[Marxism] Chavez and Socialism

audradavid at aol.com audradavid at aol.com
Sun Jun 24 11:18:32 MDT 2012

Some socialists continue to believe that Chavez's rhetoric, in the absence of an actual transer of class power, constitutes steps towards socialism. As if socialism is an issue for a political campaign rather than a revolution.

Message: 14
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2012 19:08:00 +1000
From: Stuart Munckton <stuartmunckton at gmail.com>
To: greenleft_discussion at yahoogroups.com,
	venezuela_solidarity_network at yahoogroups.com, 	Activists and scholars
	in Marxist tradition <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Subject: [Marxism] Federico Fuentes: Defying rumours, Chavez launches
	campaign, program for socialism
	<CAGVHtRRUugqwp_N9bpHOJfU6whg8P6LjfPkv4zMk78C8iicSZQ at mail.gmail.com>
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Here are the key points of Chavez's five-point program with my responses:

[1A] The first is consolidating Venezuela’s political, economic, social and cultural independence. This requires: preserving sovereignty over Venezuela’s natural resources and its wealth; developing the country’s scientific and technological capacities; and strengthening “national and Latin American identity, starting from the Bolivarian principle that ‘the Homeland is America’.”

Response: There is nothing in this point that a liberal capitalist or petty-bourgeois nationalist couldn't support. It has little or nothing to do with socialism. In fact, in the absence of working class power, it's a program for national capitalism

[1B] This objective, the document says, also requires deepening the alliance between the people and the military to defend the country from outside aggression.

Response: Socialists should shudder at this. The premise that the army is a force independent of the people is part of a formula for future military rule. A socialist program would involve abolishing the military.

[2A] Together with consolidating national independence, the program proposes as its second objective the construction of 21st century socialism.
Response: Warning bells should sound any time we see an adjective like "21st century" in front of the word "socialism." Usually this means liquidating the class content of socialism, which is what Chavez is doing.
[2B] Chavez wrote: “We should not fool ourselves: the socio-economic formation that continues to prevail in Venezuela is of a capitalist and rent-taking character …
Response: Correct. To which we must add that it is a capitalism that Chavez has presided over for 14 years.

[2C] “Socialism has only begun to implant its own internal dynamic among us.”

Response: The "internal dynamic" of socialism is working class power in the economy from bottom to top. There is no indication, rhetoric aside, that the working class is in any way closer to state power than it was when Chavez won the presidency. There have been no significant steps towards workers controlling the economy, nor should we expect any.

[2D] That is why “this is a program precisely to refine and deepen [socialism]; to move towards a radical suppression of the logic of capital that needs to be accomplished step by step, but without slowing down the rhythm of advancement towards socialism”.
Response: There is no gradualist road to socialism. One class and one class only can control the economy. This is rhetoric. Any significant steps by the working class to achieve power, as opposed to a party or state that claims to represent the working class, will be immediately met by a violent response by the capitalist class through its surrogates: the army, the police and, if necessary, armed thugs. 
[2E] The key to building socialism, said Chavez, is “a popular power capable of dismantling the patterns of oppression, exploitation and domination that persist within Venezuelan society.”
Response: Rhetoric or, less politely, bullshit. The key to socialism is the power of the working class over the economy. Only the working class, acting in and for itself, can "dismantle the patterns of oppression, exploitation and domination" of capitalism.
[2F] “This requires completely pulverising the bourgeois state form we have inherited, which continues to reproduce itself via its old and nefarious practices, and continuing to invent new forms of political power.”
Response: Does anyone really believe that the "inherit[or]" of the "bourgeois state form" is going to "pulveris[e]" it "step by step"? Where are the steps? Any such "step" would immediately provoke a response by the bourgeoisie, with its own armed hirelings, backed by the police and the army or directly by the army and the police. Please, don't anyone claim that the cops or the army belong to the people now.

[2G] In place of the old state, the introduction to the program promotes a new state based on “the consolidation and expansion of popular power”.

Response: The only "popular power" capable of replacing the old state is a revolutionary state created by the working class.

[2H] Central to this new state would be the existing communes and communal councils that have emerged as forms of community self-government, and the social missions, through which communities have organised themselves to meet their education, health and other basic needs.
Response: Not a word about workers control of industry. This is rhetoric borrowed from the ngos that are a cover for neoliberalism.
[3&4A] The third and fourth objectives locate the Venezuelan revolution within the international context.
Response: Okay. In the words of Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, "Let's see."

[3&4B] Chavez said the world is submerged in a “structural crisis” of capitalism “which could become terminal”

Response: The only way this crisis will become "terminal" is if the working class seizes power from the capitalist class. Capitalism has a few cards to play yet, including the option of fascism: capitalism at the point of a gun. 

[3&4C] but Latin America continues to live through “a change of eras that is characterised by a real and genuine change in power relations to the benefit of the great majorities”.

Response: Nonsense. The introduction of liberal capitalist regimes was not able, for example, to prevent the coup in Honduras nor are they effective in the current coup in Paraguay. There has been no change in the power relations of the classes. Such a change would involve either a revolution or an unstable condition of dual power. Neither exists anywhere in Latin America. 

[3&4D] The program proposes the promotion of greater Latin American unity aimed at transforming the region into a peace zone. In the international arena, it proposes contributing to building a new multipolar world based on peace and equilibrium among nations.

Response: Liberal capitalist fantasy. Nothing here about socialism or the fact that the only way that Latin America (or any other place in the world) can be transformed into a peace zone is through revolution. The only "peace and equilibrium among nations" will involve the destruction of the capitalist national states.

[3&4D] The final objective, notes the introduction, is the “necessity of constructing an ecosocialist productive economic model, based on a harmonious relationship between humans and nature, that guarantees the use and rational and optimal exploitation of natural resources, while respecting the processes and cycles of nature”.

Response: Rhetoric. Only working class power, socialism, will end the destruction of the Earth.

David Berger


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