Looking for elements which at this time allow us to establish criteria so that we can have a clear idea of the situation, we identify three principles that can be sources of debate and above all, of organisation and action in the current situation:
1. The “squalid ones” (that is, the same protagonists and political-economic interests involved in the 2002 coup attempt, the liberal-oligarchic project) can retake power.
It’s not an issue of the number of voters in favour of Capriles, although the internal crisis of the official Bolivarian leadership is revealed by that vote. Actually, since 2006 the voting in Venezuela has always been quite close, only the figure of Chavez as a candidate broke with that pattern. The problem is that in the middle of steps backwards of the revolutionary ethics and spirit within the official process, a political-cultural environment that is adjusted to world and national media strategies, is being re-born. The media directs the patterns of consciousness and understanding of reality of a huge section of the population that is inclined towards “counterrevolutionary hate” and mobilisation. In other words, the large discontent that is perfectly justifiable within the bureaucratic and mercantilist order that dominates us hasn’t converted into a decision to radicalise the revolution, especially if we’re talking about the working and poor community sectors. Just the opposite, it comes out of a desire for submission and blind faith in the figure of the enraged boss who threatens to openly confront the “red” government, which has lost strength. It re-establishes the traditional order, expels values and those who deny them, guaranteeing demagogic progress in full obedience of the global and institutional order: the democracy of the bosses.
The reappearance of this subjective hate and obedience of a master force creates fascism as a reactionary, murderous practice, which goes directly against the body of disobedient, hated people, creating all the political and media conditions for it. That, at the same time, helps to sicken an important segment of the population that keeps quiet, and even feels pleasure with the appearance of these forms of hate and blood, creating space for a new conspiratorial cycle that has already begun.
In any case, it’s impossible that this single circumstance could have political success if it doesn’t count on solid internal support within the state. Without any doubt this situation is already taking place and evolving within the official labyrinths, which are in this case plagued by economic interests concentrated around corruption, the boli- bourgeoisie, and the bureaucratic hegemony of openly right wing or conservative people who are direct inheritors of the anticommunist school begun in the fourth republic. Some examples would be [state electricity company] Corpoelec, the health and education management, gangster-ised unions (eg those in the construction sector in Bolivar, protected by governor Rangel), the huge corporate technocracy of the state, a large part of the armed forces officials, the plague of these bosses [capitalist class] within the judicial power and the police, agents without any of their own principles that are already embedded within the political apparatus of Chavismo, the place of honour that the PSUV holds, and so on.
It’s a picture that is already well known, but that is born again, producing the conditions for an effective conspiracy that could, depending on the circumstances, become more violent, or legal, the channelling of the so called “soft coup”. In any case, we’ll see soon what comes out of the High Court and [Capriles’] petition to annul the elections. There, it is perfectly possible that we’ll be surprised and new elections will be called.
Further, we have an economic model, let’s call it “Giordani” [former finance minister] for his evident authorship within the fantasies of the bureaucratic-corporate scheme of vertical distribution of the petroleum income, which hasn’t done much except subsidise the earnings of financial capital, the parasitic importers, and the mafia of fleeing capital, which has put the national economy and social justice at breakdown point.
In any case, from the broadened behaviour of hate and obedience, to the directly or indirectly conspiratorial and counterrevolutionary internal aspects, altogether this “squalid” block led by the hysterical, spoilt, and repugnant Capriles, once again could retake power.
2. The response to this can be found in the people who struggle, and that is something that should definitely be constituted outside the state.
Within the situation portrayed by day to day events, a debate is being had which has already called for the formation of various blocs and debate fronts and the political regrouping of the left of Chavismo. Interventions and documents are starting to show the critical crossroads that we find ourselves in and that the process as a whole finally has nothing left to do but reveal truths that Chavez himself started to recognise with his “Golpe de Timon” speech.
The error, it seems to us, in the initiatives arising from the inevitable anguish, is that they pressure for a radicalisation of the process but they don’t break with the discourse of “for the government”. They don’t name the castrating knots within the process- the monetary policy, the management of PDVSA, agricultural management, the model of dependent industrialisation, corporative bureaucracy, the tragedy of self censorship etc – something which it is essential that it be explained with numbers and directly contested.
