Venezuela: Socialist party prepares for ‘transition to socialism’

On August 1, United Socialist Party of Venezuela
(PSUV) members across the country participated in 1556 local assemblies to
discuss the reorganisation of the party's base into local patrols

By Federico Fuentes - Green Left Weekly
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On August 1, United Socialist Party of Venezuela
(PSUV) members across the country participated in 1556 local assemblies to
discuss the reorganisation of the party's base into local patrols.

This push to strengthen revolutionary organising comes
at a time when attacks on Venezuela's revolutionary process revolution "from
outside and within have intensified", Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, also
president of the PSUV, said on August 4.

"Each time that the revolution advances and accelerates its march, the attacks
intensify.

"I will continue to put my foot down on the accelerator of the Bolivarian
revolution. That is my role, that is my task and there is no time to lose.

"Today, in Venezuela, we are creating a true socialist democracy."

After his re-election in the December 2006 presidential elections, Chavez
issued a call to build a "new party... from the base" and at the service "of the
people and the revolution, at the service of socialism".

As an expression of a deeply felt need for greater revolutionary unity, almost
6 million people enrolled as aspiring PSUV members between April and June,
2007.

Organised into 300-strong local battalions, several hundred thousand aspiring
members embarked on the task of building the PSUV, which held its founding
congress in early 2008.

However, a national leadership handout distributed at the assemblies said the
process of forming battalions had generated "a number of logistical
difficulties [that meant] grassroots participation in the battalion meetings profoundly
diminished, and in doing so debilitated [their] functioning and political
performance".

Drawing on the lessons of previously successful election campaign structures,
the leadership announced a re-organisation of the bases, where activists who know
each other and live in the same street, block, or local community, were to
unite into patrols comprising 20 to 30 members.

The smaller size and self-selecting nature of the process aims to facilitate
greater organisational capacity and cohesion.

It is expected between 100,000 to 200,000 patrols will be formed in the lead up
to the PSUV's second national congress, scheduled to begin on October 10.

Despite announcements by Jorge Rodriguez, head of the PSUV's national
organisation commission, that patrols would only be organised on a territorial
basis, representatives of the PSUV's Socialist Workers Front told Green
Left Weekly
that Chavez proposed they move ahead with forming factory- and
workplace-based patrols.

PSUV Youth members have also said they plan to form university and high school
patrols. Despite more than 60% of the 1.5 million new members who signed up
this year being below the age of 29, youth participation in the assemblies was
extremely low.

On the political front, activism in local communities and ideological formation
was emphasised. The PSUV leadership document, circulated for discussion at the
assemblies, said this was crucial for "accelerating the transition to
socialism".

The document said this transition involved "the transformation of the bourgeois
state into a revolutionary and democratic state ... the creation of socialist
property relations over the means of production ... [and] the creation of
revolutionary consciousness in working people [through] a profound ideological
and cultural revolution".