Re: [OPE-L] Chavez and Marxism

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Sun May 29 2005 - 11:16:45 EDT

> Question for Jerry: What does Marxism have to offer Venezuelans?  I mean
> specifically Marxism, not anarchism, or revolution without taking power,
> etc.  In other words, what -- for you -- distinguishes the Marxist
> contribution from these others.  I know it's a tough question, but you
> seem recently to be undermining a Marxist understanding rather than
> building/using it.

Paul Z,

I don't think I am "undermining" a Marxist understanding of the situation in
Venezuela.  The very way that you wrote that sentence suggests that there
is "a" Marxist understanding re Venezuela.  I reject the implied singularity
-- there are a _variety_ of Marxist understandings, as can be easily seen in
the literature.

Moving on to your question (which I think is a very good one and not
easily answered for a reason I will suggest below),  I would suggest two
general contributions that Marxism can make re understanding the current

1) we can offer a *class analysis* of the current situation.  An analysis
that focuses on class composition and struggle would be a big move
forward from an analysis that focuses on an individual (Chavez).

2) we can situate the current struggle within the context of the
current period internationally.  Thus, we can put this struggle in
perspective by considering the current international economic and
political situation.  That is, we can offer a conjunctural analysis in
which the relation of Venezuela to the US and other countries  makes
sense. We can also, drawing on a long history of experiences in other
countries,  identify similarities and differences (and hence, dangers for
the present) of  other struggles.

We can, as well,  offer something through our praxis.   This includes not
only _whether_ we express solidarity, but also _how_ we express

Granted, the above is quite general.  But, since it is at least as concrete
as what you have suggested, I think it is a sufficient answer for now to
your question.

However,  your counter-posing Marxism to anarchism not only suggests
(mistakenly) that there is a single legitimate Marxist perspective.  It also
suggests (mistakenly) that there is a single anarchist perspective.  Like
Marxism,  anarchism is a very diverse and heterogeneous political movement.
There is a right-wing (free market libertarianism) and a left wing
(class struggle anarchism).  Class struggle anarchists would agree with
1& 2 above.  Consequently, the division which you are asserting between
Marxism and anarchism is highly misleading: if you want to make a
meaningful comparison, one has to compare a particular perspective
held by some Marxists to a particular perspective held by some (identified)
anarchists.  Anything less that this has the consequence of creating and
perpetuating artificial divisions between Marxists and anarchists.

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: >(A Marxist understanding does not equal a Stalinist
> understanding, so I'd prefer if you forget about Stalinist history in any
> answer, and forget about "small Marxist cults" you mention in your last
> posting -- altho this list could be called its own small cult of
> Marxists.)
We are a small _group_ but that doesn't make us a _cult_.  The
dynamics of a cult are different in significant ways from the general
characteristics of a small group.  Since you seem to think that we could
be taken to be a cult, does that make me a cult leader?

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