Re: [OPE-L] Venezuela After the Referendum

From: Dogan Goecmen (dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Fri Dec 07 2007 - 03:58:59 EST

Hi Dave,
many thanks for your thoughts and formulating these contradictions.
They enable us to move forward - at least ideally. My? replies are below.



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.



To refer to both broad and narrow concepts of revolutionary situation enable us

to pursue and implement in all situations revolutionary programms and politics

including everyday politics. To rely on both of them enables us to implement

dynamic revolutionary politics in any situation.If we do not use broad concept

of revolutionary situation we cannot prepare and manage the actual revolutionary

situation. Indeed in that case we are condmened to say that the current situation

is not revolutionary and we therefore cannot implement revolutionary politics - as you

do in case of Venezuela in current situation.? By revolutionary politics we should

not understand just the forms of political struggle to take immediately the political

power. Following Gramsci we can define any forms of political fight as a form of fight

for ideological and political hegemony. So in one case to achieve little success against
privatasation may be as revolutionary as - in another case - to take power. In other words,
the actual situation of taking power may be defined as the highest culmmunation point of
tousands of little revolutionary steps.

In fact your examples of Russia and Germany illustrates my case very well.
Unlike Menshewiks Bolsheviks used both concepts of revolutionary situation
and were able to take power in November 1917. Germany in 1918 is rather different
and much more complicated. But in any case we say that in Germany during the
November 1918 uprisings there werent any revolutionary party to lead the revolution.
The leadership of SPD was taken over by reformist and revisionist forces. USPD
was not decided enough to lead the revolutions and KPD was just established.
At the end they failed to take power though the situation would have allowed them
to take power.


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.

From what I said about revolutionary sitution you may see that we are very
well be able to define the actual sition in Venezuela as revolutionary in the
broad sense of the term. But not just that. Since revolutionary forces are in power
in Venezuela they must deepen the process towards a socialist society.
The development from what call private capitalism towards state capitalism
and establishing cooperatives is a revolutionary process, though it may be
just the beginning of it.

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 do not see any disagreement here. As a dialectician and since Kant we know
that everything must be seen as aim and means at the same time. This is not
our disagreement I think. Our disagreement is probably this: whereas I say in the
periods of transition there may well be situations in which you may have to
emphasise the role of leadership rather than elements of direct democracy.
Bolshewiks wanted to implement as broad and as much as possible direct democracy.
But the situation did not allow that, just because many other revolutionary parties and groups
wanted to establish a constitutional monarchy or some sort of bourgeoise parlamentary
governement rather than a socialist government. Lenin referred to that many times when said
that? restriction of democratic rights were temporaray; that they were take to control the situation.


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.)

This is a complicated issue. In the last 15 Years there have been many
attemps to explain why soviet experiment failed after all 70 and more years.
I am going into that here. To understand what happened and why it happened
after 1917 in the most decisive years it is perhaps worthwhile to read E. H. Carr's
*Bolshewik Revolution*.

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?


I do not draw the same conclusion as you think I would in this
mechanical way. By my statement I say in certain situations
it may just be inevitable. But we must always to everything to
have popular support. The concept of mass is not a clear cut
concept and the massesare never a harmonious unity. I will
give an example. Socialism must be internationalist. Otherwise
it cannot be socialism. In Turkey in the current situation the
masses including a huge majority of working class support
nationalist policies against Kurds. But if you want establish
socialist policies not just in the issues of Kurds you have to attack
their Turkish nationalist attitudes towards Kurds. If you are in Power
and want to implement internationalist policies in Kurdish-question
and if the masses still oppose to any form of internationalist policies
would you just give up the principle of internationalism or would try to
solve the question in internationalist sense? Of course you have to do
everything to convince the masses, to gain their support. But if you fail
to gain their support in the short run what would you do?

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