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August 16, 2007



r. john said: "Try answering these questions using the benchmarks that Lotta has argued for, and then you or Lotta can tell us all how you would answer this question on the basis of the actual situation in Venezuela.

When I try to answer these questions, that is, when I try to extrapolate the theory into its most likely practice I find that Lotta can only be talking about literally turning off the export of oil and the drawing in of capital more or less immediately. In other words, simply because Lotta doesn't clearly and concisely draw the connections between his analysis and a likely plan of action doesn't mean that we can't, or that he's off the hook for where his analysis would lead." Absolutely right but let's backtrack for a sec.

Those "benchmarks" are RCP's benchmarks for a socialism brought about by proletarian revolution. Chavez will not reach them because his line will prevent him from doing so. This is why your next paragraph is off the mark.

Lotta is not suggesting courses of action for Chavez, that's a non-starter. After all, within the limitations of his pragmatic line, he is doing as much as he can, but to meet RCP standards, he'd have to have a different politics. It's badly organized, but Lotta's consistent.

"here is a program to develop an agricultural base, there is a program to build endogenous industrial development. I've been to the farms and the factories. My point is that without engaging those programs and analyzing how they're working and the role of ideology in them, you cannot make a judgment as to whether they will be successful or not, or as to whether they're revolutionary socialism." Lotta only briefly touched on it but did, in the quote I used to respond to JB, say he would deal more with the issues you raised in future articles. You're right about the role of ideology, but I don't want to repeat myself here. Rather than criticize Lotta for not doing what he said he was not going to do, can you give a run down of the different lines in play and how much traction they have among different sections of the population, as well as how much influence they have on larger state policy?

"But another weakness of Lotta's analysis is that it only looks at things from the top, that is what Chavez is doing and saying. " This is untrue. He is critiquing the documented effects of concrete policies.

Let's not limit ourselves to critiquing Lotta's article when you've already indicated some suggestive points. You say: "From Douglas Bravo's Third Way Movement, to the unofficial militias in Caracas, to the peasant struggle lead by the Ezequiel Zamora Front. These just as much as anything else should and can give you a sense of what is going on in Venezuela. And they also point to spaces and leaderships which can go much further than Chavez is going. What do they have to say?" Well, what do they have to say and how are they implementing local practice and affecting national politics?

"Oddly enough, that people are not being brought into the petroleum sector, but are being given the reins of political power on several levels, while also being given the resources with which to rapidly change things, suggests that Chavez is moving away from the old way of doing things." But now aren't you the one divorcing line from practice? Are they being trained to administer institutions or is there an ideological component too? Doesn't that line reveal the character of these reins of power? And what is the line?

shinethepath, you are mistaken. I never said Venezuela's oil wasn't "talked about". Actually people talk about it a lot but only in terms of how its profits are used. I said its structural role wasn't being seriously analyzed, and it's so pervasive it almost seems deliberate. For Marxists especially that's pathetic.

"Chavez is surely using Oil as a weapon, but as JB has pointed out...what is he suppose to do, ignore it? The quesiton of Oil is like a double edge sword in my opinion, you must utilize it and use it to the ends of making revolutionary change." Lotta's critique has nothing to do with right wing and liberal critique. They are outraged that he uses oil profits to subsidize "socialism." Lotta is saying that Chavez is not funding socialism. The argument Lotta raises is that Chavez is maintaining the dominant role of oil in Venezuela which will aggravate the lopsidedness in the economy as well as perpetuate the global oil economy. As r. john pointed out, Lotta has suggested no solutions based on concrete conditions in Venezuela. Instead he answers the broader question: "what is to be done?" Who is to do it? That's a different question. For RCP, a [non-existent?] Maoist party that has no large-scale presence at the moment. Otherwise, Chavez? Bravo? Some other force?

"you need revolutionary movement and events to radically change society, you need to rely on the people to gut out the old earth and reveal the new world, and above all a discplined revolutionary party that can lead such a struggle and be committed to its vocation for militant and revolutionary change." I agree but I think too many revolutionaries are willing to give up this hard-won insight in the name of "openness" and opposing dogmatism.

Does Chavez represent another way to socialism? I think most people here already agree that he has not. What we can't agree on is what he is doing, and how to assess the social forces he has unleashed.

r. john

zerohour attributed this remark to me: "Try answering these questions using the benchmarks that Lotta has argued for, and then you or Lotta can tell us all how you would answer this question on the basis of the actual situation in Venezuela."

In fact it was said by repeater.

I have not commented in this thread.


apologies to both parties

red flags fan

Hey--long time lurker and fan of this blog here...I found this article that I thought readers would find interesting about "Stalin Gonzalez", a leader of the anti-Chavez student movement. Yes, he's named after THAT Stalin, and it sounds like some of his criticism is coming from the left...but that he's situated within what looks like an essentially rightist movement...not knowing more about Venezuela, it's hard for me to tell...

Anyway, I thought people here would be interested in the article. You gotta wade through a lot of Miami Herald bourgeois bullshit, but there's some interesting stuff there.

Here's the article:
Student critic of Chávez comes from Marxist ranks


It is definitely a rightist movement.


Stalin G. is definitely a rightist.

James Petras, who I take with a boulder of salt, reported recently that various "ultraleft" groups are looking to provoke violence before the vote, and that in this (supposed) CIA memo, they looked past the "Marxist" vocabulary of these groups to the role they are playing.

I don't know.

What does seem clear is that this could be a turning point in VZ, to an open campaign for socialism and some of the authority necessary to cut through institutional resistance to a radicalized social democracy.

If I were in Venezuela, I would be not just voting "yes" – but actively campaigning for it.


On behalf of imprisoned Iranian activists of the labor movement Madadi, Osanlu and Salehi, on behalf of imprisoned students and women of Iran, I declare: "MR. CHAVEZ IS A DEMAGOGUE AND VERBOSE CHARLATAN AND THE FRIEND OF IRANIAN BUTCHERS."

a non statist

Why suprised, the last place you will see principles is from a real politik derived statist

boo bye


Ah sectarian subjective declarations!


Any thoughts on Chavez's recent statement abut putting the socialist agenda "on hold" for now?

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