Venezuela: Democracy, Socialism and Imperialism

Published on James Petras Website, by James Petras, 18 April, 2008, a 22 pdf-pages text.

excerpt: … page 17: Conclusion – Advantages and Opportunities for Socialist Transformation:

Venezuela today possesses the most advantageous economic, political and social conditions for a socialist transformation in recent history despite the US military threats, its administrative weaknesses and political institutional limitations.

Economically, Venezuela’s economy is booming at 9% growth, world prices for exports are at record levels (with oil at over $100 a barrel), it has immense energy reserves, $35 billion dollars in foreign exchange reserves and it is diversifying its overseas markets, although much too slow for its own security. With the introduction in April 2008 of an excess profit tax which will take 50% of all revenues over $70 dollars a barrel and an additional 60% of all revenues over $100 a barrel, several billion dollars in additional income will swell the funds for financing the nationalization of all strategic sectors of the economy.


Venezuela benefits from a multi-polar economic world eager to purchase and invest in the country. Venezuela is in the best possible condition to upgrade the petroleum industry and manufacture dozens of downstream petrochemical products from plastics to fertilizers – if public investment is efficiently and rationally planned and implemented. Venezuela has over a million productive landless workers and small farmers ready and willing to put the vast tracts of oligarch-owned under-utilized lands to work and put Venezuela on the road to food self-sufficiency – if not an agro-exporting country. Millions more hardworking Colombian refugee-peasants are eager to work the land along side their Venezuelan counterparts. There is no shortage of fertile land, farmers or investment capital. What is needed is the political will to organize expropriations, cultivation and distribution.

Politically, President Chavez provides dynamic leadership backed by legislative and executive power, capable of mobilizing the vast majority of the urban and rural poor, organized and unorganized workers and youth. The majority of the military and the new academy graduates have (at least up to now) backed the government’s programs and resisted the bribes and enticements of US agents. New Bolivarian-socialist military instructors and curricula and the expulsion of US military missions will strengthen the democratic link between the military and the popular government.

The intelligence and counter-intelligence services have detected some subversive plots but remain the weakest link both in terms of information collecting, direct action against US-Colombian infiltration, detecting new coup plans and providing detailed documentation to expose US-Colombian assassination teams. Clearly housecleaning of dubious and incompetent elements in the intelligence agencies is in order. New training and recruitment processes are proceeding, rather slowly and have to demonstrate competence.

Socially the Chavez government retains the support of over 65% of the electorate and nearly 50% of the people were in favor of an overtly socialist agenda in the referendum of December 2, 2007. If the communal councils take off, and the militias gain substance and organization and if the PSUV develops mass roots and the popular nationalization accelerates, the government could consolidate its mass support into a formidable organized force to secure a huge majority in a new referendum and to counter the US-backed counterrevolution.

A lot will depend on the government’s deepening and extending its social-economic transformation – increasing new public housing from 40,000 to 100,000 a year; reducing the informal labor sector to single digits and encouraging the trade unions to organize the 80% of the unorganized labor force into class unions with the help of new labor legislation.

Given the availability of mass social support, given the high export earnings, given the positive social changes, which have occurred, the objective basis for the successful organization of a powerful pro-socialist, pro-Chavez movement exists today.

The challenge is the subjective factor: The shortages of well trained cadres, political education linked to local organizing, the elaboration of a socialist political-ideological framework and the elimination of personality-based liberal patronage officials in leading administrative and party offices. Within the mass Chavista base, the struggle for a socialist consciousness is the central challenge in Venezuela today. (full long 22 pages-text).

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