Friday, August 03, 2007

Manifesto of solidarity with Venezuelan Anarchists and Social Movements

One disturbing aspect of the article below are the disputes within Venezuelas small anarchist movement. There are, as I pointed out on a number of occasions in this blog, anarchist groups which give a certain amount of critical support to the Bolivarian Revolution. El Libertario is highly critical of the Chavistas. This article denounces El Libertario's anarchist opponents as “ fictitious groups paid for by the state” and considers them an aspect of Chavista repression against themselves. The critically pro-Bolivarian anarchists in turn call them “liberals” , “anti-working class tools of the right” etc. To me this all smacks of sectarianism and hence any articles coming out of the Venezuelan anarchist milieu have to be taken with a grain of salt. (1)



The newspaper Tierra y Libertad, mouthpiece of the Iberian Anarchist Federation, published in edition 227 of June 2007 this manifesto of the International of Anarchist Federations (IAF-IFA; www.iaf-ifa.org) in support of those who in Venezuela today confront the bureaucratic capitalist project of the Chavez government as well as their social democrat and right wing opponents.

In the first three months of 2007, 23 popular demonstrations were repressed by the Venezuelan government and 99 activists were detained. This fact speaks of the growing unease as well as the criminalization of social struggle in this Latin-American country, in a reality masked by the propaganda and mystification of a regime that paints itself as the vanguard of ‘21st Century socialism’ with the support of different groupings and persons associated with the authoritarian left throughout the world.

However, those who are concerned with the real situation of the oppressed and exploited in Venezuela know the inconsistencies and contradictions of the populist government led by the militarist Hugo Chavez. Far from structurally advancing the reduction of inequalities and the increase of possibilities of social development, the government in power in Caracas continues to maintain one of the most unjust systems of distribution of wealth in the continent, further deepening the role assigned to the country by economic globalization as a secure and trustworthy provider of energy to the global market, with trans-national oil corporations as pampered partners and principal beneficiaries of the actions of the Venezuelan state. After eight and a half years of a government relying on high oil prices with the highest financial income in national history, the social results of Chavez’s politics are mediocre, the most notable being the apparition of a new parasitic bourgeoisie of the client state, the ‘bolivarian bourgeoisie’.

According to recent government reports and statistics, over 5 million workers, 46.5% of the labour force remain in the informal sector of the economy, 43% of workers receive a salary under the legal minimum wage, a little less than 200 dollars per month, 2.5 million people lack suitable housing, 18% of the population suffer malnutrition, the network of public hospitals displays needs and limitations of every type, 90% of the indigenous population live in poverty, more than 400 people die violently each year in prison and there is an average of 15 people assassinated every month by repressive organs of the state.

The Venezuelan government has maintained over the last five years an inter-class dispute with certain traditional sectors of the local bourgeoisie which, in the midst of a strong political-electoral polarization, has allowed the division, immobilization, and recuperation of the country’s social movements. Any critic of the corrupt, inefficient and wasteful official bureaucracy would immediately qualify it as being ‘at the service of imperialism’, and with the excuse of confronting possible ‘coup’s and ‘reactionary provocations’, they have announced diverse laws that penalize with greater vigour street actions and strikes in the basic state industries. These are part of legal mechanisms that since 2006 have been used against popular mobilizations which, trying to recuperate their own demands, demonstrate every week for the right to personal security, decent housing, work and decent working conditions. The response of the government has been with tear gas grenades, gunshots and arrests.

Faced with the deceitful polarization experienced in this country, and specifically as a response to the presidential mandate to dissolve previously existing parties and groupings in order to integrate them in to the single party of Chavism, with the acronym PSUV, diverse Venezuelan organisations are trying to create autonomous spaces for the social movements. Amongst these are the efforts of the anarchists who from separate initiatives, such as the publication El Libertario (www.nodo50.org/ellibertario) are building an alternative that is as removed from the social democrat and right wing opposition as it is from the capitalism of the Bolivarian state. This effort by the anarchists to construct alternatives and routes that are consistently autonomous implies risks: El Libertario, for example, must face a systematic campaign of recriminations and disrepute from fictitious groups paid for by the state, thus there is a growing harassment of anti-authoritarian activism.

This manifesto wishes to remind our libertarian brothers and sisters inside Venezuela, as well as the various grass roots autonomous organisations that they have our appreciation, support and solidarity. Our anarchist organisations and initiatives will denounce, in every way they can, the incoherence and demagoguery hidden behind the alias of the ‘bolivarian revolution’, activating the necessary support mechanisms in response to every government attack against the concrete aspirations of social justice and liberty of the Venezuelan people.

