[Marxism] The Bolivarian Revolution tells us so: "People are the beginning and the end of everything"
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Fri Feb 23 18:37:11 MST 2007
The Bolivarian Revolution tells us so:
"People are the beginning and the end of everything"
By Marcelo Colussi
Luis Britto García was born in Caracas, Venezuela, in 1940. He is the
author of a vast work that encompasses 47 titles, eight of them
narrative fiction. In 1970, he won the Casa de las Américas Prize with
his collection of tales "Rajatabla." In 1979, he won again that
international distinction with his novel "Abrapalabra."
He has written 17 plays, all of them performed, and in 1980 was
awarded the Andrés Bello Latin American Prize for Drama for his work
"The Slave's Mass."
A journalist and essayist, he has published 15 essays on social
sciences, among them vast research pieces on political discourse and
the countercultures, among them "The Mask of Power" in 1989 and "The
Power Without the Mask," in 1990. Both works won the prize for
Scientific Research in Social Sciences of the Central University of
Venezuela in 1988 and the Municipal Prize for Literature (Essays) in
One of the leftists intellectuals most committed to the popular cause
throughout his life, he is currently supporting the process of the
Bolivarian Revolution. In fact, right now he is participating actively
in the Commission for Constitutional Reform, which is revising the
Venezuelan Magna Carta. In January of this year, he presented his
latest book, "Our America; Integration and Revolution."
Argenpress interviewed him to find out, from one of the most
outstanding ideologues in this process, where the revolution in
Venezuela and Latin America is headed.
Argenpress: After the fall of the Berlin Wall and years of ferocious
neoliberalism and a certain silence in the struggles of the popular
camp, not only in Venezuela but on a Latin American and even world
level, the Bolivarian Revolution makes its appearance. It is a new
source of hope for those struggles, for the left, for the progressive
forces. In that sense, how to you assess this process Venezuela is
Luis Britto García: I've always said that World War IV began in
Venezuela. WWIII was the Cold War, which culminated in the fall of the
Soviet Union and the apparent triumph of neoliberalism. World War IV
began in Venezuela on Feb. 27, 1989, with the first rebellion by an
entire nation against a neoliberal package. As a result, we have
discovered that a global extension of neoliberalism into the economic,
social, political and cultural fields is impossible.
That rebellion, it should be noted, was entirely popular. Although
many of us insisted on pointing out its imminence, it did not respond
to orders from a political or intellectual vanguard. That's the signal
that Venezuela sends: once again, people are the beginning and the end
Argenpress: The historical context of the Bolivarian Revolution after
the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the process of capitalist aperture
in China creates a scenario very different from the Cuban experience
of 1959 and the Nicaraguan experience of 1979. Knowing by experience
about the difficulty -- or impossibility -- of developing socialism in
a country, how can we understand the rise of today's 21st-Century
socialism? What model is being built? Where is this revolution headed?
Luis Britto García: Let us rather begin from the impossibility of
developing capitalism in the world. There are not enough resources to
allow the almost 200 countries in the planet to reach a development
comparable to that of the Group of Eight. For that we would need 20
planets, which would be destroyed in less than a century.
As I see it, 21st-Century socialism must start from this realization.
It is not possible to imitate that style of development, which is
founded on waste, planned obsolescence, overexploitation, consumerism
and pollution. We must develop another kind, based on austerity,
recycling, conservation and sustainability.
The Soviet Union fell because world capitalism blocked it and forced
it into an arms race that consumed its economic surplus. About China,
I would have to study that country closely to find out if its
collaboration with some capitalist enterprises has, in fact, turned it
into a capitalist country. It is a study no one in the world has
conducted in a scientific and dispassionate manner.
I have talked to European capitalists who maintain that China
continues to be, in essence, communist. In any case, 21st-Century
socialism should be based on the integration of blocs in a multipolar
world. The United States was successful in imposing a league of
imperialist powers. We must triumph by organizing a counterpart,
formed by the exploited nations.
Argenpress: It has been accurately said that "violence is the midwife
of history." All profound social changed is necessarily linked to
processes of social violence, to strong political commotions. But the
Bolivarian Revolution is a "graceful revolution," a revolution in
which no one (so far) has fired a shot. Violence, in any case, is
something that comes from the opposition, whether national or foreign,
from U.S. imperialism. For how long and to what extent will it remain
a revolution without social violence? Is it possible for opposite
classes to coexist? And how?
Luis Britto García: The violent episodes of the Bolivarian process
have been de-emphasized. The right tries to cover up, with the cloak
of oblivion, the date Feb. 27, 1989, a popular rebellion by unarmed
people that was quashed with a nationwide genocide that took thousands
of lives. The left perhaps does not sufficiently remember that Feb. 4,
1992, was a military rebellion that left numerous victims.
The putschist right premeditated several dozen murders to use them as
an excuse for the coup of April 11, 2002, and in the course of many
years it has murdered about 150 peasant leaders through the use of
paid assassins. About 150 paramilitary gunmen disguised as Venezuelan
Army soldiers were arrested in the farm of an oppositionist in the
outskirts of Caracas. Prosecutor Danilo Anderson, who investigated the
implications of the April 11 coup, was murdered with a car bomb.
