[Marxism] Michael Lebowitz interview

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon May 20 06:52:00 MDT 2013

DV and AS: Venezuela today is a synonym for “socialism of the 21st 
century.” It is well known that at some point of your career you 
participated in an attempt to build socialism in Venezuela. Given that 
experience, how do you see the possibility of the construction of 
socialism on the periphery of capitalism in general, that is, in the 
position in which Serbia finds itself now? How do you see the political 
path toward that goal, i.e. by which specific means should the socialist 
politics be lead? And second, how do you see the way in which this 
system should be built – how it differs from the so-called “really 
existing socialism” and on what basis can we claim that the new 
socialism has a chance not to fall into those contradictions into which 
the “old one” has slipped?

ML: The fact of being on a periphery as such is not sufficient to 
identify societies. Much of the population of Latin America has an 
enormous inherited poverty, an enormous human deficit. The effect of 
neoliberal policies from the 1980s on and the recognition of the role of 
U.S. imperialism in supporting reproduction of those incredibly unjust 
societies were important factors in mobilizing masses against the local 
oligarchies. But the relation of Serbia and other parts of the European 
periphery is quite different. The weakness of these economies has 
produced a great impact as a result of capital's attempt to solve its 
localized crisis on the backs of workers. Serbia and other countries 
which experienced attempts at building socialism, though, have something 
that Latin American countries lack – the memory of desirable elements in 
the old societies and a sense of justice and fairness which can be a 
basis upon which to mobilize people. And, that is the starting point in 
challenging the capitalist assault.

But I think it is important to organize solidly at the base with local 
committees engaged in local actions much as in the anti-fascist 
liberation struggles. In Venezuela, one of the most important political 
and theoretical developments has been the establishment of communal (or 
neighborhood) councils of roughly 100-200 families in urban areas (and 
20 in rural areas), and these councils are what Chavez called “cells of 
the new socialist state.” To the extent that you empower people at the 
local level and those institutions become the source of the 
identification of the needs of people, you build a solidarian society 
which can strengthen you against repeating history.

full: http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/825.php

More information about the Marxism mailing list