Lair Of A Squirrel Red


Venezuela & Freedom. What would Lenin do? by korakious
May 26, 2007, 8:48 pm
Filed under: Chavez, First World Left, Freedom, Human Rights, Lenin, Theory, Venezuela

Most of you are probably familiar with the fuss kicked up on the bourgeois media when Chavez announced that the license of RCTV, an opposition station in Venezuela would not be renewed. The First World Left, including of course its vanguard, the AWL jumped on the bourgeois liberal media bandwagon, immediately concluding (or repeating their already made, age old analysis of any revolution that is not led by them) that Venezuela was heading down the road of Stalinism, state capitalism, Bonapartism and whathaveyou. Of course, neither the media, nor their “left” lackeys mentioned that the station was not being shut down, but having its license not renewed in a perfectly legal manner, as has happened a number of times in the “Free” World, without protest from either the media or our fellow revolutionary imperialist apologist brothers.

That of course is besides the point because a cursory look at RCTV’s involvement in the coup of 2002 against the democratically elected Chavez government would lead anyone but the most liberal of bourgeois liberals to conclude that the station should have been immediately shut down after the failure of the putsch. You see, the media often forgets to mention that the station was not only actively supporting the overthrow of Chavez, but also practically assisting the putschists by engaging in news blackouts. Now, perhaps the mourners of democracy should take a minute and think in what way any of the “democratic” governments of the West would have responded to a failed coup. Surely most of the participants would have been arrested and the leaders would have probably spent their lives behind bars (if not executed). What happened in Venezuela? The supreme court ruled that the military officers should not stand trial as what happened wasn’t really a coup but a… power vacuum. Oh, the brutality of authoritarian Venezuela! By the way, I would be amused to see how the very concerned about human rights left would respond to a similar situation in their own country. It is very easy to criticise little brown/red (you know, those who need our benevolent leadership; it is after all, the white man’s burden! ) people half way around the world, but it isn’t quite as simple to come up with a response to politically crucial events taking place in your own society.

Anyhow, I am ranting again. What’s interesting here is not the chauvinism-bordering-racism underlying much of the politics of the first world left, but the rush of such groups to publicly defend the democratic rights of a bourgeois media station that is owned by the ruling class, thus throwing class analysis out of the window and subscribing to Jeffersonian notions of the inalienability of rights. See for example the post made by TWP on Shiraz Socialist:

How many of us have “openly called” for the overthrow of capitalism? Well apparently Tariq Ali doesn’t see the irony in his statement about Chavez’s failure to renew a TV licence for the anti-government channel RCTV. By his logic most of the newspapers of the far left could be legitimately closed down in Britain. […]I have always argued for “no platform for fascists” and stand by that argument. However, this isn’t a “fascist” TV station – it simply opposes the government in the strongest terms. That is not a reason for shutting it down

Let’s take the arguments in reverse order. First, if a supporter of Fascism is a Fascist, then it makes sense that a TV station supporting Fascism is a Fascist TV station. One could of course try to argue that a military coup in Latin America might not lead to Fascism but to… something else. I would kindly ask them to stop reading and **** off my internets.

Now, with that out of the way, it would be useful to examine the contradiction inherent in TWP’s support for “No Platform For Fascists” and opposition to the “shutting down” of RCTV, a contradiction that runs deeper than the rather evident fact that RCTV is a Fascist supporter.

I do not wish to examine here whether the “No Platform” approach is correct or not. Let us assume it is. Why do socialists adopt a “No Platform” line on fascism? The evident and right, if a bit simplistic, response is that we do so because fascism is diametrically opposed to the interests of the working class and presents a formidable obstacle to the fight for socialism. So far, so good. But why is that we do not also call for “No Platform” for capitalists as well? Is it because we think that capitalist/liberal views are more legitimate than fascists’? Is it because capitalism is less of an obstacle to socialism and less of a danger to the working class? Of course not. If anything, capitalism has proven to be more resilient than fascism and has now become a threat not only to the working class but to the whole planet. Further, only the most stupendously half-witted liberaloleftie would dare argue that “kick them Pakis out of Britain” is a less legitimate view than “let’s bomb those terrorist A-rabs”. The reason therefore that we do not pursue a “No Platform” policy re capitalism is that we can’t. The whole purpose of “No Platform” is to prevent the poison of Fascist ideology from spreading among the working class, creating vile sectarianism, racism and other niceties. This is totally inapplicable to the hegemonic struggle of socialists against bourgeois ideology; you can’t call for “No Platform” to bourgeois ideology. Why? Because bourgeois ideology is the platform. Every single social structure is permeated by and functions according to bourgeois ideology. Hence the adoption of the Transitional Programme and the need for a War of Position, among other things. It should be clear by now, but it is worth restating. Socialists do not tolerate bourgeois ideology because it is more “legitimate” than Fascism but because not tolerating is a non starter. This brings us back to the first point made by TWP, that of legitimacy.

