[OPE-L:8579] Re: Re: Venezuela: the way forward?

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Date: Wed Mar 12 2003 - 09:10:00 EST

Dear friends and comrades,
         My learning curve is pretty steep at this time in relation to 
developments in Venezuela (and I definitely appreciate Rakesh's link for 
Bernard Mommer's paper with his points about the earlier effective 
privatisation of the oil industry there). I can pass on to anyone who is 
interested, however, a translated chapter of Marta Harnecker's book on 
Chavez, based on interviews with him; this is also on the Argentine 
website, www.rebelion.com, that has a page for her. The Znet page for 'Life 
after Capitalism' has the paper (in Spanish only) on Venezuela which she 
presented at the Z Magazine sessions for WSF at Porte Alegre.
         'Venezuela: the way forward?' I assume that Jerry's title was not 
meant to ask if Venezuela is 'the' new model but, rather, if it is going 
forward. From what I understand, I'd say there is no question that it is. 
It's definitely not a socialist revolution, though, and whether it will 
become one remains to be seen. Marta's comment in the latter piece is that 
if we mean by revolution the nationalisation of the means of production, 
etc, there is no revolution but if we mean the development of revolutionary 
subjects, then there is a revolution. My provisional grasp is that there 
has been a very significant development of consciousness among the poor 
(identified regularly as 80% of the population) but that group (peasants 
and workers in the informal sector in particular) is not (yet) a class 
acting for itself; Chavez and the military are critical in this context in 
acting on their behalf--- but always, via Chavez, trying to activate the 
poor into self-movement. The natural governing strata, which continues to 
permeate the state apparatus, on the other hand, is intensely politicised 
and well-financed (by the usual suspects). In this sense, one might 
describe this as a case of dual power--- something very visible when you 
see the control of the streets of parts of Caracas by the metropolitan 
police (even though the army continues to occupy their police stations).
         I have lots of questions about what is happening in the economy 
and what the government goals are, and I hope to meet with people this week 
who can give me some answers. At this point, it looks like the goals are, 
on paper, relatively modest--- a return to an import-substitution model 
based upon a very significant change in the distribution of income. This 
focus, which corresponds to Lula's election programme in Brazil, involves 
an explicit rejection of neoliberalism's model of globalisation; and the 
momentum that emerges as this aspect becomes more pointed may be 
significant. Certainly, there seems to be no question that last April's 
coup and its defeat contributed enormously to popular consciousness and to 
'putting the sword into the hands of the Social Revolution' (Marx). I 
think, too, that a successful and well-attended solidarity forum here in 
April will also contribute to the sense that they are not alone in this 
         One brief point in relation to John's comment. Unlike the cases he 
outlined, Chavez did not come to power in a coup. He was elected and he 
continues to stress the democratic and constitutional path. At this point, 
this greatly constrains what the government can do, which is a source of 
(temporary?) weakness but at the same time is, in the concrete 
circumstances, essential to their strength (as the numbers who carry their 
little blue book, the constitution, would suggest).
         in solidarity,

At 19:14 09/03/2003 +0200, you wrote:
>Following Jerry’s [8565]:
>It seems to me also that the situation in Venezuela resembles to what had 
>described by Trotsky and Lenin as Dual Power. However, the Iranian 
>as well other cases from the past call us to be very cautious with what may
>underlie a Dual Power expressed on the political or state level: It is not
>necessarily on the one hand the block of bourgeoisie social forces, 
>by the proletarian or popular forces (aiming at an anti-capitalist class 
>on the other. It may well be a severe hegemony crisis expressed (erupting
>itself) in a fatal fight between two bourgeoisie forms of power (or
>strategies), each one forming coalitions with different popular classes or
>strata. I do not have any idea of the actual situation in Venezuela. 
>I very much esteem the theoretical and political views of Marta Harnecker and
>other comrades who support Chaves). I am asking this question simply 
>because it
>seems to me that coups like the ones of Naser in Egypt, Sadam in Iraq 
>etc., or
>of Khomeini in Iran were not anti-capitalist revolutions but political
>reshufflings expressing the interests of pre-industrial capitalist forces 
>BAZAAR), or/and state capitalism.
>John M.

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently in Cuba. Can be reached at:

Michael Lebowitz
Calle 13 No. 504 ent. D y E, Vedado, La Habana, Cuba
Codigo Postal 10 4000
(537) 33 30 75 or 832  21 54
telefax: (537) 33 30 75

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