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'Communal Councils' in Venezuela

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Joseph Kay
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Feb 7 2007 08:38
kiwi hirsuta wrote:
particapatory politics, whether in councils or co-oped workplaces can only work if people are sufficiently educated and familiar with the practice - this is slowly happening. People need to learn how the system works, and generally be given an education, not just in political ideals.

which seems to presume a top-down approach - people need to be 'educated' to participate, whereas historically in every revolutionary moment of any significance participation has been constructed immediately from below by workers themselves (paris 1871, russia 1905/17, krondstadt 1921, spain 36, hungary 56 etc etc).

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
I am very confident that this is a good thing, that the state is truly working to dissolve itself, but that this process will take many years

to my knowledge that would be historically unprecedented, so forgive me my scepticism (i don't reject historical novelty, after all i want global libertarian communism). a more cynical thesis would say chavez has noted the inefficiency of the leninist model of managing national capital, and is seeking decentralised 'participation' in order to improve it - lenin as fordist, chavez as toyotist if you will.

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
WHile its there its cashing in on nationalised services and redistributing them for grass root activities - fantastic (...) A last thought about Chavez' new powers - although slighlty unnerving even to me as a supporter, there is a real feeling amongst people on the ground that things arent moving fast enough - this "enabling law" allows things to move faster. He looses the power after 18 months, the people voted for it, I support it at this stage.

this is the thing though, the state is inserting itself everywhere - in place of direct workers control via federated workers' councils etc, we have nationalisation and redistribution, this precludes opportunities for people to discover their own power and breeds dependency on the state, as the fact that popular impatience requires an enabling law sadly demonstrates. people may have voted for it, as many CNT workers voted to join the government - it doesn't mean they're doing the right thing.

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Feb 7 2007 08:49

This comment has been moved here.

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kiwi hirsuta
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Feb 7 2007 22:43
Joseph K. wrote:
kiwi hirsuta wrote:
particapatory politics, whether in councils or co-oped workplaces can only work if people are sufficiently educated and familiar with the practice - this is slowly happening. People need to learn how the system works, and generally be given an education, not just in political ideals.

which seems to presume a top-down approach - people need to be 'educated' to participate, whereas historically in every revolutionary moment of any significance participation has been constructed immediately from below by workers themselves (paris 1871, russia 1905/17, krondstadt 1921, spain 36, hungary 56 etc etc).

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
I am very confident that this is a good thing, that the state is truly working to dissolve itself, but that this process will take many years

to my knowledge that would be historically unprecedented, so forgive me my scepticism (i don't reject historical novelty, after all i want global libertarian communism). a more cynical thesis would say chavez has noted the inefficiency of the leninist model of managing national capital, and is seeking decentralised 'participation' in order to improve it - lenin as fordist, chavez as toyotist if you will.

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
WHile its there its cashing in on nationalised services and redistributing them for grass root activities - fantastic (...) A last thought about Chavez' new powers - although slighlty unnerving even to me as a supporter, there is a real feeling amongst people on the ground that things arent moving fast enough - this "enabling law" allows things to move faster. He looses the power after 18 months, the people voted for it, I support it at this stage.

this is the thing though, the state is inserting itself everywhere - in place of direct workers control via federated workers' councils etc, we have nationalisation and redistribution, this precludes opportunities for people to discover their own power and breeds dependency on the state, as the fact that popular impatience requires an enabling law sadly demonstrates. people may have voted for it, as many CNT workers voted to join the government - it doesn't mean they're doing the right thing.

I appreciate your comments - historically unprecedented? I think so - the name "Socialism for the 21st Century" tries to ecapsulate the new approach - the history of failures is clear amongst the thinkers of Chavez’s party, the Movement for the Fifth Republic(MVR).

In terms of education being top-down I think the modern world requires many new skills that must be in place. Take for example a workers' takeover of a factory - workers need to learn many new skills if they are to job share and manage - for the factory not to loose out financially workers must be literate, aware of the political system they are joining, aware of the nature of their political oponents, aware of the dynamics of globalisation etc., etc., If the whole of Venezuela is going to be brought along and not start hemmoraging the base needs to be built up - social foundations must be strengthened.

People often look to Catalan as a success story of anarchist/mutualist utopia - but to transplant what is achieved in a small rural corner to a large modern country requires much more support, investment and nurture - I would argue.

