Re: [OPE-L] Venezuela After the Referendum

From: Dogan Goecmen (dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Thu Dec 06 2007 - 04:42:15 EST


Hi Dave,

many thanks for your reply. 

"It is true that in revolutionary situations --- i.e. *political* revolutions that overthrow the existing state apparatus --- the contending political forces boil down a question of their military strength and tactics. Under such periods of transition strong leadership, on either side, is decisive in the outcome."

This is true. But it is not the only situation you might need strong leadership. In political struggles there are sometimes situation in which subjective elements need to be more relied on. This would require strong leadership. In situation of illegal fights for example. But also in situation in which the presure of your advarsaries huge and you cannot act *freely*.   There is another situation in which you might need strong leadership: in times of political triedness of masses.

"But the situation in Venezuela is not revolutionary in this sense. In fact, I dare say, in any parliamentary state in which there is universal suffrage and no election fraud or large-scale social disaster, political revolution is unlikely to receive mass support. Under such conditions, a revolutionary struggle is both undesirable and unlikely to succeed. Consequently, in a period of transition strong leadership is not unavoidable."

I do not agree with your analysis of the situation in Venezuela entirely. First I suggest to differentiate between a broad and an narrow concept of revolutionary  situation. From that perspective, that is, from the broad concept of revolutionary situation, any situation in capitalist society is revolutionary because it rests on the contradiction between wage labour and capital. Your description bears in mind the narrow concept of revolutionary situation in which masses are actually prepared to overthrow the existing state apparatus. In Venezuela when the existence of Bolivarian government was at stake they supported it. At the moment they seem to be not sure about how to continue and to build socialism. It is also clear that they do not want to go back to the old regime with neoliberal policies. This is exactly a situation in which a strong leadership is needed - not to suppress the masses but to insist on the neccessity of the deepening the revolutionary change for socialism.

Comradely,
Dogan


-----Ursprüngliche Mitteilung----- 
Von: Dave Zachariah <davez@KTH.SE>
An: OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU
Verschickt: Mi., 5. Dez. 2007, 18:54
Thema: Re: [OPE-L] Venezuela After the Referendum


Hi Dogan, 
 
You wrote: 
> I think that in the period of transition the strong leadership is > unavoidable. 
 
I think this is a mistaken conclusion. It is true that in revolutionary situations --- i.e. *political* revolutions that overthrow the existing state apparatus --- the contending political forces boil down a question of their military strength and tactics. Under such periods of transition strong leadership, on either side, is decisive in the outcome. 
 
But the situation in Venezuela is not revolutionary in this sense. In fact, I dare say, in any parliamentary state in which there is universal suffrage and no election fraud or large-scale social disaster, political revolution is unlikely to receive mass support. Under such conditions, a revolutionary struggle is both undesirable and unlikely to succeed. Consequently, in a period of transition strong leadership is not unavoidable. 
 
I completely agree with Paul C that if socialism in the 21st century rests on strong leaders it is likely to repeat mistakes made in the 20th century. This is one of the great failures of the Left. 
 
