[Marxism] How not to write about Venezuela

michael a. lebowitz mlebowit at sfu.ca
Tue Aug 28 13:20:59 MDT 2007

At 10:34 AM 27/08/2007, Louis wrote:
>In the July-August International Socialist 
>Review, the theoretical journal of the 
>state-capitalist International Socialist 
>Organization, there’s an article by Lee Sustar 
>titled “What does Chávez have in store for 
>Venezuela?” He asks rhetorically if Chávez is 
>“correct in his recent statements that the ideas 
>of Marx and Lenin are outdated, and that private 
>property has to be preserved in a socialist 
>Venezuela?” He also writes “Chávez himself, 
>quoting the German revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg 
>out of context, declared that trade unions 
>should be subordinated to the socialist party­i.e., the PSUV.”
>When I asked Sustar to provide references for 
>these assertions, he replied with respect to the 
>first: “It was on Alo Presidente, which you can 
>hear online.” I have not been successful in 
>tracking this down. He also provided a link to 
>an article on aporrea.org by Miguel Angel 
>Hernández that began with this quote from Chavéz:
>     El Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela 
> (PSUV) no tomará las banderas del 
> marxismo-leninismo porque es una tesis 
> dogmática que ya pasó y no está acorde con la 
> realidad de hoy”
“tesis como la de la clase 
> obrera como el motor del socialismo y de la 
> revolución están obsoletas”
 “El trabajo hoy es 
> otra cosa, es distinto, está la informática y 
> la telemática, y Carlos Marx ni siquiera podía soñar con estas cosas.
>Roughly translated, this says:
>     The PSUV doesn’t call itself 
> “marxist-leninist” because it is a dogmatic 
> thesis that has passed and doesn’t accord with 
> the reality of today
the thesis of the working 
> class as the motor of socialism and the 
> revolution is obsolete
the worker of today is 
> another thing, is distinct, is involved with 
> information and telecommunications technology 
> and Karl Marx could not have dreamed of these things.
>Maybe curiosity killed the cat, but I am dying 
>to know what was between the ellipses in 
>Chavéz’s quoted remarks. It also might be 
>possible to make a distinction between Sustar’s 
>characterization of Chavéz saying that Marx and 
>Lenin were obsolete and his actual words, namely 
>that “The PSUV doesn’t call itself 
>“marxist-leninist” because it is a dogmatic 
>thesis that has passed and doesn’t accord with 
>the reality of today.” Calling oneself 
>“Marxist-Leninist” is pretty stupid in fact.

         And, further, the comment about 
Marxist-Leninist must be seen in the context of 
the position of the PCV (Vzlan CP) which 
officially rejected joining in the PSUV because 
this was the time for the broad anti-imperialist 
struggle whereas the (always later) struggle for 
socialism would require a Marxist-Leninist Party.
         I don't have the specific sources that 
Louis is looking for but there are transcripts of 
the 'Alo Presidente' programmes on line.  One 
recent programme (#287) from the state of Vargas 
(devoted to the idea of socialist cities) was 
described by ABN, the Bolivarian news agency on 
22 July; there, he said roughly:

“I respect deeply the thesis of Carlos Marx and 
his great contribution to the humanity with the 
discovery of socialism", affirmed Chávez from the 
place where the first socialist city of the country is being constructed.

He added: 'I am socialist, bolivariano, 
revolutionary. I respect the Marxist route, but I 
am not Marxist. I cannot share that thesis 
because that is a determinist vision of the socialism”.

He remembered that Marx, “deceived and 
manipulated, got to approve the invasion from the 
United States to Mexico and from England to India 
because he thought that was the route towards 
capitalism and that soon, as a product of the 
development of the productive forces, would enter the socialism”.

“Under that argument, we, the backward countries, 
never would arrive at the socialism because we 
would have to wait first that they invade us, 
that they develop us, and then soon to go to 
socialism”, the Chief of State explained while 
she talked by telephone with a listener.

Yes, Marx gave some details about how to go from 
capitalism to socialism, but “that capitalist 
system was very different from the wild 
Capitalism of our days and, for that reason, the 
socialism of today corresponds for us to detail it”.

Jeesh! You mean that we have to do some concrete 
analysis???? Of course, Marx wasn't a 'Marxist' either (nor was Lenin).
ps. re the 'working class':  probably means the 
organised-in-trade-union group (which some might 
view as an aristocracy of labour in Vzla); it is 
to be noted that he's communing with Negri (his 
guest for the unveiling of the constitutional proposals) these days.

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Director, Programme in 'Transformative Practice and Human Development'
Centro Internacional Miranda, P.H.
Residencias Anauco Suites, Parque Central, final Av. Bolivar
Caracas, Venezuela
fax: 0212 5768274/0212 5777231
mlebowit at sfu.ca

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