El Libertario in Venezuela - fake anarchists? Where to get info on Venezuela?

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boomerang
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Mar 29 2014 20:46
El Libertario in Venezuela - fake anarchists? Where to get info on Venezuela?

I've appreciated the articles by El Libertario about the protests in Venezuela, because they offer a counter view to liberal-leftists and reformist-Marxists who love the Venezuelan state - and obviously also a counter to the right-wing view that hates the Venezuelan state for being too (ahem) "socialist".

On Facebook I noticed someone posted an article accusing El Libertario of being "fake anarchists." http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10555 This website is a cheerleader for the "Bolivarian Revolution" so I almost didn't bother with the article but it seems to make some good points that if true do hurt El Libertario's credibility.

I'm still opposed to the Venezeulan state either way, but I'd like to have a source for an on the ground analysis of the protests in Venezuela that I can trust. Any ideas?

Or are the criticisms of E.L. undeserved?

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Steven.
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Mar 29 2014 21:48

I haven't read the article, don't have time right now. But up to now we have always supported El Libertario. I have personally met them, as have people we know, like Caiman and can also vouch for their integrity.

Like I said, will check out that article but I have never seen any meaningful criticism of them. All of the criticisms of them I have seen have either been left-wing nonsense from Chavez-cheerleaders, or vague second-hand regurgitations of the former. (See for example the thread on here a few years ago claiming they were a CIA-funded "Black Ops" operation)

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Reddebrek
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Mar 30 2014 00:37

I'm afraid I don't know much about El Libertario so I can't say much for sure but reading that article struck me as a bit odd.

After linking LibCom the introduction claims El-Lib have aligned themselves with right wing elements and links to another article by the same author. Only that article doesn't appear to even mention El-Lib much less expose this alliance.

It then gets to a list, the first few points seem to be character assassination (the leaders middle class) before getting to real meat of El-Lib's history. Again I don't know how accurate his presentation of the events listed are but I did find El-Lib's English language docs here so if you're curious you can compare them.

One thing I did get over and over again was a theme of "they didn't support the government" which seems like an odd critic of a "false anarchist" group. Then at the end the author gives us a description of the "REAL Anarchists in Venezuela" FARV a group which he admits no longer exists and the only things about them I can find is that they supported Chavez and even encouraged people to vote.

Over all seems a bit fishy.

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Ed
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Mar 30 2014 13:10
Steven wrote:
I haven't read the article, don't have time right now. But up to now we have always supported El Libertario. I have personally met them, as have people we know, like Caiman and can also vouch for their integrity.

Hmm, I seem to remember Caiman saying that there are problematic bits to their politics, like being Synthesist-types when it comes to organisation, having individualists in the group etc. And some of their writing on non-Chavismo subjects is a bit poor.

That said, I do get the impression that the main problem this guy has with El Libertario is that they don't support Chavez.. as Reddebrek rightly points out, having a go at El Lib for not being involved in struggle but then hailing a group that no longer exists for their activity seems a bit odd..

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 30 2014 13:45

I've heard that Boomerang's a 'fake anarchist'. Where can I get reliable information on...?

No El Lib are not perfect and I have a number of personal points of departure from their praxis, but venezuelanalysis is merely a chavista parrot with a definite agenda to smear groups like El Lib who do essential work breaking down the chavista myth.

And I have seen no more evidence of their involvement with the CIA than I have any member of the London anarchy scene. In fact, it would make a lot more sense for many of the self-styled anarchos in London to be undercover spooks than any of the handful around El Lib (it would certainly explain the deliberate saboteur behaviour and fixation with violence of a number of people and I include some Libcom posters in that).

As for Venezuela, it's an odd angle for the CIA to go for: supporting a miniscule publication in a country whose government trades pretty healthily with the US after all. I'd say there's far more probability that they have spooks within the PSUV.

Caiman del Barrio
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Mar 30 2014 13:50

Oh yeah, btw:

Reddebrek wrote:
at the end the author gives us a description of the "REAL Anarchists in Venezuela" FARV a group which he admits no longer exists and the only things about them I can find is that they supported Chavez and even encouraged people to vote.

...last I heard this was one person with a proven track record of doomed egotistical projects like this (he's formerly of the El Lib milieu I believe).