1. Just how vicious sectarianism can be within the anarchist movement can be shown by the splits within the Spanish CNT back in the 1980's. The old guard attacked the group which later became the CGT as “traitors,” “anti-anarchist” and the two groups physically attacked each other. In the 1990's, the minority split-off from the French anarcho-syndicalist CNT slandered the majority as “fascists”. The International Workers Association (AIT) to which the Spanish CNT belongs, forbids its members from attending conferences sponsored by non-AIT anarcho-syndicalist unions. The AIT is notorious for its sectarianism. It is believed that El Libertario has some connection to the AIT. I should point out that only a minority of anarchists engage in this sort of thing and that most try to work together.

22 Comments:

Blogger John Brown said...

You should take a look at the lastest post on OilWars. I think it calls into question the assertions made in the statement with hard data.

11:09 PM  
Blogger Renegade Eye said...

The "authoritarian" left is Stalinism. The Maoists openly speak at opposition rallies. I believe the CP, is not planning to join the PSUV.

Chavez opened the door, so that anarchists could have communities. I doubt they would have lasted under the oligarchy. In addition groups of workers. are organizing workers control, at factories. They have the right to recall, and are not govt. run.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Graeme said...

thanks for the update Larry. Lets hope they try to handle their issues without continuing to denounce each other.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Slave Revolt said...

There is such a thing as disaffected political radicals that are still tethered to their middle class family's coat-tails. This group does not mingle with the working class or the poorest sectors of Venezuelan society.

It is easy to take absolutist positions, "pox on both (all) of your houses", when the stakes are not that high for said group.

This seems like what is happening here.

I've read some Venezulean anarchists on Indymedia, they seemed about as credible as your average middle class and upper class Chavez hater.

8:28 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

"disaffected political radicals that are still tethered to their middle class family's coat-tails. This group does not mingle with the working class or the poorest sectors of Venezuelan society."

This is exactly the opinion of Venezuelan anarchists in groups like FAL of El Libertario

8:45 PM  
Blogger Rhinoceruz said...

we cannot rely on our own opinions for a simple reason, we do not live in venezuela; what would any of you say if an "imperialist" tries to unite every party in a single pro-right wing party?
guess we might call it a dictator ¿is it different if a left wing dictator does it?
it is not final political goal that matter, is how is it done, means are more important than ends.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

So far, this unity is voluntary. The CP has chosen to stay out as have a number of other groupings. If the search for unity was involuntary, such as happened in Cuba circa 1961, I would be the first to criticize. In the meantime, I wish to refrain from giving any support to the US propaganda machine. I repeat, when the Chavistas actually do the things the right (and anarchists who are a trifle sectarian) accuses them of, I will be the first to denounce them.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Slave Revolt said...

rhino asks: "what would any of you say if an "imperialist" tries to unite every party in a single pro-right wing party?
guess we might call it a dictator"
............................................................

Rhino, what an assinine statement. First off, here in the US we do have one all encompassing party, the business class, corporate America. They have two wings, Democrat and Republican. The have hegemony--consent of a majority of the population, plus force.

To change the structure of a society you must also alter the superstructure. This is what Chavez is engaging in Venezuela, trying to expand the 'floor of the cage' that is capitalism and social domination. Clearly, the mass media cannot be controlled by oligarchic interests if a people are to enjoy the least constraint. It is unacceptable that Venezuelan media be domianted by commercial class.

But to expand the cage, Venezuelan must also increase the power of community media-- through decentralization and a horizontal proliferation of myriad voices.

Capitalism and class oppression already indicate an existing 'dictatorship', of course.

The question of right and left has to do with the distribution of power and wealth. The rightwing supports the rule of the few--the left promotes the rule of the many.

People that buy the capitalist media propaganda about Chavez the dictator have an interest in advancing rightist goals.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Rhinoceruz said...

