Chavez, President of Venezuela, recently announced the arrival of XXIst
Century Socialism. This declaration, although greeted with great
enthusiasm, left a residue of confusion. Since Chavez didn't discuss
XXIst Century Socialism during his recent Presidential campaign, and
since there are virtually no public theoretical documents defining this
new Socialist era, its precise features are not always clear.
Chavez has appointed a committee, well stocked with international
supporters, to come up with appropriate explanatory documents. In the
meantime, we can best understand the contours of XXIst Century
Socialism by examining it as it actually functions in the real world.
Practice is the true test of theory; after several years of Chavez's
leadership, we can readily detect the broad outlines of this innovative
There appear to be several critical new features of
the new XXIst Century Socialist breakthrough. We will review some of
the most important:
First of all, XXIst Century Socialism does
not require a revolution. This comes as a great relief to Socialists
around the world, and will surely encourage many new Socialists to step
For anyone curious about why Hugo Chavez has taken the broadcast license from RCTV, here's a documentary that somehow never aired on our "free press", The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. If you haven't seen it yet, it's not only an open-and-shut case on the active, pre-meditated and grotesque collaboration of RCTV (and the Globovision news channel) in the failed military coup against Chavez, but a riveting inside story of the polarization gripping Venezuela. I also just found an interesting story at Znet on the rise of a co-op economy, one of many signs that the changes instituted by the Bolivarians aren't just rhetorical. One man (or family or privately held corporation) has no right to control the information commons, I'd say that on general principle – but when a pack of oligarchs openly conspires to impose a fascist dictatorship over the wishes of the people, by what right can they claim access to the people's airwaves?
Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf
Coast and uprooted the lives of more than a million, predominantly
Black and working class people, Venezuela, under the leadership of
President Hugo Chavez, was one of the first nations to offer
humanitarian aid to the United States government and all those
US government, under the leadership of George W. Bush, rejected
Venezuela’s offer and closed a venue of life saving support sorely
needed by the Black and working class Survivors of Hurricane Katrina.
Why? The answer lies with the racist and imperialist structure and
worldview of the US government. It is this structure and worldview that
left Black people to die in New Orleans after the great flood and
deliberately attacked them, scattered them, and abandoned them without
aid or humanitarian protection. It is this same system and worldview
that has repeatedly sought to disrupt and undermine the democratic
process in Venezuela and threatened to assassinate its President.
An ad hoc network of activists in New York has taken up the Zapatista call for a day of actions in solidarity with the popular struggle in Oaxaca on Friday, December 22. Organizations, collectives and individuals are encouraged to plan autonomous actions, and to join gatherings at the Mexican consulate and later at Rockefeller Center (remember Diego Rivera!).
Augosto Pinochet died yesterday, despised by the people of Chile and the world for his trail of torture, repression and service to capitalism as military dictator.
Lesson #1: All dictators die, but they don't take class dictatorship with them.
Lesson #2: The state is not neutral. When the popular front leader Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile (in the prototype of a "peaceful revolution,") Pinochet was the tool for a US-engineered coup d'etat on September 11, 1973. Allende was more afraid of the people than he was of the military, and by refusing to arm the workers of Chile – they were left defenseless when the terror came. Allende was among the first to die, but thousands were killed, mutilated, raped and disappeared in the coming years. The best of the generation were cut down or driven into exile. It was a blow that the revolutionary movements of the Southern Cone have yet to overcome.
Without state power, all is illusion. Without a people's army, the people have nothing.
"It is not, contrary to what it might appear to be, a photograph from
a scene from a Marx Brothers film. It is, rather, the true history of
yesterday’s session of the Mexican National Congress, the distinguished
hall in Mexico City where, on Friday, according to the Constitution of
the Republic, Felipe Calderón must take the oath of office and put on
the presidential sash in order to legalize his status as the nation’s
Not all the members of that esteemed lawmaking body are in agreement that Calderón was elected to the presidency last July 2" [photo: DR2006, La Jornada]
Mexico: A Powder Keg: On
the walls of La Realidad, the base-village of the Zapatista movement
deep in the Lacandona jungle, the paintings of Emilio Zapata, Che
Guevara and Subcommandante Marcos have faded over the last three years.
This film provides a sympathetic look at the Peruvian revolution and the Communist Party of Peru (Shining Path) before Presidente Gonzalo's capture. The situation is now, very much, different. It was produced by the British TV station Channel 4. Most notable is how it actually includes interviews with guerillas and communist political officers. Considering the tremendous efforts to totally demonize these brave fighters, at a time when most of the Latin American left was hanging it all up, anyone who hasn't seen this documentary might be more than a little surprised. This honest, in-depth documentary shows why revolutionaries who refused to lower their sights found inspiration from this great attempt in a time of near universal dispair. It also shows what can be done when you try.
Additional background reading: Gordon McCormick's comparitive study of the MRTA and the PCP, Sharp Dressed Man | On the link, A World to Win's current analysis of the "Peace Accords," with some discussion of ideological issues related to Guzman (Gonzolo), the PCP's currently fractured leadership and Guzman's theory of "jefetura", or placing the Party's leadership above internal democratic centralist practice: A Sober Look at the Situation of the Peru Revolution and Its Needs
Flavio Sosa is a member of the “provisional collective
council” of the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO, in
Spanish). Despite being one of APPO’s most visible faces at the moment,
he insists on stating that “ours is a movement of the grassroots, not
leaders.” What follows are some fragments of a much longer conversation
that we had with him and other comrades in the tent city in the
emblematic Santo Domingo Plaza, a bastion of communalist resistance in
the ongoing popular uprising in Oaxaca, Mexico, NYC Indymedia
journalist Brad Will was shot and killed at the Santa Lucia Barricade
by paramilitaries repotedly linked to the besieged state governor's
paramilitary forces. Several others were also shot and killed during
the incident, including a schoolteacher associated with the militant
teachers' union whose strike precipitated the political crisis on
Mexico's southern Pacific Coast.
BradWill was in Oaxaca to take video and report on the
state-wide popular uprising and teacher strike that began in June with
the violent attempted removal of the striking teachers from their
encampment in the center of Oaxaca City by federal police forces. Since
then, the teachers and other groups formed the APPO, the Popular
Assembly of the Oaxacan People, and have called for the removal of the
governor of state Ulises Ruiz of the PRI.
BradWill is the first North American Indymedia journalist to be killed while reporting. There have been several other incidents where IMCs were targeted, and Lenin Cali Nájera, an Ecuadorian Indymedia activist, was killed in 2004.
skeptical, never the cynic; BradWill was a committed
anti-authoritarian who always sought to bring the stories of people in
struggle to the whole world. An early volunteer with the Indymedia
movement, his coverage of local struggles, such as the movement for
public space and gardens in New York, were only one part of his
internationalist vision. From the tree sits obstructing clear-cutting
in the Pacific Northwest to the indigenous, proletarian uprisings of
Bolivia, Brad was there to help people tell their own stories.
BradWill died as he lived, on the barricades armed only with a video camera.