Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Proudhon's Ghost Stalks Venezuela

I translated this article from the Venezuelan Blog Libertarian Communist Initiative.

Bolivarian Socialists do not want socialism like "there was in the USSR" nor socialism according to the bourgeoisie. Which socialism, then? A socialism that detests both property and "Communism". This is the socialism of Proudhon that he himself, in fashion of his time, described as "scientific". There is a "Proudhonian scientific socialism" and a Marxist "scientific socialism.” "Neither property nor Communism" said Proudhon. For him Communism was authoritarian Communism, nothing like the Communism which, later, Kropotkin would adhere to. (we remember that Kropotkin was initially Marxist). -

2- The are several socialist experiments advanced in Venezuela: cooperativism; social production; co-management; worker control; alternative mass media; public television; etc. In the political order "communal councils" , "workers councils", "popular power", “communal power"; now all those experiments are immersed in a society in which the production relations continue being bourgeois: that is to say, the collective work, social labor, is expropriated by the capitalists. Therefore, the Venezuelan society continues being a capitalist society, the multinationals can invest - and they invest in the country (and they export its gains), and still there are social classes.

3. - Always, in all social Revolutions, new forms arise from political, economic and social organization within a frame where the forms of the old regime survive which are generally the connections with world-wide commerce, commerce of goods and commerce of capital. It has never been possible to install a "new society" because simply all the regions of the world work within the world-wide division of labor. However, the Bolivarian Socialists look for a route to transform the Venezuelan society so that it is less unequal, more productive - creative of wealth - and more democratic and less dependent on the imperial centers! (But, not to postulate an autarkic society, because we are a small country and, in a certain way, have a small population, and for that reason we must play with the forces of multinational financial capital.

4. - There is nothing like a "Totalitarian State" in the Venezuela of 2007, nowadays you find that with the federal government of the United States of America. And, it is so, simply because the Venezuelan idiosyncrasy is libertarian and egalitarian, from the times of the American Emancipation (principles of XIX century). On the other hand, at any time we can lose the presidential elections, by means of a revocatory referendum or because the presidential election of 2012 is lost and the right wins. Then, will continue the "neoliberal capitalist revolution" of which already we know its fundamental lines: privatization of all the public sector; minimization of the State, that is to say, its conversion in Para-State to repress to the popular forces; reversion of forms of property that are not private; installation of a new consulship of the central empires; etc., that is to say, the civil war by other means. -

5. - The Bolivariano Socialism looks to fortify the Venezuelan nationality. The mother country, the nation, are categories of the Bolivarian process; as much as the integration of all South America.

6. - The formation of the United Socialist Party has revived all the contradictions that are present in the Bolivarian Process; we should not be alarmed by the existence of "contradictions", in all social Revolution they have appeared. And, in general, contradictions always will exist. The Hegelian-Marxist dialectic aims "to surpass" the contradictions, but, simply, the contradictions are the result of social realities and you cannot surpass them by suppressing them because we are neither in an autocratic regime nor in a despotism but in a democratic society. Proudhon said that Justice was indeed in that dialectical game between the social and economic contradictions: in effect, the Proudhonian dialectic is neoKantian non-Hegelian. The contradictions cannot be suppressed if they are the result of the relations between women and men at the moment of the creation, distribution and consumption of the social wealth!

7. - For that reason the Partido Communista V. does not dissolve and unite with the PSUV. The PCV is "Marxist-Leninist" and the PSUV is not. The PCV describes to the Bolivarian Revolution as an "anti-imperialist revolution"; whereas the PSUV esteem that the Bolivarian Revolution is a "socialist revolution". Really, the comrades of the PCV cling to their dogma; of course, this is also an anti-imperialist revolution, but it is something much more that that.

8. - In no region of the periphery you can not think about social change if you hope that the empires will give their approval to you to do them. Every route to social change involves confrontation with the empires. All..

9. - The federation of "communal councils" and the "Communal Bank" are other conceptions that evoke Proudhon. The Bolivarian Socialists call to this "empowering the people", that is to say, to give the power to the people. Now, this comes slowly and with all the permissible and probable errors; but the intention is indeed to go towards a libertarian system. The Bolivarians are trying to disassemble the "bourgeois State" - that has been said -, one does not have cause to doubt their word. Proudhon was in this dilemático: "other alternatives cannot be conceived: government of all and handled by all or government of all and handled by one would be the regime of the authority; government of each one with the participation of all or government of each one by itself would be the libertarian system. "[ Proudhon, 1987, 232].

10- Elsewhere I have said that as much Proudhon as Bakunin starts from an unprovable philosophical axiom: that the individual is previous to the society. Comrade Kropotkin, on the contrary, part of the community, of the society, admitting the Aristotelian axiom according to which " society is previous to the individual". Proudhon is platonic (of Plato; the "ideas" of Plato) whereas Kropotkin is Aristotelian (Aristotle was a taxonomist; Kropotkin comes from natural sciences, geographer, anthropologist, for that reason he goes to the "multitude" and not to the "mass"). Proudhon and Bakunin start off from God; of the Bible, you might say; Kropotkin starts off from the world of the human organization, who sees "mutual aid " as factor of evolution and not "the struggle for survival" - that is to say, Social Darwinism, so assessed by capitalist philosophers and their anarco-liberal derivatives -.