Also, it's quite normal for Latin American 'platformists' to back local populist anti-imperialists (OCL in Chile for example). FYI, "comunismo libertario" there is interchangeable with "plataformista", which may partially explain why Libcom gets very few Latin American posters.

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OliverTwister
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Mar 30 2014 14:07
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Also, it's quite normal for Latin American 'platformists' to back local populist anti-imperialists (OCL in Chile for example).

Links?

akai
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Mar 30 2014 14:50

I wonder if this article was written in response to this: http://www.fondation-besnard.org/spip.php?article2141

Apparently some platformist acquaintances are livid about the above article and are getting up in arms against El Lib.

I agree with what Caiman says about it, I see some problematic things in El Lib from time to time, but I see big problems with Chavism and support of some populist statist initiatives, so I appreciate some of the critical articles written about that. I certainly wouldn't call them "fake anarchists".

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Steven.
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Mar 30 2014 15:58

Yeah, agree with Caiman and Akai. I don't agree with everything they say, but they certainly aren't "fake" and I agree with their general approach to Chavez/the Venezuelan state etc. Which is that they support neither the government nor the right-wing opposition.

I have now finished reading that article, and it is bollocks. It is either baseless slurs, ad hominems (for example, attacking one El Libertario for his job, and identifying him with his employer - by that logic you might as well slag me off for the war in Iraq because I work for the UK government!), outright distortions (for example, saying they support middle class leadership of social movements, rather than they are just pointing out that middle class people often end up in leadership positions in social movements), or simply just criticising them on the basis that they don't support the Venezuelan government. Which is what the genuine anarchist position is!

Mark.
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Mar 30 2014 16:59

A response in Spanish from Venezuela Conspiracy Theories Monitor:

http://venezuelaconspiracytheories.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/beware-of-anarchist-police.html

Most of the other blog posts on this site are in English and worth a look through for an insight into Chavista paranoia:

Quote:

Communication and Information Minister Delcy Rodriguez twitted yesterday that she would ask for an investigation over the use of crossword puzzles by the regional daily El Aragueño for making "conspiracy calls" through coded messages.

“Diario El Aragueño envía mensajes cifrados vinculados a la conspiración y la violencia en sus crucigramas! Hemos solicitado una investigación” wrote Rodríguez.

It’s not the first time such allegations are made Venezuela. In May 2012 Miguel Pérez Pirela, conductor of the Venezolana de Televisión television program “Cayendo y Corriendo,” claimed that crossword puzzles published by the daily Últimas Noticias were being used to send coded massages calling for the assassination of high government officials.

and so on...

Salvoechea
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Mar 30 2014 17:08

FEL from Chile had pubished a communique about the protests, taking side with the Chavismo. This possition has been controversial in the anarchist millieu in South America and Spain (well, it hasn't been a big issue, but the anarchist people in Spain usually takes side with El Libertario)
http://fel-chile.org/con-el-pueblo-venezolano-y-contra-el-golpismo/

So, as for a European, this possition of critically supporting the bolivarian revolution is a new perspective. The federation they talk about, FARV, is not very know. It apparently has disbanded this year.

FEL also made an interview of one of their members:
http://fel-chile.org/entrevista-a-las-y-los-companeros-de-la-federacion-anarquista-revolucionaria-de-venezuela/

Anarchist who are chavista or bolivarian are quite misunderstood (mainly unknown) in Europe. They try to be active inside a very rich popular movement from the base. This movement is obviously directed by pro-government people and militants from PSUV. However, it also provides a big camp to act in a practical anarchist base, working with many communities in building a new kind of society.

Venezuela is living a "slow revolution". It may be characterised by the socialist communes:
http://www.aporrea.org/poderpopular/a128723.html
http://www.avn.info.ve/contenido/comunas-abren-camino-democracia-socialista-venezuela
http://www.rtve.es/noticias/20130305/poder-popular-venezuela-comunas-buscan-socialismo-mas-alla-chavez/588540.shtml

This communes are thought to be an alternative to the State. However they had been conceived from above, from the governemnt. I was been told that the first idea of it came from an anarchist who was a friend of Hugo Chavez. I don't know if that's true. The point is that it is a living experiment of direct democracy and socialism. The idea of Chavez about these communes was to finance them and they would eventually become the "soviets" of Venezuela.

