Venezuelan left debates the PSUV: The importance of the Communist Party as a revolutionary organisation
By Carolus Wimmer, Communist Party of Venezuela
This question is not a merely theoretical issue, but of immediate practical relevance in the Venezuelan political process. It has arisen because the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) did not merge into the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), which was formed in response to the call made by the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frias. There were even people who said that if it did not do so, the PCV would cease to be relevant, and would be liquidated in the process and reduced to nothing, because the struggle for Socialism would ``rest in the hands of the PSUV''.
The argument appeared to be logical, but I do not believe it actually is. This is because the PCV is fighting for, and will continue to fight for, socialism regardless of the position taken by the PSUV or any other force which proposes to transform and overthrow capitalism.
For communists, socialism is a transitional stage towards what we would perceive to be a fairer society, namely, communism. As a result, we communists are the most iron-willed and determined fighters for socialism. To achieve and build socialism brings our objective closer, that objective being to build a more advanced society than the socialist organisation of society, i.e., the communist organisation of society.
To state this clearly: our struggle for communism demands that there be an earlier stage, i.e., socialism. Under socialism as a means of organising social production and distribution of products, we will be able to meet the basic formulation ``from each according to his ability (to produce for the benefit of society), to each according to the work (remuneration for his work) he contributed or gave, surrendered or produced'', which is the basis of building socialist society. Under communism the basic formula is more advanced, i.e., ``from each (producing) according to [their] ability, to each according to [their] needs''. This implies a very high development of society and of productivity which allows it to satisfy the needs of the collective.
To advance to the first stage, socialism, demands one premise, the elimination of private property in the means of production. Under capitalism there is private property in the means of production. Workers sell their labour power, what they are able to do, in return for which the owners of the means of production pay them a part of what they have produced through the means of their wages. The rest is surplus value which is appropriated by the owner of the means of production and is the basis for the increase in his wealth. That is how capitalist society is established.
Those who own means of production unite with each other to defend that social order that allows them continuously to enrich themselves. And the exploited unite with each other to defend themselves against this exploitation and to fight for a different social order in which they will not be exploited. The united exploiters are called the bourgeois social class, the bourgeoisie, which defends its interests and want things to stay as they are. While those who work and are exploited make up the working class, the proletariat, which defends its interests and wants society to change, to abolish private property, exploitation and capitalism.
The interests of the two classes are antagonistic. For this reason they fight each other, fundamentally in order to have the power to govern the whole of society. This is what is called the class struggle. This is exactly what we Marxist-Leninists consider to be the motive force of history. It is not Marxism-Leninism which is the motive force of history, but the class struggle. Marxism-Leninism and its theoretical propositions are only an instrument for interpreting changing reality, an instrument for interpreting and guiding the struggle, for studying the class struggle at given historical moments, but nevertheless it does not take over from the class struggle as the motive force of history.
This is Marxism-Leninism, an instrument which has been profoundly enriched during the course of history by relying on dialectics, which permits it to renew itself perpetually. Marx used dialectics in his day in the conditions which pertained then. So did Lenin in his day, in the conditions that pertained at that time. And today Marxism-Leninism serves as a guide to Communist Parties all over the world to study the economic and social conditions, the relative development of the class struggles, and in order to formulate their policies for the class struggle and in defence of the class interests of the working class, the proletariat, in the day-to-day struggles going on in each country as they advance to socialism and communism.
It is wrong to speak of Marxism-Leninism as a ``dogma'', of ``dogmatists'' and of Marxism-Leninism having ``had its day''. It is not out of date because it renews itself, it updates itself, and it is applied constantly to existing material circumstances. It is dialectical, dynamic, and it permanently interprets the realities of the class struggle. In this we Marxist-Leninists take the side of the proletariat and working class in the struggle against capitalism. We are anti-capitalists and against all capitalist formations, or formations which engender capitalism.
If, as has been claimed, the new party, i.e. the PSUV, is not going to ``raise the banners of Marxism-Leninism because Marxism-Leninism is a dogma which has had its day'', this cannot be effected by decree but would have to be scientifically proved, something nobody has been, or will, be able to do, because neither has Marxism-Leninism had its day nor is it a dogma. If the new party, the PSUV, does not adopt it, if it sets it aside or expels it from its ranks, that is a question for those who are in that party.
And incidentally it has been repeatedly said that [the PSUV] will adopt its theoretical and political positions, as well as its organisational methods, all to be done on a horizontal and collective basis, discussed by candidate members becoming full members in the course of batallion meetings in which they will discuss and collectively agree their theoretical positions, their political line, their trade union policies, etc., and their constitution, organisation and method of functioning -- but this has not yet happened. In other words, it has all yet to be seen and discussed horizontally, as has been said.
In any event, there were many demands made to the Communist Party of Venezuela to dissolve itself and join the PSUV. Were these just to tell us to shed our communism and Marxism-Lenism? In truth this goes to prove the need for the PCV to continue in existence, as the party of the working class, of the Venezuelan proletariat, guaranteeing the application of Marxism-Leninism to guide the class struggles and the struggle for socialism. It proves the need for ideological, political and organisational reinforcement, to build a great Communist Party of Venezuela, overcoming every difficulty.
To bring this question up today, we will refer to the speech of President Chávez, on January 3, 2008, in which by way of self-criticism he recognised after a year the importance of the PCV and the need to rebuild the Patriotic Pole as an alliance between the PSUV and the PCV.
[Carolus Wimmer is a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Venezuela and a deputy in the Latin American Parliament. This article appeared originally in German in the January 12, 2008, issue of the left-wing newspaper Die Tageszeitung Junge Walt at http://www.jungewelt.de/2008/01-12/005.php?sstr=Carolus%7CWimmer .]