Generic criticism is starting to prevail again, the grassroots protagonist continues to be a discourse based metaphor and radicalised state capitalism (bank nationalisations, commercial trade under the monopoly of the state, among other measures) seems to be the step in the manual that we can’t move on from. We fall again into the dream of a government that brings out decree after decree about capitalism as if it were a system external to ourselves and not a social mode of production that totally dominates.
Among these scenarios and the struggles of popular resistance that do denounce realities and officials of oppression (a model case would the Yukpa resistance and the legacy of chief Sabino) a political vacuum is forged which continues to tie us to the bourgeoisie democracy, its institutions, laws, and above all its own models of law-abiding reforms, which in our case sound very pretty – for example when they talk about social missions- but when one sinks into the management and bureaucratic cooptation, its transformed into a revolutionary mirage that has been depoliticised and turned off the will for struggle of the enormous social block on which this process is sustained. It’s there that fascism is reborn, huge strips of the population who argue that the popular bases of Chavismo don’t respond to their demands, and they prefer the hateful, suicidal, and reactionary pole as support to their denunciations.
For this reason, in order for the revolutionary process to survive, it’s a requirement that “popular power” stops manifesting itself as one more wing within a scheme that restricts it to a tamed presence of thousands and thousands of grassroots organisations which sustain an old, corrupt, and useless state. It should profile itself as the power above any other institution, power structure, law, and consequent political culture.
That is, it should start behaving itself like a true power of the people that is winning space, ability to manage, willingness to run, disposition to struggle and mobilise, and casting aside or taking over all structures that still make up the constituted power. It’s a collective power whose equivalent relationship, at the start, with the state as a bourgeois ruling machine, should gradually overcome it pacifically until a certain point is reached (peace as a principle but ready for an inevitable war), eventually imposing a political and constituent quality, productive capacity, ethical base, and generating real values and emancipatory developments, which become superior to the bureaucratic and corrupt order which still dominates us, helping, in this sense, in the generation of new, non capitalist productive relationships.
Are there people for this? Of course not, if we see them as a spontaneous and miraculous creation forged within the enormous labyrinth of organisational spaces that today make up the popular movement inspired by the libratory legacy of Chavez. This would be almost impossible, although I hope I’m mistaken. The true rupture needs, to start off with, two things: the firm and organic initiative of a collective vanguard that makes this line of rupture continuous and progressive; that is, a line of training, broad initiatives of organisation, a willingness to struggle, and conversion into protagonists of production of material and non-material goods that start to respond to collective needs, producing their own economy, communicational network and defence.
And the second thing, although this does sound like asking for a miracle, a hegemonic pole or at least influential within the government, which for revolutionary commitment and responsibility for the place they occupy, they understand that nobody gave them this privilege in order to play with words and the destiny of the people. That if they don’t want to be the main people responsible if this thing drowns in fascism and domination by the most parasitic castes of the bourgeoisie, they need to assume that their politics beyond global commitments with sectors of national business or internal balancing between power factions…they need to break from this situation, if they don’t, they throw in the towel with their “decorous and populist” management.
However, no process is absolutely conditioned on these needs as that is decided through events that the process generates, including the unthought-of events, such as what happened from 27 February to 13 April. It slices through continuities and opens new horizons and new truths, but following political logic, organic construction and demands that don’t contemplate self censorship, are in our consideration, basic premises at this time. We’ll see…
3. It’s definitely the time to win and to make our American and libertarian socialism a reality.
What can be deduced according to our current experience within this tense situation that we find ourselves in, and taking the superiority of people’s power above any other constituted power (political or economic) as a premise, the two previous points invite us to locate ourselves beyond mere critical thought and anti-bureaucratic flights, and instead locate ourselves positively, and affirmatively in the area of the other politics, with the science of the people, of the emancipatory and self-governing order, that is the revolution.
Counter-revolutionary action and the fascist symptoms that always accompany it, is today sustained fundamentally by the media empire, which hides imperialism’s horrors and transfers them onto any political work which manages to socialise the emancipatory desire anywhere in the world. The horror is imposed on a sovereign world of free and equal people. But this would be impossible to maintain if there wasn’t a material substratum that allowed manipulable primary material to be collected.
