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By George Ciccariello-Maher
March 23, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from ROAR Magazine with permission — Have you heard about Venezuela’s communes? Have you heard that there are hundreds of thousands of people in nearly 1,500 communes struggling to take control of their territories, their labor, and their lives? If you haven’t heard, you’re not the only one. As the mainstream media howls about economic crisis and authoritarianism, there is little mention of the grassroots revolutionaries who have always been the backbone of the Bolivarian process.
This blindspot is reproduced by an international left whose dogmas and pieties creak and groan when confronted with a political process that doesn’t fit, in which the state, oil, and a uniformed soldier have all played key roles. It’s a sad testament to the state of the left that when we think of communes we are more likely to think of nine arrests in rural France than the ongoing efforts of these hundreds of thousands. But nowhere is communism pure, and the challenges Venezuela’s comuneros confront today are ones that we neglect at our own peril.
By Lucas Koerner
March 12, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Venezuela Analysis with the author's permission -- Since the US political establishment began taking seriously the threat posed by Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy in recent months, the self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” senator has faced an endless barrage of red-baiting attacks.
On several occasions, Sanders’ social democratic program has been likened to Venezuela and other Latin American countries of the so-called “pink tide”, conjuring up the now routine images of apocalyptic economic meltdown replayed ad nauseum by corporate media outlets.
Sanders, for his part, has emphatically denied the comparisons– not without a small amount of red-baiting himself– preferring to draw his inspiration from Scandinavian social democracy, where a strong capitalist state guarantees a host of key social welfare provisions for its largely homogenous populace.
“We're not talking about Venezuela, we're not talking about Cuba. We are talking about the concept, which I don't think is a radical idea, of having a government which works to represent the needs of the middle class and working families rather than just the top 1 percent,” the Democratic presidential contender explained at a recent forum hosted by Telemundo.
These assertions aside, there is, however, something about Sanders’ left populist crusade against the “billionaire class” that is much more at home in Caracas than in Copenhagen.
By Stuart Piper
January 25, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Resistance with the author's permission
“They hit us in the stomach. The revolution, and we as social movements, haven’t been able to deal with the problem of food.” Marisa, community activist in La Vega, a day after the election.
Confrontation inside and outside parliament
On the morning of Tuesday, 5 January, a few thousand supporters of Venezuela’s right-wing opposition gathered around La Hoyada metro station in central Caracas. Most had travelled in from the better-off neighbourhoods to the east. The mood was euphoric, but tense. They would march the short distance west to the National Assembly, in the company of their newly elected representatives who were about to be sworn in.
Is South America’s ‘progressive cycle’ at an end? Neo-developmentalist attempts and socialist projects
Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles donned indigenous hearwear and declared 'I will demarcate all indigenous lands' during his 2012 presidential election campaign
By Luis F. Angosto-Ferrández
January 18, 2016 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Progress in Political Economy – Venezuelans balloted last month – again. Nothing exceptional in a country where citizens have cast their votes in twenty different nationwide elections over the past 17 years – more than once annually, if one draws an average. Yet elections in the Bolivarian republic generate an extraordinary level of international attention and a flurry of commentary ever since the late Hugo Chávez was elected in 1998. That is what happens when people in an oil-rich country suddenly reveal themselves as rich in political resources too, and furthermore decide that neither their oil nor their politics should be managed in the interest of national and international elites: the latter rapidly deploy the best of their political repertoire (and their media) to make sure that everyone around the world realises how wrong those people in the oil-rich country are.
Marta Harnecker (pictured) will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.
By Marta Harnecker, translated by Richard Fidler
January 2016 — Monthly Review, reposted on Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission — In recent years a major debate has emerged over the role that new social movements should adopt in relation to the progressive governments that have inspired hope in many Latin American nations. Before addressing this subject directly, though, I want to develop a few ideas.
The situation in the 1980s and ’90s in Latin America was comparable in some respects to the experience of pre-revolutionary Russia in the early twentieth century. The destructive impact on Russia of the imperialist First World War and its horrors was paralleled in Latin America by neoliberalism and its horrors: greater hunger and poverty, an increasingly unequal distribution of wealth, unemployment, the destruction of nature, and the erosion of sovereignty.
Rightists’ election victory poses major threat to Venezuela’s advances: Can People’s Power save the Bolivarian Revolution?
President Nicolás Maduro addresses Chavista supporters on December 7, following election defeat the previous day.
By Richard Fidler
January 13, 2016 - Life on the Left, reposted on Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with author’s permission - Seventeen years after Hugo Chávez was elected Venezuela’s President for the first time, the supporters of his Bolivarian Revolution, now led by President Nicolás Maduro, suffered their first major defeat in a national election in the December 6 elections to the country’s parliament, the National Assembly.
Coming only two weeks after the victory of right-wing candidate Mauricio Macri in Argentina’s presidential election, it was a stunning setback to the “process of change” in Latin America that Chávez had spearheaded until his premature death from cancer in 2013. The opposition majority in the new parliament threatens to undo some of the country’s major social and economic advances of recent years as well as Venezuela’s vital support to revolutionary Cuba and other neighboring countries through innovative solidarity programs like PetroCaribe and the ALBA fair-trade alliance.