TWP argues that if we support Chavez’s action on the basis that RCTV supported the coup, then, it would be legitimate for, say, the British government to close down the newspapers of the far left, since they (we) have often supported the violent overthrow of capitalism. TWP here falls to the usual trap of forcing a fictitious universality onto concepts of a divided -ie partial not universal – society. Talking about legitimacy, TWP forgets to ask the crucial question: “for whom?” In a class society, questions of legitimacy, legal or moral, cannot be extracted from the context of class struggle and made into abstract, timeless dicta derived from the sky above. Therefore, if the British state decides to close down socialist newspapers, it will be a perfectly legitimate move for the class interest it represents. For socialists of course, it would be a terrible crime, not because it would take away our “freedom” but because it would severely reduce our efficiency and capability to promote our ideas. The illegitimacy of the act would not consist in a violation of our perceived human rights but in the fact that it would be an attack on socialism. In that manner, the very existence of the bourgeois state and its ideological supports is illegitiate. No action it takes can ever be considered morally acceptable by socialists, apart from that which is forced upon it by the struggle of the working class.

The same goes for human rights. The reason the left usually defends human rights is because attacks on them are made by the bourgeois state with the aim to undermine the fighting power of the working class. Indeed, “universal” human rights were won by workers after decades of painful struggle; there was no right to free speech for socialists for a large part of the 20th century (and one may very well say there won’t be a right to it again, if socialism becomes a powerful political force again), there was no right to shelter and food, no right to education. Socialists support human rights for the working class, but we have no obligation to fight for the right of RCTV owners to back fascist coups. Expecting from socialists to rise in support of freedom of speech for RCTV, is like expecting the Tories to organize demonstrations for the right to strike.

The concerned leftie will reply: “But isn’t the point of socialism to create a society where people are free? How can you increase freedom by curtailing freedom?”. To a limited extent, this is not wrong. I do not subscribe to the tanky notion that freedom in itself, is a bourgeois ideal. The fallacy of the liberalosocialist approach lies, again, in the abstractly universalistic manner it uses the concept of freedom. Like legitimacy, freedom cannot be extracted from its class context. As Lenin points out in The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, one cannot discuss freedom and democracy without asking “for what class?”. The freedom of workers to go on strike restricts the freedom of capitalists to extract profit. The freedom of capitalists to own media curtails the freedom of workers to establish independent media outlets.

Freedom then, within the context of a class society is a question of which side you are on, as the amount of freedom a class has is inversely related to the amount of freedom of its antagonistic classes. Marxists are on the side of the working class and this is why we do not see anything wrong with the Chavez government shutting RCTV down. Had RCTV been a workers’ co-operative or had Chavez moved to silence an oppositional workers’ political group, he would have been on the receiving end of the harshest of criticisms from the Squirrel Vanguard. The only criticism one could level against Chavez is that instead of turning RCTV into a cooperative news outlet, he made it a state owned one. Other than that however, his democratic record with respect to the working class has been brilliant, to put it mildly. Not only has community power greatly expanded under his administration, but in what is probably a world first, the right of recall has been enshrined in the constitution and has already been used by Chavez’s opponents against him.

Perhaps the freedom-loving left (as in opposed to freedom-hating commies like me) should remember that true, universal freedom, can only be the product of a positive transcendence of alienation and therefore, achievable only in a true classless society. And since liberalosocialists don’t quite like “authoritarian” Lenin, I’ll finish this post with a quote by “libertarian” Rosa Luxemburg:

Yes, dictatorship! But this dictatorship consists in the manner of applying democracy, not in its elimination, but in energetic, resolute attacks upon the well-entrenched rights and economic relationships of bourgeois society, without which a socialist transformation cannot be accomplished

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33 Comments so far
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Great post. I’ve yet to have anyone against Chavez (re: RCTV) address the class issue. Revealling? I dunno.

