Re: [OPE-L] Query to John Holloway: What's your position on theBolivarianrevolution?

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Wed May 11 2005 - 10:15:31 EDT

At 07:57 11/05/2005, John Holloway responded to Paul Zaremba's question:

>     I'm not really going to answer the question now either, apart from
>making the general point that the issue here is not just "the Bolivarian
>revolution" in general, but the interplay between the state and the process
>of popular revolt in Venezuela. What is the effect of the fact that the
>revolt is being channelled into these organisational forms? This is
>something I simply don't know enough about.

Dear John,
         Unfortunately, I don't think that is good enough. In your book you
say (and I quote you, as you know,  from my critique-- long overdue for
publication in Historical Materialism):

>  'the very notion that society can be changed through the winning of
> state power' is the source of all our sense of betrayal, and we need to
> understand that 'to struggle through the state is to become involved in
> the active process of defeating yourself' (12-3, 214)

>  To retain the idea that you can change the world through the state
> (whether by winning elections or by revolution) is a grave error--- one
> which has failed to learn from history and theory that the state
> paradigm, rather than being 'the vehicle of hope', is the 'assassin of
> hope' (12). For one, the state does not have the power to challenge
> capital: 'what the state does and can do is limited by the need to
> maintain the system of capitalist organisation of which it is a part.' It
> is 'just one node in a web of social relations' (13).

         Your position in your book is rather unequivocal. Are you now
saying that you are not certain? That maybe everything you have said about
the state was wrong? That the winning of state power can change the world?
That struggling through the state may not be to defeat yourself? That the
state does have the power to challenge capital? Will you ask your publisher
to issue a large 'Erratum' sticker? If not now, when?
         Or, will you be consistent with the argument in your book and
argue that Chavez is the enemy, the misleader, the spreader of illusions
about the state? Will you come here to Venezuela to attack the Bolivarian
Revolution because it is absurd to think that state power (rather than the
'shadowy world of anti-power') can change things for the 80% of the
population that is poor?
         Will you join in support or will you wait... to see if you can
say, 'I told you so!'?
         Inquiring minds want to know.
PS. Have you written anything in support of what is happening in Venezuela?

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
Residencias Anauco Suites
Departamento 601
Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1
Caracas, Venezuela
(58-212) 573-4111
fax: (58-212) 573-7724

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