Is there any real difference between the distribution of wealth and power in this Chavez revolution and any other?? for example last time I read, all the money the government was investing in culture (like movies, theater and so on) was given just to supporters of the “revolution” (Remember the cultural revolution in china, something like it), anyone else was excluded; what we can see in venezuela right now is the same we have seen in most of the “great” political transitions of the past century, instead of two economical sides (the oligarchy and the others) we now have two political sides (the party and the others); whoever is against the party (therefore against the STATE) is excluded and it doesn’t get any chance of a fair distribution of wealth, power, resources etc.
Second
if there's something I have learned in Colombia is that big changes in social structure often end up the wrong way, the superstructures you are talking about are all big institutions, all of them with lots of accumulative power; all the changes made by chavez even if they look good have one basic problem (at least from an anarchist point of view) there is a vertical dependence, and in a political system like that in Venezuela this means dependence on only one person (the president).
Third
There’s no point in hoping for (or making) a big change in any superstructure, and why? Well you are just handling the power to someONE else; deep inside nothing has really changed; again, it doesn’t matter who’s in charge, just because its someone from the left we cannot expect that he’ll do things right, I don’t believe that having a left side discourse well make anyone good just because…. Same way I don’t think that any right side discourse is bad just because it comes from the right
but the most important thing: real positive changes come when people (grassroots) change their own attitudes and behaviors towards because they want to, it comes in the diary life of people not in any big political restructuration made by heroes, martyrs or genius or even worst, politics; this is the only way in which anarchism exist, there’s no point in hoping for someone to handle all the power to the people after a time (even less now that Chavez is proposing infinite re election [even more with only one party and one head at the top of the party])because actually excessive power corrupts people always and in any political side.

I have to say, I might consider myself and anarchist, but not on the political side, I like left wing politics as much as I like right wing politics… they’re both the same, they only use us.

4:33 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Rhinoceruz, left and right political parties are the same only at the highest level of abstraction. They are similar in that they seek power, seek to control the state. This high level of abstraction is one of the aspects that separates anarchists from other groups and is a guide to action in this manner; 1. We seek to smash the state rather than take it over and use it. 2. Our actions seek to empower the people and not ourselves or the state.

But a whole world exists beyond this level of abstraction, a world that is quantitative, a world that is divided not into black and white ultimates, but exists at the level of better or worse. This is where the vast majority of people live and this cannot be cast aside with a sneer, because it has to do with human lives. “Better or worse” means life or death for many, and an ideology that was so abstract that it would brush aside human need would be a monstrous ideology. Anarchists have always been concerned with human need and they have never let some narrow ideological correctness stand in the way of improvements in the lives of the masses.

Anarchists have never looked upon other socialists as the enemy, but as people who possess part of the answer. Anarchists generally feel that if you can't have anarchism or libertarian socialism, social democracy or progressive populism is more or less the next best thing. In large measure this come from having a class perspective on things.

The logic of “left-right the same” is to say that Nazis and Scandinavian social democrats are the same, or that Allende and Pinochet are the same. (I would be careful saying the latter around the family members of Pinocho's victims, if I were you!)

All this emphasis on Chavez is an example of bourgeois ideology, which sees “great men” as the agents of change. But bourgeois ideology has the situation backwards. Masses in motion throw into power a Chavez, and such individuals usually have to run like hell to keep ahead of the movement. We do not support Chavez or his immediate political allies, we support the peoples' movement.
If the Bolivarians are defeated, it will not be by Anarchists who represent a tiny, tiny minority in Venezuela. A toppling of Chavez – unless by the peoples' movement ala Kerensky – will mean a victory for reaction and US imperialism. I can guarantee thousands will be murdered by the reactionaries once back in power. And there is more to it that just Venezuela or even Latin America. A necessary – but not single – condition for human liberation is the defeat of US imperialism. A victory for imperialism in Venezuela is a defeat for all working people.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Slave Revolt said...

Well said, LG.

Nice.

8:10 PM  
Blogger Rhinoceruz said...

The logic "left-right the same" has for me one meaning; I think that to made a real change in the world and a positive one we have to start looking at the methods we use to seek any goal, political ideologies from any side have always thought the world in a some sort of maquiavelic way " the ends justify means"; and this is a logic that has worked in Colombia (as an example) for a long time, politicians here made deals with paramilitaries because they saw them as a solution to the guerrilla problem; Alvaro Uribe thinks that he has to behave like a dictator because it's the only way to solve the problem, guerrillas now deal with traffic because they get more money for their “revolution”.
I think there has to be a re evaluation of this, means are far more important than ends because the world is a process in constant change and movement not a goal, left and right are for me the same not only in a high level of abstraction, they don't care which methods they have to use to achieve a goal and this is something that affects the whole society.
As anarchists we should be looking at the process that any government uses because we do not go after an utopical world or an end, we seek for people and for us to be just happier, to have some good night sleep etc; is in the methods were you can see the real human qualities of someone and this is not only related to the "big people", it is related to any person in the world and for one reason, if you don't care what you have to do to achieve something then you don't care about the surroundings, your end is the end even if you have to kill some thousands, remember the first days of the revolution of chavez; thousands of people went out to the streets to protest against him and some deputies started shooting at them (and there are videos showing this), after a few months the government released them and still no one knows why if there are lots of proofs, you know how many times I have seen the same thing happen here in Colombia?
The way I see chavez is the same as Uribe, they don't care what they have to do to achieve their goals but I guess that all the people that has suffered, they do care.
Uribe was re elected back in 2006 with the 62% of the votes, and you might say this is the result of large scale fraud but is not, Uribe was thrown back into power because and fraud was not larger than a 3 to 4% so we can say that at least 58% of the population wanted Uribe back in the presidency, this is the result of a large scale change in the society in Colombia, if you ask the average people in Colombia they don't like Uribe that much, they think that is a necessary evil.... so here we can say that we support the people's movement because they wanted Uribe back but we can also say that imperialism brainwashed us all as well as we can say that Chavez brainwahsed the Venezueleans with a populist discourse, we can even say that we don't know if Chavez won the elections with large scale fraud because there wasn't any type of real control of this elections, all of the sites were people voted were controlled by Chavists (specially chosen) so we might never know what really happened.
The thing is... I agree when you say that for human liberation it is necessary to defeat US imperialism, but is this Chavez solution even a better solution? Is there any real difference between Chavez and Uribe for example? Aren’t we just handling the power over to another kind of imperialism masked as socialism?