There’s been a wee bit of a debate here, too:

http://socialistunity.blogspot.com/2007/05/chavez-defends-revolution.html

I guess the problem we have in working through this issue is that the lowdown we get on most matters comes from the bourgeois media.

No word of a lie, I often forget the limitations of the quality of information you get from the print and broadcast corporate media… It’s the authoritative tone of it all, I suppose.

Comment by Charlie Marks

Korakious

I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the official communist tradition in pointing out that freedom is a bougeois ideal.

The question of democratic liberties is connected also with ownership.

The most fundamental sense that workers are free in a capitalist society is that we are free from ownership of the means of production. the only commodity we own to sell is our own labour power. Whereas the boss class own not only the means of production, but the commodities produced using them.

So formal political freedom is negated by economic inequality. a worler and a capitalist both have one vote in an election, but the boss has enormous economic and political power every day, not just in elections.

In formal terms both the worker and the boss have freedom of speech. But one can afford a TV statioon and a newspaper, the other cannot. And the worker usually has no right to free speech within the workplace.

In this sense, freedom is a bourgeois ideological category, that hides economic inequality, and which fetishises the independence of each individual from social responsibilities.

It is the hall mark of the AWL, (and TWP is clearly being assimilated into the AWL mindest and moving away from her Barnesite background) to accept the fictions of bourgois liberty at face value.

One other point. Political freedom in any society is contextualised by class interests, as you rightly say. But you imply that it would therefore always be wrong for a progressive state to restrict the freedom of workers’ parties and organisation. I don’t think that even this is a question of principle.

Comment by AN

It is also worth saying that TWP’s arguments about the left calling for the violent overthrow of capitalism are misguided.

It is well worth reading the defence by James cannon in “Socialism on Trial” that demonstrates that the October revolution was constitutional, and that the call by the SWP(US) for the overthrow of capitalism was within the tradition of Abrham lincoln.

of course the argument needs some refinement for British conditions, but is nonetheless still applicable.

Comment by AN


The most fundamental sense that workers are free in a capitalist society is that we are free from ownership of the means of production. the only commodity we own to sell is our own labour power. Whereas the boss class own not only the means of production, but the commodities produced using them.

I do not disagree. I do not think I implied that freedom within the context of a bourgeois society is not a bourgeois ideal. What I said is that freedom in general is not a bourgeois ideal, a notion used by tankies to justify social repression in stable quasisocialist states like our Soviet Motherland and Czechoslovakia.

But you imply that it would therefore always be wrong for a progressive state to restrict the freedom of workers’ parties and organisation. I don’t think that even this is a question of principle.

How? Surely, a socialist state should be based on working class self organization and not workers power by proxy. Obviously, in a state of war (eg, the Russian Civil War), repressive measures may be justified and principles can be put aside in favour of survival, but that doesn’t change their status as principles.

Comment by Korakious

I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the official communist tradition in pointing out that freedom is a bougeois ideal.

One of the very real problems of the ‘official communist’ ideological was the paper thin contrast between ‘economic’ and ‘political’ freedom. It was often held that ‘political’ freedom was bourgeois, whereas ‘economic’ freedom was socialist. This meant that ‘socialist’ states could justify their utter lack of freedom for the working class to self-organise, since that was a ‘bourgeios’ freedom.

The most fundamental sense that workers are free in a capitalist society is that we are free from ownership of the means of production. the only commodity we own to sell is our own labour power. Whereas the boss class own not only the means of production, but the commodities produced using them.

So formal political freedom is negated by economic inequality. a worler and a capitalist both have one vote in an election, but the boss has enormous economic and political power every day, not just in elections.

In formal terms both the worker and the boss have freedom of speech. But one can afford a TV statioon and a newspaper, the other cannot. And the worker usually has no right to free speech within the workplace.

