[Marxism] FW: A new political situation in Latin America: What lies ahead?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jan 4 06:50:48 MST 2016

On 12/27/15 9:25 AM, Richard Fidler via Marxism wrote:
> http://tinyurl.com/qgxsbg4
> 'Venezuela defines the future of the progressive cycle'
> - An interview with Claudio Katz
> Introduction

The interview with Katz is both on Links and on MRZine. I urge comrades 
to read it because it is a subtle critique of the Bolivarian Revolution 
from a fairly orthodox Trotskyist viewpoint. Katz was a long-time member 
of Partido Obrero in Argentina who resigned because of political 
differences some years ago. To his credit, he faults the PO for its 
"catastrophism". As comrades, especially those who spent time in the 
American SWP, this is an illness endemic to the Trotskyist movement.

Although Katz states that "Chavismo rescued the socialist project", the 
interview implicitly draws attention to its shortcomings:

"It is very important, I think, in any discussion about whether or not 
the progressive cycle has ended to look not only at the governments but 
also at what is going on below.  Many writers tend to assess a cycle in 
terms of who is exercising the executive power.  But that is only one 
element.  The cycle originated with popular rebellion and what defines 
the relations of force is popular rebellions.  The process over the last 
decade was novel because, through a partial redistribution of resource 
rents, many governments developed welfarist networks and consumption 
patterns that moderated social struggles.  That is one of the 
explanations for why we have not had rebellions since 2004."

A partial redistribution of resource rents, many governments developed 
welfarist networks and consumption patterns that moderated social 
struggles? Well, I suppose so. People who benefit from "welfarist 
networks" tend to rebel less against the government.

Katz pins his hopes on the left Chavistas returning to a more orthodox 
revolutionary perspective:

"To sustain the radicalization, communal power is needed.  Venezuela now 
has legislation, a structure, adopted laws, that provide for 
administering the country with a new form of communal organization -- 
from below and from above, with distinct authorities, in which democracy 
is a reality and popular power is not confined to being a set of 
defensive institutions.  It is a decisive architecture for contending 
with the parliament of the Right.  If Maduro and the Venezuelan 
leadership want to rescue the Bolivarian process, this is the time for 
communal power."

By communal power, Katz is obviously conjuring up images of Paris in 
1871 or Russia in 1917. I am rather doubtful that the communes in 
Venezuela have the same dynamics. From what I have seen, they were 
funded by the government to the tune of billions of dollars. But 
revolutionary communes come into existence as a last resort when the 
masses feel like the government no longer serves their interests. Time 
will tell whether the Venezuelan communes will take on that aspect but I 
am doubtful given the overall electoral dynamics of Venezuelan socialism.

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