This is from the World Perspectives Document of the International Marxist Tendency. It was passed a few months ago, and reflects its general outlook.
Over the past decade on more than one occasion the workers could have taken power in Venezuela. The problem is a problem of leadership. Chavez is a very courageous and honest man, but he is proceeding empirically, improvising, making up a programme as he goes along. He is trying to balance between the working class and the bourgeoisie. And that cannot be maintained.
Lenin explained that politics is concentrated economics. Chavez was able to make concessions, reforms, the social missions, etc., for quite along time because of the economic situation. The high price of oil allowed him to do this. But that is finished. The price of oil has fallen dramatically, although it has now recovered a little. Inflation is at about 30%. Therefore there has been a fall in real wages. Many of the welfare schemes are being scaled back and unemployment
Bi-Centennial_celbrations_2There is no doubt that the Venezuelan workers still remain loyal to Chavez, but there is also no doubt whatsoever that many workers, even dedicated Chavistas, are getting impatient. They are asking: what sort of a Revolution is this? What sort of Socialism is this? Are we going to solve these problems or not? The threat of counterrevolution has not disappeared. The counterrevolutionary opposition is preparing a new offensive to win a majority in the National Assembly in 2010. If they succeed, or if they win a sufficiently large number of seats, the way will be open for a new counterrevolutionary offensive.
The most striking fact about the Venezuelan revolution is the inability of the imperialists to intervene directly. In the past, they would have sent in the Marines to overthrow Chavez. But they have been unable to intervene directly.
In the same way, British imperialism was compelled to relinquish direct military-bureaucratic control of its colonies, because of the high cost, both financial and political, of attempting to do so. Similarly, the cost of the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has stretched US resources. A direct military action against Venezuela therefore seems to be ruled out until it has withdrawn from these countries. However, this does not exclude a proxy intervention by Colombia sponsored by the USA, which has waged a constant campaign to undermine, isolate and destroy the Bolivarian Revolution. The defeat of the coup in 2002 was brought about by the intervention of the masses.
Washington is manoeuvring with Uribe to threaten Venezuela. The agreement under which Colombia granted the United States access to up to seven military bases was an act of aggression directed against the Venezuelan Revolution. The external threat from Colombia is very real. But far more serious is the threat from within. The bourgeoisie still holds in its hands key points in the economy. Ten banks still control 70% of the country’s financial activity. Most of the land remains in the hands of the big landowners, while 70% of the food is imported (along with inflation). Above all, the state remains in the hands of the counterrevolutionary bureaucracy. After more than a decade, there are signs of tiredness and disappointment in the masses. This is the most dangerous element in the equation.
At the First Extraordinary Congress of the PSUV Chavez admitted these things and stated that “socialism had not yet been achieved.” He called for the total elimination of capitalism, for the arming of the people and a workers’ militia. All this is necessary, but if this remains on the level of speeches, it will lead nowhere. The fact is that the bureaucracy is systematically undermining the Revolution from within. The movement towards workers’ control is being systematically sabotaged, and workers who attempt to fight the bureaucracy are coming under attack, as we saw in the case of Mitsubishi. This situation is producing a ferment of discontent and disillusionment that is the biggest danger of all. If this mood is expressed in apathy and abstention in the legislative elections, the scene will be set for a counteroffensive of the right.
In Venezuela the working class broke with the bourgeois parties and threw itself, on the basis of Chavez’s appeal, into the attempt to build its own party, a class party, the PSUV. This party, whose future is not yet decided, is being born in the middle of a revolution, and the masses take it as an attempt to build what we call an independent workers’ party.
The PSUV is born, in a confused way, with the impulse of the class, and in its midst there is a struggle between those who want to build a class party, without bosses, and those who would like to see the PSUV just as a party of order, representing their own wishes as a clique and the capitalist order. The main task of the Marxists in the Venezuelan revolution is to help in achieving a most positive outcome of this struggle, becoming a Marxist fraction of this party and building it energetically, helping its most serious elements to win a majority of the party, expel the bureaucrats and deepen the proletarian revolution which is taking place.
We must pay much more attention to our work in this Party, which is at the centre of the problem of the Revolution. We must admit frankly that the leadership of the Venezuelan section has not paid sufficient attention to this work, and as a result we have missed many opportunities. This is a very serious error, which must be rectified immediately. Trade union work is very important, but it must be given a political expression. Our work with the occupied factories remains a key question, but it will be completely sterile if it is not linked to the fight to transform the PSUV.
The Venezuela Marxists must combine theoretical firmness with the necessary tactical flexibility, always stressing the role of the Bolivarian movement and the PSUV. If we work correctly in the next couple of years, the foundation will be laid for a mass left wing opposition within the PSUV, in which we will participate, fertilizing it with the ideas of Marxism. This is the only way in which we can build a mass Marxist current in Venezuela, as the first step towards a future mass revolutionary Marxist Party.