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
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Chavez’s Right Turn: State Realism versus International Solidarity
This was not pleasant reading for me because it has confirmed all my suspicions about one of the few bright promises of people-powered governments in the world. However, the arguments he assembles from many historical examples as well as the record of the Chavez regime are simply much too persuasive to counter.
It's clear that enormous challenges confront leaders who might wish to take an independent course from the capitalist Empire. Probably the first of these is to overcome the addiction to power; and the second is to put one's faith in people, ordinary people, by empowering them. I think that the historical record, much of which Petras cites in the article, demonstrates at least that pursuing a narrow nationalistic strategy may work in the short run to preserve hierarchical regimes, but such strategies will never serve the long term interests of building socially just societies and a peaceful, sustainable world community.
To accomplish the latter, there is simply no alternative to the empowerment of ordinary people, and to their support everywhere in the world against the tyranny of hierarchical, class-based, exploitative regimes.