By Greg Godels
November 22, 2023
Since the Russian revolution, the founding of the Communist International, and the organization of a revolutionary party “of a new type” in nearly every country, Communist and Workers Parties have been in the sights of every country’s bourgeoisie. In nearly all countries, the bourgeoisie, its political parties, its media, and its other henchmen have sought to thwart, even destroy the revolutionary vanguard of the workers. Thus, the existence of maneuvers or actions to suppress or repress Communist Parties comes as no surprise.
Throughout the last one hundred six years, a Communist Party’s size or influence has been reflected in the force or violence to which they are met. That, too, comes as no surprise.
Of course Communists resist the repression that inevitably ensues from capitalism’s defenders. In some cases and on some rare occasions, a deeply embedded sense of fair play or principled belief in liberal values among the masses ensures that Communists enjoy a modicum of permitted activity in spite of the ruling bourgeoisie’s wishes.
So it should come as no surprise that the bourgeoisie in Venezuela would like to bury the Communist Party, consigning it to the political margins or worse. Over the course of the Venezuelan Communist Party’s long and determined history of the defense of Venezuela’s workers, it has been attacked, repressed, and banned by bourgeois politicians or the military. In fact, since its birth in 1931 until 1969, the Party has known little more than five years of legality.
It should come as no surprise, either, when a popular movement wins electoral victories against the established bourgeois parties, promising to defend Venezuela’s independence and to implement a people’s program, that Venezuela’s Communist Party would enthusiastically offer conditional support. With its own program based on revolutionary Marxism-Leninism, the vigorous support the Communists offered to the government of Hugo Chavez was necessarily conditional, though supportive.
The Chavez program was vaguely socialist– drawing on Christian ethics, utopian socialism, and a motley assembly of enthusiastic volunteer academic advisors from around the world. Nonetheless, it drew the enmity of US imperialism and its allies for its foreign policy and resource independence. While it defied the influence of the domestic bourgeoisie, the Chavez government did not establish workers’ power or eliminate the bourgeoisie’s economic base.
Despite these weaknesses, the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) continued to defend the government and support it against US intervention and counter-revolutionary intrigue. The PCV continued its conditional support in the post-Chavez era– with Maduro’s election– but with emerging differences over domestic policy, especially with regards to the working class and corruption.
Over the last decade, the differences grew sharper. In the eyes of the PCV and in its own words: “It is on the reality of total rupture with the Unitary Framework Agreement [an agreement proposed before the 2018 election] and with the programmatic bases of the Bolivarian process initiated by Hugo Chavez that the PCV distanced itself from the Maduro government.”
Of course the distancing does not mean abandoning joint patriotic resistance to US and other foreign intervention.
In the wake of these political differences– a common enough feature of center-left and left electoral formations– the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice imposed a new leadership on the PCV on August 11, a wildly arbitrary and unjust move with no possible motivation other than to weaken and disable the PCV. Venezuela’s highest court summarily ruled that a new leadership– composed of renegades, dissidents, and non-members– should constitute a new leading body, negating the democratically elected leadership of the PCV from its last Congress in November of last year.
Venezuelan Communists were denied serious participation, due process, and the right to appeal this attempt to disable a historical instrument of the Venezuelan working class.
Some might dismiss this as a rogue court attacking the PCV, but the fact that the Venezuelan government had sought to deny electoral participation by the PCV earlier and that a prominent leader of the leading political party had mounted a campaign against the PCV, demonstrate that Maduro’s party was complicit in the court’s maneuvers.
Certainly the government, Maduro, and Maduro’s party have had every opportunity to denounce or resist the blatant attempt to disarm the working class’s most dedicated advocates, the Venezuelan Communists. They have not.
Clearly, this is an instance of raw anti-Communism, updated to the twenty-first century. Others can probe the reasons that Maduro and his party have succumbed to anti-Communism, but succumb they have. If they believe that creating a bogus Communist Party will deflect criticism or improve their electoral opportunities, it will not be the first time that fear of Communism leads to the suppression of political choices and dishonors the perpetrators.
But the PCV will endure. Its cadre will find their way through this thicket of distraction and continue to fight for working people.
Many Communist and Workers’ Parties have rallied– along with many other honest people– in defense of the PCV and the cause of Venezuelan workers. They understand the cost of anti-Communism on the fate of working people.
But many on the left have failed this moment. Their reasons constitute a basket of opportunism. They stare at their shoe tops, equivocate, plead ignorance, or soil the banner of solidarity. History will judge.