Re: [OPE-L] Chavez and Trotsky

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Thu Dec 09 2004 - 07:32:12 EST

>          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.

Michael L,

No, actually I _was_ posing the issue of how Chavez's politics seem
to be evolving.  But,  if  you wish, we can discuss the latter issue.

> 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 organized. 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?

To begin with -- while there's much to be gained by a critical study of the
history of the  Russian revolutionary movement and the experience of the
Soviet Republic (especially in the early years) -- I don't think that the
strategy and tactics of Lenin and Trotsky can or should be applied
everywhere today.  The principle that _can_ be applied is the one that
Chavez picked-up on -- revolutionary internationalism.

And I certainly agree that the success of any revolutionary movement in
a nation where the 'informal sector' (or the 'petty commodity sector') makes
up a large proportion of the working population depends in large part
(but not exclusively) on the ability of masses from that sector to be part
of that movement.  The debate between Lenin and Trotsky about whether
there should be the slogan of a "dictatorship of the proletariat and the
peasantry" (Lenin) or a "dictatorship of the proletariat assisted by the
peasantry" (Trotsky) does not really speak to this issue (and that truly
is a 'tired' reference).

The 'informal sector' and its relation to the working class, capital,
and the state have to be analyzed more concretely since the relations
between these classes and institutions vary in different social
formations.  E.g. in some nations the state tolerates that sector,
despite its semi-legal status, because it is a group which can oftentimes
be more readily controlled (e.g. by threat of eviction from squatter
encampments).  Thus,  in some of those nations informal sector members
have been observed to be relatively politically passive or even
conservative.  In other nations, the situation is different.  This
issue has to be looked at more concretely on the micro (individual national,
regional, urban) level since broad generalizations about the politics of
informal sector members do not seem to hold.

As for your last question,  the leadership of the revolutionary movement
will have to be extended beyond the officer corps and army personnel
if it is to become more socially transforming.  This is not to say that
progressive officers can play no leadership role in the revolutionary
movement but rather that as the revolutionary experience deepens more
of that leadership must come from the working class and the poor.

In any event, I think you missed my point.  In citing Trotsky on the
strategy of permanent revolution,  I did not mean to suggest that Chavez
was coming to embrace the concept of a DoP.  Rather, my point was
that what might resonate with him is the perspective that in order to
achieve democracy and national emancipation a  revolutionary socialist
transformation is necessary.  If he comes to accept that principle (which
 is a component part of Trotsky's perspective on permanent revolution)
then _that_ has enormous implications for how he views the current
situation and the tasks ahead.  That would be the case even if -- as seems
to be the case --  he is more attracted to Liberation Theology than

In solidarity, Jerry

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