. 

Today Venezuela provides another acid test for tendencies which 
self-describe as revolutionary. The paper of Socialist Action
has been on a campaign footing against Chavez all along, and is 
today continuing and deepning its course against the Bolivarian
revolutionary process, as this from its current newspaper shows.
Socialist Action has never, at any point, supported even one 
initiative taken by the Bolivarian government.

These comments, posted not long after Venezuela's television had
Cuban revolutionary Celia Hart, Peruvian revolutionary Ricardo
Napuri, and Leon Trotsky's grandson Esteban Volkov presented on 
national television, gives sterile perfectionism a bad name.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California

Chavez projects a non-Marxist ‘petrosocialism’ in Venezuela
by Gerry Foley / August 2007 issue of Socialist Action Newspaper


Chavez himself has chosen this moment to declare that the
"Twenty-First Century Socialism" he offers has nothing to do with

This statement was commented on July 27 by the Aporrea website, an
independent left website that supports the Chavez government in an
interview with Stalin Perez Borges, a leader of the radical
trade-union federation, the CUT, who has joined Chavez’s new party,
the United Venezuelan Socialist Party (PSUV) : "Well, the president
said in the last "Aló Presidente," the Venezuelan Socialist Party
will not take up the banners of Marxism-Leninism, because this is a
dogmatic thesis whose time is past and it does not suit today’s
reality. . . .

“Moreover, in relation to the role of the working class, he said:
‘The theses that the working class is the motor force of socialism
and revolution are obsolete. 
 Work today is different, it is the
information and telecommunications industry. Karl Marx could not even
dream of these things.’"

It is certain that the PSUV, which Chavez has said is an essential
instrument for transforming the country, is not a Leninist Party. In
a few months, it has signed more than 5 million new members, a major
section of the country’s adult population. Such a party cannot be
even a social democratic Party. It can only be a state party, a
populist party.

The union leader responded to Chavez’s dismissal of the working class
by noting that it was the workers who saved the radical president
when the local capitalists and imperialists tried to overthrow him.

As for Chavez’s denial of Marxism, labels of course are not decisive.
But his taking the trouble to declare that the socialism that he
advocates cannot be Marxist amounts essentially to a guarantee to the
capitalists and their imperialist big brothers that Chavez does not
really intend to dismantle capitalism, and that invocations of
socialism are and will remain vague.

In fact, Chavez’s obituary of Marxism came at the same time as the
retiring minister of defense, Raúl Isías Baduel, declared in a speech
that Chavez’s socialism must not be contaminated with Marxism. The
New York Times article referred to above said that this statement
aroused an uproar in the military.

It seems, in fact, to have indicated that the base of reaction in the
armed forces has not been eliminated, nor therefore the danger of a
future coup, or at least right-wing threats to keep Chavez from
beyond the framework of what is tolerable to the local capitalists
and their foreign backers.

Thus, at this point it seems doubtful if Chavez’s reforms will go
further unless he changes his strategy and his definitions, or unless
a new leadership arises in the country.

The leaders of the radical wing of the union movement—Perez Borges,
who joined the PSUV, and Orlando Chirinos, who did not—have been
increasingly critical of Chavez. They are obviously facing a more and
more difficult task of addressing the political and organizational
weaknesses of the radicalization that has been developing since the
Chavez regime came into office.


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