Last point: you say "the state is inserting itself everywhere - in place of direct workers control via federated workers' councils etc" - I dont see that, its not in place of - it is establishing the foudnations for a stronger future. Once people get a taste and a grasp of what is going on they will be ready to stand up on their own adn push things as they see fit: I'm sure they won't need to be asked.

There is a historical parallel here with the communist revolution - similiar attemtps were made to empower workers but the Bolsheviks truly moved in place of workers councils - I think this lesson has been learned by the MVP and won't be repeated. Lets hope and support them until otherwise! -

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Feb 7 2007 23:03
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There is a historical parallel here with the communist revolution - similiar attemtps were made to empower workers but the Bolsheviks truly moved in place of workers councils

I think the historical parrallel with the Russian revolution is exactly what all of us are worried about. The bolsheviks did not support workers councils they systematically destroyed soviets that would not rubber stamp Bolshevik policy and subverted the grass roots government so that it was nothing more than another mouthpiece of the bolshevik party. Same with the factory committees, as well as rounding up all of the organisers of independant unions as white sympathizers.

Granted there were problems with the anarchist movement, it was disorganised, did not have a unified program. As well the factory committees were painfully localist and often did more damage than good to the cause of socialism, however without the political freedom of workers to organise on a wide scale, independantly of the state, the only option was one man management, which was in essence a more sophisticated form of capitalist social relations.

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Feb 8 2007 07:03
kiwi hirsuta wrote:
I appreciate your comments - historically unprecedented? I think so - the name "Socialism for the 21st Century" tries to ecapsulate the new approach

i'm decidedly wary of political slogans, like i say what is actually happening on the ground doesn't look all that novel when you strip away the hype.

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
In terms of education being top-down I think the modern world requires many new skills that must be in place. Take for example a workers' takeover of a factory - workers need to learn many new skills if they are to job share and manage - for the factory not to loose out financially workers must be literate, aware of the political system they are joining, aware of the nature of their political oponents, aware of the dynamics of globalisation etc., etc., If the whole of Venezuela is going to be brought along and not start hemmoraging the base needs to be built up - social foundations must be strengthened.

the bolsheviks used similar arguments, that workers with their inadequate concsiousness needed to be "brought along" with a process that was therefore external to them - yet the most promising revolutionary events in history have all seen workers take control themselves and develop any missing skills as they go - Zanon being a present day example without the need for top-down education.

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
People often look to Catalan as a success story of anarchist/mutualist utopia - but to transplant what is achieved in a small rural corner to a large modern country requires much more support, investment and nurture - I would argue.

Barcelona was no rural backwater, and the factory committee/soviet movement across vast russia in 1917 was doing ok until the state began to 'nurture' it.

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
There is a historical parallel here with the communist revolution - similiar attemtps were made to empower workers but the Bolsheviks truly moved in place of workers councils - I think this lesson has been learned by the MVP and won't be repeated. Lets hope and support them until otherwise! -

you see the thing is, if you're right - why should we support Chavez and not autonomous working class power? surely that's what he wants, if the working class becomes stronger and more autonomous the "bourgeois state" (Chavez's words) can disolve quicker. (I'd anyway argue that seeing state policy as a matter of leaders' will is a very idealist position, whereas a materialist one would see policy shaped by external forces (eg class struggle) and the immanent dynamics of statecraft)

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Feb 8 2007 09:19
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I think the historical parrallel with the Russian revolution is exactly what all of us are worried about.

I don't think that there are any real parallels at all. Chavez is managing capitalism, and attacking working class living standards. This is the central problem, not the fact that he is 'statist'. He maybe able to cheat a few leftists, but he can't cheat the law of value. Capital is still attacking the working class in Venezuela, and will continue to do so, whatever the ideology of Chavez.

Devrim

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Feb 8 2007 10:57

Agreed. Comparisons between Chavez and the Bolsheviks are trite and superficial and prevent any serious discussion about the problem of the 'transitional' state in a genuinely revolutionary process.

That said the main division on this thread is between those who defend the independent struggles of the working class in Venezuela, and those who are peddling the myth of the "Bolivarian revolution", in particular, the notion that there can somehow be a confluence of interest between the proletariat and a capitalist state apparatus which is managed by a left wing faction of the ruling class. The official 'assemblies' and Bolivarian committees are appendages of this state, a means for controlling and institutionalising proletarian discontent - not a real expression or emanation of this discontent.