Pd: I don't think we as anarchists should seek to smash the state, I think we can show people that there's no need to have a state

9:13 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Rhinoceruz,to say there is no difference between Uribe and Chavez is to me an extremist statement. I will try once again, with about as concrete an example as I can give – my life, the thing most precious to me - to explain the difference. If I had lived in Columbia under Uribe (or any of the other narcotrafficante-death squad presidents before him) given my views, I would be dead long ago, or have gone into exile out of fear of being killed. In Venezuela, not only would I remain alive, but I would carry on more or less as I do in Canada. There is a BIG difference between the two, and if you think otherwise, objectively, you are saying you don't care whether I live or die!
As for election fraud, no reputable observer has ever claimed the election was anything but fair. This is a far-right slander.
You also wrote, “: I don't think we as anarchists should seek to smash the state, I think we can show people that there's no need to have a state.”

The weakness of this position was shown in Spain in 1937. Put bluntly, if you do not dismantle the state apparatus the police-military-state bureaucracy-parliament and replace them with direct democratic and federalist popular organizations you will be crushed by counter-revolution. We anarchists learn from our mistakes. We do not cleave to an antique dogma, but change as experience directs us.

8:07 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Rhinoceruz, here is an article that deals with the state you should read. http://www.mutualist.org/id107.html As well, FAU is a group that is worth studying and contacting to understand the revolutionary process See. http://www.nodo50.org/fau/home2.htm As for Venezuela check these out, http://iniciativa-comunista.over-blog.com/
http://accioneslibertarias.blogia.com/

9:34 AM  
Blogger Rhinoceruz said...

then how about the people that died in the hand of the deputies??
they were just marching and protesting and they got killed by goverment employees.. and let me say something, you are not sure about what you are saying about colombia, you'd have to come here and see how things really are, you talk about government sponsored death squads but you forget that these people that got killed in Venezuela were killed by the government itself and they didn't get a fair process; and i do care about them as well as I do care about you being killed.
second thing, in Colombia every reputable observer claims the same but we know that's not truth; this is a fact, we chose who to trust and who not to trust but this depends on our political biases.
third
this is something I have said before, Chavez has made deals with the guerrillas of my country, they are drug dealers and they have killed even more people than the paras, if you support Chavez even knowing he has made deals with the guerrillas you are saying "objectiveley" that you don't care about the people that was killed in Venezuela by the deputies nor about all the people that has been killed, kidnapped, tortured and has dissapeared in Colombia.

thanks for the readings by the way, i'll take a look at them.

7:35 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Which people got killed by the Venezuelan government and when? Why do I not know of this? Surely if it happened it would be trumpeted to the skies by our pro-US media?

Who says Chavez made deals with FARC? Who says FARC are drug dealers? (Most say they tax the cocaleros only and that only some small renegade factions are trafficantes) ) Who says they killed more people than the paras and which people - Legitimate targets such as army, paras, traitors, capitalists or working people? All of this may well be true, but can you not see that this is also the line being touted by the US and its Latin American political allies?
Why do you say I support Chavez. I have never said this at any time and have stated categorically that I do not and that in tradional anarchist sense I support only the peoples movement.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Sorry, one sentence is unclear. That should read "Legitimate targets such as army, paras, traitors, capitalists or ILLIGITIMATE targets such as working people?"

9:15 AM  
Blogger Rhinoceruz said...

