Thursday, June 07, 2007

Venezuela's RCTV – Again!

Rad Geek disagrees with my refusal to get on the liberal media bandwagon and attack the Chavistas for closing down a pro-US mouthpiece. He also does not believe that class struggle is reflected in this event. He states;

Don't kid yourself. This isn't a matter of "the ruling class" attacking the anti-ruling-class government. The government is a ruling class: that is what governments do. This is a competition between two would-be ruling classes over which one is going to be dominant. I don't know about you, but I am an anarchist, and I don't give a good god damn about which gang of thugs wins, or about whether "revolutionary" or "counter-revolutionary" jackboots end up on the people's necks.

I think this a rather simplistic view of things. Yes, ultimately all states are the same – based upon coercion, hierarchy, power etc, but anarchists have always differentiated between reformist and reactionary states, and while never (well, rarely) giving support to a left-wing govt., have always preferred these to retrogressive ones. It is a matter of human lives. You would have to be insane not to see a difference between say, the Unidad Popular and Pinochet's dictatorship, or Labour circa 1978 and the Thatcher Regime which followed it.

The state is not a ruling class, although with capitalist or feudal governments some members of the ruling classes are directly involved in governing. But generally they do not, leaving this to their subordinates. Only in a state capitalist regime like the USSR can we speak of the state and ruling class being identical. With democratic left wing or progressive governments what we have is an attempt to mediate or stand between the classes, much in the manner that trade union officials do. Left-wing governments however, do not appear out of thin air, but are a result of class struggle. Left wing parties, whether out of opportunism or a sincere desire to reform society and better the working population, ultimately depend upon what happens in the streets. Chavez did not create the movement which put him in power, but rather was created by it. He would like to control it, but that is what social democrats seek to do, nothing unusual or unique there. The task of anarchists and revolutionary socialists is to radicalize this movement, not undermine it, or show sympathy for pro-imperialists and reactionaries. The goal is to make the movement escape from Hugo's hands and sweep away the corporate state in its entirety.

Thugs? Dissidents? Critics? Words have meaning. No one would doubt that Saddam or Pinochet were thugs, with their mass murders, tortures and the millions they skimmed off and hid in numbered bank accounts. Chavez and the leftist politicians around him have done none of these things. Their only real crime is trying to control an unfolding revolutionary situation. Hopefully they will be pushed aside or swallowed by this movement. Members of the oligarchy and the sheep who support them are not dissidents, or critics, but people who fear social change or the loss of some of their privileges. In my opinion, the Chavistas are far too soft on these scum, but that is understandable given their fundamentally social democratic viewpoint, which seeks to straddle the classes, rather than eliminate capitalism entirely.

This same type of rhetoric was used against the Sandinistas, I might add, and they did not turn into thugs or Stalinists as the Reaganites hoped. So too, the APPO in Oaxaca has been slandered as “thugs and vandals”.

And when push comes to shove I would rather have a Chavez than an Allende in power. Allende refused to arm the people, in the face of the impending CIA-backed coup. Chavez, I am certain, would not.

The world does not work according to wishes, ideology or theories. It is messy. It would be nice if all the left-wing parties in Venezuela disappeared and were replaced by millions-strong anarcho-syndicalist unions and an anarchist federation with tens of thousands of members. But that does not seem to be in the offing. Class struggle is being reflected through the Chavista Movement (for now) – though not the origin of such. If the Chavistas are overthrown in the foreseeable future, it will not be by anarchists, but the reactionary forces who will then murder thousands of people in an orgy of revenge. I suggest you read what Venezuelan class struggle anarchists have to say about the Bolivarian Revolution, explaining their critical support for it. See

On the other hand, I do care a lot about how far a government can get away with using the force of arms to silence its critics. Which seems to be what's happening here. That's a big deal, even if the critics are real creeps. After all, they always come after the soft targets first.

Soft targets? Corporate TV and a CIA-backed opposition are soft targets? If the Chavistas were really against freedom of expression and wanted to pick on a soft target, they would shut down El Libertario, the anarchist paper which is highly critical of them, or harass the Trotskyists for that matter. See


Blogger eugene plawiuk said...

Larry you are not the only one to defend the Venezuelan revolution, I have to. We defend the revolution occurring in Venezuela, and all of Latin America, not just the Chavez government.

Venezuela is a contested state, with the ruling class no longer in control of the government.

This is a revolutionary period, with social experimentation occurring cooperatives, self management, etc.

As I posted about RCTV they created the conditions for a Coup, they supported the resulting Coup, they supported the conditions for a period of fascism.

And that is why RadGeek's American Liberaltarian argument that all states are the same state, liquidates political discourse into intellectual mush.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Graeme said...

very good Larry. The pro-chavez ralley didn't get much coverage. I believe there was nearly a half million people showing support.

Here in the good ol' US of A, we don't stop renewing tv stations- we bomb them. Ask al jazeera

1:11 AM  

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