Monday, 27 August 2007
Venezuela: Chavez calls for new party By Paul Kellogg (Socialist Worker (Canada), 13 August 2007) The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a mid-sized country with a population of about 26 million. An incredible 5.7 million of those people – almost 25 per cent – have signed up to join the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), called into being by the country's president Hugo Chavez. To get a sense of the scale of this process. it is the equivalent of a new left party in the United States, signing up between 60 and 70 million people! The first phase of founding the new party ended with the meeting in Caracas at the end of June, of officials and party militants in the National Meeting of Candidates for PSUV Militants. Vice-president Jorge Rodriguez said that the second phase would be "the formation across national territory of more than 20,000 socialist battalions, made up of 300 (party) candidates each." Who is in this new party? According to venezuelanalysis.com, the 5.7 million represent 80 percent of the 7.3 million people who voted for Chavez in last December's presidential elections. Of those signed up, 2.88 million are men and 2.78 million – almost half – are women. The formation of the party is an enormous step forward in the advancement of the Bolivarian process in Venezuela. Activists in the Global North should not judge this new formation on the basis of whether it lives up to an abstract model of a socialist party. The fundamental dynamic of the Bolivarian process is not in the first instance about socialism, but rather about political sovereignty and national control over an economy, plundered for generations by the forces of imperialism. All past experience indicates that a challenge to imperialism, and the establishment of independence and sovereignty in a poor and oppressed nation cannot advance without deep and permanent mobilizations of the masses of the poor and the oppressed. A challenge to imperialism is so difficult. that again and again masses of the poor need to throw their bodies into the balance to prevent counter-revolution. That is why the language of socialism always emerges, because repeated entries of the masses onto the stage of history is the basic building block of the socialist movement. We saw one million take to the streets April 2002, to defeat the right-wing coup against Chavez. We saw the rank and file of the working class re-open closed factories during the hosses' strike of 2002 and 2003, restarting the economy in spite of the wishes of Venezuelan and international capital. We saw incredible mobilizations in the referendum campaign to defeat the attempt to have Chavez recalled. and again in the campaign during last year's presidential elections. The formation of the party is the latest in a series of initiatives, reaching back to the formation of Bolivarian Circles, to give a permanent stricture to this mass involvement in the revolution. It is true that the call for the party was made by Chavez as an individual, reaching over the heads of the leadership of his own party – the Fifth Republic Movement. As a result. some have called it a "top-down" party. This led to sharp fights inside the many pro-Chavista left parties in Venezuela. some of whom split over the question. But in party after party, regardless of the analysis of the leadership, the members voted with their feet moving into the new party. The instincts of the best in the left in Venezuela are that no meaningful left activism will be possible while staying on the sidelines of this new party. The first job of socialists in an oppressed country is to be with the mass struggle against imperialism and for sovereignty. Clearly the new vehicle which will express this struggle will be the PSUV. In fact, the stronger the left wing is inside the PSUV, the more the movement will be well placed to deal with the inevitable careerism and opportunism that will accompany an initiative on this scale. The second – and equally difficult job – is to make the links, in theory and in practice, between the fight against imperialism and for sovereignty with the need for a complete break from capitalism, and a new state of democratic socialism. A left current with that perspective that enthusiastically joins the PSUV will be able to begin that work. The job of the left in Canada and the Global North is to publicize this process Inside our social movements, and to be prepared to move quickly to oppose any attempt by imperialist governments to intervene and crush the mass movement in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America.