Chavez’ death: “neither in mourning nor celebration”

by ROAR Collective on March 6, 2013

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Now is the time to overpower the rotten powers that be and build – from below – a real democracy of equality, social justice and freedom in Venezuela.

By the Editorial Collective of El Libertario in Venezuela

When an illness becomes serious, when medical attention becomes a vehicle for myopic, politically motivated decisions and when a patient becomes drunk with power, it can only end this way. The strongman has died, and in so doing, he has initiated a substantial shift in the Venezuelan political landscape.

What used to be the regime’s greatest strength has suddenly turned into its defining weakness: it was all Chávez, and, without him, the only solution is to fabricate an absolute commitment to his memory and his plans for succession. The government’s true fragility can now be seen, a government which tried to demonstrate its “popular, socialist” character via a grotesque personality cult, a practice that has now been reduced to the empty invocation of spirits.

The deceased himself is to blame for this outcome as the secrecy around his illness was propelled by the same motivations as the extreme centralization of power around him, while the lack of ideological coherence amongst his followers has left them scrapping for crumbs. The high-level “rojo-rojito” [chavista red] bureaucrats and the upper echelons of the military are best placed to benefit, as they negotiate impunity for their various misdemeanors and corruptions.

For the right-wing and social democratic opposition, the new situation finds them unable to overcome their losses of the presidential elections of October 7 and the regional ones of December 16, offering a “yuppy populism” which promises voters that they will maintain and fine-tune the clientelist tools of governmental power which were so useful to Chavez.

This accommodation assumes the belief that a fortuitous metastasis has brought them within reach of the power that their greed, mistakes, laziness and incompetence had kept them away from; power they will wield with similar stupidity and greed as the Chavista bolibourgeoisie.

The backdrop to this load of petty opportunism – from both the Gran Polo Patriótico [the Chavista coalition] and the Mesa de Unidad Democrática [the opposition coalition] – is Venezuela, a country that faces its own problems: out of control inflation, rising unemployment and precarious jobs, the devaluation of the currency, shocking personal insecurity, crises in electricity and water provision, education and health systems in decline, a housing shortage, obsolete – or incomplete – public works, a demagogic approach which pays attention to only the most extreme scarcities experienced by the most desperate people… a whole host of other problems which are equally disastrous.

These issues are not the central concern of the two gangs in competition for Miraflores [the presidential palace] and the oil booty. Our collective response must be to not relent to their blackmail: support at the ballot box in exchange for “solutions” that either never materialize or are ludicrously inadequate. Now is the time to overpower the rotten powers that be and build – from below – a real democracy of equality, social justice and freedom.

We must unleash the generalized anger caused by our suffering, and convert it into autonomous social struggles, self-managed and extensive. We must spell out for the politicians in power that we don’t need them, neither as intermediaries nor as gracious givers of what we ourselves can construct – united and from the base – without any need for “clean hands” or “red berets”.

EL LIBERTARIO Editorial Collective

ellibertario@nodo50.org - @pelibertario

www.nodo50.org/ellibertario - periodicoellibertario.blogspot.com

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Conway March 7, 2013 at 02:58

Before Chavez, how many people could have read this? How many people would have had any idea about the concepts you are talking about ? How many people had any idea of the power they have when they put on a red beret and go into the street with tens of thousands of comrades? How many people ever dreamed of a world where they had a fair chance to have a good life?

Before Chavez, those people sat at home, alone, sat in bars, alone, sat drinking or pursuing some other kind of escape from their dismal lives.

You are comparing the present situation to an ideal, and forgetting about the comparison between the current situation and the old one. Your goal of perfect democracy is a worthy goal, but it is more attainable because of Chavez. Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good.

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dave March 7, 2013 at 22:17

“Before Chavez, those people sat at home, alone, sat in bars, alone, sat drinking or pursuing some other kind of escape from their dismal lives.”

