The Dangers of Failing to Deepen the Revolution

For all revolutionaries it is perfectly clear that 2012 will be a defining year of important challenges. Currently, the Bolivarian revolution is at a cross-road. Either we radicalise the revolution and we deepen its changes, or the reformist politics which seek to simply regulate capitalism, as opposed to eliminating it, could lead the revolution to suffer a dangerous defeat in both the long and medium term.


As Marxists, however, we also understand perfectly that there is huge support for the Bolivarian revolution and our comrade-president (Hugo Chavez) from the working class and the exploited masses. That is why on October 7th the working class in our country will turn out in massive numbers in defence of our socialist revolution.

Of course this doesn’t mean that everything is a bed of roses. The vanguard of the working class and the popular movement knows that at the helm of the revolutionary process there is a layer of leaders that have gained power and which have also simultaneously acquired great privilege; they have started to leave behind the popular struggle, the struggle which will advance the cause of the working class and the exploited masses to free themselves from capitalist oppression and power, and at the same time win back some dignity in their living conditions.

This reformist leadership which is content to simply modify capitalism, for instance in controlling the selling price of items or regulating private banks, but which is not ready to break with the capitalists and actually nationalise the banks, industry or large landed-estates and put them under the control of the working class and organised communities so that both the spiritual and material needs of the people might actually be satisfied, is currently criminally putting the brakes on the revolutionary process.

It is true that the missions and social policy developed by our comrade-president have allowed for a significant improvement in life-quality for our people in terms of health, education, access to food, culture and sport. However, whilst the bourgeois state remains intact, and whilst great swathes of the economy are currently in the hands of capitalists, large landed-estate owners and bankers; it is impossible to give a definitive answer to some of the most urgent needs of the masses; the lack of housing, access to employment, transport, health and security. Whilst this continues to be the situation, there is a possibility that important sectors of the population which support the revolution will become apathetic, demobilised and worn out. History offers us harsh and tragic examples of this.

In this sense the presidential elections on October 7th will play a crucial role for the revolutionary process. As we have already said, we are confident that the revolutionary masses will defend the revolutionary process to the end; before, during and after October 7th. However, the counter-revolutionary work being done by the bureaucratic “fifth column” (opposition posing as revolutionaries within government) inside of our own rank and file also has consequences. The glorious Sandinista Revolution, although many people do not know this, was defeated at the ballot box.

Daniel Ortega was the candidate for the Sandinista front in the presidential elections of 1989, and in spite of the huge support which he had amongst the working class and farmers, it was not sufficient to overcome the bourgeois candidate at the ballot box. What was the reason for this defeat? Mainly that a great number of the revolutionary masses, having seen that their most urgent problems were never resolved by the revolution, were weakened and fell into apathy.

In this case we should also take into account the pressure that the effect of the criminal civil war, promoted by North American imperialism with the Nicaraguan bourgeoisie, had on the consciousness of the masses which supported the FSLN. However, there was a more deciding factor than this.

On taking power the leadership of the FSLN, as well as a good part of the PSUV leadership, degenerated into bureaucracy as a consequence of the opulence and privileges which they acquired. The old combative and revolutionary guerrilla leadership of the FSLN fell into reformism, and its only interest was to live off of the revolution and not for the revolution. This is why this leadership was content to merely reform Nicaraguan capitalism without intending to expropriate the capitalists, demolish the bourgeois state and build socialism.

If the FSLN leadership had nationalised the banks, expropriated the large landed estate owners, handed over the land to farmers and nationalised the country’s industries with the active participation of the Nicaraguan working class, like the Cuban Revolution did in the 1960s, then Nicaraguan workers’ and farmers’ support for the revolution would have been so strong and powerful that without a doubt, the imperialists wouldn’t have been able to defeat the revolution, not even by using the criminal and murderous “contras” plan.

The revolutionary workers and farmers of Nicaragua would have absolutely destroyed the imperialists, with even more strength than in Vietnam, and Ortega would have been swept to victory in the elections. It is important to point out that this is not just the “philosophising” of some crazy and radical Marxists as some reformists like to make out, but rather these theses are based on the science of history, which our comrade-president is constantly exhorting us to learn of and study.

The lessons for Venezuela are obvious; here are the great challenges which face us revolutionaries. On winning the October 7th elections, we must immediately radicalise the revolution and push it further to the left, as the only way of guaranteeing a forceful advance towards socialism and ensuring the definitive victory of the Bolivarian revolution over the reactionary forces.

Translated by Rachael Boothroyd for Venezuelanalysis