Monday, November 20, 2006

December 03: 10,000,000 Votes for Hugo Chavez

Yesterday I attended the International Venezuela Solidarity conference, held at Macalester College, in St. Paul, MN. Several Venezuelan government members, and activists attended.

I'm reprinting the opening of the Statement of the International Marxist Tendency, on the Dec 03, 2006 Venezuelan elections. The Chavez supporters use the slogan, "10,000,000 Votes for Hugo Chavez". It is expected that Chavez will attain some 8 million votes. If they don't get 10,000,000, the more conservative Chavez supporters, are going to say he was too leftist. After the election, how revolutionary the government is, will be known.

The December presidential elections are an important turning point in the development of the Venezuelan Revolution. They reflect the struggle between the Venezuelan workers and peasants and the oligarchy and imperialism. Our attitude towards these elections is therefore a key question.

Marxism has nothing in common with anarchism. We have never denied the importance of the electoral struggle as part of the class struggle. For the masses the question is very clear: a vote for Chavez is a vote for the revolution. On the other hand, the oligarchy and imperialism are doing everything in their power to bring about the defeat of Chavez. At bottom this is a class question and we must take our place side by side with the revolutionary workers and peasants fighting against imperialism and the oligarchy.

The counterrevolutionary forces have already started a campaign to discredit the elections. They will use all the means at their disposal to undermine them: bribery, corruption, slander and lies and all kinds of sabotage. They will have at their disposal considerable resources: the wealth of the oligarchy, the technology of the CIA, the backing of the US embassy, the yellow press and the rest of the prostituted media.

On the other side we have the revolutionary spirit, courage and dedication of millions of Venezuelan workers, peasants and urban poor, the revolutionary youth, the revolutionary sections of the army and the progressive artists and intelligentsia - in short, all the live forces of Venezuelan society, backed by the exploited masses of Latin America and the working class of the entire world.

The workers and peasants are fighting to transform society. Great advances have been made, but the final goal has not been reached. The power of the oligarchy has not yet been broken. As long as this is the case, the revolution cannot be irreversible and will be constantly under threat.

When government representatives, at the conference, were asked about worker's control of industry, and worker's democracy, in general the question was ignored, or danced around. The politicians say that the revolution is based around the 1999 constitution. This document allows for private property rights. You hear from them, about the unique history of the struggle in Venezuela. They will say socialism in the 21st century, is different than anything before. This talk protects career politicians, some corrupt, and bureaucrats to be in the government, without a way for the workers and peasants, to oust them. The possibility of sabotage to the revolutionary path is real. Without an organizational form, similar to soviets at the time of the Russian revolution, the revolution can be curtailed.

One of the Chavez representatives, said the name of the country might be changed to the Bolivarian Socialist Republic of Venezuela. He didn't say anything about the telecommunications, food, and banking industry are in private hands, or what he thinks should be done about it.

It should be made clear, the elementary duty of a socialist or progressive person, is to support Venezuela if attacked from the outside. At the same time as a socialist, to warn the Chavez supporters, that they can lose the gains already made, without socialist revolution.RENEGADE EYE


k. edward warmoth said...

Interesting. It definitely sounds like the governments ignorance of worker control should be immediately addressed. That, along with the socialization of the banks.

I'm alright with Chavez. I've read some critics that called him authoritarian, but so far I haven't been bought into that.

jams o donnell said...

The one thing that I do find appalling about Chavez is his choice of friends. Watching him cozy up to the likes of Mugabe and Ahmadinejad is quite sickening.

troutsky said...

I agree with jams that he needs to watch who he associates with but also that electoral success must be encouraged. The anarchist movement in Mexico allowed a reactionary to prevail in that election.This revolution is writing it's own rules and the lefts criticism should remain constructive.

Mike Ballard said...

Some anarchists vote and others don't. They're hard to pin down on tactics. As far as I can see from this distance, I'd be voting Chavez, but I'd also be organizing, agitating and educating for "abolish the wages system" unionism.

LeftyHenry said...

Chavez is better than his predecessor, but not the great proletarian leader the left likes to make him out to be. Check this out.

The Socialist Revolution in Venezula: Where the Rich get Richer

Graeme said...

Your last paragraph is dead on.

I echo Jam's concerns about who he hangs out with though(don't forget that knob job from Belarus) and I agree with Troutsky that we should remain constructive in our criticism, but the last thing the left needs is another example of an entrenched bureaucracy that labels everything and everyone who disagrees with them "counterrevolutionary."

I don't think that is the case with Chavez and the government has spent significant amounts of money for such things as worker co-ops. They have had corruption issues, but given the history of the area, (and any government for that matter) that is to be expected. The trick is avoiding the bureaucracy with unchecked power

? said...

