Re: [OPE-L] Chavez and Trotsky

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Wed Dec 08 2004 - 19:45:26 EST

At 10:07 08/12/2004, Jerry wrote:

>Mike L,
>It seems like the events themselves might be pushing Chavez  towards
>the direction of becoming a revolutionary socialist.  What he
>actually said could be interpreted as a recognition of the need for
>revolutionary internationalism.  Yet, it might very well mean more.  To
>quote Trotsky approvingly on the subject of permanent revolution
>might mean that he accepts the proposition that during the epoch of
>     "With regard to countries with a belated bourgeois development,
>       especially the colonial and semi-colonial countries, the theory of
>       the permanent revolution signifies the complete and genuine solution
>       of  their tasks of achieving *democracy and national emancipation* is
>       conceivable only through the dictatorship of the proletariat as the
>       leader of the subjugated nation, above all of its peasant masses."

         I can't tell you what is in Chavez's head--- only (a) that he is
thinking about many questions and that he is far ahead of his parties (eg.,
when he asked a few weeks ago at a 2-day workshop of newly elected mayors
and governors for strategies for changing the relations of production, the
responses weren't much), (b) we should never forget that he has studied
military strategy (including Mao's writings) and is not inclined to fight a
battle on many fronts at once, and (c) if Chavez is moving to Marxism, it
is in the spirit of liberation theology (and will be presented as such).
         However, you are really posing a question which is not about
what's in Chavez's head but, rather, what is the relevance of Trotsky's
writings now. I'd have to ask what 'the dictatorship of the proletariat' is
in a society where over 50% of those working are in the informal sector and
another 15% or so unemployed, maybe 10% peasants. Out of about 14 million
in the workforce, 1.5 million are organised. What would make a particular
state a dictatorship of the proletariat? Its composition? Its policies? If
the latter, could a state in which all leadership comes from army officers
be the DoP?
         in solidarity,

>Putting aside for the moment the question of the validity of Trotsky's
>perspective,  *if* Chavez has come to believe the above then that has
>enormous implications for how he perceives the current situation and
>what needs to be done next.
>Contrary to the insinuations of Petras, Chavez is no FDR or LBJ.
>Neither, of course, is he Trotsky (most notably, he's not a
>Leninist). Yet, he appears to be a person in political flux who is
>moving rapidly and more explicitly  towards Marxism.
>In solidarity, Jerry

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

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
Residencias Anauco Suites
Departamento 601
Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1
Caracas, Venezuela
(58-212) 573-4111
fax: (58-212) 573-7724

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