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Feb 8 2007 10:57
Joseph K. wrote:
the most promising revolutionary events in history have all seen workers take control themselves and develop any missing skills as they go - Zanon being a present day example without the need for top-down education.
[...]
Barcelona was no rural backwater, and the factory committee/soviet movement across vast russia in 1917 was doing ok until the state began to 'nurture' it.

Zanon is just a drop in the ocean though - the entire Argentiain political system is not about to change as a result - the state is not threatened. By comparison the Venezuelan state's arc of projection into the future is much more uncertain - its very fabric is being restructued to include grass-root power.

[EDIT: It is also important to rememebr that the occupation of factories and farmland that isnt being used is being encouraged by the pary - I truly urge you to watch this film if you havent yet seen it
Five Worker-controlled Factories in Venezuela
http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/articles.php?artno=1812 ]

The scale of "revolution" in Venezueala may not be dramatic enough for your taste up until now but I admire the realpolitiks of the MVP - they are playing everything close to their chest, they are giving the US no smoking gun excuse to invade/subvert, they are for now keeping most of the upperclasses relatively on board - I would call it anarchist-communist thrid-wayism!

The third way part is clearly sticking in peoples throat here, but I think there is good reason to trust the political intentions, and the desire to play a long game with gradual change that really builds a solid grass-roots foundation ot build and build on.

Personally I am not comfortable with revolution, in the overnight sense of the word - I think this method is sensible, calculated and a good model for other states to follow. Have patience and a little bit of benefit of the doubt and lets see of the MVR can create a state that will help empower the people.

Lets face it, the nation-state is hardly about to collapse tommorow as the global mode of social order - better to encourage states to follow this new model that encourages grass-roots particiaption than any other.

I hear what you, EdmontonWobbly, and Devrim are saying - and I appreciate the historical fears. I am aware also how devotional and ideologically commited many Anarchists here are - I think though that this ideological template of what is right leaves for a very narrow vision of how social change may come about. It adamantly doesnt allow for the state to have any part in social change - I think that is too hard line, particularly on this occasion.

Yes, there are historical examples that should make us worry, but there is a chance here that is worth taking. Continue to support Working Class autonomy in Venezuela by all means - I really think that for now the MVP support it too.

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Feb 8 2007 11:35
kiwi hirsuta wrote:
The scale of "revolution" in Venezueala may not be dramatic enough for your taste up until now but I admire the realpolitiks of the MVP - they are playing everything close to their chest, they are giving the US no smoking gun excuse to invade/subvert, they are for now keeping most of the upperclasses relatively on board - I would call it anarchist-communist thrid-wayism!

well, i disagree with so much of that i'm not sure where to start! tongue

- your agent for change seems to be the MVP, i.e. a bourgeois political party, not the working class
- Chavez's "keeping the upper classes on board" is the entire point of the critics on this thread, whereas you welcome it. Workers and the bourgeoisie have antagonistic interests, thus collaboration means the subordination of one to the other. guess which way around.
- the third way was shit the first time when giddens/blair did it wink, state-led anarchist communism - wtf?

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
Personally I am not comfortable with revolution, in the overnight sense of the word - I think this method is sensible, calculated and a good model for other states to follow.

again, you see revolution as something to be managed by the state, not implemented from bellow by workers ...

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
Lets face it, the nation-state is hardly about to collapse tommorow as the global mode of social order

especially if revolutionaries direct their efforts into supporting bourgeois states!

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
Continue to support Working Class autonomy in Venezuela by all means - I really think that for now the MVP support it too.

but there's a choice to be made. it isn't anarchist dogmatism to point out that you can't simultaneously support the state and working class autonomy, otherwise the working class isn't very autonomous (devrim and alf aren't anarchists either, btw). for example, if workers strike to defend their class interests would you support them or denounce them as counter-revolutionaries, pawns of US imperialism etc?

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Feb 8 2007 14:13
Joseph K. wrote:
well, i disagree with so much of that i'm not sure where to start! tongue

No probs - its nice to talk without the ususal venom that usually goes on on message boards - thanks for that Jospeph - I know what I am saying is viewed as blasphemy, so I get nervous to see what people have responded with... I appreciate the lack of name calling and character assisination!

Joseph K. wrote:
- your agent for change seems to be the MV P, i.e. a bourgeois political party, not the working class

I think its both top down + bottom up happening simaltaneously, each giving each other encouragement and legitimacy - in terms of workers giving the party legitimacy that is justified considering the ultimate goal of the party - ie., giving power to the workers.

