:: Monday, June 27, 2005 ::

"If that was socialism I don't want socialism, I want something better"

Nice piece on Venezuela at znet that manages to be positive and optimistic without being naïve. It raises the big question about what socialism is in the 21st century, a globalised century with all the horrors of the 20th century still haunting it. Is it just nationalisation, just workers control? Venezuela doesn't really have all the answers, it is making it up as it goes to some extent. And it is asking the Venezuelan people themselves, setting up forums and even a website where citizens can describe their vision of socialism. Can't see Gordon Brown doing that one.

"Hugo Chavez has declared himself socialist, he has called for a renewed socialism, and reflections on what socialism in the 21st century might be. It is not obvious why Chavez wants to talk about socialism when he has already managed to irritate the US to the point that they have by now co-financed one coup. The people I speak to in Venezuela are of diverse opinions. Some are afraid that it will generate a more powerful coup, and that their experience will end as Chile -73. Others think it is important and brings clarity to the Bolivarian revolution.

What is unclear about the appeal from Chavez is what socialism is as we understand it? Venezuela is not a socialist country, the economy is an oil-based capitalism and the national bourgeoisie are making a lot of money while pretending they are unhappy. Talking to old and young left wingers in the barrio 23 de Enero in Caracas they are all worried about the speeches on socialism and talk about the great disappointment the real socialist countries became. A young man says: "Socialism in those countries failed, and if that was socialism I don't want socialism, I want something better". It is clear that socialism of the XXI century has to replace the socialism of the XX century with something better.

Let us pick one area: international solidarity. Venezuela is a country of parallels and international solidarity is part of that parallelism. There are certainly some characteristics from last centuries' socialism to be cautious of. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, to veiling facts about trade partners, to cheer every time empire bleeds without analysing how the wound got there, and to force people to choose between two sides - as if nothing else was possible - are examples of that.

The former socialist countries, and the situation of the cold war generated a situation where people were asked to choose, complexity was put aside and an over simplified we-or- them-thinking prevailed. Familiar to Bush's US and their demand to be either with them or against them. In Venezuela people are aware of the complexity and contradictions of the process. The young left-wing generation, brought up and politicised in a post cold war world where the choice between East and West is not imposed is less inclined to accept that something is "good" because it is not "evil". Asking for international solidarity by portraying Venezuela as a paradise on earth is not useful for anyone."

:: Alister | 3:43 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


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