Opinion and Analysis: Participation | Social Movements
Comrade Chavez, If You Want to Know What Happened to the Communes, Ask the People
Where are the communes?
It worried us to hear the president asking "where are the communes". Humbly, and with revolutionary determination we say to Comrade Chavez, if you want to know where the communes are, then you should ask the people directly! If you were to do this, then you would immediately find more that 80 commune experiences which are in the process of construction, which have made both good decisions and mistakes, which have different levels of integration, cooperation and harmonization, and you would find that that we are building them with all of our might and dedication. To borrow from one of our comrades in the guerrilla struggle in the mountains of Falcon, Edgar Olivet, "The only thing which is real and lasting is that which is built by the people through their effort and determination, anything else is simply a mirror image of colonialism".
If you ask the Minister of Communes where the communes are, then she will of course tell you that the communes haven't registered, that they didn't meet a certain requirement for FUNDACOMUNAL, that they need more time to become "proper communes", [i.e.] those that have community "battle rooms," communal brick-making or carpentry cooperatives, [and] maybe she would even tell you that the Venezuelan people are extremely irreverent and that they just don’t want to construct the communes.
If you ask the governors and mayors, they’ll tell you (with very few exceptions) that they don’t have the resources to put into practice those government "policies,” that they need more funds, and they will also leave that unspoken question hanging in the air "Are you going to eliminate local government and mayoralties?". Or they will tell you that the people who are currently building the communes are anarchists, the ultra left, or finally the most infallible argument of all, that there are a bunch of counter-revolutionaries who have infiltrated the communes.
If you ask the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, the national leadership will hesitate before answering, because they have neglected that fundamental principle which should be revered by any revolutionary party; "every socialist militant should be organically involved in the popular movement," as understood in its diverse spheres and territorial expressions. Others will answer that there are many collectives which are promoting the communes and that they are autonomous. The majority will argue that we are a vanguard, but that the "masses" aren’t ready for the communes yet.
However, if you ask the people, Comrade Chavez, we will tell you that:
1. Since 2009 a revolutionary movement called the National Network of Communards has existed, and that we are constructing the communes through our own knowledge and actions, because we aspire towards a communal way of life, as a community, in socialism or communism.
2. We started by coordinating 16 communal processes in construction and today we have more than 80 experiences, amongst which we have communes, communal cities, communal territories, direct social property enterprises, direct exchange markets, political training schools, community media and revolutionary collectives and individuals.
3. We believe that the construction of the communes and their different levels of organisation and integration should come from the efforts of the people, and that the role of the revolutionary government should be to facilitate that process, to accompany us in the long struggle which emerges from changing from one form of government to another, to construct participatory democracy, build a communal economy which goes beyond businesses, and above all, construct what (Venezuelan educator, Simon Rodriguez) Robinson was referring to: "that the people learn to govern themselves". We learn to govern ourselves by doing it!
4. We have developed this training process working with our own facilitators and methodological tools, supported by some comrades who have managed to "infiltrate" public institutions of the State, with the central idea of critically analysing our local, regional, national and international reality in order to be able to transform it.
5. Thanks to fraternal debate we have made a series of contributions towards the construction of the communes. Within that context, we have held 4 national forums with the participation of 400 spokespeople at each one, as well as with the presence of international guests.
6. Since the national forum held in Carora in 2011, we agreed to hold forums according to different topics or areas. We began with the communal economic system, then communal political organisation, and for the coming month in November we have planned a forum on communication. We will close these area-orientated forums with the topic of political education, from which we intend to create the communal school.
7. We have designed projects of great importance and some of them have been put into practice through the contributions of each communard, contributing to the dismantling of the rentier subculture that we still have. We would do more if we had more decision making powers and more control.
8. We are creating communal legislation as part of some commune experiences with the intention of making sure that the norms of communal living, which are established democratically, are complied with. This legislation will have a bearing on everyday life.
9. We are constructing a Communal Network for the Production and Distribution of Food, currently in the vanguard district of Lara, Portuguesa and Yaracuy, which will progressively drive forward the free production of agrochemicals and contribute towards gaining our food sovereignty.
10. The difference in the amount of headway made in each experience in terms of class consciousness and material gains is related to numerous factors, one of them is the “unifying factor,” that’s to say, each process identifies with a collective problem or aspiration which unifies and mobilises participant; from the areas of tourism and agro- production, to cultural matters such as the recuperation of values and the self-recognition of the community.
11. We intend to keep pushing forward the proposal “Contributions to the Programme for the Homeland,” a manifesto which is full of reflections on the contradictions within this revolution; attempting to create the communes through the logic of the liberal bourgeois state, the fact that no State in history has managed to destroy itself. The State was created for the oppression of one class over another. We are that other class, the exploited, oppressed and enslaved class. In that same order of ideas, we believe that the revolution has opened up the possibility for us to create, and that is why we should look after it, and in that sense criticism and self-criticism is vital.
12. Up until now we have set out our objectives in the political, cultural, economic, communicational, organisational and environmental spheres. In terms of security at its various levels, the local, regional, national and international, we still have a long way to go. Even though an assessment indicates that we have made some headway, we need to gain more strength, as historically we are justified, as a people who struggle against oppression.
13. Almost nothing about this appears in the national, regional and local media, because evidently there are interests at play which are antagonistic to our own; in the national system for public media (with some exceptions) any form of popular power which is not co-opted is presented as somewhat inconvenient, and furthermore, the priority of the public media is not to show what the people have constructed or their different forms of organisation.
14. Finally Comrade Chavez, if you ask us directly we will tell you that the communes and the workers’ councils/workers control are a concrete possibility for everyday socialism which can be carried out through instruments and tools that we must also create, because they still don’t exist, that have not been created, we have to do this, to unmake and remake, guided by certain basic signals which point us in the right direction, knowing that the struggle is against the exploitation of the human being and for the construction of a popular and permanent constituent process, participatory and protagonistic democracy, solidarity, mutual-support, legitimacy over legality, new socialist ethics, the strengthening of our ability to co-manage and self-manage, participatory planning, collective leadership, balancing our accounts, fraternal debate and opening up a dialogue on knowledge, amongst others things.
All of this is nothing like any ministry or institution created up until now, which leads us to believe that we should create a new space or collective decision making body where the movements which are propelling the construction of the communes feel as though they are represented and can express themselves; where there is an alternating role for a legitimate spokesperson (from the movement) to connect with the other institutes of the State, in line with the second Socialist Plan (for the nation) and committed to the fact that we will only be able to defeat imperialism and its lackeys if we are united, united as that popular power which keeps pushing forward determinedly, like the sun does with the moon every morning.
Translated by Rachael Boothroyd for Venezuelanalysis.com
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