This is all good. Regards to you my friend.

Bob said...

I like the ideals that Chavez is bandying about, however it should be said that the improvements on the way of life for the majority of Venezuelan citizens haven't been as great as they could have been.

A large portion of the populace still lives in poverty, granted the poverty rate has declined and the standard of living for the poor has improved vastly in that country it hasn't been enough for Chavez to deserve a carte blanche from the left.

In other words, we should be just as critical of Chavez as we would be with an elected official in this country, at least until poverty is just a term that people read about in encyclopedias and history books.

sonia said...

it should be said that the improvements on the way of life for the majority of Venezuelan citizens haven't been as great as they could have been

A nice understatement. In fact, 'taking a nosedive' would be a far better description of Venezuelan economy. And if the oil prices ever fall down, Venezuela might soon join Cuba and Haiti at the bottom of New World's economies. Already, Margarita is cheaper as a tourist destination than any place except Varadero... always a sign of how much a cleaning lady is actually paid (and whether the money she is paid with is worth anything...)

poverty rate has declined

As measured against what ? There are lies, damn lies and statistics. Why do you think Chavez is so mad at Bush? He sincerely believes that the US is successfully sabotaging Venezuela's economy and the RISING poverty and lawlessness are all CIA's fault... Every leftist dictator always believed that (from Allende onward), because the ONLY alternative explanation - that socialism destroys an economy like acid - is unacceptable to them...

we should remain constructive in our criticism

That's leftist newspeak for 'obey your new totalitarian masters'...

Unknown said...

A welcome post and excellent analysis. I advocate an attitude of "progress, not perfection."

Chavez himself makes me a bit nervous, but I guess it still takes an enormous ego to lead the beginning of a revolution.

If you all haven't done so, I suggest you might read "Venezuelan Dictatorship" [""] at In the Dark.

Mike Ballard said...

The poverty rate always goes down amongst the poor when the wealth generated by the working class is redirected back toward them in various ways. This happened under Allende and is happening under Chavez. Sonia is parroting the now dead Uncle Miltie's monetarist econ 101, with its moralizing "no capitalism, no freedom."

Dave Brown said...

"For the masses the question is very clear: a vote for Chavez is a vote for the revolution."

How so? Keeping the opposition or the imperialists out of power?

In fact it was the people that rescued Chavez from imperialism and the oligarchy in 2002, twice, in the coup and in the lockout. THey didnt do it by voting. It took the people to mobilise and organise before the army moved.

The people are loyal to Chavez because he has improved living standards, and nationalised land and industry that is derelict or illegal. But Chavez does not want an independent working class. The militias he has formed are auxillary to the army.

Next time when the people try to rescue Chavez from an external attack they will have to wait for orders from above. Of course many of them won't, proving the point that the national revolution cannot liberate the people from imperialism short of real socialism.

Chavez' is a 'populist' regime (loyal to all Venezuelans who are 'patriots' i.e. do not plunder Venezuelas resources.) His economic strategy is a Venezuelan state capitalism doing deals with 'democratic' imperialism and being 'fair' to all citizens.

It is important to prove that Chavez cannot deliver the socialist revolution, and sooner or later will make his loyalties to capitalism clear at the expense of the workers.

This means backing Chavez against political destablisation and imperialist intervention, but at the same time building an independent labour movement and putting up independent workers candidates, or at least, not voting for him.

Nicholas said...

I think some people here and Ren have made most of the important points but here is a little blunter version:

There is no socialism in Venezuela, there has been no revolution. The state is still a bourgeois state with one faction of the bourgeoisie and bureacracy backing a military strongman, Chavez, who uses and manipulates leftist rhetoric and rightious hatred of the US. Yes the US us planning to oust Chaves and has attempted to do so in the past. However, Chaves is not a socialist. He is an enemy of the workers. He fired thousands of striking oil workers, broke unions, and done little for the infrastructure.

In essence Chavez and many of his supporters are petty bourgeois radicals, looking for class forces other than the proletariat to lead a revolution. This is very popular among the reformist left. The reson he is able to have social programs for the poor is the high cost of oil, that is all. He is not really building much, but populist tactics such as seizing golf courses from political enemies.

Yes if Venezuela is attacked by an imperialist country, the US, it is the duty of revolutionaries, Marxists, and workers to militarily defend Venezuela without lending support to the bourgeois regiem of Chavez. In their defense we must propose military defence against imperialism and proletarian socialist revolution, sometihing that is not achieved through the ballot box anymore, if ever.

Anonymous said...