Joseph K. wrote:
- Chavez's "keeping the upper classes on board" is the entire point of the critics on this thread, whereas you welcome it. Workers and the bourgeoisie have antagonistic interests, thus collaboration means the subordination of one to the other. guess which way around.

Its not that I welcome it, I see it as a necessary strategy. The capitalist/upper class are not truly on board though - they know that long term they are at threat - in the short term it buys time to keep them relatively powerless and shtum. For now they can kick and scream all they like, but they cant point to any real injustice - this buys lots of time to keep building and empowering grass-roots.

Joseph K. wrote:
- the third way was shit the first time when giddens/blair did it wink, state-led anarchist communism - wtf?

Of course - Im on the same page - its not pure third wayism by a long shot - what I meant by 3rdwayism was that it merely includes a temporary element of policy that doesnt mean it will overly punish the upper classes at this point, allowing certain private industries to continue, and upholding some stability, but ploughing all energy and funds into grass roots and WC support, which overtime does truly threaten the capitalist class.

Joseph K. wrote:
kiwi hirsuta wrote:
Personally I am not comfortable with revolution, in the overnight sense of the word - I think this method is sensible, calculated and a good model for other states to follow.

again, you see revolution as something to be managed by the state, not implemented from bellow by workers ...

No, I mean that revolution from below that seeks to dissolve the state would be a dramatic, and violent shift in a short space of time ("overnight") -I would prefer little/no blood to be spilt, and the best way of achieveing this is through a gradual process that usues the state to create change. I think this process also has more chance of succeeding long term, and is less likely to trigger a short time violent response from elsewhere.Instability cripples infrastructure and makes real long term revolution that much harder. I see no merit in peasants and the battered working classes expected to create miracles out of the ashes of something else - better keep infastrucutre in place and take it over intact.

Joseph K. wrote:
kiwi hirsuta wrote:
Lets face it, the nation-state is hardly about to collapse tommorow as the global mode of social order

especially if revolutionaries direct their efforts into supporting bourgeois states!

There is work to be done at both ends of the spectrum -at grasss-roots and at the state level. I dont buy the argument that they have to be mutually exclusive, and I dont buy the line that all states must be essentially bourgeois.

Joseph K. wrote:
kiwi hirsuta wrote:
Continue to support Working Class autonomy in Venezuela by all means - I really think that for now the MVP support it too.

but there's a choice to be made. it isn't anarchist dogmatism to point out that you can't simultaneously support the state and working class autonomy, otherwise the working class isn't very autonomous (devrim and alf aren't anarchists either, btw). for example, if workers strike to defend their class interests would you support them or denounce them as counter-revolutionaries, pawns of US imperialism etc?

That's where I disagree and where I think that this siuation is more subtle and complex - you can support both. The state can provide its extensive wealth and infrastructure to support and nurture working class autonomy. Is this a straight forward act? Far from it - it will require diplomacy, negotiation, patience and effort - but I think the intentions are sound, and the results will speak for themselves.

Why should state support of wc autonomy make the wc state slaves and loosing class consciousness? I dont see it...the opposite - whoever encourages and nurtures wc class consciousness, be it a russian prince or a socialist state, cannot undo their work.

Will the state hand over all power tommorow - no - it will be a gradual process of handover. The factories that are being run on on the co-management basis are perfect examples of this - the percentage of workers control goes up and up over a scheduled time frame, until the workers control the factory out right. THis method is being used in certain facotries not all - many others are automatically worker controlled. The means justify the ends - the ends being workers control of factories.

So often co-op takeovers fail - this step through co-managemnt makes absolutely certain that handover will succeed and failure cant happen.

In the 70's in Britain Benn pushed hard for workers co-ops to take over factories, bless him. He pushed hard, took reluctant Unions on board (deeply sceptical of the co-op movement), tax money went in, the factories folded and now no one in British politics dares suggest doing it again. The failure was a bodged handover that set back the co-op movement decades.

As I said before, the Venezuelans have looked hard at the lessons of history and are trying their best not to repeat the mistakes of Socialist governments of the last century.

RE: a strike - I couldnt answer without specifics. In general I would support class interests as top priority.

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Feb 8 2007 14:26
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In the 70's in Britain Benn pushed hard for workers co-ops to take over factories, bless him. He pushed hard, took reluctant Unions on board (deeply sceptical of the co-op movement), tax money went in, the factories folded and now no one in British politics dares suggest doing it again. The failure was a bodged handover that set back the co-op movement decades.

