Some notes on Chavez’s latest reflections at PSUV founding congress

“In order that
December 2 never happens again” Chavez argued on Saturday that it was necessary
to go on the offensive with the “United Socialist Party of Venezuela as the
spearhead and vanguard” of the revolution. “Enough with betraying the people. We
have arrived here to make a real revolution or die trying”.

Chavez uttered these words as he opened the founding congress of the
provisionally named United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). This speech was
the latest in a series of reflections, following the defeat of his proposed
constitutional reform last December 2.

He argued the case for why the social movements needed to transform
themselves into a political force capable of driving forward this revolutionary
process. Referring to Mission Ribas – which has organised some 500,000 previous
excluded Venezuelans into secondary education – he stated: “This is a social
movement which at the same time should form itself as a political force, as should the unions and other organisations”.

This transformational political force, said Chavez, required a united
and coherent leadership in order to propel the movement towards its goal,
whilst tackling the issues of lack of cohesion and internal disorder between
the parties that threatened the continuity of the revolution.

“One of the ways to confront [these challenges] is through the formation
of the PSUV, the largest political party that has existed in the last 150 years
Venezuela’s history, “larger
because of its level of cohesion, its strength, because of its connection with
the popular masses and because of its political efficacy and revolutionary
quality”. (These last two qualities are in reference to some of the ideas of
Alfredo Maneiro, founder of La Causa R, about who I hope to post some thoughts
about next week here on the blog).

some of the strategic characteristics need for such a party, Chavez commented that the PSUV had to become a party that would
subvert the historic capitalist model of the bourgeois state.

It also had to struggle to avoid the rise of a “new Bolivarian oligarchy”,
of a new bourgeois, because these groups could easily convert themselves into
traitors and counterrevolutionaries. In this sense it was important to impede any
infiltrations in the PSUV by the bourgeois.

These comments come in light of his recent statements about the need to
form an alliance with the national bourgeois. Whilst many on the left have
pointed to this as evidence of the rightward shift of the government since
December 2, many have ignored the statements he made about the need to read
Lenin at the same time. Lenin was a proponent of the need to form alliance with
different classes, including in some cases with sections of the bourgeois, whilst
arguing for the independent organisation of the workers, and working class leadership
of the revolutionary movement as a prerequisite for its victory and survival.

He outlined some ideas for the profile of a militant of the new party quoting
Fidel Castro and Che Guevara: “A cadre is an individual that has achieved the
sufficient political development so as to be able to interpret the grand
strategic lines emanating from the central power, make them theirs and transmit
them to the masses in order to orientate them”.

Understanding the real history of a country and the rise of revolutionary
processes was important stated Chavez, recalling that this year marked 100
years of
US domination
Venezuela, when US intervention
resulted in the overthrow of then president Cipriano Castro and ended the
Liberal Restoration Revolution he had led.

As part of
learning about history, revolutionary processes and training up cadres, he announced
that a printing press for the PSUV would be shortly inaugurated to publish books
and ideological texts. The PSUV will be “a school to transform and create the
new historic bloc and construct socialism it all its ambits”.

To fund this, an account would be set up next month for PSUV militants
to deposit money.

One of Chavez’s big errors in the formation of the PSUV was his initial ultimatum
to the other parties to dissolve or else be seen as part of the opposition.
However none of this sectarian tone was present in his speech at the congress. He
called on everyone to respect the different social currents, such as student
groups, indigenous movements and ecologists who were not in the new party, as
well as publicly withdrawing his previous criticism of the Communist Party and
Homeland For All for not accepting to dissolve into the PSUV.

“We need to link up with them in order to create the grand patriotic
alliance” he said, whilst maintaining that “we need to count on a tightly
united party because the internal and external battles will intensify in 2008”.

His call
for unity was not restricted just to
Venezuela. “There is a resurrection of the
left in the world. Once again the socialist banner is being raised and, once
again, we are the vanguard, together with other countries”. He argued that the
PSUV had to struggle, together with other movements and socialist parties to “achieve
an alliance of the left in this continent so that together we can defend
ourselves from imperialist attacks”.

Turning to the upcoming elections for governors and mayors scheduled for
the end of the year, Chavez said that all personalism and sectarianism had to
be put aside, and that all candidates had to have the support of the base. This
would be crucial to ensuring victory in this important battle he explained,
pointing out that if the opposition was to gain control of important
governorships of mayor’s offices “they would use the resource of the state and
their policies as an armed wing” in their plans to bring down the national

He also referred to the need for the PSUV to lead the fight to reform
the constitution, including campaign allow for continuous re-election of the
president. He stated that it was still necessary to reform the constitution,
but that this would have to wait: “we need to redo the game, revise our errors,
revise, rectify and re-impulse the revolution”.

You can see a video of his speech at