Venezuela: Firmness and Participation Needed to Deepen Transition to Socialism

In the name of confronting the traditional oligarchy, whose vanguard is the private media, we cannot leave to one side the dispute with the internal enemy: the corrupt bureaucracy and Bolivarian bourgeoisie. The battle is simultaneous.

is an editorial published in issue 20 of the Venezuelan newspaper Marea Socialista
on July 12th 2009.

The Honduras coup was aimed
at attacking the entire the Bolivarian Alliance for the People's of America
(ALBA) project, and in particular the Bolivarian Revolution. The crisis of the
global capitalist system is deepening and imperialism has entered a phase where
it will try to resolve it with politico-military initiatives. The dangerous
example that confronts it in Latin America is the Bolivarian Revolution and the
ALBA process. The advance in the recovery of land; the latest nationalisations;
the takeover of some businesses bankrupted by the bosses and restarted by
workers as units of socialist production; the advance, although partial, of
many collective agreements and solidarity-based trading between the ALBA
countries, despite their imperfections and deformations, are an alternative to
imperialist trade that imperialism isn't going to allow to continue without

With this coup in Honduras,
a new attack has commenced against these projects of Bolivarian independence
that in some of these countries have been declared a transition towards
socialism. The Honduras coup is an attack that the local oligarchy has
applauded here.

At the same time, the
acceleration that President Chavez, according to his words, tries to stamp on
the process of transition has sent trembles through the bureaucratic structure
of the bourgeois state, completely in crisis and compartmentalised. And the
emerging bureaucracy has reacted with its instinct of self-preservation and
defence of the privileges it has acquired in the ten years of the revolutionary

This is the principal foci
of tension and class struggle. In addition to corruption, manipulation of
projects and inefficiency in finding solutions to the most urgent problems of
the people, there is, on top of all this, the emergence of a new bourgeoisie,
still embryonic, forged in the heat of business dealings with the state. There
is no lack of Bolivarian businesspeople, defenders of socialism of the 21st
century, who are carrying out multimillion-dollar business dealings, competing
for their share of the oil rent. Military sectors, both active and retired, are
not exempt from participating in this distribution, between the bureaucracy and
the new Bolivarian bourgeoisie.

Therefore, in its attempt
to advance at a faster, more determined pace, the revolution confronts two
powerful enemies. The traditional Venezuelan oligarchy unconditionally allied
to Yankee imperialism and the bureaucracy allied to the new bourgeois sector
that is being forged in the heat of business dealings with a revolution that
tries to advance towards socialism in a gradual manner and in a country with a
capitalist economy.

In order to deepen the
revolution it is necessary to attack both fronts simultaneously. In the name of
confronting the traditional oligarchy, whose vanguard is the private media, we
cannot leave to one side the dispute with the internal enemy: the corrupt
bureaucracy and Bolivarian bourgeoisie. The battle is simultaneous.

In the first place, a
decisive attack is necessary against the pro-coup media. Honduras has once
again proven the importance of the so-called media war. It is imperative to
finish the law on the radio and television airwaves that continues to benefit a
bourgeois and imperialist criterion of so-called press freedom, so that it can
be used by the social movements and the political currents of the revolutionary

Similarly, in the political
dispute with the traditional right, we cannot allow the impunity that has
reigned until now for their leaders to continue. Many of these people were
politically responsible for the April 2002 coup and the oil lockout, and
continue doing politics. In this sense a first step is the campaign against
Globovision [TV station] for the violation of human rights that the Association
of Bolivarian Lawyers and diverse social movements and alternative media
outlets like Aporrea are carrying out. Economic measures are necessary to limit
the enormous economic power that this sector still holds, likewise, the
revision of the pardons to the coup plotters in order to put an end to

In the second place, the
fight with the bureaucracy of the process. This is the most difficult, given
that there isn't a clear identification of the sectors in direct conflict
inside the structure of the government and the process. But we can attempt an
initial characterisation of those sectors that we confront. There are those
that resist change in three fundamental areas: the political, the economic and
the military.

In the political terrain
they are those who try to reproduce with a new name the political institutions
of the Fourth Republic, eliminating the advances made in the participation of
the workers and the revolutionary people, and impeding the democratic
development of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in order to
maintain it simply as an electoral machine with clientelist methods. In this
case, the importance of developing the most direct and democratic participation
possible in state policies is based on the development of workers' councils and
social movements that, together with President Chávez, can put forward key
proposals and make decisions.

In the economic terrain
they are a) those who in order to maintain their privileges refuse to transform
the existing relations of production, strengthening a model of state
capitalism, with a pyramid leadership and traditional management, in which the
right to participation and control are denied to workers. This is the case with
the resistance by those sectors that oppose the transformations proposed by the
workers from the basic industries of Guyana and by the management of Corpoelec,
to cite two examples. And b) those who slow the advance of fundamental measures
like the nationalisation of the entire banking sector, the strategic branches
of production such as the food sector and all foreign trade. Also they oppose
the opening of the books of private enterprise which is aimed at putting a halt
to the process of accumulation of enormously disproportionate profits, by
setting a strict limit on that bourgeois sector forged in the heat of business
dealings with the state.

In the military terrain it
is undeniable that the present reforms are positive and have enormously limited
the influence of imperialism and the oligarchy inside the armed forces. But it
has only limited it: this does not mean that it has disappeared. The instrument
of the internal mechanisms of promotion and economic activity, in which
high-ranking military officers form an organic part of the management and
presidencies of state industries and services, represents a real danger. Here
the matter of the revolutionary people in arms, raised by President Chávez on
many occasions, is fundamental in order to assure the defence of the revolution
and confront the phenomenon of foreign or national paramilitarism and hired
killers. A fundamental task of the revolutionary people is to integrate
themselves into and help the development of the National Bolivarian Militia.

The battle of ideas

The ideological terrain is
where the confrontation with the bureaucracy occurs in an intense manner. This
battle will have a privileged setting during the next months: the PSUV

We will only deal briefly
with one of the central topics here: what kind of socialism are we fighting
for? The name "socialism of the 21st century'' is still a label that fills
many jars with different content. The bureaucracy, as a structured reactionary
sector inside the process, isn't only an economic or political unit: it has
also been constructing an ideology, that is, an articulated system of ideas in
order to present them as the keys to the socialism that we should build. There
is a remarkable and enormous similarity of this ideological proposal with the
failed model of the ex-Soviet Union.

This similarity is in the
three definitions that the bureaucracy's natural spokespersons repeat
tirelessly. First, the necessity of a central plan but without the democratic
participation of the workers, or the communities, through their organisations.
Instead they want it designed by technocrats from above. Second, the systematic
attack against the autonomy of the trade unions, denying their historic role as
organisations that defend the interests of workers, above all in a transition
like this, where the capitalist economy predominates. They instead propose that
the unions be simple appendages of the state. And third, maintaining the
existing social relations of production, that is, the present social division
of work between those who command and those who obey, between those who manage
and those who do.

We fight for a different
socialism; we have to construct its finished forms on the basis of historic
experience, learning from its errors, inventing, creating. But the socialism
for which we fight is measured by the progress in changing these relations of
production, and direct democratic participation of workers and communities in
developing the plan, with their organisations, and in the autonomy of the
workers' and people's organisations to fight for their rights.

The debate is open: it must
be taken out to all the revolutionary people especially to the PSUV militants
and to the congress of the party.

by Sean Seymour-Jones for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.