I think this is an overly simplistic picutre, although it obviously contains a good degree of accuracy. First and foremost your analysis seems to miss the crucial events of the 20th century. Whilst ‘rights’ to freedom of speech, organisation etc. may be formal, this formal protection confers a marked protection in contrast to fascist regimes.

‘Freedom’ in the sense of being an ‘ideological category’ seems to have afforded the labour movement a rather large degree of protection in those countries that have it. If you read the work of people that lived under the Nazi regime (especially Marxists) they bemoan the lack of ‘bourgeois’ freedom.

In this sense, freedom is a bourgeois ideological category, that hides economic inequality, and which fetishises the independence of each individual from social responsibilities.

Statements like this are one of the reasons that I think Marxists need a better understanding of the law. Because when we talk about ‘free speech’ etc. we are not just talking about ‘ideas’ of freedom, we are really speaking about concrete manifestations of this. That is – the law.

At this point it all becomes a little messier. Firstly, I would dispute the idea that law is ‘ideological’. Although the particular type of equality embodied in the law is formal, I don’t think that means it isn’t ‘real’. As I have said (and you too have said) the equality under the law is deeply connected with commodity exchange, and as such can’t just be called an ‘ideological phenomenon’.

Also, as I will later stress, precisely because it is through this equality that the labour-capital relationship is actualised this ‘equality’ is a site of class struggle.

I think what this tells us (provisionally) is that whilst rights discourse is ultimately limited by its form, we can’t just take the old ‘official communist’ line on it. This is because ‘bourgeois rights’ are also objects and areas of the class struggle, and as such the working class can express its limits through them.

It is well worth reading the defence by James cannon in “Socialism on Trial” that demonstrates that the October revolution was constitutional, and that the call by the SWP(US) for the overthrow of capitalism was within the tradition of Abrham lincoln.

Could you tell me more about this?

Comment by Rob

Korakious: Surely, a socialist state should be based on working class self organization and not workers power by proxy

This is where it gets messy, becasue while a stable socialist society can ultimately only be built on the basis of working class organistaion, in the meantime socialists can find themselves forced to take power in circumstances far from ideal, with low levels of literacy, economic and political sabotage from the imperialists, actual military intervention, etc. Added to which some parts of the workers movement may advance demands, and even prosecute those demands in ways that indermine the security of a worker state.

principles can be put aside in favour of survival, but that doesn’t change their status as principles.

Well yes it does alter their status as principles, because it means that you accept that they are subordinate to something else, and thereofre by defintiion secondary and not principle.

Rob: It was not lack of law that was dangerous in nazi germany. The repression of Trade Union activists and the left following Hitler assuming power was carried out by the SA before any changes in the law had been made.

The Kristallnacht pogroms were actually illegal.

The mass murder of jews was also illegal under the laws of the Third Reich, and therefore the prosecutions of Nazi war criminals in the BRD did not require retrospective legislation.

I am not an expert on the question of law and marxism, but the ideological concpets of freedom exist independent from their manifestation in law.

The restrictions of certain freedoms in the former communist states took place in a particular context of an ideological offensive from the west that implied that the right to selfishly enrich your self at the expense of society was a fundamantal freedom. Nor was this offensive only ideological given the huge state subsidies that were pumped into the West Berlin economy to delibertaly entice skilled workers to leave the DDR, a form of economic warfare.

A similar sabotage mechanism is in play today in the USA, where any Cuban is allowed residency if they reach American soil, but mexicans are not.

Comment by AN

Rob – with regard to Cannon’s “defecne of Socialism” – I suggest you read it.

Cannon and some dozen other leaders of the SWP were on trial for membershipop of an organisation seeking to violently overthrow the constitution of the USA.

the evidence being that the SWP supported the Octomer revolution. Cannon’s argument was that following the February revolution sovereignty lay with the Soviets,a nf the October revolution was a constitutional defence of sovereignty against an unconstitutional threat by Kerensky.

Comment by AN

Although you are right that the problems of Nazi Germany were not just about law, you are really quite off-base about the way in which Nazi law functioned.

Comment by Rob

Added to which some parts of the workers movement may advance demands, and even prosecute those demands in ways that indermine the security of a worker state.