Introduced and translated by Richard Fidler, article original published in Spanish in La Llamarada
July 14, 2013 -- Life on the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Two recent events — the second-round victory on November 22 of right-wing candidate Mauricio Macri in Argentina’s presidential election, and the December 6 victory of the right-wing Democratic Unity Roundtable, winning two thirds of the seats in Venezuela’s National Assembly elections — have radically altered the political map in South America. In the following interview, Argentine Marxist Claudio Katz discusses what these setbacks for the left mean for the progressive “process of change” that has unfolded on the continent over the last 10-15 years. My translation from the Spanish.
Katz is a professor of economics at the University of Buenos Aires, a researcher with the National Council of Science and Technology, and a member of Economists of the Left.
The Tragedies of the Global Commons and the Global Working Class: Reflections on the Papal Encyclical
Michael A. Lebowitz (pictured) will be one of the keynote speakers at Socialism for the 21st century: Moving beyond capitalism, learning from global struggles being held in Sydney on May 13-15.
By Michael A. Lebowitz
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — An earlier version of this paper was presented at ‘The First World Congress on Marxism’ at Peking University, 10 October 2015 in Beijing, China.
‘On Care for Our Common Home’: the premises
Everybody is talking about it — the dangers presented by climate change. Adding significantly, though, to the emphasis upon the need to take dramatic action now has been Pope Francis’s recent Encyclical Laudati Si’, ‘On Care for our Common Home’. Its over-riding theme is that we must ‘protect our common home’. ‘The climate,’ the document stresses, ‘is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all’ and is ‘linked to many of the essential conditions for human life’ (23). Not only, however, are we destroying those conditions but, ‘the earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth’ (21). How is it, the Encyclical asks, that we have ‘so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years’ (53)?
Steve Ellner addresses a forum in 2014 on Chavismo in Caracas, Venezuela.
In the first part of the interview (available here) conducted by Evaristo Marcano, Professor Steve Ellner contextualized government politics that favored those businesspeople who did not support the general strike of 2002-2003. According to him, the strategy was relatively successful from a political viewpoint, but not an economic one. In the second part of the interview, Ellner argues that populist policies also have to be contextualized in order to be objectively analyzed. At the same time, he calls for a critical examination of the assertion that the government’s social programs and labor policies have generated low levels of productivity.
E.M. Populism is a topic that has been widely studied and has generated considerable polemics. Renowned analysts specializing in Latin America have dedicated considerable effort to understand the phenomenon. Recently, Margarita López Maya, in an article published in a daily of national circulation, maintained that the upcoming elections in Venezuela will pit the populist model against democracy. By framing the issue in these terms, is she not ignoring the complexity of a phenomenon that, at least in Latin America, has many variations?
Steve Ellner addresses a forum on Chavismo in Caracas, Venezuela.
Steve Ellner is a well-known analyst of Venezuelan and Latin American politics and is a retired professor at the Universidad de Oriente. He has published scores of journal articles and over a dozen books, his last being the edited Latin America’s Radical Left: Challenges and Complexities of Political Power in the Twenty First Century, published by Rowman & Littlefield.
This interview by Evaristo Marcano was originally published in Spanish in Aporrea.org and Rebelion.org
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4546.]Di Federico Fuentes
4 agosto 2015 -- ZNet Italy -- Se Hugo Chavez non fosse morto nel 2013, l’ex presidente venezuelano il 28 luglio avrebbe compiuto 61 anni. Tuttavia, anche se Chavez non c’è più, la sua impronta indelebile sul panorama politico del Venezuela, sopravvive.
Il 6 dicembre i venezuelani andranno alle urne per la ventesima volta da quando Chavez era stato eletto presidente per la prima volta nel 1998. L’elezione di dicembre per l’Assembela Nazionale si avvia a diventare un’altra fondamentale battaglia tra le forze che per 15 anni hanno appoggiato o si sono opposte a Chavez.
Per le forze chaviste, la vittoria è vitale per la difesa e l’intensificazione della loro “rivoluzione bolivariana.”
Per l’opposizione, il successo rappresenterebbe un passo importante verso la rimozione del successore di Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, o tramite un referendum prima della scadenza del suo mandato nel 2016 o per mezzo del possibile uso del parlamento per metterlo in stato di accusa.
Nella maggio parte dei paesi, le persone in carica devono fare i conti con un prevalente umore anti-politico riflesso nella maggiore mutevolezza dei votanti e nei più rapidi cambiamenti di governo. Anche l’Australia, relativamente tranquilla, ha visto quattro diversi governi nello scorso decennio.
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4546.]
Írta: Federico Fuentes
2015. augusztus 06 -- Green Left Weekly/Latin-Amerika Társaság -- A 2013-ban elhunyt Hugo Chávez egykori venezuelai elnök és forradalmi szocialista július 28-án lett volna 61 éves. Bár Chávez eltávozott, emléke a venezuelai politikai színtér kitörölhetetlen része maradt.
