[Marxism] inferences from that Ultimas Noticas interview
michael a. lebowitz
mlebowit at sfu.ca
Thu Feb 22 12:35:26 MST 2007
Nestor wrote the following re my interview published in Ultimas Noticias:
>Translation: Lebowitz pointed out that President
>Hugo Chávez himself has said that he once
>believed that [a human capitalism] was possible.
>"It might be possible in theory, but not in
>practice, because the oligarchy, here, won't
>accept it. They were very happy to live along
>with exploitation and poverty while earnings were allowed to flow Northwards"
>Thus, in order to bring to effect a revolution
>which -in theory- will accomplish things that
>historically had been the lot of the "bourgeois
>revolution", socialism becomes a necessity. That
>is, national revolution is a necessity and
>socialism the single way to bring it to effective realization.
In 'Build it Now', I proposed that the
individual measures involved in the 49 Laws
introduced by Chavez in 2001 were not challenges
to capitalism as such but that the whole was
greater than the sum of its parts taken by
themselves, and that the oligarchy (and some of
the Chavist layers) suddenly realised that Chavez
was serious about changing things. There's an
important omission in Nestor's translation,
though: I was quoted as saying that Maybe it was
possible theoretically but not in practice
because the oligarchy here was not prepared to
accept that and it had support from imperialism,
which was quite happy to live with exploitation,
poverty as long as the profits flowed north.
Ie., the part about imperialism was left out.
But, that raises a very critical point.
I was simply recounting what happened in this
Venezuelan case, and I think that is
indisputable--- Chavez's initial conception was
not to build socialism, and he was driven in this
direction. I think, though, that it is a mistake
to draw from this the universal lesson that
Nestor draws. After all, imperialism learns,
too--- it adjusts to the correlation of forces.
Capitalism can live with social democracy, and it
does when it feels it has to, when to do
otherwise as a tactic is counterproductive. We're
not hearing echoes of the 'alliance for progress'
at this point, but the courting of the 'good
left' of Latin America surely points to the
flexibility of capital's response. Can
imperialism not live with a Brazilian bourgeois revolution?
Michael A. Lebowitz
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Currently based in Venezuela.
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