In the 1970's Tony Benn was a member of a Labour government that tried to hold workers salaries down to a 5% limit at a time when inflation was running at about 20%. Throw in a (very) few words of leftist ideology, and make the working class pay for the crisis. This is the programme of Social Democracy from Benn to Chavez.

Devrim

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Feb 8 2007 14:41
kiwi hirsuta wrote:
No probs - its nice to talk without the ususal venom that usually goes on on message boards - thanks for that Jospeph - I know what I am saying is viewed as blasphemy, so I get nervous to see what people have responded with... I appreciate the lack of name calling and character assisination!

a cynic would say i'm playing the 'good cop', but nah i'm a softie really wink

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
I dont buy the line that all states must be essentially bourgeois.

Chavez has referred to the current venezuelan state as a "bourgeois state", although he claims to want to dismantle it, its current status should be uncontroversial, i'm using Chavez's phrase for this reason.

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
The state can provide its extensive wealth and infrastructure to support and nurture working class autonomy.

that doesn't sound like autonomy. i mean there may be times when it's tactically adept for a workers' movement to accept some state resources, but what you're describing sounds like a symbiotic dual power situation, and dual power is a fundamentally unstable arrangement. an autonomous working class could strike against the bosses and/or the state to defend it's class interests, a working class dependent on state patronage has it's hands tied.

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
The factories that are being run on on the co-management basis are perfect examples of this - the percentage of workers control goes up and up over a scheduled time frame, until the workers control the factory out right.

from what i've read the movement is in the other direction, from occupied/recovered factories towards 'legalisation' and nationalisation (i think jonnyflash agreed and was arguing in favour of nationalisation as 'anti-capitalist'). as far as i can tell the countervailing movement consists of Chavez seizing a small number failing private firms, and handing them over to workers' co-ops (subsidised by oil rents). but again, simply having workers' co-ops in a (state-)capitalist economy doesn't transform the social relations of production, i.e. it's not the stuff of revolution (though it may be a reform that materially benefits the working class, it's function seems to be once more to bind them to the state, i.e. it's counter to working class autonomy). i mean i'm happy to read more about this, but that's my impression so far, a lot of which has come from Chavez supporters.

petey
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Feb 8 2007 15:45
kiwi hirsuta wrote:
they are giving the US no smoking gun excuse to invade/subvert

not central to this thread, but the current administration needs no excuse. not doing as the white house says is reason enough, for them. they tried already to subvert.

Cardinal Tourettes
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Feb 8 2007 21:57
Devrim wrote:
Chavez is managing capitalism, and attacking working class living standards. This is the central problem, not the fact that he is 'statist'.

On the contrary, Chavez is managing capitalism, and improving working class living standards.
Does this violate the law of value or something?
Oh yeah -

Devrim wrote:
He maybe able to cheat a few leftists, but he can't cheat the law of value.

He can defend Venezualan national capital against the neo-liberal predations of foreign capital though. While throwing the workers a bone or 2 to get them on his side of the split within the Venezualan ruling class on this question. (The question of who is to own Venezuala).

It is occasionally useful to have the working class on one's side, even if your a politician.
And, despite it being against the iron laws of the ultra-left, a politician might still occasionally find it necessary to say slip a few quid to the working class to get them on side in such moments. I know it seems incredible.

(Obviously it goes without saying that the fucker is only speculating to accumulate, for his class, or his faction of his class, in the long term. And the exploitation of the proles does not cease at any point of course. But the exploitation might be better paid or u might get better health care or whatever.)

kiwi hirsuta wrote:
The state can provide its extensive wealth and infrastructure to support and nurture working class autonomy.

This, on the other hand, is the one thing that the state will definitely not do, except by mistake.

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Feb 9 2007 06:59

I am in definite agreement with much that kiwi has to say, and rather shocked at the sweetness he is receiving despite his blaphemy. As the late Tupac Amaru Shakur said; "If one of us got it, at least some of us got it".
I'll say it again: The only revolutionary strategies making huge headway right now are those involving the two-pronged approach as seen in Venezuela.
PRONG ONE: Some of our people in at the top of the state apparatus to (at least) limit state interference with our activities and (at best) throw resources and strategic openings our way, and
PRONG TWO: a huge mass of us below to take advantage of the openings and resources to advance the consciousness of the entire population.