I say it, I have seen it, I live in Colombia, I've had family that has been kidnapped,
I've seen people crying because the guerrillas killed their entire family with no reason, I remember once in el Choco
when In a battle between the paras and the guerrillas they threw a Bomb into a church full of innocent people, before that in an attempt to damage the oil infrastructure they burned out a complete town killing hundres and hundres of people.
Every ounce of coke from Colombia is stained with the blood of country innocent people killed by the guerrilla, the paras and the sate
And yes Guerrillas are drug dealers, is the main source of money they use (besides kidnapping which a think is horrible), there is proof of that and not only from government sources, NGO's have proof of that.
I don't care if it's been used by the US goverment I care becasue this is what's happening here, this is what with live every day.
I will not keep it quiet just because the US is using it and I'm against them, once again it is always easier to play rebel games from far far away because you don't have to deal with the reality of violence and repression from all sides
but when you see the real concecuencues of politics and violence you face it different, when you have lived in a country with 50 years of war between left and right you realize none of them are innocent, guerrillas are not some "freedom fighters" worried about us or the working people, they are KILLERS.

I say it because I know it, not because I have read it in some biased media, I have lived it.

10:10 AM  
Anonymous Slave Revolt said...

Yes, but your assertions about Chavez supporting FARC and blah, blah, blah--these comments are just talking out of your ass.

For the record, the government aligned paras are responsible for the majoirty of the terror in Colombia.

The government is a death squad government.

Your focus on the leftwing rebels just shows taht you support the more powerful death squad group.

But, aside from this, your willingness to engage in outrageous lies without presenting evidence shows you to be a two-bit hack--again, a partisan with the most powerful deathsquad mafias: the corporate state, the oligarchy, the military, and the paras. With US power you think that you cannot loose--but without authentic justice there will never be peace.

The corruption of the economic, para-military-political class has polluted your mind. You seem to believe that you can engage in the most outrageous of slander, and that you will not be confronted.

That may work for Uribe and Bush--but not on this blog amigo.

8:06 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Rhinoceruz, I distinguished very clearly between the FARC's “legitimate” and “illegitimate” military targets. If the FARC has deliberately killed innocent people I condemn them for that, so don't accuse me of not caring! However, there are a number of problems with your blanket condemnation of that group. The first rule of guerrilla warfare is that one is “like a fish in the sea” with the people, therefore one does not attack the very people one is trying to liberate. The only so-called guerrilla groups who do attack indiscriminately are false flag operations, criminals disguised as guerrillas, or lunatic fringe groups like Sendero Luminoso. I am familiar with lunatic fringe “communist” groups and I can identify them after reading about two paragraphs of their literature. I have read a fair amount of FARC material from their web site and it seems quite sane. Senderistas they are not. It is more likely the crimes you speak of are false flag operations of the paras/Colombian army or the acts of criminals. There is also the possibility that, due to the barbarization of a 50 year civil war inflicted upon Colombia by the oligarchy and the Gringos, that some factions of the FARC have turned into gangsters. This is not uncommon historically. But this does not mean the FARC as a whole is this way. (Example from Wikipedia ,” El Nogal club in Bogotá was attributed to the guerrilla group by authorities, investigators and prosecutors. FARC themselves denied any involvement. “ (my emphasis))
I do not support either Chavez or FARC. I object to your statements because I am a skeptic, not out of any love for them. The mass media has no credibility, period. If it ever tells the truth it is only where telling the truth is of benefit to the Master Class. I only believe that which comes from people I know and trust or from correspondents and journalists who have a long history of being correct. (Such as John Pilger) I do have what I consider a reliable source in Venezuela – Mike Lebowitz, my old economics prof – as honest and decent a guy as you could ever find, keeping in mind that his views will be filtered through his ideology which is democratic socialism.
Many NGO's - esp Reporters Without Borders are unreliable, serving as fronts for the US. (Think of the so-called Orange Revolutions in E. Europe
You I do not know personally. You have also repeated US propaganda about Venezuela – stories that I know are either exaggerated, spun or untrue since I have an honest source. You have also made an extremist statement (left and right, the same) which I showed has application only at the highest level of abstraction and little day to day practicality. Hence, I cannot regard you as a reliable source of information on Colombia. Had you been more moderate and balanced in your approach, I might have though differently.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

And if you are unaware of what "false flag operations are", Google "Operation Gladio."

9:26 AM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Speaking of John Pilger, one of the world's most respected journalists - one who exposed the Bushite lies about the Iraq adventure among other things - here is his take on the USAnti-Bolivarian propaganda machine. See http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=2115

10:08 PM  

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