The news of the recent passing of Hugo Chavez has swept through nominally leftist circles over the past week. Due to his leading stature in contemporary anti-hegemonic struggles, many organizations and websites (including Anti-Imperialism.com) posted commemorations.
Now that the news has settled, Chavez’s death affords and demands a discussion on various aspects of the revolutionary process.
Point One: Chavez headed up a bourgeois nationalist regime.
Within Third World countries under the chains of imperialism, bourgeoisie nationalism develops as a response to the suppression of any native independent national bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie under the weight of monopoly capital and the First World.
In order to reassert itself within the world-system, some sections of the stunted national and petty-bourgeoisie of Third World countries mobilize progressive cross-class alliances. In order to effectively gain mass support, these aspiring sections of the national bourgeoisie and national petty-bourgeoisie promote reform agendas with numerous socialistic features.
These national bourgeois-led cross-class movements also have an objective interest in linking up with similar movements elsewhere. Hence, Chavez gave outspoken support for other bourgeois nationalist regimes in Ecuador, Iran, Libya, and elsewhere.
Despite their progressive nature under imperialism, this rising national bourgeoisie cannot lead the masses through socialism to communism. This ascendant national bourgeoisie must eventually face a choice: support its own death through class struggles associated with socialism; or consolidate its power over its compatriots while conciliating with imperialism and the forces of capital.
The death of Chavez may provide a catalyst that brings the contradiction between the Venezuelan masses and newly empowered national bourgeoisie to the fore.
Point Two: Venezuela is not socialist; there are no socialist countries today.
Socialism is not a static social or economic system, but is “a whole epoch of intensified class conflicts, a long series of battles on all fronts” against capitalist production relations and for communist ones. In essence, socialism is a transition: away from value being measured through labor, and production structured for profit; and toward a value being determined by its social utility, and production being structured directly for overall well-being.
“Socialism in one country” refers to circumstances in which a major revolutionary breakthrough occurs in a single area and class struggle is continued therein as a means of contributing to socialism globally.
Socialism also refers to a period of mass participation and mobilization during which the masses struggle against counter-revolution, the remaining forces of capital, and remaining social divisions.
Though several features of reforms supported initiated by Chavez have socialistic features, Venezuela is not socialist per say. The methods and class composition through which the Bolivarian Revolution was accomplished and maintained (i.e., a cross-class popular alliance led by the national bourgeoisie), its lack of mass empowerment in the struggle against imperialism, the development of rising contradictions between the Venezuelan masses and national bourgeoisie, and no clear program by which to transcend production structured around labor value to one based on use-value all point to Venezuela’s bourgeois nationalist character, albeit one which is progressive in the context of the broad united front against imperialism.
Point Three: Venezuela is part of the broad front against imperialism.
Defeating imperialism on a world scale necessitates a long-term struggle during which a variety of class forces are united around a program of Global New Democracy. This unity is known as the Broad United Front Against Imperialism (BUFAI).
Global New Democracy aims to establish national liberation for oppressed and exploited nations, destroy the formal and structural basis of imperialist power, and establish the material and subjective foundations for the further development of socialism and communism.
At present the BUFAI includes bourgeois nationalist states such as Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba, Iran, and Syria, all of which are under attack by imperialism.
Maoists, as representatives of proletarian internationalism and as the most vigorous opponents of imperialism, support the development and unity of the broad united front against imperialism. It is only through supporting the development of the BUFAI that the global proletariat can assert its leadership within it.
Point Four: There is no straight line to communism.
Socialism, as a transitive period between capitalism and communism, is not pure nor free from contradictions. However, socialism is the conscious intervention in history on the part of the politically conscious masses for their own fundamental empowerment during a period in which the means of production have developed to the point where total liberation through communism is possible.
Divisions between various forces remain under socialism, and the potential for the development and widening of new divisions exists. The tendency within socialism toward to development, widening, and ossification of divisions must be overcome through continual class struggle waged by the masses. Only through continuing class struggle under socialism can society arrive to communism.