Editor’s note: This article appeared in Issue #2 of the International Communist Review which was published in early June. http://www.iccr.gr/site/
Nowadays, in Bolivarian Venezuela we are living through an intense debate about the theory and practice of socialism which the Communist Party of Venezuela welcomes with satisfaction and to which it is trying to contribute. Throughout the twentieth century, the oligarchy in power and their real masters, the U.S. monopolies, strove in vain to divert our people from the socialist road.
On March 5th 1931, the first Communist cell in the country was founded in Caracas, which marks the birth of the Communist Party of Venezuela. This event took place in the middle of one of the fiercest dictatorships known in Latin America, the one from Juan Vicente GÃ³mez (1908 – 1935).
Then, being a Communist was considered treason by the Constitution and was punishable by 20 years’ imprisonment on the crime of "Communism." There is no doubt of the courage, conviction and commitment to the revolution that those comrades who decided to found the PCV. The PCV has worked for 80 years of hard struggle in which its membership suffered unjust imprisonment, torture chambers, secrecy, illegality, in applying the teachings of Marxism-Leninism to our national life, in order to transform it to form a society of full freedom and rights for the oppressed and exploited working people.
In the collective construction of socialist ideas, the following ideological issues have been and are important in Venezuelan society:
1. The Concept of National Liberation
Lenin showed that in the era of imperialism "diverse forms of dependent countries which, politically, are formally independent, but in fact, are enmeshed in the net of financial and diplomatic dependence At the same time, the party decided to "face the music" and become the party of the working class, independent and with profound internationalist principles. From there, the activism of the PCV will develop with the workers in the perspective of the Socialist Venezuela during the democratic transition which ended in 1952, when a new military coup took place.
On January 23, 1958, the PCV led the overthrow of the dictatorship of General Marcos PÃ©rez JimÃ©nez with the support of the working class and the popular democratic movement. However, the U.S. managed through repression of the trade union movement and the banning of leftist parties, including the PCV, to restore the bourgeois representative democratic system. It would remain in power until 1999.
In 1958, the PCV promoted a class and popular militant concentration to reject former President Nixon who was about to provoke an intervention by the US Marines from their bases in Puerto Rico. To widen the various forms of class struggle, the PCV with other anti-imperialist bodies created the Armed Forces of National Liberation (FALN) and the National Liberation Forces (FLN) to confront the regime designed by the U.S. Government.
Therefore, the demand of national liberation is the creative application of Marxism-Leninism to the Venezuelan situation, the core of the political agenda since 1935 and the central struggle of tens of thousands of Venezuelan Communists and anti-imperialists since 1931.
This is the continuation of the struggle for independence and freedom of the indigenous peoples against the Spanish conquerors since the sixteenth century, of the slaves and all our people under the leadership of the Liberator SimÃ³n BolÃvar in the nineteenth century.
2. The Domination of Imperialism
The contradiction between capital and labor that characterizes the time of transition from capitalism to socialism is also manifested in the contradiction between the peoples, on the one hand and on the other hand the monopolies, imperialism, which is the last stage of capitalism, as Lenin defined it brilliantly in 1916.
This understanding leads us to the duty of forming a broad Anti-imperialist Front that brings together social forces, popular sectors who struggle or have an interest in struggling to defeat imperialism which, amid deep economic crisis, becomes far more dangerous and aggressive than ever.
The Venezuelan people have suffered directly the imperialist oppression, the plundering of their resources and the imposition of tyrannical regimes that were at the service of foreign monopolies. In the 1930’s and 1940’s thousands of workers employed by the Lago Petroleum Company (LPC) of the Rockefellers and the Venezuelan Oil Concession (VOC) of Morgan and Mellon, suffered cramped, dying of malaria and accidents, tortured by Gomez’s police, poorly paid, humiliated and fired, the Indians dispossessed of their land, thousands of women forced into prostitution in the oil fields, agricultural plantations destroyed by the imposition of the oil economy with thousands of farmers into poverty, the Lake Maracaibo ecologically destroyed by the foreign industry and other misfortune
Lenin said that imperialism is, in the political field, a "striving for annexations… violence and reaction"2. And it is the world proletariat leader who warns that the savagery in the search for sources of raw materials and the exportation of capital leads capitalism to the "conquest of colonies".