Just having the 2nd prong, we quickly get check-mated via local/international military muscle.
Just having the 1st, those individuals up there get co-opted, toppled. exiled or killed.

We need both to advance quickly.

Hopefully, not too many of us are so concerned with rigid, ossified forms of analysis and narrow definitions of social progress that we fail to remember that we are here to win by any means neccessary.

Even if that means dumping our false images of soldiers as robotic killing machines rather than proles in uniforms. At some point in the future, we will need to have our national militaries either refuse to fight us, or better yet join us.

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Feb 9 2007 08:16
jonnyflash wrote:
We need both to advance quickly.

well this is the thing, it doesn't make sense for 'both to advance' - if i accept at face value for a moment your premise that what's good about Chavez is he creates political space for grassroots action, what needs to advance is grassroots action to take advantage of such space. a dual power situation is fundamentally unsustainable, particularly when production maintains a fundamentally capitalist/class character.

grass roots w/c power dependent on the state isn't grass roots w/c power - symbiosis in this case means the binding of one to the other. i really hope the Chavez-supporters are right and Chavez is the first politician in history to willingly preside over his own demise; but if he is, we need to be building independent grassroots w/c power to succeed the state, if he isn't we need to be building independent grassroots w/c power to abolish it.

jonny, the example i'll repeat to emphasise the mutual exclusivity of working class power and state(-capitalist) power - would you support a strike for class demands under Chavez, or would you denounce it as 'counter-revolutionary', 'objectively pro-imperialist' etc?

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Feb 7 2007 07:38

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Feb 9 2007 10:46

[quote=Cardinal Tourettes
]Chavez is managing capitalism, and improving working class living standards.

I am not convinced of this. Even if it is possible in the short term, it is certanily not viable in the long term.

Devrim

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Jan 15 2007 11:34
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which as i understand it is the general CRA 'position'.

I have to say that didn't come across as the CRA position, which does come across as more than a little dodgy. They did seem remarkably pro oil industry workers, workers whom it has to be said are a very highly privileged strata of the Venezualan working class who have largely sided with the bosses against the poor and indeed their ultimate best interests. However I fucking hate the whole 'Bolivarian Revolution' claptrap that seeks to write the working class out of historical agency, or seeks to reinvent the working class out of centrality to Marxism. The reality is as you say, either A, B or more likely both simultaneously. I think some of our comrades here, on both sides of the discussion are being rather a bit simplistic. Chavez can do lots of good things precisely because he's a fuck, and power is the only thing that matters to him.

I'd like to see an in depth analysis and discussion than the sloganeering of the past few threads on this topic, using analysis that does more than reading between the lines from various fuckers' speeches. Anyone read this:- http://www.anarkismo.net/newswire.php?story_id=3378&region=venezuelacolo...

I haven't and didn't get more than a third of the way through largely because I did a bit of background checking and found out the author's group are completely mental (RAAN, some kind of classic "only in America" anti-Leninist, distinctly anti-organisationalist, left-unity project which apparently "has no membership, no central bank account and no paid volunteers! Yah!" a la Earth First!) but it seemed interesting nonetheless.

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Jan 15 2007 11:43

yeah if we can leave the CRA off this thread that'd be great, i'm not the biggest fan but they do seem to consistently say 'neither businessmen nor army'.

So does anyone know much about these councils? presumably Chavez-supporters do, jonnyflash? I think it was Devrim who posted a left-communist take on Chavez on the other thead, do any left coms know anything?

I'm checking that anarkismo link now, dundee.

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Jan 15 2007 12:48
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I think it was Devrim who posted a left-communist take on Chavez on the other thead, do any left coms know anything?

I know very little about things in South America. The ICC have a section in Venezuala. The things I posted were from translations of their articles. I got them from putting in Venezuala on the search engine on the ICC site. If people are interested the things that I posted were only details about workers living standards. The actual articles were longer.

If people are doing some research, the thing that I am interested in is the oil workers strike, and details about that.

Devrim

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Jan 15 2007 16:36
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Read the article, I thought it was pretty good, maybe try and criticise what's actually in it rather than making irrelevant claims about the organisation behind it.

Oh for fuck sake that was kind of my point - it seems a perfectly cogent piece!

My problem was with the fact the guy that wrote it hails from an organisation which has 'no membership' whose logo is a fucking hammer and siccle and a circled A, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence, and casts doubt on the guy's piece. The fact that you have proudly now described the group as insurrectionist... Well... Do I need to say anything more?

