[Marxism] Re Tariq Ali on the Chavez victory

Ralph Johansen michele at maui.net
Tue Aug 17 14:46:42 MDT 2004

Brian Shannon wrote:

To: Marxmail <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Subject: [Marxism] Tariq Ali on the Chavez victory
From: Brian Shannon <Brian_Shannon at verizon.net>
Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2004 23:39:27 -0400
Reply-To: Activists and scholars in Marxist
tradition<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
Sender: marxism-bounces at lists.econ.utah.edu


A few weeks ago in Caracas I had a lengthy discussion with Chavez
ranging from Iraq to the most detailed minutiae of Venezuelan history
and politics and the Bolivarian programme. It became clear to me that
what Chavez is attempting is nothing more or less than the creation of
a radical, social-democracy in Venezuela that seeks to empower the
lowest strata of society. In these times of deregulation, privatisation
and the Anglo-Saxon model of wealth subsuming politics, Chavez' aims
are regarded as revolutionary, even though the measures proposed are no
different to those of the post-war Attlee government in Britain. Some
of the oil-wealth is being spent to educate and heal the poor. . . .
When I asked Chavez to explain his own philosophy, he replied:

'I don't believe in the dogmatic postulates of Marxist revolution. I
don't accept that we are living in a period of proletarian revolutions.
All that must be revised. Reality is telling us that every day. Are we
aiming in Venezuela today for the abolition of private property or a
classless society? I don't think so. But if I'm told that because of
that reality you can't do anything to help the poor, the people who
have made this country rich through their labour and never forget that
some of it was slave labour, then I say 'We part company'. I will never
accept that there can be no redistribution of wealth in society. Our
upper classes don't even like paying taxes. That's one reason they hate
me. We said 'You must pay your taxes'. I believe it's better to die in
battle, rather than hold aloft a very revolutionary and very pure
banner, and do nothing ... That position often strikes me as very
convenient, a good excuse ... Try and make your revolution, go into
combat, advance a little, even if it's only a millimetre, in the right
direction, instead of dreaming about utopias.'

And that's why he won.

Marxism mailing list
Marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu

Is this is a reformist message, flat out? A stagist message? Can he do it?

Below are clips and 3 URLs to Alan Woods on the outcome and prospects..
There must be a lot of Latin Americans and countless others watching
this Venezuelan election very very closely. To say nothing of the predators
the US, who have read about the outcome in their morning Washington Post.

Yoshi notes that there are relatively few polling places in the barrios
and long lines, people waiting up to ten hours to vote, which must have
discouraged many, and may have skewed the vote.

Carter and the OAS were compelled by the clear evidence and no doubt by
elemental prudence to declare it a fair election. Repercussions, in Latin
America and in the US, could be enormous. But here Alan Woods warns
against a populist course, the chavistas trying to make half a revolution, a
pyrrhic peace with an intractable opposition who have the capacity to
disrupt and distort the efforts of the Bolivarians since they hold all the
key sectors of the economy, the banks, insurance, industry, distribution;
they freely export their profits to Miami banks, and they take these actions
with the with the full economic, diplomatic and military support of the US

Unless his forces take full advantage of his mandate, taking control of the
commanding heights in something similar to the manner he describes,
Woods implies that Chavez could then end up, not like Castro, but like
Lula or the Sandinistas or even Allende.

What's right or wrong with this picture? Has Chavez really got that sort of
mandate? Is now the time in Latin America?


Hands Off Venezuela Campaign

The recall referendum in Venezuela

A crushing blow to the counterrevolution

By Alan Woods
In Defence of Marxism- http://www.marxist.com

At 4:03 this morning Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) announced
the result of the recall referendum on the government of the Venezuelan
President Hugo Chávez Frias. A tally count of 94,49 percent of ballots from
automatic voting machines revealed that the opposition had failed to obtain
more votes than those who wanted Chávez to stay. There were 4,991,483 "no
votes ", representing 58.95 percent of those voting, against 3,576,517 "yes"
votes, representing 41.74 percent.


The referendum has roused the masses. There was unprecedented voter
participation because everyone knew what was at stake. As a result
Venezuelans were queuing for up to 10 hours to vote.


