[Marxism] Chavez's return: what is to be done?

Manuel Barrera mtomas3 at hotmail.com
Wed Jul 6 07:36:50 MDT 2011

Owen Richards translates Antonio Aponte (El Grano de Maíz blog): "We must not fall into triumphalism. In the midst of the euphoria, the side that reflects most, the camp that plans for the future, will ultimately be victorious. We must not forget that the empire’s greed never sleeps. We must refine theory – this is essential and fundamental. We must never forget that a Revolution cannot stray far from theory, from the ideology that sustains it. Theory, ideology, is the source of every victory and defeat. Ideological distractions have done such damage to the revolutionary march and have already shown their impotence. With them it’s not possible to shape society, to give sentiment strategic consistency. It is necessary to consolidate a social and political organization that underpins the building of socialism, an organization that forms a national fabric starting from the finest capillaries and going all the way up to the government and its leader."

Sounds like someone is starting to get uncomfortable with all the idolatry to an undeserving demagogue and rightly so. There is only one thing great about capitalist reformist government of Chavez; it is providing the impetus for ferment in the direction of socialist revolution. It seems to me that the reason for all the difficulty among many of our comrades regarding the struggle in Libya (yes, immediately to oppose U.S. imperialist intervention) is this rather failed model of the "big leader" to lead the masses to revolution. Too many are either forgetting or conveniently ignoring the fact that the only real revolutionary force behind successful revolutions have ALWAYS been the masses themselves and not the leaders that were, in many cases, "thrown up" to lead those struggles. The problem with "big leaders" is that they can get assassinated, defeated, or most devastating, Bought Off. And, in some cases when they are able to stay long, they overstay and to some degree  prevent the ability of the masses to build even stronger leaderships--yes, I am indeed speaking of Cuba; does anyone here really believe it is useful to have one's brother become the source of "new" revolutionary leadership? Doesn't it at least show a weakness in developing mass revolutionary leadership?

Perhaps it is my own impatience speaking, but a revolutionary process though necessarily deliberate need not be so stunted as we are seeing by the development and continued cultism. "Bolivarian" revolution? Seriously? Is that the tradition we need to uphold "theoretically" never mind philosophically? A "big leader" of the past whose objective was the bourgeois revolution? While, of course, I can see the strategic value of uniting "all of Latin America" behind a revolutionary struggle to remove itself from the grip of capitalist exploitation, I fail to see the value in its panacea. More to the point, does anyone here really trust Hugo Chavez to do anything but maintain a cult of personality no matter how "socialist"? I fail to see the value of whole-hearted support to a guy who dances with Ahmedinejad and praises murderers like Qadaffi and Assad, especially when he seems never to have been that present when any democratic struggles have erupted beyond distant and sporadic press releases of feigned support (at best).

I submit that the road forward, especially in América Latina, is to support the growth of mass leadership (in my view, what is happening in Spain and across Europe with the Indignados is an emerging model that needs scrutiny) not continued building around big leaders, no matter how principled. This curse of cultism has its rather European roots in the history of religious conquest more than the military one.  It's time for  "el Pueblo de Barro", "las parias de la Tierra", to take the stage. I've had quite enough of the heartbreak that comes with the "revolutionary leader of the masses".  		 	   		  

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