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

Monday, August 7, 2017

Being Honest About Venezuela

Click here to access article by Mike Gonzalez from Defend Democracy Press

This piece represents the best assessment of the current political conditions in Venezuela that I have seen. Today we see numerous articles in corporate media which go to great lengths to smear the Bolivarian government of Venezuela with distorted information, but on the other side in small blogs we frequently find ideologically obsessed purists who gloss over the sins of the Venezuelan government and characterize any criticisms as simply capitalist propaganda. As political activists and revolutionaries we simply must give up the juvenile habit of seeing various groups as either "good guys" or "bad guys" that our ruling class likes to do.

Based on my trip to Venezuela in December of 2005 when I witnessed the beginning indications of a self-serving bureaucracy, this view by Gonzalez has the pure ring of authenticity. I posted many articles back in 2010 reflecting this concern: for some examples, see this, this, and especially this.

Because "Mike Gonzalez" is a very common name, the following is an accurate description of the author that I borrowed from The London School of Economics and Political Science:
Gonzalez is one of Britain’s leading scholars in Latin American studies. He has written extensively on Latin American politics and culture, social movements, and revolutionary figures. He is author of volumes on Che Guevara and the Cuban Revolution, the Nicaraguan revolution, on the situation in Chile in the 1970s, and has recently written articles for the magazine Jacobin in which he analyses the current political turmoil in Venezuela.
Also, if you still have doubts about the author, listen to the following 12:10m talk that Gonzalez gave in 2014 (before the collapse in oil prices) regarding Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution since he took control at the end of 1998.

The Bolivarian Revolution is not over yet, but Gonzalez accurately reports most of what has gone wrong up till now. Hugo Chavez did create many coops and popular councils and educated many ordinary Venezuelans that radicalized many people, and these people may yet save and advance the revolution before it is taken back by the old oligarchy in collusion with the US.   

You might also be interested in an article by Peter Koenig entitled "Venezuela – The National Constituent Assembly is in Place – But the fight for Sovereignty isn’t Over" in which he describes the current situation in the country.