[OPE-L] 'It is now or never' => 'socialism or death'

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sun Jan 29 2006 - 09:23:09 EST

Article below from _Green Left Weekly_. /JL

   VENEZUELA: World Social Forum - Chavez calls for 'socialism or death'

   Jim McIlroy & Chris Kerr, Caracas

      Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez proclaimed "socialism or death" in
finishing his rousing speech to a rally of around 10,000 people at
the Polihedro Stadium on January 27. The rally was a feature of the
Latin American section of the Sixth World Social Forum held in
Caracas on
January 24-29.

      The forum attracted an audience of up to 100,000 people from all
over Latin America and the world, to a feast of more than 2000 public
meetings and seminars on themes of anti-imperialist globalisation and the
struggle for a better world.

      Chavez said that unlike Karl Marx, when he first issued the call for
socialism in the 19th century, "we do not have much time left". The
21st century has now come, "when the dilemma must be finally

      "Time is short. If we do not change the world now, there may be no
22nd century for humanity. Capitalism has destroyed the ecological
equilibrium of the earth. It is now or never!", Chavez declared. "We
should go toward setting up a worldwide anti-imperialist movement. We have
already taken steps in this direction", Chavez told the cheering crowd.
He commented that at the previous WSF in Porto Alegre in 2005, "many talks
were occurring without conclusions. We are not here to waste our time. We
must urgently build a new socialist movement."

      Chavez blasted the US empire. "It is the most perverse empire in
history: It talks about freedom while invading and destroying other
nations ... The empire is very powerful, but not infallible. This
century we will bury the US empire. The empire has to face the
people of Venezuela and Latin America. It has failed in Iraq

      He urged the audience to "imagine a world in which the US
administration declares peace to the world, withdraws its forces,
and uses its resources to produce medicines and food for the poor
people of the world".

      Chavez contrasted the US's record to the achievements of the
Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, with the help of Cuba, which
1.5 million people to read through Mission Robinson in just two years.

      "Injustice and inequality are losing: it is now up to us to define
the formula of unity for victory. We need unity of all our currents.
While respecting the right to autonomy of the movements, including
the green movement and the various political and national movements,
all of us
should get together in a victorious offensive against imperialism."

      Many prominent figures in the international progressive movement
were featured on a podium, including Aleida Guevara (Che's daughter) and
Cindy Sheehan (US anti-war leader whose son was killed in Iraq). Huge
applause greeted Chavez's speech, and the rally included a rousing
rendition of the workers' anthem, "The Internationale".

      Chavez's stress on the need for urgent international political
action against global capitalism and oppression was a major theme of the
forum. The whole conference was filled with the overwhelming influence of
the Venezuelan revolution. The "Bolivarian spirit" was pervasive from the
very first day, when around 20,000 activists marched to launch the WSF.
The lively and colourful march featured the banners, clothing and chants
of the many national contingents, especially from Latin America.

      One contingent was a group of around 15 Australians, marching with
the banner of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network and
chanting: "Chavez, friend! Australians are with you!"

      A panel with speakers from the National Union of Workers, the
worker-managed Alcasa aluminum factory, organisers from
participatory budgets in Brazil, and well-known radical
intellectuals, discussed how co-management and participatory
budgeting were weapons in the struggle against capitalism and in
building a democratic socialism of the 21st century. It also
featured debate on the strengths and weakness of these various
experiments so far.

      Another panel of radical Latin American economists discussed how the
Latin American integration project known as the Bolivarian
Alternative of the Americas (ALBA) was the antithesis of the
US-inspired Free Trade Area of the Americas. The panellists
discussed how ALBA gave activists a strategic and concrete
alternative to struggle for and that it must be a social integration
of peoples at every level rather than only of governments and

      Another well-attended forum discussed the Marxism of Che Guevara and
its relevance. The panel concluded that while Che's thought didn't
contain all the elements of 21st century socialism, he articulated
its essence by arguing that socialism must be centered on developing
new human beings liberated from alienation, and that this can only
be achieved through their active participation in building a society
free from capitalism and all forms of bureaucracy and hierarchy.

      Another forum discussed the massive achievements of Venezuela's
social missions in improving the lives of the poor communities, and
their role in transforming the communities into organised, conscious
and creative social actors in constructing a new socialist
Venezuela, thus giving them a revolutionary character in a
capitalist society.

      Meetings also discussed solidarity work in various countries and
plans for coordination of international solidarity activities with
the Venezuelan revolution in 2006.

      The variety and breadth of topics covered the whole spectrum of
debate in the world anti-capitalist globalisation movement. As the
WSF draws toward a close, discussion is occurring on the future of
the social forum movement and the urgent tasks facing us in the
coming year.

      From Green Left Weekly, February 1, 2006.

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