No one says that there shouldn’t be order in a socialist society, but it should be socialist order, made by the workers and for the workers. If a group of workers wish to pursue this or that agenda, they should do so within the established order of workers democracy. The structures of power should be open, accessible and inviting to workers, so that extra institutional action, unlike in a bourgeois society, will not be necessary. If a group of workers decides to bypass socialist order, then they should be accordingly dealt with. But the socialist order must have first been built by the working class, not by “the working class through its ultimate political expression, the Communist Party”.


Well yes it does alter their status as principles, because it means that you accept that they are subordinate to something else, and thereofre by defintiion secondary and not principle.

But apart from communism, everything is subordinate to something else. There is no clear cut ascending order of priorities. If you follow that line of thought, you end up with the notion that the only principle of communists is communism, which is an empty statement. Rather, I think that our principles are those elements that are the fundamental constituents of socialism/communism (workers power, emancipation, transcendence of alienation etc.). The fact that sometimes we need to put them on the back burner in order to realise them in the future only serves to highlight their importance, at least in my view.

Comment by Korakious

It is the hall mark of the AWL, (and TWP is clearly being assimilated into the AWL mindest and moving away from her Barnesite background) to accept the fictions of bourgois liberty at face value.

Sorry to go off topic but

Hahahahahahahahahahaha haha ha.

😉

Comment by voltaires

Korakious: The structures of power should be open, accessible and inviting to workers, so that extra institutional action, unlike in a bourgeois society, will not be necessary. If a group of workers decides to bypass socialist order, then they should be accordingly dealt with.

is that any different from what i wrote: that it would not always be wrong for a progressive state to restrict the freedom of workers’ parties and organisation.

I don’t tnink tere is a real disagreement here.

Rob.

It is impossible to have here a full debate about law and the Nazis. BUt looking specifically at the question of the Jews.

The nazis had been in power for a full two years before they legislated aginat the Jews, and this was by their own admission to regularise systematic discrimination that was already happening outside the law.

The 1935 “Nuremburg laws” the Blood and honour law, and the Citizenship law, and their extensions up to 1938 did not sanction, for example, the destruction of property or killing of Jews.

Even given that the 1933 enabling act allowed Hitler to enact any law on his personal authority, no change in the law was actually in place when Kristallnacht happened, so the subsequent incarceration and fining of Jews was legal under the enabling act, but the murders, rapes and destruction of property were not.

At the Wannsee conference in 1942 Wilhelm Stuckart, author of the Nuremberg laws, objected that the mass murder of Jews was illegal.

If you read the minutes of the Wannsee conference, Heydrich states that the legal foundation for the final solution lay in the Nuremberg laws.

In reality Hitler gave a verbal order, not only is it unclear whether such a verbal order is sufficient under the 1933 enabling act, but clearly the communictaion of such verbal instructions down the chain of command is not really subject to the rule of law.

What is more, the mass murder of the Jews was handled differently from some other repressive nazi legislation.

The mass murder of mentally ill and disabled people did follow a written order from Hitler. And Himmler’s proposed Gemeinschaftfremde law in 1944 was not enacted due to opposition from the judiciary.

And as i said earlier, during the 1950s and 1960s several members of the SS were tried in West germany for murder, based upon the german murder laws prevailing at the time their crimes were committed. Which means that the BRD courts at least did not accept the argument that they were acting within the rule of law.

Comment by AN


is that any different from what i wrote: that it would not always be wrong for a progressive state to restrict the freedom of workers’ parties and organisation.

I don’t tnink tere is a real disagreement here.

The point however is that restriction should be decided by the workers, not by their proxy. If you have a (radical) democratic system of government, with the right to recall etc, then there is no problem with the government deciding to dissolve a dangerous group, say the AWL immediate dissolution of the army in a state of war :P. The tankie view (like Trotsky’s early views) suggests that since the workers state is a workers state (which apparently consists in having Lenin statues and red flags), then the workers have nothing to fear from it and any oppositional political group is necessarily “counter revolutionary” or “bourgeois”. Hence, tanks in Prague.

Comment by Korakious

There’s another troubling aspect of the Shiraz Socialist’s take on this. He seems to think that the far left ‘calls for the overthrow of capitalism’ in the sense of calling for the overthrow of democratically elected governments! Apart from the absurdity of making such a call at present, most of the far left does no such thing, and it’s quite dangerous to concede that it does. Cannon’s Socialism on Trial is as Andy says very much to the point here.

