Venezuela: Marea Socialista -- Firmness and participation needed; The best defence is to deepen revolution

[Translators' note: The following editorials come from Marea Socialista (Socialist Tide), a magazine published by an organised tendency of the same name within Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV), headed by Hugo Chávez.]

Marea Socialista editorial, issue 20, July 12, 2009. Translated by Sean Seymour-Jones for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

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 resistance.

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 process.

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 process.

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 impunity.

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 Congress.

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.

The best defence is to deepen the revolution

Marea Socialista editorial, issue 21, July 28, 2009. Translated by Richard Fidler.

At this distance from the coup in Honduras it is clear that a new counter-offensive of Yankee imperialism -- more aggressive, determined and coordinated than before -- has begun in opposition to the process of the Latin American revolution. And especially in opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution and the countries that are building ALBA, the anti-imperialist bad example that is moving ahead as an alternative model in Our America. With a capitalist system in crisis, and no foreseeable way out in the short or medium time frame, a triumph, even if only partial, of the Honduran masses will postpone for a time the decisive confrontations. It can slow down this counter-offensive, albeit not eliminate it.

The beachheads in this plan are: (1) The coup d'état in Honduras to consolidate a platform for action in Central America, together with the new right-wing government in Panamá, and to send a clear message to the rest of the continent; (2) converting Colombia into a huge base of occupation by US troops; and (3) ongoing counter-information operations to justify military actions.

The imperialist coordination with the local oligarchy is also obvious. The "democratic" plan to advance by way of elections, conceived by a sector of the local right wing, goes hand in hand with the military pressure, the media war and a political and economic erosion of the process. Pincers designed for fascism, to weaken the process and crush it.

Faced with this scenario, the model of a peaceful and gradual advance of political and social transformations once again comes face to face with the "whip of the counterrevolution". The Revolution, to survive, must deepen. It must "demolish the old structures of the bourgeois state and create the new structures of the proletarian, the Bolivarian state" (Hugo Chávez, July 25, 2009). And, let us add, go deeper still, in conjunction with ALBA and Our America, on the road of the international struggle for socialism.

The internal enemy, which nests in the entrails of the process, is no less dangerous. To advance in the deepening of the revolution, it is necessary to put an end to the bureaucratism that is demoralising the revolutionary people like the corruption that is one of its more odious manifestations. For example, there is now an open fight in Guayana between the workers in the basic enterprises and some of the executives that manage them. The latter are resisting, engaging in various types of manoeuvres to block the development of the Guayana Socialist Plan drawn up by the workers in their own consultations. And, of equal importance, President Chávez, a few days ago in the midst of a VTV news bulletin, came out in support of the Socialist Plan. In the electrical industry, amidst the discussion on the collective agreement, the workers are demanding participation in the management of the Electric Corporation (Corpoelec) and the management is resisting.

In the previous edition of Marea Socialista, we described the salient characteristics of this bureaucracy. We noted how it could be identified in its political, economic and military representations. And we pointed to the need for ideological debate, putting forward in opposition to it proposals laid out in an alternative socialist program for which we can fight. This is a task that cannot be postponed. Every revolution has a conservative, reactionary sector that defends privileges built on the basis of its bureaucratic function.

These proposals could be synthesized in institutional policy -- deepening the revolutionary organisation of the working people: The workers' councils, the people's councils, the communes, etc. And the construction of a great national council of workers and the revolutionary people, their social organisations, with powers to plan, determine priorities and carry them out. That is, create a revolutionary organ that, together with President Chávez, debates and implements the central plan that is democratically determined by the rank and file.

In the economic terrain: There is the need to take measures directed toward the socialisation of the means of communication and the nationalisation of all basic and strategic industry. Not only against Globovision, but against all the media that place themselves above the law, actively participating in this imperialist counter-offensive. And not only the major industrial firms in Guayana, but all those that are strategic for our type of rentier economy.

And, to move forward toward food sovereignty, the nationalisation of all foreign trade and of credit and finance. At the same time, to advance toward a change in the relations of production, eliminating the social division of labour. To put an end to the capitalist, top-down scheme of governance and to stimulate the creativity of the mass movement in the management, control and planning of the economic units, and in their national articulation.

The issue is not simply what type of property these units have. Property is only the juridical expression of the relations of production. But likewise, it is essential to control the accounts of the private sector of the economy. Exorbitant earnings are impermissible for a parasitic bourgeoisie, essentially importers, devoting a major portion of the petroleum rent to supporting their own monarchical lifestyle.

In the military terrain: Deepening the positive reforms that are being made, toward a true military revolution. Central to this revolution must be the democratisation of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces, to subordinate them to the new state that must be constructed, with the possibility of social control and supervision over them, breaking with their corporate character. But the most profound change, in the sense of defending the Revolution, is to accelerate, through the social movements, the construction of the Bolivarian National Militia. The genuine transformation in this aspect is the implementation of the slogan "people in arms": The formation of battalions of the social movements. Marea Socialista opens its pages to assist in this fundamental task.

In the international terrain, it is necessary to draw the lesson of the coup in Honduras and the threat of activation of the bases in Colombia, to deepen the integration of the ALBA both militarily and in the coordination of the revolutionary social and political movements, and to build the capacity for mobilization against and popular response to aggression. This is important over and beyond the neighbourly relationships and convenient commercial treaties and political agreements that are possible with governments that have not chosen the road of independence, like Brazil or Argentina.

A major aspect of the political life of the next few months is the Congress of the PSUV, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. It opens a unique opportunity to carry out this debate. It would be tragic if the Revolution were to lose this opportunity. This is an historic moment. The history of revolutions demonstrates that it is precisely in the midst of the process that the greatest advances are possible in developing the shape of the new society, in the revision of the present one, in the rectification of errors. Hundreds of thousands, a genuine revolutionary mass, must be involved in this process. This participation is necessary for the strengthening of the vanguard of the revolution.