Quote:
trot-sect-thinly-smeared-in-circled-As style of organisation.

I'll give you that platformism/especifismo has more in common with the politics of many Trot groups than it does with insurrection, but so does every other kind of anarchism; that's because we all see the working class as actors in history. Insurrectionism's contribution to the mass politics of class struggle has been summit hopping and random acts of terrorist violence.

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Joseph Kay
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Jan 15 2007 16:40

i've got about a third of the way through the article today, seems pretty head-screwed-on and critical - showing that it is possible to do what the CRA say they are doing - to be critical of Chavez and opposed to neoliberalism. A few suspect bits, like disdainfully dismissing the idea Venezuela should seek to "match the insane consumerism of the North" (i read that as a crimethinc-eqsue rejection of decent material living standards), but yeah generally seems pretty good.

Nothing on the councils yet though, and whether they're a gimmick and/or a useful point of struggle.

jonnyflash
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Jan 15 2007 17:43

Joseph: Can you tell me when i called Chavez a dictator? You appear to be ascribing opposition/US rhetoric to me - soon i'll be denounced as an asset of the US State dept!

Jonny: Well, the previous thread has been binned so I can't find quotes that would illuminate my suspicion that you feel that Chavez is unduly consolidating power. And no, I'm not a big denouncer(although if you invited a speaker for the chamber of commerce to your rally, I would prolly doubt your judgement unless the speaker was 100% down with losing a class struggle) hehe.

Joseph: Also, what has a state-led program of citizen participation got to do with class struggle? (note: i'm not saying it's bad).
Jonny: In the context of today's venezuela, recouperating from 80% dire poverty and a thoroughly venal and corrupt bureaucracy originating from the US-sponsored dictatorship, and having had people like Posada Carriles as leader of ther secret police (death squads for working class militants), an incredibly well-funded plan to decentralize and pass specific and crucial state functions such as health planning to large public meetings (call em federations if you want, same difference), is in my humble opinion a prolific advance for the Venezuelan people. It will be a stab at direct participatory democracy of the type and scale unseen since revolutionary Spain.

I want to be where those organizers are.

achievementless near Seattle,

Jonny

jonnyflash
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Jan 15 2007 18:21

Scale:
Each communal council (CC) is composed of 200 to 400 families, so I will use 300 as my average estimate.
As of late 2006, there were a reported 13,000 communal councils nationwide, with 21,000 CC's expected by late 2007. According to the CIA world factbook, the population of Venezuela is 25,730,435. Can't see em fudging that one.
Presuming a lowball estimated avg family size of 4, there will be roughly
21,000 X 300 X 4 = 25,200,000 people in CCs by the end of this year.
Looking at the Venezuelan class structure which is such that 30% of the total population (50% of the urban population) lives in barrio squats(UNESCO), I'd say that the elite will attempt to enter and control the CC's, and utterly fail due to their tiny number and lack of control over the constitution-supporting and patriotic military. This is a big fuckin deal, y'all.

Giving huge funding and power to mass organizations composed of such people
is the opposite of reformism. The opposite of liberal democracy. This is the real deal, folks. When in doubt, look to the south.

Barrio squat link:(also just good background info)
http://www.unesco.org/most/guic/guicvenmain.htm

bastarx
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Jan 15 2007 11:58
Dundee_United wrote:
I haven't and didn't get more than a third of the way through largely because I did a bit of background checking and found out the author's group are completely mental (RAAN, some kind of classic "only in America" anti-Leninist, distinctly anti-organisationalist, left-unity project which apparently "has no membership, no central bank account and no paid volunteers! Yah!" a la Earth First!) but it seemed interesting nonetheless.

Fuck platformists are full of shit when discussing any tendency that doesn't conform to your trot-sect-thinly-smeared-in-circled-As style of organisation.

RAAN are not some left-unity project, they are a loose grouping of anarchos of the insurrectionist sort and non-Leninist Marxists. But not so loose they'd let a leftist clown like you in.

They are not some "only-in-America" group - if for no other reason than that they have some Latin American people involved - but anyway they aren't fucking Crimethinc. And it's not like there's any shortage of lifestylists in Britain.

Read the article, I thought it was pretty good, maybe try and criticise what's actually in it rather than making irrelevant claims about the organisation behind it.

