Re: [OPE-L] Venezuela After the Referendum

From: Dave Zachariah (davez@KTH.SE)
Date: Thu Dec 06 2007 - 14:22:25 EST

Hi Dogan,

First a note on terminology: Yes, I'm using a narrow concept of
revolutionary situation because it is common parlance. In this sense
Russia in 1917, Germany in 1918, Chile in 1973 and Portugal in 1975 are
all examples of revolutionary or counter-revolutionary situations: There
were strong political forces that aimed and were capable of overthrowing
the existing state apparatus by illegal means in the existing juridical
framework. They differed from a simple coup d'etat in that they did not
simply change the head of the state but re-wrote the relations of power
flowing from the state apparatus.

Venezuela is perhaps in a period of transition from an economy dominated
by private capitalism toward one dominated by state capitalism and
cooperatives. But the situation is not revolutionary and it need not to
be either.

The points were we disagree most has already been mentioned in your
discussion with Paul C but let me emphasize them.

You write that direct democracy
> must be the aim of revolutionary movements. But to implement it fully
> you have to have a socialist society with some sort of harmony of
> interests of individuals, cities, regions, continents.

This is not true. Classical democracy is not just an aim in itself, it
is also the *means* in the political struggle. I would have it just the
reverse to your assertion. To implement socialist measures you must win
a political battleground for the poor masses and classical democracy is
precisely that.

I disagree that Lenin, Stalin, Tito et al simply "became what they could
became in their historical situation". It was a consequence of the
communist movement's failure to formulate a constitutional form of the
state that was not based on the "Leadership of the Communist Party" and
the state aristocracy that inevitably followed. (This was also the
ultimate cause for the collapse of the Soviet Bloc.)

Therefore I strongly disagree with your statement that "popular support
can change sometimes even from day to day" and so it can be sidestepped
in the short-run for the cause of social transformation. This puts the
question for whom is socialism for? If it is for the benefit of the
masses then surely mass opinion must be considered, even from day to
day. Where is to be expressed if not in the institutions of direct

//Dave Z

on 2007-12-06 10:42 Dogan Goecmen wrote:
> 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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Dec 31 2007 - 00:00:04 EST