The point is that Maduro and the chavistas are not really expropiating bourgeoisie. It is the people who struggles and win, and later the government legalise that popular conquest. Chavismo is a kind of renewed socialdemocracy, in the sense that the socialdemocrats from the past were socialists who wanted to get it from pacific and evolutionary (and parlametary) means.

What about the other anarchist? Well, I tend to believe some of the critics. However it is quite right the possition of El Libertario about creating an autonomous millieu out of the control of the government. I think that government and the Party can easily corrupt and destroy the socialists communes and the expropiated factories and workplaces. The problem is that El Libertario uses a language that is quite similar to other progressives movements inside the oppossition (trotskists and other).

In the venezuelan opposition there are fascists. Revolution put social classes in its place. And if the people from below expropiate the means of production, the people from above become fascist. If the opposition win and election, and seize the power, the first thing they'd do is to sweep all the progress of the bolivarian revolution. Then, people will resist. It's obvious they won't want to go back. The real social revolution will come then.

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bakuninja
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Mar 30 2014 19:10
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
venezuelanalysis is merely a chavista parrot with a definite agenda to smear groups like El Lib who do essential work breaking down the chavista myth.

there's also lot of stuff on venezuelananalysis that's very critical towards chavez & co.
http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/7202

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OliverTwister
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Mar 30 2014 21:53
iexist wrote:
I think that a Chavista govt is better than the opposition.

You also think it's OK not to tip.

...

Seriously you've got to knock it off with your one-line responses, most of which have very little to actually do with the topic. This is not a thread about whether Chavez or "the opposition" are worse. It's about whether Anarchists who are critical of both sets of politicians deserve to be called CIA collaborators.

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libcom
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Mar 31 2014 14:37

We've locked the other thread on this topic.

Mark.
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Mar 31 2014 18:59

I've never been to Venezuela and I'm wary of going on about somewhere I don't know that much about. Still, I follow El Libertario a bit and I've found no real reason to disagree with what Caiman has said here and elsewhere. The South American country I do know quite well is Brazil and I think it's interesting to compare the response to last year's protests there with this year's protests in Venezuela.

The article linked to in the OP was originally published in Roarmag, a site I'd usually have a lot of time for and which has had good coverage of the Brazilian protests. In the case of Venezuela the editor, Jerome Roos, seems to have taken a different line, supporting the government rather than the protestors (though to be fair he has published one piece from El Libertario).

Both countries have leftist governments and the protest movements have been based mainly in at least relatively better off areas rather in the favelas and among the very poor. In both cases there has been right wing involvement in and support for the protests, along with criticism of this from leftists on the government side, no doubt some of it justified.

I think in both cases as well the anarchists, such as they are, come mainly from the relatively better off and educated (and probably also whiter) sectors rather than from among the uneducated and poor. Does this make them middle class? Probably it depends on your definition and in practice people seem to use ideas of class differently according to context and the argument they're trying to make. I tend to avoid the term for this reason. People who are educated, have regular jobs and don't live in a favela still have to sell their labour to get by, even if they have more of a first world standard of living (maybe not so different from most of the people reading libcom). I doubt that the people involved in El Libertario are so different to other Latin American anarchists in this regard.

It's also obviously true that there's a vast social gulf in these countries between the middling sectors of the population and the very poor. Some of what I've read from Brazilian anarchists seems to deal with this in terms of a kind of outreach into the favelas, and also involvement with the MST, the landless peasants movement (with close links to the ruling PT) that seems the most obvious Brazilian parallel with the government linked social movements in Venezuela. I think there have also been arguments against involvement with the MST. Looking at it from outside I'd find it hard to judge, as I'd find it hard to judge whether involvement in social movements with Chavista links in Venezuela is a good idea - and really it's for people there to decide.

Why the difference in international response to the Brazilian and Venezuelan protests (and Brazilian and Venezuelan anarchists) despite the parallels? The obvious point to me is the part Venezuela plays in the anti-imperialist imagination outside these countries. At least rhetorically the Venezuelan and US governments are on opposing sides (whatever that means in reality) and for much of the left, and some anarchists, this is what really counts. On the ground in Venezuela I'm not sure how much it actually matters.