11 - Peculiarly, Bolivarian Socialism starts off from "the community". But it is a community of Venezuelan individuals. It is communitarianism; not the individualistic liberalism of the neoliberalism and liberal anarchism. In that complex dynamic, so rich in new thoughts and rethinking that in the Bolivarian Revolution, contradictions are suppressed not by means of the Gulag nor by means of a shot in the nape of the neck, nor shutting the dissident in Guantánamo; but that which is invested by republican and democratic harmony; the harmony that is Justice. Proudhon also favored Natural Law, the Bolivarians also. Commit many errors daily? Good, that is a Revolution: test and error. A socialist revolution is not the coherent truth of a dogma; nobody has steered a socialist revolution with a Book - neither with the "Communist Manifesto" nor with "the Conquest of the Bread"; only Israel made "its revolution" with the Old Testament and present-day Iran with the Korán in the hand.

Floreal Castilla.-Venezuela, 29 de Marzo de 2007.-


Blogger Kevin Carson said...

Thanks for translating this, Larry.

Chavez has done some things that demonstrate considerable economic cluelessness IMO, like his attempts at price controls. And I have some doubts as to whether the state-backed cooperative sector will be viable without the oil money, or whether a model so dependent on Venezuela's unique resources can be exported.

Still, it's extremely heartening to see the specter Proudhon appealed to, and to see a Third World leftist movement attempting a "third way" based mainly on cooperatives.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Graeme said...

Very good. I linked to it.

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Kevin. I generally agree. Still, better clueless than ruthless.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Kevin, certainly price controls are not a good idea. But the problem is when you raise a million or more people out of destitution, demand cannot keep up with supply and so prices go up. You could ration, of course, but imagine the noise the Quislings would make over that! Something like this happened during the first years of the Cuban Revolution. Several million people who used to live on rice and beans – when they were lucky – now could afford chicken, and loudly demanded their chicken. Trouble was, there weren't enough chickens to go around since the farms were based on pre-revolutionary demand. I don't remember the solution, sadly enough.
Due to capitalism and imperialism, no economy has developed in a free manner. All need some kind of assistance. For some it might be nationalized resources, others tariff barriers and import substitution, others heavy government involvement etc. If successful, oil-rich Venezuela could fit that pattern. I don't think the Bolivarians expect to export the Venezuelan Model. I think the idea is to create a SA version of the EU but a socialistic rather than a capitalistic one. With the EU the wealthy countries helped the poorer ones, creating a virtuous circle that ended up benefiting all the EU, not just Portugal, Ireland and Greece, countries at one time basket-cases. The EU thought in terms of a decade or more, not the quarterly returns, hence rather than driving these countries ever deeper into misery, they did the opposite, unlike NAFTA, I should add, and it paid off, as one might expect. The idea is to use the oil wealth to get the other countries moving and when they do, everyone will benefit. It is already happening. No longer enslaved to the IMF, thanks to Venezuela, Argentina grew at 12% last year. An Argentina back on its feet could help this process in turn, and so on and so on. But this a vastly more ambitious plan, with much more limited resources than the EU and Ireland etc, so will it work? Who knows, but any improvement is better than none.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

I just found more Proudhonism. Chavez wants to encourage the creation of local currencies into the communities,

9:23 PM  
Blogger Frank Partisan said...

I commented on this post at Graeme's blog.

My blog team includes Marie Trigona, an anarchist from Argentina.

Really good blog.

1:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Thanks, Renegade eye. If you know of any place there is a good contemporary overview of Latin American Trotskyism that would be of interest to me. Or you could do an article on it for your blog, hint, hint.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Rhinoceruz said...

chavez is ruthless.... as i have said before there are more similarities betwen Alvaro Uribe and Hugo Chavez that diferences, you'd be surprised.
Proudhon would be hating socialism in venezuela of that i can be sure.
maybe one of the most surprising things about this new socialism in venezuela is the huge amount of weapons Chaves has bought so far...
¿why does any communitarism would need to get that many weapons?

4:46 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

I think you are making the mistake of reducing all that is happening there to Chavez. What is happening there concerns the activities of the people, if for whatever reason, Chavez helps this process, fine, if not, the people will still act. It is the popular movement that anarchists support, not El Presidente. Chavez may be ruthless, but so are most politicians. A left wing politico who isn't ruthless may well end up like Allende. I presume - if Chavez has any sense - those arms you talk about will be handed out to the people, should the Gringos attack or the reactionaries stage another coup attempt. I don't think he will make the same mistake as Allende, who refused to arm the people when half a million Chileans begged for arms to prevent the fascist golpe.

1:36 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

Blogging Change
BCBloggers Code: Progressive Bloggers Site Meter