As explained by Professor Federico Brito Figueroa, a Venezuelan Communist, the fabulous enrichment of the imperialist monopolies increased "the general pauperism in the country and the opulence of the U.S. financial oligarchy."3 Oil imperialism in the twentieth century imposed three reactionary regimes: the dictatorship of Juan Vicente GÃ³mez (1908-1935), Perez Jimenez’s (1948-1958) and neo-colonial fake democracy (1959-1999).
On November 23, 2009, PCV leader Pedro Eusse explained some features of this Front: "It goes beyond, far beyond the Marxist parties… we are aware that the struggle against imperialism is not only a task of the Marxist -Leninists, but of the vast democratic, popular and progressive, social and political movement and needs to have greater strength in the struggle against imperialist domination." 4
No wonder, therefore, that the PCV has accepted the resolutions of the Communist International (CI) and the classics of Marxism-Leninism in favor of the right to self-determination and full sovereignty of the peoples.
"At the end of 1936 the First Congress of Workers of Venezuela met in Caracas, with 219 delegates from all over the country, many of them communists, with great collaboration of veteran comrades in the organization of the Congress and in the preparation of the theses. The Congress ended with the creation of the Venezuelan Confederation of Labor, CTV" says Comrade Key SÃ¡nchez.
The PCV organized the first strike by oil workers in December 1936 to January 1937, which was essentially a struggle against imperialism. "The final assessment of that first year of political and social activity so far in this century was highly positive – JesÃºs Faria pointed, who was Secretary General of the Communist Party of Venezuela – although it had only been for the number of men and women who joined the class struggle". He adds, "beyond the results, one important aspect of this strike, the most important event in the struggle against imperialism in recorded history to date, was the powerful united activity of the working class with all other democratic, patriotic and anti-GÃ³mez sectors of Venezuela."
The threat of aggression suffered today by the country and the progressive governments of the continent with the seven military bases in Colombia, by a fascist regime directed from the Pentagon; the activation of the Fourth Fleet deployed in the Atlantic Ocean and the rest of military bases in the Caribbean and South America, demonstrates that Marxism-Leninism is the main theoretical tool to understand and deal with imperialism. "The final resolution of the principal contradiction of the moment, between the Bolivarian revolution and U.S. imperialism, demands the broader national, continental and global unity of popular forces and progressive governments."5
Frederick Engels said in Anti-DÃ¼hring that taking possession of all means of production by society can only become a reality "once the material conditions for its realization occur". Venezuela promotes a transition process that we characterized in the 12th Congress as "national liberation revolution, clearly anti-imperialist, anti-monopoly, democratic and popular, which opens perspectives for socialism, insofar as the class struggle is resolved in favor of the most consistent ideological and political forces of the Revolution."6
The National Ideological Workshop "Contribution to the debate on socialism in Venezuela" that we held in 2008 stated that "in Venezuela, the transition to socialism is just beginning."7
For this transition to be actually oriented toward socialism, the PCV believes that some preconditions should be fulfilled:
1. Development of the political vanguard of the working class,
2. Conquest of political power of the state,
3. Development of the productive forces,
4. Strengthening the state ownership under workers’ control,
5. Weakening and subsequent suppression of imperialist domination mechanisms,
6. Establishment of economic planning,
7. Development of people’s education and others. 8
The Central Committee of the PCV has concluded that the Bolivarian process of national liberation is making progress in the recovery of sovereignty "but still there are no conditions, nor subjective of consciousness and social organization, nor transformation of the productive base and relations of production, i.e., we do not have a strategic plan for the construction of the social and economic base of a socialist society."9
One of the most serious problems faced by the revolutionary forces is the bourgeois state that has not been dismantled and that permanently hampers this.
Around the present State, our ideological Workshop analyzed that "the leadership of the state is in the hands of the petty bourgeoisie, and this alone, as demonstrated historically, is not interested in developing the tasks of the transition period."10
3. The Phases of Socialist Construction
The communists in Venezuela have learned to adapt our struggle to the needs of the joining of workers’ and popular forces, the promotion of the socio-political alliance against monopolies and imperialism taking advantage of the opportunities arising from the developments in our country in relation to the Bolivarian process with the goal of socialism, a socioeconomic system that requires the fulfillment of some basic characteristics: a state of new type that our 6th Congress called "democratic and popular state", a popular economy with the basic and concentrated means of production socialized, a well-organized working class, a cohesive revolutionary political leadership and a high revolutionary consciousness in society.
