Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Mike Gonzalez on Venezuela: a reply

(This letter was recently sent to Socialist Worker (Britain), who decided not to publish it.) Dear comrades: Mike Gonzalez's report on the foundation of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV - July 28) reads like one long missed opportunity. His report seems to begin from a fixed idea – that a workers' revolutionary movement can only grow in opposition to the government of Hugo Chávez. This is a regrettably short-sighted attitude that neglects the mutually reinforcing dialectic between Chávez's government and the mass movement. Mike seems to be searching for guarantees in advance that the PSUV will be the “right kind” of party, and not finding them. But surely the fact that the structure and programme of the PSUV is being left open leaves a huge space for the working-class self initiative that we all agree is vital in a revolutionary situation. The fact that the PSUV will be built on a geographical basis, says Mike, “points to an electoral machine based on constituencies.” In fact, it points to the social reality of Venezuela, where the organised working class are dwarfed by the urban poor, casual workers and petty traders. In a recent article on popular self-organisation in Bolivia, Alex Callinicos (“Dual power in our hands”, Socialist Worker, 6 January 2007) says that given the reality of urban life in the global megaslums, “the territorial class organisation of the [Paris] Commune may come to be increasingly important in the 21st century.” This is a lesson which should be applied to Venezuela. Mike's complaint that the PSUV is “declared from above” misses the clearly obvious – that six million candidates for membership indicates that it has touched a real nerve in the Venezuelan masses. The pessimistic scenarios envisioned in Mike's report can be prevented if Venezuelan revolutionaries join and help build the PSUV – and if those of us overseas seriously engage with it. in solidarity, Daphne Lawless Socialist Worker (Aotearoa - New Zealand)

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