Edit: more eloquent but in Spanish: http://carmengguadilla.com/2014/03/12/venezuela-dicen/

proletarian.
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Mar 31 2014 17:58
Salvoechea wrote:
In the venezuelan opposition there are fascists. Revolution put social classes in its place. And if the people from below expropiate the means of production, the people from above become fascist. If the opposition win and election, and seize the power, the first thing they'd do is to sweep all the progress of the bolivarian revolution. Then, people will resist. It's obvious they won't want to go back. The real social revolution will come then.

In that scenario perhaps it would end up more like Pinochet's Chile with disappearances and torture. Also you allude to social revolution in one country, a recipe for another disaster. In the present, we are seeing not a return to dictatorial rulers but more of a disintegration of the whole of society. Due in large part to imperial rivalries. As for the Chavista state, does anyone seriously think it will be allowed to 'wither away' from below?

Caiman del Barrio
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Apr 1 2014 00:57
Mark. wrote:
Both countries have leftist governments and the protest movements have been based mainly in at least relatively better off areas rather in the favelas and among the very poor. In both cases there has been right wing involvement in and support for the protests, along with criticism of this from leftists on the government side, no doubt some of it justified.

This is partially true, however there have been plenty of rancho/barrio protests as well as the big, opposition-controlled demos in Chacao (which is a downtown municipality run by the opposition). I think it's also pretty crucial to look beyond Caracas at the demos in smaller towns which have been more independent and autonomous, even if - and I would even say partially cos of - they don't get tweeted etc. One thing El Lib have done really well is publish first hand accounts from contacts of theirs in the Andes etc.

Quote:
I think in both cases as well the anarchists, such as they are, come mainly from the relatively better off and educated (and probably also whiter) sectors rather than from among the uneducated and poor. Does this make them middle class? Probably it depends on your definition and in practice people seem to use ideas of class differently according to context and the argument they're trying to make. I tend to avoid the term for this reason. People who are educated, have regular jobs and don't live in a favela still have to sell their labour to get by, even if they have more of a first world standard of living (maybe not so different from most of the people reading libcom). I doubt that the people involved in El Libertario are so different to other Latin American anarchists in this regard.

Well said: I think people need to be realistic about the paucity of political debate in countries like Venezuela. The polarisation between the PSUV and the antichavista opposition is close to universal, and it's very hard to find spaces to argue against both. As I've written before, and as Uzcategui argues, this polarisation neatly serves the interests of both sides, as does the 'socialist'/rojo rojito tag, and is shamelessly upheld by cranks like venezuelanalysis and this Roos guy at Roarmag.

There's a bit more to it than this though. I think El Libertario lack a 'class' basis to their approach sometimes and tend to see themselves as activists rather than workers. Having said that, i honestly think it's different to operate in an environment where there is a state which has recuperated terms like socialism, class power, etc. El Libertario do participate in 'labour' issues, but very much as activists. I was surprised hwen I was out there to see a very violent strike by manual workers at the university most of them operate out of which they were basically ignoring.

Quote:
Why the difference in international response to the Brazilian and Venezuelan protests (and Brazilian and Venezuelan anarchists) despite the parallels? The obvious point to me is the part Venezuela plays in the anti-imperialist imagination outside these countries. At least rhetorically the Venezuelan and US governments are on opposing sides (whatever that means in reality) and for much of the left, and some anarchists, this is what really counts. On the ground in Venezuela I'm not sure how much it actually matters.

Yes it's yet another example of the rhetorical midair loops the left is prepared to perform in order to justify its grandiose, over-arching convictions. I think it's instrumental that they denounce as 'upper middle class' students at public unis for example.

Sorry I can't provide links right now, I'll post a bunch of stuff about Venezuela when I'm back in the UK in 2-3 days.

boomerang
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Apr 1 2014 01:51
libcom wrote:
We've locked the other thread on this topic.

My thread won.

boomerang
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Apr 1 2014 01:51

Thanks everyone, you're a wealth of knowledge. I knew I'd come to the right place.

Salvoechea wrote:
The problem is that El Libertario uses a language that is quite similar to other progressives movements inside the oppossition (trotskists and other).

Can you elaborate?

Mark.
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Apr 4 2014 12:00

El Libertario respond to another attack on them (in Spanish):
http://periodicoellibertario.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/respuesta-los-amantes-del-estado-se.html