Therefore, the PCV holds aloft with the same force the two flags of national liberation and proletarian internationalism to which we have sought to contribute. In 1925, Gustavo Machado founded with Julio Antonio Mella the Anti-Imperialist League of the Americas that became the basis for the creation of the Communist Party of Cuba, fought with Sandino in Nicaragua in 1928 and helped Fidel Castro in the 1950s to prepare the Granma expedition.
Venezuelan comrades fell martyrs in the expedition of 1959 to overthrow the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic and a detachment of the Communist Youth arrested in 1964 U.S. Colonel Michael Smolen to require imperialists the immediate release of Vietnamese patriot Van Troi (action that sealed the unbreakable friendship between the peoples of Venezuela and Vietnam).
The PCV supports the solidarity position of President ChÃ¡vez’ with the struggle of the Palestinian and Lebanese peoples, the peoples of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, whose independence he has recognized diplomatically, with the Honduran people resisting the reactionary regime and other expressions of solidarity that correspond to our historical line.
4. The Social Driving Force of the Bolivarian Process
Lenin warned that the super-profits of monopolies allowed them "to corrupt labor leaders and the top layer of the labor aristocracy"11.
The task which the U.S. monopolies entrusted with their lackeys of the AD and COPEI governments between 1958 and 1998, was the dividing up of the Venezuelan working class by corrupting their leaders and a privileged workers’ sector. They achieved this to the point that the Confederation of Workers of Venezuela (CTV) was one of the actors in the 2002 fascist coup against President Hugo ChÃ¡vez. The PCV fully recognizes that the working class is the most interested and best able to carry to the end the Venezuelan revolutionary process and to make socialism a reality. That’s why it has always strived to organize the oil workers’ unions of agricultural workers, industrial seafarers and port employees, professionals and other sectors.
Imperialism partially achieved the goal of destroying the organization of the working class as the main revolutionary subject and that is why the task of emancipation was led by patriotic military officers and other sectors led by Commander ChÃ¡vez. This is nothing new or exceptional. A Soviet scientist noted that the democratic intelligentsia has a "significant role – and sometimes a leading one – in the national liberation revolution" in countries "where the working class has not become an independent force, while the national bourgeoisie is weak or pro imperialist.
The priority is to strengthen the working class,ÂCruz VillegasÂ current [a revered Venezuelan Communist worker militant], to support the raising of workers’ consciousness, to organize the socialist workers councils, to strengthen the Labor Act, to promote the unity of the class and Â revolutionary trade union forces, and to isolate the traitors and corrupt trade union leaders that still exert some influence.
We stand for a "broad alliance of democratic, nationalist and anti-imperialist forces"13 in which the conscious working class is closely allied with all "the driving forces of the revolution in its current stage of transition": "large sections of workers, peasants, progressive middle class and intelligentsia, wide swath of small and middle bourgeoisie and the bourgeoisie that is not associated with transnational capital.
In Venezuela there are no patriotic sectors within the monopoly bourgeoisie, which has refused to become a national bourgeoisie and for decades has been a buyer and an agent of U.S. imperialism.
5. The PCV and the Bolivarian Revolution
We say that the program advanced by the government of President Chavez is basically the program proposed by the Sixth Congress of the CPV in 1980. We recognize and support the leadership of President Hugo ChÃ¡vez in the struggle against imperialism, for national liberation, continental unity and socialism.15 We recognize that his leadership is not just national but continental and global and that it is "a reference for peoples and rulers."16
We note that the broad Anti-Imperialist Front that the country needs "requires for its development" of the leadership of Commander ChÃ¡vez.17 We supported ChÃ¡vez’s presidential candidacy in 1998 and we have actively supported the anti-imperialist direction of his government and the vast majority of progressive and revolutionary proposals made by the president. At this time the PCV participates with the allied party, the PSUV and other social and political movements, in the construction of a political and electoral Patriotic Alliance. We naturally support and promote the Bolivarian Revolution since we consider it the continuation of our own history.18
The PCV upholds its autonomy in the process in our country. We follow our own policy that has some characteristic points:
Â Call for formation of a collective leadership including President ChÃ¡vez. In January 2010 our C.C. noted that "the decision to proceed to the creation of a collective leadership of the revolutionary process not has not been taken yet."19
Â Struggle to build the political vanguard role of the working class.
Â Constructive criticism about the mistakes errors committed by the government and self-criticism about our own mistakes.
Â Struggle to "dismantle the old bourgeois, bureaucratic, corrupt and corrupting state."20 We have denounced how from the old state a new bourgeoisie that accumulates privileges and performs anti-worker and corrupt practices appears.21
Â Determination not only to maintain but to strengthen to the most our party not to defend "personal interests" or as a "whim," as some opponents accuse us, but to not squander the heritage of struggle of 80 years and to defend the strategic interests of the working class.