The opposition has not unleashed more violence, not because it hasn't
wanted to but because it has been unable to. It is the last recourse
left for someone who has lost popular support. It is possible that, as
socialism directly affects some interests, the assassination attempts
and terrorist explosions will multiply. I do not believe in the
peaceful coexistence of antagonistic classes: the ruling classes of
Venezuela demonstrated that they don't believe in it, either.
I should add that the abundance of recourses in Venezuela could soften
some confrontations: the government could expropriate land by paying
for it generously instead of confiscating it; it could create
enterprises of social ownership that might be sources of work and
consumer goods for the large majorities; it could promote agriculture
and cattle-raising to achieve food security; it could intensify the
educational and cultural resources to educate people in the values of
Eduardo Galeano once pointed out to me that socialism emerges
everywhere from extreme destruction and misery and that a luxury
socialism could be built in Venezuela. I've never forgotten his
intelligent observation; I wish no one else would forget it.
Argenpress: We increasingly behold a process of growth in the people's
power, the power from below. In fact, that's one of the five engines
that propel the revolution, according to President Hugo Chávez. In
every way, as it happened in all experiences of socialism in the 20th
Century, the entire process is undissolubly linked to his figure, same
as happened in relation to other leaders in other circumstances: Lenin
in Russia, Mao in China, Castro in Cuba, etc.
Why is this mechanism always present? Can popular power dispense with
a leader, with a great conductor? (So far, the abovementioned
experiences seem to say no.) What would happen if those leaders
disappeared? What would happen here if Comandante Chávez disappears?
How can we understand this thing about the people's power, in the long
range? And finally: how is popular, horizontal power, participative
democracy, grassroots self-government maintained in Venezuela and
other societies that seek a change in paradigms?
Luis Britto García: The opposition has understood this so perfectly
that one of the constant elements of their message in the
communications media is the undisguised call to the assassination of
Chávez and a personal hatred toward him.
According to available testimony, the putschists of April 11 who
kidnapped him prepared to execute him. What the opposition has been
unable to understand is this: at the time of the popular nationwide
uprising on Feb. 27, 1989, Chávez was an obscure lieutenant colonel
and the people alone dismantled the basis of bipartisanship. From that
time on, neither Democratic Action nor COPEI figured again in any
election in any determining role.
On April 11, 2002, Chávez was held captive in some undisclosed place
and most of his collaborators were either in prison or hunted, yet the
people knew how to organize themselves spontaneously to restore the
legitimate government. Chávez is the focal point of a process of
popular participation. Chávez's violent disappearance would be
followed by a popular uprising on a scale never before witnessed in
Venezuela, and by an intensified radicalization. The opposition should
pray every day for his good health.
Argenpress: Venezuela is one of the largest suppliers of crude oil to
the United States economy and has enormous reserves of crude, believed
to be the world's largest. It is unthinkable that Washington should
resign itself to lose all that without going into battle. On the other
hand, the example of this revolution and its leader, Hugo Chávez, has
set off all the alarms in the White House, which sees in all this a
challenge to its historical domination in what it calls its natural
What strategies can we foresee Washington to develop in the future to
"straighten up" whatever is going poorly for the U.S. in Latin
America? And what should we do in that new scenario?
Luis Britto García: I've always said that the first casualties in the
war in Iraq fell in Caracas on April 11, 2002. The coup was an attempt
by the United States to ensure its supplies of Venezuelan oil before
striking out against Iraq. The fate of the situation in Iraq will have
a decisive influence on Venezuela. If the imperialists fail in Iraq,
as it seems most probable, they will turn against us to steal our
resources. If they win in Iraq, they will also turn against us to
consolidate a monopoly of fossil fuels that will give them control
over the entire world.
On the other hand, a reestablishment of the U.S. dominion over the
hemisphere is not as simple as it might seem. An entire group of
nations is looking for its own economic road, through Mercosur. Cuba
is living proof that the world's top empire does not dare invade a
country that has consolidated around a social project. Simply put, in
Venezuela and Latin America we must achieve a similar degree of
consolidation, which will dissuade the United States from attempting
Argenpress: To Latin America, integration in the free-trade treaties
advocated by the U.S. government is not at all convenient. What is
undoubtedly convenient is integration based on other criteria, such as
those posited by ALBA, that places popular solidarity ahead of
How and to what extent can that type of hemispheric integration be
revolutionary, be a path to socialism? In fact, your newly published
book "Our America; Integration and Revolution," broaches those topics.
How can the integration of Latin America be truly an alternative?
Luis Britto García: An integration that is not subordinated to the
United States, such as Mercosur, is a giant step forward, although it
should be noted that this bloc includes the decisive participation of
the transnationals. Also, for a while now, Mercosur has engaged in
talks toward a possible free-trade pact with the European Union.
An anecdote reveals how decisive this mutual support can be. At the
time of the oil sabotage in December 2002 and January 2003, when the
leading oil producers in Venezuela paralyzed the industry's news
service and damaged their own installations, Venezuela mobilized in
part with gasoline imported from Brazil. Later on, in March 2003, the
country returned to his historical level of production.
In my latest book, I maintain that a truly alternative integration
should be achieved from the point of view of mutual support for social
movements, political parties, governments, economies, diplomatic
entities, strategic forces and cultural creations for the purpose of
carrying out a revolution in Latin America and the Caribbean.
On the roads of dependency, social inequality and political paralysis
that we have trod for the past two centuries we shall go nowhere. Now,
at last, we're moving toward each other.
This interview was published by Argenpress of Feb. 12, 2007.
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