The bickering, backstabbing and pseudo-intellectual debate of student socialism.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Chavez - a debate on revolution

Latin American revolutionary processes are easy to get excited about. Venezuela, Bolivia and a host of other countries have had massive popular mobalisations with a growing significance coupled with the resistance in the Middle East and the approaching defeat of American imperialism. An interesting contribution on the Chavista craze sweaping the far left can be found here.


At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Ygael said...

So, how would Tony Cliff have regarded Chavez? Radical nationalist, bonapartist or marxist revolutionary?

Any insights young Cliff?

At 3:34 PM, Anonymous redkiwi said...

"Easy" to get excited about? One would imagine a revolutionary WOULD be excited about what is happening there, and should not have to be apologetic about it.

Chavez has just today nationalised the holdings of Exxon Mobil, days before he held a rally with thousands of troops under the banner Socialism or Death, telling them to prepare for a resistance war against the US should it invade. 5.7 million people have just joined the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

If RESPECT did the same things in England and Wales, wouldn't you be excited too? Or do you just think that these actions are fashionable faddist reforms?

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Roobin said...

It's easy to get excited by Venezuela because its a cheap and easy way for not very radical people to gain a bit of left cred. It's also nice for any burned out lefties in the metropolis to think "at least someone out there's fighting".

It has to be noted though that the political initiative, at least as far as we can make out from here, has left ordinary people at the base of society and headed upward. The last really identifiable upsurge was in 2004 round the recall referrendum. That's three years ago.

If socialism consists of the working class organised as the ruling class then where does that leave Venezuela with a new trade union federation wracked by factional disputes? The initiative is coming from the top, from Chavez and his patchwork state. The other alternative is to accept that this is simple socialism in action and abandon the main pillar of Marxism, the self activity of the working class.

At 12:21 AM, Anonymous DaphneL said...

Since the initiative in October 1917 came from "the top" - the Military Revolutionary Committee, rather than a grassroots upsurge of workers - Roobin has just proved that the October Revolution had nothing to do with socialism. But this is of course patently ridiculous. If you deny the role of leadership in a mass popular movement, you are not a Marxist, you are instead pandering to the most vulgar form of autonomism/anarchism.

At 4:25 PM, Blogger Owen said...

DaphneL you're making a fundamental misunderstanding between Russia and Venezuela. The February revolution in Russia was a 'spontaneous' (obviously a debatable phrase) upsurge from the people. Between then and October there was obviously bolshevik agitation led by the leaders of the bolshevik party but gaining power still involved the mass action of soldiers and workers (and in a different sense) peasants. Fundamentally, this was in part expressed in the sovietes - workers councils, and true expressions of working class power.

Chavez power on the other hand, has not come about by revolution. Of course, it is off the back of a popular movement and involved an upsurge but it is he and his government in power NOT the working class. One way in which the disconnect is demonstrated is in his recent inclusion of the constitutional amendment to allow him to stand for re-election. This derailed the referendum and demonstrated that he identifies himself as the movement and not the people. He has also tried to play both workers and ruling class but indeed it was the people's actions that have pushed him to the left.

Therefore, Venezuela IS an example of top down socialism, an expression of workers self activity but not the final result. It's also important to note that the point in Russia should not be confused with the later stages, when Russia was isolated and the leaders were left in a distorted and non-socialist position

At 4:16 PM, Blogger Owen said...

I would add to my comment that it is important to have a dialectical understanding of the relationship between leadership and the workers. A leninist revolutionary party is democratically centralist - to defer to the initiative of the leadership is to deny the democratic part. And as Lenin said you must always learn from the class. The recent corruption and damaging election results in the Chavez government show that this sort of democracy does not exist in the way it should in a genuinely socialist situation

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