The problems that we are going through, being immersed in a revolutionary process, is that within the concrete social spaces, “the revolution” often shows itself as clear bureaucratic despotism. Nicolas [Maduro] was told off very clearly recently in Los Teques, and he attacked the complainant, a phenomenon that largely explains the emerging crisis. But this also has a reason for being which goes beyond the bureaucracy. The problem is the concrete relationship between territorial realities and revolutionary construction as such. Popular power and revolutionary acts will continue being fiction while within these territories an “other power” isn’t affirmed. A power that brings about the new world and gets rid of the old one. It’s not just “a republic” that needs to be re-founded, as we announced in 1998 (it’s not an issue of constitutions, laws, new government now), in this case real territories that make up that republic have to be re-founded. Ones that are able to create hope and collective passion with the strength to overcome any collective disillusionment and the consequent reactionary regression. We need, then, a territorial strategy that area by area, the people’s self governed “other republic” can arise.
Many people have wanted to seize this path with the idea of the “communal state”. Nothing is more absurd – and please pardon us Kleber Ramirez, late creator of the idea, and a marvellous revolutionary- than the idea of a state that organises a communal or communist society. There can be a state that assists in the transition (to not be totally anarchist about it and more Marxist), but that at the same time is dissolved by it – the dream of Lenin or Mao. The commune or the real and territorial power of the people isn’t small power, the base of a pyramid. It’s neither below nor separate, but rather it is spread out across the national scene, articulating itself according to political, productive, communicational, technological, and defensive potential, and from there it becomes a power that is strictly rebellious and created from the bottom up.
In the situation we find ourselves in, apparently critical and very dangerous, is there the possibility of advancing along this route? We might say that the critical context and the advances over the last 14 years allow us to say yes, that definitely we have “arrived at the inevitable”. At this time there are some tasks that we have laid out as follows:
*Determining the territorial corridors (from a geologic, social, and cultural points of views: continuous spaces, shorter in urban areas and larger in rural spaces) through which a strategy of organisation, unification of people struggle, and opening of the popular constituent process can be established.
*Division of this corridor into territories or socio-productive spaces, and start a process that creates the political conditions for these spaces.
*Broadest possible meeting of the militant community so that the task of creating people’s power begins.
*Debating and having knowledge of geological, population, cultural, structural, political, communicational, and military territories at hand, it’s possible to put together a “struggle letter” that determines who we are and what we want, how we’ll achieve it, and how we’ll defend it.
*If the conditions are right for proceeding, then the creation of the commune or other fundamental organisational form of revolutionary power which aims to implement the struggle letter. This wouldn’t need to be dependent on any “commune law”, which is terribly complicated, vertical, and delegative, but rather on collective legitimacy of its process, and article 71 of the constitution if one prefers not to break with the constitutional order, and actually give it substance.
*Within this power, of course the basis of legality, justice, a political culture of street and direct democracy, a proud notion of who we are should gradually be formed.
*In order for the sustainability of the process to be guaranteed, the commune or however it’s called, should have a productive base that exists and can be developed, and in that way its autonomy in the face of economic blackmail by bureaucracy and fascist pressure from the bourgeoisie can be guaranteed. However, in the same way, while there are no reasons for a definite rupture, meeting with all institutional allies, establishing negotiations and methods of mutual help where there is an equality of power, as Chavez asked for so many times, is key.
It’s equally important, if not fundamental, and at least highly necessary, that this process counts on the macroeconomic conditions and government policies that allow it to extend across the territory and gradually create the necessary socialist conditions. We repeat what we’ve already expressed many times: the generation of self managed markets with direct and favourable credit, preferential access to foreign currency which multiplies links with other peoples, technology and knowledge, the complete opening up of the formal education system as a permanent support of this process, the transfer of the social missions to direct people’s management, the advancement towards socialisation of the land, and complete respect for worker control. But these and other specific measures will have to be fought for with a lot of insistence as the majority of the government lost its initial vision of this years ago.
In our opinion, if this process begins to be activated very soon, definitively overcoming the Manichean opposition/government confrontation in order to arrive at the essence of the revolutionary process. In no more than two or three years will be able to at least dare to say that this revolution which we have had to fight for, definitively left its irreversible mark.
Translation by Tamara Pearson for Venezuelanalysis.com. This article has been very slightly abridged.