Smash Rich Bastards
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Jan 15 2007 23:50
Peter wrote:
Dundee_United wrote:
My problem was with the fact the guy that wrote it hails from an organisation which has 'no membership' whose logo is a fucking hammer and siccle and a circled A, which doesn't exactly inspire confidence, and casts doubt on the guy's piece. The fact that you have proudly now described the group as insurrectionist... Well... Do I need to say anything more?

First retard, I didn't describe the group as insurrectionist. It is clearly influenced by insurrectionism along with some other currents, do you understand the difference?

Because you don't approve of the group's politics this automatically casts doubt on the article? You must be a very doubtful guy given how thin on the ground platformists are.

Quote:
I'll give you that platformism/especifismo has more in common with the politics of many Trot groups than it does with insurrection, but so does every other kind of anarchism; that's because we all see the working class as actors in history. Insurrectionism's contribution to the mass politics of class struggle has been summit hopping and random acts of terrorist violence.

Platformism's contribution to the mass politics of class struggle has been fuck all. So has that of most currents lately. I'm not a fan of much of what is described as insurrectionism - the infantile ultra-leftism of the Greeks is a prime example - but I'm not sure how much this actually has to do with the more theoretically inclined insurrectionists. I quite like some of the stuff written by insurrectionist groups such as La Guerra Sociale and Killing King Abacus, who have incidentally criticised summit-hopping.

Do you think anyone takes anything you say seriously?

jonnyflash
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Jan 16 2007 04:15

C'mon guys, don't let this thread devolve into a platformist vs nonplat flame war.
I don't want any pretexts for this thread to be myseriously binned like the last was. The word is ... topical!. Someone tell me that the Bolivarian government headed by Chavez is decentralizing power from the state to communal councils because, uh, it will distract people while he usurps total power cuz he is power-hungry or something. Someone.....anyone! I'm sick and cranky today and I want to cut thru some stinky yet innovative bullshit for kicks.

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Joseph Kay
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Jan 16 2007 10:29
jonnyflash wrote:
Someone tell me that the Bolivarian government headed by Chavez is decentralizing power from the state to communal councils because, uh, it will distract people while he usurps total power cuz he is power-hungry or something.

like i say, i don't know much about the councils. however, there is a countervailing tendency of Chavez surrounding himself with loyal politicians and seeking decree powers etc (which in turn is countered by constitutional rights to referenda on decrees etc). the situation is complicates wrt de/centralisation, but without very strong evidence i'm reluctant to break from historical experience and accept that what decentralisation there is is a result of anything but 'a govt that fears the people' (to quote some US liberal dick wink).

in other words, tentatively, it seems the councils are a point of struggle - there could be the potential for them to become radical organs of grassroots democracy which could spread to workplaces and exercise power autonomous from the party/state, but also there is the danger they function as nothing more than a participatory capitalist state, leaving the mode of production untouched (i mean i don't expect communism in one country anyhow, but obviously i want things to go as far as possible in the right direction). when Chavez oversees his own abolition, i'll change my mind about all politicians to 99.9% of politicians representing one faction of the bourgeoisie or other wink - but really, Chavez's motives and aims aren't all that relevant - working class power is.

Michael
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Jan 16 2007 16:12

Hello all,

Quote:
Someone tell me that the Bolivarian government headed by Chavez is decentralizing power from the state to communal councils because, uh, it will distract people while he usurps total power cuz he is power-hungry or something.

Well, not exactly, but you might have noticed that in the same batch of proposals, Chavez did request expanded executive authority to make decisions without the input of the legislature. Without defending either the theory or practice of representative democracy, we might speculate that Chavez wants things both ways: more power for him, and more power for local councils. Of course, the scope of power will necessarily be tightly limited for local councils authorized under a political system where national and international decisions are increasingly under the purview of a single person (ie. Chavez). I don't think this is exclusively or even primarily a question of "distraction;" rather, it's reflective of a confused approach to political and economic modernization and reform. At best, we have an attempt to decentralize a process of integrating Venezuela more fully into the structure of global capital.

By the way, I can't quite figure out how to navigate this site, but it appears that an article I co-wrote two years ago was used as cannon fodder by Rise and others in a discussion I can't find of the CRA/El Libertario (prior to the thread on "quotes from El Libertario," which I did manage to slog through). Can anyone produce a link, or the URL, or whatever, for this earlier conversation? I'd like to read what was said.

Solidarity,
Michael