Once again the working class and poor people of Venezuela displayed an
unerring class instinct. It was reported that in the working-class
neighbourhood of Petare, people were queuing since 4 am. When it became
clear that the opposition had been defeated, the mood of the masses erupted.
The streets around the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas were full
of pro-Chávez demonstrators celebrating this new victory for the Bolivarian
revolution. Venezuelanalysis.com reports: "Chavistas have taken the streets
of working class neighbourhoods blowing horns and playing music. Fireworks
and firecrackers can also be heard in working class sections of Caracas,
resembling a New Year's celebration."


What now?

As we predicted a few months ago, the imperialists understand that the
time is not ripe for a new coup, which would lead to civil war - a civil war
that they would certainly lose. Therefore, they have decided to adopt a
different tactic. Having failed to take their objective by assault, they
will resort to siege warfare. The struggle has not ended - merely passed
onto a different plane. The counterrevolutionaries and their imperialist
allies will wait until the correlation of class forces is more favourable.
They will move again. But for now they must beat a tactical retreat and lick
their wounds.

Does this mean that everything is solved and that the opposition has been
decisively defeated? No, it means no such thing. What the referendum
campaign has shown is that Venezuelan society is extremely polarized between
right and left. This polarization will not disappear after the referendum,
but steadily increase. In that sense, the referendum has solved nothing. The
counterrevolutionaries will regroup their forces and prepare for a new
offensive once the conditions are more favourable.

On the international plane they will not cease their campaign against
the Venezuelan revolution, or drop their claims that Chávez has
authoritarian tendencies. With the aid of organizations like Súmate, they
will publish fake exit polls that directly contradict the official results,
to show
that the outcome was based on fraud. They will continue to sabotage
and obstruct the progress of the revolution, attempting to cause economic
and social chaos. They will never be satisfied until Chávez has been
overthrown and the gains of the Bolivarian revolution completely liquidated.

The latest victory of the Chávez government places the bourgeois opposition
in a difficult position. This is the fourth time that a free election in
Venezuela has given a decisive majority to Chávez. The Venezuelan
bourgeoisie is getting increasingly desperate. The class war is intensifying
all the time. The workers and peasants, encouraged by the result of the
referendum, will demand more reforms and a deepening of the revolutionary
process. The bourgeoisie and the imperialists will demand a halt and a
reversal. The government will find itself ground between two millstones.

The massive voter participation on Sunday is a clear reflection of the
extreme political polarization of Venezuelan society to the right and left.
The immediate question was the permanence of President Hugo Chávez in
office, but far deeper questions are involved, and these questions remain to
be solved. It was necessary to win the referendum, but the referendum result
will not solve these fundamental problems. It will only pose them in an even
sharper way.

Those leaders of the Bolivarian movement who argued that, by holding the
referendum, the enemies of the revolution would be silenced, have been shown
to be wrong. The internal and external enemies of the Venezuelan revolution
cannot be reconciled by elections, referendums and negotiations. They will
only be satisfied when the revolution is defeated. Not to recognise this is
the height of irresponsibility.

On previous occasions when the masses defeated the counterrevolution there
was a golden opportunity to carry through the revolution to the end and
finish the power of the oligarchy once and for all. But on each occasion the
opportunity was thrown away. The leaders allowed themselves to be seduced by
the siren voices that argued for "moderation" and "negotiation". The
inevitable result was a new offensive of the counterrevolution.

It is time to learn the lessons! One cannot make half a revolution. As long
as the oligarchy continues to maintain its hold on important sections of the
economy, it will continue to act as a Trojan Horse of US imperialism,
sabotaging and undermining the Bolivarian revolution. It is time to ask
ourselves the key question: can we allow the interests of a handful of rich
parasites to decide the destinies of millions of people? Or will we put an
end to this situation once and for all, expropriating the property of the
counterrevolutionaries and taking the road of socialist democracy?

The 15 August referendum will enter the annals of revolutionary history as
a victory for the working people - on one condition: that it is not wasted,
that initiative is not handed back back to our enemies, but that blows
are struck against them that will destroy the basis of their power... the
way to build upon the Chavista victory and turn it into a decisive
transformation of Venezuelan society.

Theses on revolution and counterrevolution in Venezuela
Part One  http://www.marxist.com/Latinam/theses__revolution_venezuela.html
Part Two  http://www.marxist.com/Latinam/theses_revolution_venezuela2.html

Mexico City,
May 20, 2004

More information about the Marxism mailing list