Â Firm policy of proletarian internationalism which supports the government’s foreign policy but is independent to support the causes and struggles that deserve that support without being subject to the "reasons of state", which is sometimes the reasons of the bourgeois state.
Â Â Foundation of our policy in Marxism-Leninism and the legacy of BolÃvar.
Â In face of rude criticism and anti-Communist claims we champion the "enormous importance that the existence of "real socialism" had to mankind."22
6. Proletarian Internationalism
The Communist Party of Venezuela is a child of the international effort of the working class led by the first successful socialist revolution, the Soviet Revolution, to overthrow capitalism and build a superior civilization. Both the Venezuelan people and the PCV have resisted and won victories in many battles against the class enemy thanks to the wide international solidarity we have received.
From the generous support given to us by Caribbean Bureau of the Communist International (CI), the fraternal assistance of the Communist Party of Colombia to keep safe pursued comrades, the international campaign for the freedom of PCV’s President Comrade Gustavo Machado in 1968, to the support from all over the world to our people in the defeat of the criminal fascist coup of 2002. petty bourgeois socialism, German or "true" socialism and the bourgeois or conservative socialism23.
Several petty bourgeois currents attempted to appropriate the concept to render the true socialism meaningless. Against this, the PCV has been clear: our extraordinary congress of 2007 agreed on the development of a Marxist-Leninist consciousness. On June 19, 2009, the CPV General Secretary Oscar Figueroa argued strongly before the National Assembly that "the only existing socialism is scientific socialism."24
In the National Ideological Workshop we offered a complete definition of socialism that began this way: "Socialism is a socioeconomic structure where the social ownership of the basic means of production of goods and services predominates."25
We welcome that, on the roots of class struggle, President Hugo ChÃ¡vez and the PSUV are heading ever more decisively in favor of scientific socialism. The extraordinary congress of the PSUV has defined among its principles scientific socialism and anti-imperialism26, which is equivalent to the official burial of the "socialism of the 21st century". This corresponds to a growing maturation of the popular and workers’ forces engaged in the anti-imperialist process and an increased marginalization of the petty bourgeois and bourgeois groups which, as we have pointed out in early 2010 "somehow conduct the process today without the socialist goal."
7. On the Fifth International
The Communist Party of Venezuela adopted a position on the call made by President Hugo ChÃ¡vez to form the "Fifth Socialist International," saying that what the world needs is to unite progressive, revolutionary and left political parties along with the movements and social organizations in a broad international front to articulate efforts and coordinate the struggle against imperialism.
For the Venezuelan Communists, the progress in such unifying bodies as the International Workers Association (IWA) or First International, founded in London in 1864, the Social Democratic International or Second International in 1889 and the Communist International, founded in 1919 at the initiative of Lenin and the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik), which gathered the Communist Parties of various countries and was known as the Third International, was due to a process of political construction, ideological unity and common goals.
8. The PCV and the so-called "Socialism of the 21st Century"
Since 1999 the Bolivarian process has gone through successive ideological definitions.
First was the definition of "anti-neoliberal", afterwards the proposal of the "Third Way" inspired by the right-wing British Labor of Mr. Blair, afterwards the firm Bolivarian assertion, afterwards the "endogenous development". At one point, the writer Heinz Dieterich Steffan succeeded in proposing the never very clear definition of "socialism of the 21st century". It was something allegedly "new" and opposed, on one hand, to the socialist construction of the 20th century that continues in the 21st century in several countries (Cuba, China, Korea, Vietnam and Laos) and scientific socialism considered as "dogmatism" by the petty bourgeois, on the other hand.
In 1848 Karl Marx denounced several false socialisms, like feudal socialism, "We emphasize that our proposal made at the International Meeting of Left Parties in 2009, is to unite as many progressive, left and revolutionary political parties along with the vast range of social movements, unions, indigenous, workers of the culture that are for socialism or not but their actions and common purpose are to advance the struggle against the main enemy of the peoples, which is global imperialism, not only the American imperialism,"27 said Pedro Eusse, member of the Politburo of the PCV.
