[Marxism] [GreenLeft_discussion] Venezuela: The hard battle for socialism | Links

Fred Fuentes fred.fuentes at gmail.com
Mon Jul 21 11:50:14 MDT 2008

On Mon, Jul 21, 2008 at 2:39 AM, glparramatta
<glparramatta at greenleft.org.au> wrote:
> Interview with *Rafael Ramirez*, Venezuela's minister of energy and
> petroleum from /Punto Final/. Translated by *Federico Fuentes* for/
> Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

I would strongly encourage people to read the full interview at
http://links.org.au/node/532 It has caused much debate here in
Venezuela particular within the workers movement because of comments
such as these:

"Moreover, it is probable that in Venezuela the situation is even more
complex, because petroleum activity has introduced tremendous
deformations in the economic, social and cultural sphere. Here, more
than the issue of how the bourgeoisie appropriates surplus value
produced by the labour of [people], the problem is how the bourgeoisie
and imperialism appropriates petroleum rent. The issue is that
petroleum rent is a huge problem because it sweeps away the formation
of social classes. In Venezuela there is no national bourgeois of any
type. What we have is a peripheral sector that takes advantage of the
petroleum rent in order to accumulate lots of money and power. They
have captured the petroleum rent via the banking sector and financial
speculation, but they do not produce a single nail. As a consequence,
we also do not have a working class that we could assess as the
hegemonic class that will make the revolution.

The ideas put forward by Che [Guevara], in regards to how other
classes appropriate the ideology of the proletariat, are the ones we
need to apply to our reality, because we do not count on a critical
working class. Much to the contrary, the working class that exists in
Venezuela many times behaves in a profoundly conservative manner,
because it enjoys a whole set of privileges and struggles to maintain
them. In such a way that the predominant mode of production, which is
the gigantic rent that petroleum produces, is not the product of
labour and manufacturing, rather of a natural resource which at the
same time captures a global rent. If the price of petroleum shoots
above US$130 a barrel [it is now over $140], some $11billion will
enter Venezuela.

Summarising: there are no workers, there is no national bourgeoisie,
there is nothing. What exists is a group of people who live off
petroleum rent."

This has created an interesting debate in the context of what has been
occurring recently in the workers movement and the alliance with
national bourgeoisie announced on June 11, which even more so has been
a big point of discussion amongst chavistas.

It is part of an ongoing discussion. A similar but different viewpoint
is outlined by PSUV vice president Muller Rojas in his interview with
Links: http://links.org.au/node/320

Question - The party began its process of formation through local
units organised on a territorial basis, and while there has been talk
of creating social fronts to organise and integrate people on a
sectoral basis -- workers, peasants, students etc. -- into the party
through these fronts, until now this has not occurred. Some have said
that this has led to a situation where the presence of the organised
working class is not felt within the new party. What is your opinion
in this regard?

"When we talk about the working class here in Venezuela, or better
said, when you talk about the working class, you are referring to the
idea of a working class in a developed country. Here in Venezuela the
working class represents an enclave of capitalism, because the working
class, if we want to put it one way, is a privileged class if we
compare it to those sectors that have not been incorporated into

Those sectors, which represent 40% of the population, were often
viewed by traditional left organisations as falling within the
category of lumpenproletariat, but they are not lumpenproletariat
because they do not live off other people's work, they live off their
own labour, which is not based on accumulation but simple subsistence:
they work to subsist, without accumulating.

That was one of the discussions we had in my party [Causa R]. A
current emerged within the party, led by Andrés Velásquez, who
belonged to the working class, that considered that those excluded
people were lumpenproletarians; in the same category as thieves and
bankers, who are lumpenproletarians according to Marx's thesis because
they live off other peoples' labour.

So to talk about an industrial proletariat here in Venezuela, when 40%
of the labor force is not incorporated into a job, has no meaning. Our
non-privileged class, our class is that sector that has been
marginalised from society, which represents 40% of the population and
which we have to incorporate into society so that they can live like

The biggest union federation that dominated the trade union movement
in the country, which was much more powerful than the left, than the
Partido Comunista and my party,[2] which carried out important union
work, was a union federation whose interests corresponded to the
interests of the bosses, it did not respond to the interests of the
workers. It was a totally corrupt organisation that, together with the
bosses, exploited the workers.

Workers here in Venezuela have their own house, car. They have the
characteristics of what we could call the petty bourgeoisie: a worker
in Venezuela was a privileged person. Moreover, the working class in
Venezuela had living conditions in some cases superior to that of the
professional middle class. The oil workers here in Venezuela lived in
much better conditions than a doctor or an engineer working for the
state, and this situation continues today, that has not changed. Now,
can someone really think that within those people who live with that
standard of living a revolutionary spirit can exist? The revolutionary
spirit exists in that group of people who were excluded from
Venezuelan political and social life."

In solidarity

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