We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Handing Over of Pérez Becerra and the Strategy of the Venezuelan Revolution

Click here to access article by Jorge Martín from In Defence of Marxism (Britain) via Venezuelan Analysis

I normally link articles to their original source, but was unable to do so in this instance. However, it is interesting that Venezuelan Analysis website carried this article because the latter has mostly functioned as a supporter of Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution ideology. It is to their credit that they, the editors of this website, have included this critical piece because it indicates that they are not beholden to the role of one leader, Chavez, but for the ideology or revolutionary principles that he and others have articulated in the past.  

The issue of turning over this former FARC activist, now Swedish citizen, appears to be another sign of the weakening of Chavez's revolutionary principles supposedly for the sake of expediency. I think it is more than that. I think that Chavez and company have become addicted to power which gives them an immediate "high" in contrast to the longer range satisfaction that can be obtained from the hard work of confronting existing power while trying to build a new society in which power is widely shared.

I have had my doubts about Chavez and his administration after visiting Venezuela in December of 2005 on a two week tour focused on the accomplishments of his revolutionary regime. After listening to a report given by one member of his administration, I asked him a question about the creation of popular power through the institution of community councils. This social unit was to be the fundamental building block to build socialism in Venezuela from the bottom up. 

The speaker initially didn't understand my question, and I attributed this to some translation difficulties. But, finally he did understand and gave a very perfunctory response that suggested to me that the concept held very little importance to him. 

Since then, I have seen no evidence to suggest that community councils are used for anything other than to administer government grants for community developments, and I have seen significant evidence that it is being used as a base political support for the Chavez regime. For example, see some comments made in a forum in June 2009 presented over Venezuelan TV on a critical review of the Bolivarian revolution. Here are some excerpts:
...there is another problem - which I'm simply going to mention - and that is the lack of popular revolutionary organizations. A revolution like this is constantly under threat from the enemy, and here what has been built, which are extremely valuable, are the communal councils, but these are not exactly revolutionary organizations, they are institutional organizations. ...What we have to have, as well as these [communal councils], are popular organizations in all parts, at the level of the barrios, at the level of whatever space that revolutionary organizations can exist. We had them and we lost them, because the Bolivarian Circles were exactly a practice run of this, and disgracefully they were left behind along the way. But a revolution under threat like this one needs something to defend itself with. ...There are conspiracies here, there are threats, there is a permanent war here to destroy this process and the people need to be well organized to confront it.

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Strong independent movements don't exist

We have a serious problem: that our revolutionary process does not have a truly independent, class conscious and organized workers movement. And the attempts to organize one have ended up bringing the workers movement closer to the policy of the state,
[my emphasis] which should not always be the policy that the worker movement should take because the workers movement has to go much further beyond this.

Nor do we have a peasant movement that is sufficiently strong and a student movement; we have been trying to build one but it also is not sufficiently strong. These are great weaknesses of our process, because you cannot build socialism without workers, without peasants, without well-organized popular sectors that can push towards more radical situations or positions.

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