In the frame of the international Communist movement, where the PCV is active, we have been working for several years in building spaces for anti-imperialist articulation linking the efforts of the communist and workers parties in the struggle against a common enemy, such as the International Communist Seminar organized by the Workers’ Party of Belgium since 1992, or the International Meetings of Communist and Workers’ Parties started over a decade ago by the Communist Party of Greece. "This is where we made our proposal to work for a Broad Anti-Imperialist Front at a global, continental and national levels that unites the struggle of all those who objectively are affected by the imperialist domination"28.
In September 2009, the communist and workers’ parties met in Damascus, where the main debate was to link the struggle against imperialism, and the same thing happened recently in India, where the communist and workers’ parties have a common denominator which is the Marxist-Leninist ideology whose space must be maintained and deepened, "… but the Anti-Imperialist Front we are proposing goes beyond, far beyond the Marxist parties"29. The PCV defends that "we are aware that the struggle against imperialism is not only task of the Marxist-Leninists, but the vast democratic, popular and progressive social and political movement who needs greater strength in the struggle against imperialist domination."30
The PCV proposes to constitute a collective working group for debate, joint elaboration, that evaluates the various proposals and aimed at advancing to a wide coordination body in the common struggle of political parties and social movements participating in its formation, "This can not be part of an imposition where we repeat past mistakes as the centers of leadership, which hurt the struggle of these international organizations mentioned above, and where the development, maturation and autonomy that the political parties have gained over more than one hundred years must also be treated and respected."31
Brito Figueroa (Federico), Venezuela siglo XX, La Habana, 1967.
Quintero (Rodolfo), Clase obrera y RevoluciÃ³n, Caracas, 1970.
FarÃa (JesÃºs), Mi lÃnea no cambia. Es hasta la muerte, Caracas. 2007.
Gallegos Mancera (Eduardo), Las cualidades del dirigente, Caracas, 1988. Instituto de estudios polÃticos y sociales BolÃvar Marx, ContribuciÃ³n al debate sobre el socialismo en Venezuela, Caracas. 2008.
Ortega DÃaz (Pedro), El congreso de PanamÃ¡ y la unidad latinoamericana
1. Lenin, "Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism", Selected Works, Vol. I, Progreso, Moscow, 1979, p. 751.
2. Idem, p. 756.
3. Federico Brito Figueroa, Contemporary Venezuela, Colonial Country? Caracas, 1972, p 35.
4. Tribuna Popular November, 23, http://www.pcv-venezuela.org/index.php?option=com_ content&id`45&itemid=1.
5. Thesis number 3 approved in the 13th Extraordinary Congress in March, 2007.
6. Paragraph 103 of the Programmatic Thesis approved by the 12th National Congress of the PCV, Caracas, 21-24 July, 2006.
7. National Ideological Workshop of the PCV, Contribution to the debate on socialism in Venezuela, Institute BolÃvar Marx, Caracas, 2008, p. 33.
8. Paragraph 117 of thesis above mentioned.
9. Tribuna Popular nÂº 173, February 2010, resolutions of the 32nd Plenary Session of the CC held in January, 2010.
10. National Ideological Workshop of the PCV, Contribution to the debate on socialism in Venezuela, Institute BolÃvar Marx, Caracas, 2008, p. 33.
11. Imperialism, the Highest Stage…, op. cit., p. 687.
12. V. Afanasiev, Foundations of Scientific Communism, Progreso, Moscow, 1977, p. 103.
13. Paragraph 107 of the thesis above-mentioned.
14. Second paragraph of the political resolution of the 13th (Extraordinary) Congress held in 2007.
16. Thesis 19 approved by our 13th Extraordinary Congress in 2007.
17. Political Resolution of the 13th Extraordinary Congress, 2007
18. Paragraph 102 of the thesis above mentioned.
19. Political report of the 32nd Plenary Session of the CC, January 16-17, 2010.
20. Sixth thesis adopted by our 13th Extraordinary Congress held in 2007.
21. Statement of the 30th Plenary Session of our CC, June 6-7, 2009.
22. Paragraph 114 of the thesis approved by our 12th Congress in 2006.
23. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, Bolivarian University of Venezuela, Caracas, 2006.
24. Tribuna Popular number 151, July 17-30, 2009, p. 5.
25. National Ideological Workshop, p. 9.
26. See information in http://www.psuv.org.ve/?q=node/7758.
27.Tribuna Popular, November 23,http://www.pcv-venezuela.org/index.php?option=com_ content&id`45&itemid=1.
28. Tribuna Popular, November 23, Idem.
29. Tribuna Popular, November 23, Idem.
30. Tribuna Popular, November 23, Idem.
31. Tribuna Popular, November 23, Idem.