Comment by Ken

Korakious: The point however is that restriction should be decided by the workers, not by their proxy. If you have a (radical) democratic system of government, with the right to recall etc, then there is no problem with the government deciding to dissolve a dangerous group, say the AWL

Mmmm. I am not going to be drawn on the advisability of suppresing the AWL, as such humour has a habit of being quoted out of context at a laster stage.

The question here is that you are describing mature societies where the working class are capable of exercising such a role. But socialists sometimes are forced to take power in far less ideal circumstances.

For example Samora Machel in Mozambique, or the NJM in Granada.

They are then the government in small states besieged by imperialsism, and really are forced to act as “the proxy for the working class”

Comment by AN

Sorry folks, i am gonna write in greeklish addressing to Korakious only, coz’ I prefer expressing my views in a language I speak well, rather than English which I don’t speak fluently enough.
===

File wres wres se diavazw kai niwthw axristos.
Exw na pw pws ki egw otan ematha thn eidish amesws skeftika “natone o Chavez, hrthe h wra pou h pragmatikotita ton anagkazei na ferthei stalinikA, pragma pou entinei tis endikseis pws komounismos xwris stalinikes praktikes den noIte praktika.”
Diavazontas afta pou egrapses den exw para na paradexthw oti epesa thima (opws kai arketoi alloi fantazome) tou tropou me ton opoio parousiastike to gegonos apo ta MME. Ontos apo ta simfarozomena, eixa meinei me thn entypwsh pws phge kai eklise ton stathmo me ton tsampouka.
Anyway peretero analysh den mporw na kanw giati den katexw to antikeimeno (opws kai ta perissotera gia ta opoia milas sta proigoumena posts) oute se eidiko oute se genikotero plaisio ston vathmo pou to katexoun oi ipoliloi edwmesa, ara ofeilw na perioristw apla sto na diavazw. Afta.

Comment by oldman


They are then the government in small states besieged by imperialsism, and really are forced to act as “the proxy for the working class”

But that does not make the need for the proxy to be accountable and also, modest (ie, not regard itself as the personification of the working class) go away. This is what tankies fail to understand, which is why they think 1968 was justifiable.

@oldman

kalos tona

Comment by Korakious

To whom could Samora Machel and his givernment be accountable?

Comment by AN

I’m afraid I am as ignorant as it can get with respect to Mozambique.

Comment by Korakious

Excellent post. It’s depressing though that for me it’s been a breath of fresh air in terms of the debate on this issue. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised though that so many of the left have betrayed their underlying bourgeois liberal sensibilities by condemning Chavez.

Comment by Ciaran

Cannon’s SWp was fighting for its survival as a legal organisation at the time the Us entered WW2: Cannon (quite rightly) sought to emphasise to the court that Trotskyists were not in favour of coups, but based themselves upon persuading the majority of the correctness of their policies – in that sense we are democrats. But Trotskyists *are* in favour of the working class taking power, and overthrowing the ruling class – by direct action. Nothing in “Socialism On Trial” contradicts that. Tariq Ali, on the other hand has throughout his career frequently (though less frequently of late) advocated the overthrow of elected governments; thus TWP’s quite justified bemusement at Ali’s argument in favour of the closure of RCTV: that it advocated the overthrow of an elected government.
BTW: “TWP” is not a member or supporter of the AWL and has not (to the best of my knowledge) fallen under our influence (I suspect she is closer to “Permanent Revolution”). The AWL has not commented upon the closure of RCTV and has no “line” on the matter. We do, of course, take the classical Marxist position on Chavez and his regime: he and it is a bonapartist formation, with nothing to do with socialism (assuming that by “socialism” you mean the rule of the working class).

Comment by Jim Denham

But you Jim, who are let us say close to AWL thinking, have written as a comment on the Shiraz blog that the failure to renew the licence is evidence of Chavez’s alleged bonapartism and distaste for democracy.

So it is fair to at least point out that the AWL are not defending the Venezuelan government, whether or not you have a “line” or not on it.

Youo miss the pint about the Thatcher taking of Thames’s licence.

She was acting in the class interest of the boss class and was acting within her constitutional powers.

Chavez is acting in the class interest of the working class and rural poor and is also acting within her constitutional powers.

