The famous “Socialism of the 21st century” is nothing else than the Popular Front of the 20th century. The old Social-Democratic soup is served again at the table of the proletariat in order to encourage it to fight against “the right”, “neo-liberalism”, “imperialism”, “the fascists”, “Yankees” or whoever would be politically indicated as the new enemy at the next social forum, counter-forum or cultural meeting. And so try to prevent a complete confrontation with our class enemy: the world bourgeoisie, here or elsewhere, left or right, which always represents Capital.
Popular Power and Socialism in the 21st Century - The modern clothes of Social Democracy
Therefore today, particularly in Latin America, the progressive governments idealize strategically certain sectors of the bourgeoisie, singing the praises of some and spitting on others. The same strategy that, all proportions taken into account, worked in the thirties of the last Century, liquidating the most combative sectors of the international proletariat, particularly in the Iberian region where revolutionaries from all over the world had joined, and which was crowned by massacring the proletariat in the course of the so-called World War II. The creation of pseudo-antagonisms such as fascism versus anti-fascism works to the advantage of the world bourgeoisie. To evade class antagonism by calling for a struggle against this or that sector of the dominant class is indeed not a novelty.
Those who call upon us to support the progressive forces of the national bourgeoisie, anti-imperialists, bourgeois industrialists “against backwardness in the countryside”, are the same who, at other occasions, call upon us to fight against this same forces. They will call it strategy; they will call it politics… It is the progress of Capital and they are its agents. The maintaining of the capitalist order, with its peace and its war, is based on this disorientation, on the channeling of the proletariat in bourgeois projects dressed up as revolutionary. The call to construct a “popular power” is one of these. If all supporters of “popular power” are not supporters of the “socialism of the 21st century”, sometimes to the point of having big disputes amongst themselves, these two concepts share the same ideological trunk. We do not pretend to interfere in terminological politician’s trifles, but want to mark their main characteristics.
The calls to construct a popular power, raised by alleged communists or anarchists, up to and including Chavistas (supporter of Chavez), are characterized in their main lines by an insistence on a non-class based Populism and a fuzziness – specific to the need to pick up the largest quantity of possible sectors – which bets on terminological tricks, be it to define the term “popular” or to define “power”, in its manifold declinations like “being able to do”, “counter-power”, “dual power”, “the taking of institutional power”, “not taking the institutional power”, “the struggle outside of the institutions”, “critical support for the government”, etc. Popular power can signify demanding either the political power for the people, or an increase in the number of the popular organizations that engage themselves in the struggle for reforms, to the point of gaining sufficient force to make the electoral step; it can moreover signify the power to create popular schools, cooperatives, self-managed health, communication or food enterprises, etc., that, in the majority of cases, are propelled by the State or that do not succeed to maintain themselves in its margins. In the most “radical” cases they are only in appearance completely independent from the State but, far from perturbing the capitalist order, they do nothing else than managing it. In this sense they are also part of the State. In Venezuela the suffix of “Popular Power” has even been added to the name of every Ministry and, when Chavez passed away, the bourgeoisie, up to and including libertarians known for their “critical support” have mourned him. But “Chavism” and its bourgeois opposition are nothing but two forms of capitalist management, two alternatives supporting the march of Capital.
We are not interesting in describing their proposals but we want to affirm that their projects, by profiting from our current weaknesses as a class, negate the social revolution, conceived as a complete break, in order to convert it into a process of absorption or political reforms, where the institutions and their functions will begin being “of the people”, to deny the proletarian character of the revolution, to deny that it is the bourgeoisie that holds the power. For us the stakes are to destroy its power, to negate it, to impose total revolution on it, to understand that the necessity of revolution does not derive from an abstract idea, but from the generalization of all our human needs and desires, and not from an amorphous and gradualist unity of demands converted into separated reforms, classified as political, economic, cultural, ecological, gender, immediate or historical.
These tendencies are so reformist that in most cases they do not even speak about revolution anymore but about social change, about a process of change. This reformism that separates everything, engenders in its turn “new subjects of change”, assigned to this or that “popular sector” – sociological classifications assigned by academicians and politicians who always use them to divide, to isolate the proletariat and to force it to submit itself to the bourgeoisie and to maintain exploitation. They speak to us about indigenous people, students, women, peasants, workers or unemployed, about the precarious, professionals, middle class, intellectuals, about people… and finally of citizens. And if there they look for a “subject of change”, it is because they do not want to change anything at all, and least of all they want a proletarian revolution. On the contrary, they are looking for the destruction of the proletariat and its program, by maintaining the State, democracy and its rights, wage labor and private property.
The rare who dare to speak about the laboring, working or exploited class, do so in an apologetic way, in order to continue defending wage labor and conceive of the class as the sum of all these subjects or popular sectors, who should unite behind one or another political project that will give answers to every sector in particular. Once again, it is about nothing else than the Social-Democratic notion of revolution as a simple accumulation of reforms!
The bourgeois character of these projects becomes more obvious where they try to channel the proletariat into Latin Americanism, which is nothing else than an addition of nationalisms, than the defense of the interests of a specific group of bourgeois through a groups of States. Every State is imperialist, however weak its national economy or however backward its industry. In the wars of Capital, as in the markets, only the bourgeois imperialist interests are at stake and never the interests of the proletariat. The ideological separation between the First world, the Third World or “developed countries” and “countries in development” opposes the proletarians between themselves, blurring and impeding the revolutionary tasks. According to the gradualist conception of the revolution, in Latin America, it is necessary to accomplish the bourgeois-democratic tasks by developing national industry, by strengthening democracy. Once more it’s the farce of national liberation, but this time more by the ballot boxes than by arms.
The criticisms of these tendencies are as old as the confrontation between revolution and counter-revolution. Even though it presents itself as a novelty of the 21st Century, it is nothing but the old reformism with a new face that is defended in the name of “revolution”, while denying its necessity. But reform is always and in every case the weapon of the enemies, of the exploiters and oppressors against the human needs. Revolution, the imposition and generalization of these needs, cannot realize itself by reforming this society based on exploitation, sacrifice, brutal negation of life to the profit of the valorization of Capital, but only and exclusively by its violent destruction.
The reforms and constructions that the popular power proposes are neither incomplete nor stopped halfway; they go in a quite different direction! They are part of the politics of the bourgeoisie to channel and negate the revolutionary force of the proletariat and to transform it into a productive force of Capital.
Any defense of the national economy, whether it paints itself in socialist colors or not, is the defense of our exploitation.
Against the alternatives of bourgeois management, let us oppose the organization and the centralization of proletarian struggles.
Faced with the capitalist catastrophe, there is only one road for life: the revolutionary destruction of wage labor and commodity.