On Sunday November 23, 2008 Venezuela faces one of the most decisive elections in its history. These elections will determine who controls the governors and the key municipal positions throughout the country. What happens on Sunday will have a profound impact on the future of the Bolivarian Revolution.
Ah, politics and revolution! What more can one ask for? On one side, the revolutionary socialist government of Hugo Chavez and his supporters, on the other side the oligarchical masters of capital and their bourggeois lackeys! What fun!
If the PSUV loses the elections, the opposition will be strengthened. It will use its control of key regions to intensify its campaign against the central government. It might try to imitate the tactics of the counterrevolutionary Bolivian bourgeoisie, demanding “autonomy” for wealthy states like Zulia (it is in fact already doing this). Under conditions of crisis, the victory of the right wing will mean deep cuts in living standards.
Imagine the South wanting demanding autonomy from the rest of the United States. OK, stop drooling and rubbing your hands together. What will happen should such autonomy happen in Venezuela is that the areas which are rich in natural resources and farmland will be held by the parasitic oligarchy, while the rest will be held by the supporters of the revolution. The resources of Venezuela would thus be held, to a great extent, by the bosses to be doled out to the parasitic multinationals for their profit, and not for the good of the Venezuelan people.
If the Chavistas win, the masses will be encouraged and the opposition demoralized. The demand for socialism will be intensified. There will be a further move to the left. But this is by no means certain. The PSUV is facing its first big test in 23 states and over 300 municipalities. In principle, the PSUV should win easily. The Chavez government has carried out major reforms that have benefited millions of ordinary Venezuelans, especially the poor and underprivileged.
We’ve seen the failure of neoliberal capitalism over and over again. A victory by the Bolivarian Revolution provides the opportunity to forge a new economic and political order which is not beholden to the bosses and their monied henchmen. Venezuela has the chance to lead the way toward a more just and equitable society, or it can slide back into the capitalist’s fold.
Here’s an important point for anyone who wants to change the political landscape, whether in this country or somewhere else:
Chavez remains popular, but it is not he who will be standing in these elections but the Chavista leaders who control the state and local governments. President Chavez has thrown his considerable authority behind the PSUV candidates. He has toured the country tirelessly building up support for the official candidates. But will this be enough? My own observations have convinced me that there is a deep sense of unease, not just in the masses but also in the Chavista rank and file. The elections will be a referendum on the performance of the Bolivarian mayors and governors.
In July I spoke to the President about this and he expressed his frustration at the situation. Chávez told me: “that is the problem that we are facing. Some governors, after being elected lose contact with the rank and file. They surround themselves with rich people, beautiful women, etc. and lose contact with the people. This is an ideological problem. As long as we do not have governors who are ideologically prepared we will always have the same problem. We must win the battle of ideas.”
I replied: “I agree that an ideological struggle in the party is needed, but also needed are mechanisms of control from below”. At this point, for the first time, the voice of the President sounded a bit tired: “I cannot do everything,” he said. “It is absolutely necessary for the people to participate in this process and to take control in their own hands”. I believe that this is the answer to the problems facing the Venezuelan Revolution.
Change does not come from above! With the bosses entrenched behind their gated communities, even a revolutionary government can not fight all of the battles by itself and be successful. Keep in mind, it’s international capitalism which is fighting against the Bolivarian Revolution. It will take electoral success by the Venezuelan masses to begin to overcome this inertia, as well as taking control of their working and day-to-day lives. The Pink Tide in South and Central America can still be strangled on the vine if the supporters of the Revolution fail to bring home electoral victory. It’s not just Venezuela which is up for grabs.
And the failure of capitalism and the world economic crisis is bringing things to a head:
A recent Venezuela analysis article put it very clearly:
“The year 2009, by necessity, is the year of hard class decisions: Either the government cuts spending for the capitalists or the workers and peasants. Either social programs are drastically reduced or state subsidies to private business are ended. The vast army of publicly-funded (and unproductive) employees are put to work in the productive sector or they will be laid off. In any case, the business elite, the army of importers of high status automobiles and luxury items, and their consumers will be adversely affected and aroused into an adversarial frenzy. When the full impact of the world recession hits Venezuela, the class polarization will explode and spill over and out of the institutional/electoral channels.” (The Larger Meaning of the Venezuelan Elections of November 23, 2008 by James Petras, November 20th 2008).
It is time to choose!
Sadly, we’ve seen what the choice is here in the US. It’s to bailout the banksters and capitalist parasites at the expense of the poor, working and middle classes. Venzuela has a choice as to where they will go with their resources. Don’t thing that Obama and his minions aren’t on the side of the oligarchy.
And a final point on the insidious nature of power, even within the revolution itself:
It is useless to imagine that a real socialist policy can be carried out by a corrupt bureaucracy that is inseparably linked to the bankers and capitalists. In order to succeed we must take an axe to the root of the poisonous tree of bureaucracy, not only in the state apparatus and the ministries, but also in the PSUV itself. Down with bureaucracy, careerism and corruption! For a genuine workers’ state in which all functionaries will be elected with right of recall and with salaries no higher than those of a skilled worker.
So keep an eye and ear out on the 23rd for the election where real change is on the line.
Hands off Venezuela!