Of course Thatcher is not justified, not beacsue of abstract concerns about feedom of speech, or jouranlistic freedom, but becasue she was acting for their class not ours.

Comment by AN

And with regard to Chavez’s intersts in supporting working class activists access to broadcast, the Venezueland state has established hundreds of community radio stations under the control of local committees.

This is part of a consistent commitment to participative democracy in venezuela.

Comment by AN

Jim, if we regard Chavez and his government as bonapartist, then we think he’s between classes, right?

But clearly, there’s a conflict within the government and the Bolivarian movement as to what socialism is.

Chavez seems to believe it is working class power — hence his support for communal councils and workers’ councils. Some of those around him, and in the coalition, are not socialists but social democrats.

How do we evaluate the assault on the Bolivarian bureaucracy from above and below if Chavez is not on the side of the workers?

Comment by Charlie Marks

Really good post.

Go to my blog to read the intensity of the debate. My blog has several rightist readers, and this issue brought them out in droves.

The Bolivarian Revolution is raising expectations and causing movement. To dismiss this as Bonapartist, and not having a real alternative is wrong.

Comment by Renegade Eye

Charlie: what is the evidence that Chavez believes in working class power? As opposed to utising fake stae-sponsored “workers'” organisations in support of his populist, authoritarian rule, a la Peron.
But the nearest, and most instructive comparison is with Lazaro Cardenas, President of Mexico while Trotsky was in exile there. Trotsky’s attitude towards Cardinas is instructive. The AWL have commented on this at
http://www.workersliberty.org/node/7702

Comment by Jim Denham

Renegade Eye.

I was interested to read the debate on your blog, there is certinaly a gulf between the debate in the USA and here in Europe!

Comment by AN

Jim, this article doesn’t really say anything.

Comment by Korakious

Was it Andy who said (somewhere) that the term ‘Bonapartism’ doesn’t really tell us anything about the concrete dynamics of a particular revolutionary situation? If so I agree with him wholeheartedly, and quote Gramsci on the matter:

But Caesarism – although it always expresses the particular solution in which a great personality is entrusted with the task of “arbitration” over a historico-political situation characterised by an equilibrium of forces heading towards catastrophe – does not in all cases have the same historical significance. There can be both progressive and reactionary forms of Caesarism; the exact significance of each form can, in the last analysis, be reconstructed only through concrete history, and not by means of any sociological rule of thumb. Caesarism is progressive when its intervention helps the progressive force to triumph, albeit with its victory tempered by certain compromises and limitations. It is reactionary when its intervention helps the reactionary force to triumph – in this case too with certain compromises and limitations, which have, however, a different value, extent, and significance than in the former. Caesar and Napoleon I are examples of progressive Caesarism, Napoleon III and Bismarck of reactionary Caesarism.

Comment by Rob

So much for basic Marxist concepts…

Comment by Jim Denham

Is that supposed to mean that the AWL has a better grasp of Marxist concepts than Gramsci?

l-o-l

Comment by Korakious

Chavez should have either executed the opposition immediately after returning to power. That would’ve put an end to the bosses’ strikes and other nonsense over the next few years, but then again he’s not a Bolshevik but a petty-bourgeois nationalist who has (despite himself) opened up a revolutionary process among the masses.

Comment by Binh

I don’t think Chavez was in a position to launch a full scale offensive against the bourgeoisie.

As Marxists we should always aim for a concrete analysis of class relations in any given situation, rather than voluntaristic aphorisms of the “he should have done thus” kind. There are no premade formulae for revolution and if anything, Chavez’s action have increased the prospects for a socialist transformation of society.

Comment by Korakious

do I ever get to be a human or am I a rightist or a leftistist?
if your ideas have merit you should be able to have them stand on their own in the arena of free thought unless you inherently distrust the people you so seemingly adore and speak for.
are we so deluded by our bourgieouois lameness as to require you prometheans to translate for us and give us the FIRE?
all you want it POWER. Grab it!
Grab the candy like button!!
every body else is stupid, only YOU know what is good for the fatherland!!
great job! I’m so proud of your amazing brain…pfffft.
you get to play commie up here while they get to rot in the gulag.
big balls ya got there camarada.

Comment by Player 2




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