What is Socialism Today?

What has become of socialism? I mean the real one, the one that through revolutions or popular elections jumps into individual and social perceptions out of the opinions revealed in books and articles. Is it what Marx and Engels predicted? Or rather, is it what Vladimir Lenin tried to install and partially did? Or maybe, the social phenomenon really is how Stalin built it or the Chinese did before and/or are doing now, or the Cubans, and how about the experience of the African states? The list is long and is even longer if you add the thoughts of anarchists, utopians, constructivists, social democrats, etc.

To reflect on the subject makes sense to Venezuelans and, I suppose, to most of the progressive people of the planet because in this part of South America,* there is a process of social change that has as its undoubted direction a move towards socialism under the guidance of a socialist party and a leftist leadership that emerged from historical radical movements and a military that is often associated with those ideas and our late leader and Commander of the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution, Hugo Chavez.

First of all, I am quite sure that the difficulties are not of a subjective nature, because as I said in the previous paragraph, we have a leadership, a party, successive electoral victories of our President Nicolas Maduro after the loss of Commander Hugo Chavez** that was narrow at first (April, 2013) but was widely expanded in the elections for Mayors in a national vote before the year ended,*** because the margin of difference was propelled from 1.6% to 11% of the votes.

On the other hand, what we have so far in the objective part of the process are very small achievements in the fields of production and productivity, albeit in the social field, due to the oil rent, we were capable of expanding social expenditures and addressing many of the long accumulated problems of health, education, labor, access to public utilities, housing and others.

But, why, after 15 years of revolution, even with all the explanations of a coupd’etat, oil industry shut-down, internal and international conspiracy, and economic interference, haven’t we been able to modify agricultural and cattle production to meet the consumption requirements of the Venezuelan people? Why, at this stage of the revolution, do we have to use oil rent to import consumption goods that should be produced domestically? Why don’t we have a manufacturing industry reaching real maturity? Of course the continued attacks against our revolution aimed at eliminating the “bad example” from the Western Hemisphere through all its varied means have an important influence, but I do not think it is all.

These concerns must not go unanswered. The purpose of this essay is to hint at a characterization of Venezuelan reality, of its difficulties, and possibilities of advancement, at clarifying strategic and tactical objectives, all under the scope of the fulfillment of a Socialism that delivers solutions to the problems of the people as a society and that not only responds to the addition of individuals but also to the integrity, to the whole social body, a collectivity.


* There are also other countries that follow similar revolutionary processes, like Bolivia, Cuba and Ecuador. Also, with more distance, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay.

** Commander Hugo Chavez passed away on March, 5, 2013.

*** Mayoral election were held on December, 2013.

Fernando Vegas is a Supreme Court Judge in Venezuela



  1. Fernando Vegas Torrealba August 28, 2014 5:08 pm 

    Dear, John Goodr:

    First of all, thank you for your comments, I am writting a series of four articles about what to create in Venezuela regarding Socialism.

    Tha above one is the first of them and I can see you have, more or less , the same worries about what is true Socialim about, In example, we both descredit the so called capitalism of state as a form of Socialim.

    Perhaps when you read the second one you will have more material to make your reflections and share them with us .

    Un abrazo,

    Fernando Vegas

  2. John Goodr August 20, 2014 4:19 pm 

    What is socialism ?
    What it is not is the state capitalism that it has now become in the minds of the public .

    I believe the entire following is by Paul Street and it should help those who think Cuba is socialist or that the Soviet Union, China Vietnam or the DRK were or are.

    “Does the misery and collapse of the Soviet Union/bloc really discredit Marxism or other forms of non-capitalism?

    ‘One can debate the meaning of the term socialism’ (Noam) Chomsky noted in the wake of the collapse of the S.U., ‘but if it means anything it means the control of production by the workers themselves , not owners and managers who rule them and control all decisions , whether IN CAPITALIST ENTERPRISES OR AN ABSOLUTIST STATE.’ ( EMPHASIS MINE jg)

    “Bearing that consideration ( true to Marx ) in mind and adding in the question of WHO CONTROLS THE ECONOMIC SURPLUS ( emphasis mine Jg) .
    The U.S. Marxist economist , Richard Wolff reasonably describes the Soviet experiment as a form of “state capitalism” . Under the Soviet model , hired workers produced surpluses that were appropriated and distributed by the ……state officials who functioned as employers
    Thus the Soviet industry was actually an example of state capitalism in its class structure..
    By calling itself socialist- a description of “Marxist Russia” that U.S. Cold Warriors and business propagandists eagerly embraced for obvious reason – the Soviet Union prompted the redefinition of socialism to mean state capitalism ”

    End quote.
    If an economic system is run from the top, it cannot be called socialist .
    It does not get any easier to understand than that.

    Venezuela is a long way from being a socialist country .

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