Now they look up at an extremely corrupt bureaucratic regime which is tied into the international capitalist system. Socialism, imho, is the full and final emancipation of labor, all labor, here and everywhere, now and everlasting. Absent this, it is just absurd to talk about the people having any power.

The dream of a fair world and a good life goes back at least as far as the Secessio Plebis, probably much farther than that. Chavez is a legatee of that tradition, one of its beneficiaries, not its creator. More specifically, the Bolivarian movement predates Chavez, it bore him, not the other way around.

The question is not whether Chavismo is socialist, clearly it is not, the question is whether he was Washington’s man in Caracas playing the revolutionary on TV, or just another garden variety, run-of-the-mill demagogue. I vote for the former.

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unsorted March 14, 2013 at 07:06

>Chavez is a legatee of that tradition, one of its beneficiaries, not its creator. More specifically, the Bolivarian movement predates Chavez, it bore him, not the other way around.

I find it disappointing that you do not recognize, or are unwilling to acknowledge, the truth of what Frank Conway is saying–or the fact that it is entirely compatible with your politics. The reason for this may have something to do with the false dichotomy (legatee v. legator, benefactor v. beneficiary) that seems to frame much of your perspective. Yes, Chavez belongs to a long tradition, but surely he acknowledged this. He put so much of his energy into reviving this tradition, into awakening the people and effectively mobilizing them as active political agents, empowering them as participants and protagonists of the revolutionary process. It is not worshipping at the cult of personality to admit this!

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dave March 17, 2013 at 18:08

“what Frank Conway is saying…is entirely compatible with your politics. ”

Top-down welfare state is not compatible with my politics. I’m an anarchist, for what that means one might read Cindy Milstein’s Anarchism and its Aspirations, or Alexander Berkman’s What is Anarchism.
Crumbs from the master’s table, however magnanimous s/he might be, is not enough. In fact it’s just insulting.

“Yes, Chavez belongs to a long tradition, but surely he acknowledged this…”

Chavez might have , but Conway did not, at least not above, and it was to him that I responded.

“He put so much of his energy into reviving this tradition, into awakening the people ”

Again, this is false. More to the point, Chavez was a brake on the Bolivarian movement.

I don’t know how old a person you are, unsorted, but the liberation movements in S.A. not only predate Chavez’ ascent, but his birth as well. Chavez did not awaken the people, they were awake and fighting before he was born. It is simply inaccurate to say otherwise.

“mobilizing them as active political agents, empowering them as participants and protagonists of the revolutionary process”

This is precisely my complaint: he did not empower the people sufficiently. His government spent more money on welfare than his predecessors, but at the same time he solidified the power of the state over the those nascent, localized incidents of direct action. You might read this: http://roarmag.org/2013/03/chavez-death-venezuela-bolivarian-revolution/#comment-27828

Lastly, it most definitely is worshipping at the cult of personality to attribute to a leader accomplishments–like awakening the people–which are not his/her own, or to admonish others–like me– who insist upon acknowledging this fact. When Chavez first took power, he made a speech in which he said that the Bolivarian movement was NOT a socialist movement, and then he scoffed at the idea of eliminating private property. Subsequently he had to change his tune because the people whom he had ‘awakened’ were not going to tolerate such mockery of their movement. Since that time, wittingly or no, Chavez has undermined the ascent to power of the people by erecting over their heads a highly centralized, bureaucratic state which routinely suppresses workers’ strikes and other forms of opposition to his rule, all the while branding the nurses, teachers, transit workers et al who engage in such resistance “counterrevolutionaries.” This is not socialism of any type, and it is important that we identify it for what it is: reaction.

There’s a link to a video above, why don’t you watch it and make up your own mind.

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dave March 7, 2013 at 22:04
dave March 7, 2013 at 22:48

I should have said for a discussion of Chavez and the betrayal of the Bolivarian movement follow the link above. It is not a discussion of his death.

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