December 6-án Venezuela huszadik alkalommal fog az urnákhoz járulni azóta, hogy Chávezt 1998-ban először elnökké választották. Eközött a két időpont között a szegénypárti átalakítási folyamat jelentősen visszavetette a szegénységet és hatalommal ruházta fel a szegény többséget.
Komoly akadályokkal is felmerültek, amely akadályozzák és veszélyeztetik a „bolivári forradalom” – ahogyan a Chávez által vezetett folyamatot hívják – fennmaradását.
A decemberi nemzetgyűlési választás egy újabb kritikus ütközetet jelent azok között, akik 15 éven keresztül támogatták vagy ellenezték Chávezt.
A chavista erők számára létfontosságú a győzelem, hogy megvédjék és elmélyítsék a forradalmat.
By Federico Fuentes
August 5, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Had Hugo Chavez not passed away in 2013, the former Venezuelan president and revolutionary socialist would have turned 61 on July 28. However, though Chavez is gone, his indelible imprint on Venezuela’s political landscape endures.
On December 6, Venezuelans will go to the polls for the 20th time since Chavez was first elected president in 1998. Between then and now, a process of pro-poor transformation has significantly cut poverty and empowered the poor majority.
It has also confronted serious obstacles blocking further advances and threatening the survival of the “Bolivarian revolution”, as the process pushed by Chavez is known.
The December election for the National Assembly is shaping up to be another critical battle between forces that for 15 years either supported or opposed Chavez.
For the Chavista forces, victory is vital to defending and deepening the revolution.
The Socialist Imperative: From Gotha to Now
By Michael A. Lebowitz
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2015.
July 28, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Those who open Michael Lebowitz's new book, The Socialist Imperative, will find something far different and refreshing than the old apologetic Soviet manuals on the smooth workings of a planned economy. What they will discover is a collection of writings inspired by Lebowitz's lifetime of activism and profound solidarity with the oppressed and exploited under capitalism and his revolutionary vision of how to build a socialist alternative.
By Lucas Koerner
July 1, 2015 -- Venezuelanalysis.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro voiced solidarity with the Greek government of Alexis Tsipras after the latter refused a payment of $1.8 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“I want to officially express solidarity to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the Greek people on behalf of Venezuela”, said the socialist leader on his weekly television program shortly after the IMF deadline late June 30 evening.
Greece’s recently elected leftwing SYRIZA government rejected the harsh terms for a new bailout laid out by the Troika, composed of the IMF, European Commission (EC), and the European Central Bank (ECB), which would have meant a continuation of the severe austerity policies that have devastated the Greek economy over the last five years.
“Fear not, Greek sisters and brothers, the path forward is to break the chains of international financial capital and the IMF, to free yourselves from the yoke that tries to consume the people’s blood, the people’s labor, the wealth of countries, that is the path”, Maduro continued.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at the campaign close for primary elections for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, June 26, 2015. Photo: AVN.
June 28, 2015 -- TeleSUR English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Millions of members of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) hit the ballot box on June 28 to vote for the left-wing party’s candidates for parliamentary elections to be held in December. "Here are these candidates, they are men and women who come from the people, they were nominated by the grassroots (of the party), now it is up to you to choose,” stated Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on June 26 during an event to celebrate the close of campaign.
By Lucas Koerner
June 16, 2015 -- Venezuelanalysis.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In an op-ed published in the Spanish daily El Pais, titled "Free the Prisoners of Conscience in Venezuela", the renowned South African Archbishop and anti-apartheid militant Desmond Tutu foresakes neutrality in order to unabashedly take the side of the oppressor, namely the United States and the Venezuelan right wing.
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4439.]
Por Steve Ellner
02-06-2015 -- Rebelion -- Los izquierdistas en Venezuela han formulado varias explicaciones sobre los retos actuales, y el descontento creciente que enfrenta el país, el cual aumenta la posibilidad de que la oposición se apodere del control de la Asamblea Nacional en las elecciones al final de este año. En la lista de explicaciones está la comparación desfavorable de las cualidades superiores del liderazgo de Hugo Chávez con las inferiores de su sucesor Nicolás Maduro. (Este mismo razonamiento es utilizado frecuentemente por los miembros de la oposición, quienes –explícita e implícitamente – atribuyen las deficiencias de Maduro a sus orígenes obreros.) Una segunda explicación es que funcionarios corruptos son los responsables de la crisis económica actual, que incluye la escasez aguda de productos de primera necesidad y una inflación galopante que ha llegado a tres dígitos.
Over three months in the early part of last year, Venezuela was subjected to a campaign of violence and disruption known as the guarimba, organised by elements of the right-wing, US-backed opposition.
By Steve Ellner
May 22, 2015 -- VenezuelAnalysis, posted at Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Leftists in Venezuela put forward a number of different explanations for the pressing economic difficulties and growing discontent that has beset Venezuela and increases the possibility of an opposition takeover of the National Assembly in this year’s elections.