//Dave Z 
 
> 
> -----Ursprüngliche Mitteilung----- 
> Von: clyder@GN.APC.ORG 
> An: OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU 
> Verschickt: Di., 4. Dez. 2007, 23:16 
> Thema: Re: [OPE-L] Venezuela After the Referendum 
> 
> It did strike me as odd that as a trotskyist Woods would be so 
> blase about constitutional changes which enhance the position 
> of a strong leader. It could hardly be said that 20th century 
> socialism suffered from a lack of strong leaders, quite the reverse. 
> 
> Tariq Ali and Dieterich seem more perceptive in their analysis 
> of the incipient party/state and the excessive centralisation of 
> power. 
> 
> > Woods doesn't mention the substance of the proposed constitutional 
> > changes. 
> > Since many of the changes can be legislated -- e.g. the length of the 
> > workweek, it would seem to me to be a reasonable question to ask "what are 
> > the KEY elements of the proposal". The legislated changes can be done 
> > immediately. 
> > 
> > Appointments of regional administrative officials and unlimited terms for 
> > the President do require constitutional changes. So, would one be wrong 
> > to 
> > think that some of the progressive economic measures were introduced into 
> > the proposal as a 'bribe' for popular support in order to obtain those 
> > that 
> > really did need a constitutional revision? 
> > 
> > A test of the above would have been to separate the progressive economic 
> > proposals, from something like term limits, which is pretty 
> > straight-forward concept. 
> > 
> > By the way, what was the precise argument for the necessity of eliminating 
> > terms limits? As I recall, its introduction into the 1999 constitution 
> > was 
> > described then as being a progressive, democratic step. 
> > 
> > Paul Z. 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > 
> > ************************************************************************ 
> > (Vol.23) THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF 9-11-2001 "a benchmark in 9/11 research" 
> > video summary from Snowshoe Films at http://snowshoefilms.com <http://snowshoefilms.com/> 
> > (Vol.24) TRANSITIONS IN LATIN AMERICA AND IN POLAND AND SYRIA 
> > ********************* http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka
> > 
> > --On 12/4/2007 10:28 AM +0000 Paul Cockshott wrote: 
> > 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> Note that the conclusions of Wood are rather different: 
> >> 
> >> Venezuela: The referendum defeat - What does it mean? 
> >> Bay Area Indymedia - San Francisco,CA,USA 
> >> Reformists like Heinz Dieterich are always harping on this theme like a 
> >> repeating groove on an old gramophone record. Yes, the army is a 
> >> decisive 
> >> question. ... 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU <mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU?>] On Behalf Of Dogan Goecmen 
> >> Sent: 04 December 2007 08:59 
> >> To: OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU <mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU> 
> >> Subject: [OPE-L] Venezuela After the Referendum 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> Lessons for the Bolivarians 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> Venezuela After the Referendum 
> >> 
> >> By TARIQ ALI 
> >> 
> >> Hugo Chavez' narrow defeat in the referendum was the result of 
> >> large-scale abstentions by his supporters. 44 percent of the electorate 
> >> stayed at home. Why? First, because they did not either understand or 
> >> accept that this was a necessary referendum. The measures related to the 
> >> working week and some other proposed social reforms could be easily 
> >> legislated by the existing parliament. The key issues were the removal 
> >> of 
> >> restrictions on the election of the head of government (as is the case 
> >> in 
> >> most of Europe) and moves towards 'a socialist state.' On the latter 
> >> there was simply not enough debate and discussion on a grassroots level. 
> >> 
> >> As Edgardo Lander, a friendly critic pointed out: 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> "Before voting in favour of a constitutional reform which will define 
> >> the 
> >> State, the economy, and the democracy as socialist, we citizens have the 
> >> right to take participate in these definitions. What is understood by 
> >> the 
> >> term socialist state? What is understood by the term socialist economy? 
> >> What is understood by the term socialist democracy? In what way are 
> >> these 
> >> different to the states, economies, and democracies that accompanied 
> >> socialism of the 20th century? Here, we are not talking about entering 
> >> into a debate on semantics, rather on basic decisions about the future 
> >> of 
> >> the country." 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> And this was further amplified by Greg Wilpert, a sympathetic journalist 
> >> whose website, venezuelaanalysis.com, is the best source of information 
> >> on the country: 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> "By rushing the reform process Chavez presented the opposition with a 
> >> nearly unprecedented opportunity to deal him a serious blow. Also, the 
> >> rush in which the process was pushed forward opened him to criticism 
> >> that 
> >> the process was fundamentally flawed, which has become one of the main 
> >> criticisms of the more moderate critics of the reform." 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> Another error was the insistence on voting for all the proposals en bloc 
> >> on a take it or leave it basis. It's perfectly possibly that a number of 
> >> the proposals might have got through if a vote on each had been allowed. 
> >> This would have compelled the Bolivarians to campaign more effectively 
> >> at 
> >> grassroots level through organised discussions and debates (as the 
> >> French 
> >> Left did to win the argument and defeat the EU Constitution ). It is 
> >> always a mistake to underestimate the electorate and Chavez knows this 
> >> better than most. 
> >> 
> >> What is to be done now? The President is in office till 2013 and 
> >> whatever 
> >> else Chavez may be the description of 'lame-duck' will never fit him. He 
> >> is a fighter and he will be thinking of how to strengthen the process. 
> >> If 
> >> properly handled the defeat could be a blessing in disguise. It has, 
> >> after all, punctured the arguments of the Western pundits who were 
> >> claiming for the last eight years that democracy in Venezuela was dead 
> >> and authoritarianism had won. 
> >> 
> >> Anyone who saw Chavez' speech accepting defeat last night (as I did here 
> >> in Guadalajara with Mexican friends) will not be in any doubt regarding 
> >> his commitment to a democratically embedded social process. That much is 
> >> clear. One of the weaknesses of the movement in Venezuela has been the 
> >> over-dependence on one person. It is dangerous for the person (one 
> >> bullet 
> >> can be enough) and it is unhealthy for the Bolivarian process. There 
> >> will 
> >> be a great deal of soul-searching taking place in Caracas, but the key 
> >> now is an open debate analysing the causes of the setback and a move 
> >> towards a collective leadership to decide on the next candidate. It's a 
> >> long time ahead but the discussions should start now. Deepening popular 
> >> participation and encouraging social inclusion (as envisaged in the 
> >> defeated constitutional changes) should be done anyway. 
> >> 
> >> The referendum defeat will undoubtedly boost the Venezuelan opposition 
> >> and the Right in Latin America, but they would be foolish to imagine 
> >> that 
> >> this victory will automatically win them the Presidency. If the lessons 
> >> of the defeat are understood it is the Bolivarians who will win. 
> >> 
> >> 
> >> __________________________________________________ 
> >> 
> >> Bei AOL gibt's jetzt kostenlos eMail für alle! Was es sonst noch umsonst 
> >> bei AOL gibt, finden Sie hier heraus AOL.de. 
> > 
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------ 
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