Saturday, 17 July 2010

Hugo Chavez and his socialist revolution, and where it's going

As a socialist I am intensely interested in what is being attempted in Venezuela. To try to correct the injustice of a long capitalist era in any country is not easy, and as history relates to us has not been successful. The revolution of 1917 in Russia was a great uprising of the working class, but although it did achieve some notable successes, with hindsight we can see it was doomed to failure. The success of pulling a vast part of the Russian population out of a feudal economic structure, where few could read or write. Into an industrial society similar to that of the leading industrial countries of the time such as Great Britain, Germany and the emerging might of the USA, was a mammoth task. In his dream of a socialist society being formed out of a capitalist society Karl Marx stressed that if this revolution were to succeed it could only happen in a wealthy country. Russia was the last place on his mind when he wrote Das Kapital. The fact that what was achieved in the USSR on the industrial front despite all the odds being against it. Is some sort of proof that socialism IE. a planed economy can work. We can ponder, and speculate if Russia had remained as it was from 1917 would it have been able to defeat the Nazi war machine. It was only by using the socialist system, that impoverished Russia was able to produce the Tanks, and other weapons of war that lead to Hitlers army being vanquished, and his eventual downfall. But the cost in human lives was so horrendous, and the tactics used by Stalin do much to mitigate its success.
Venezuela on the other hand has all the elements needed to transform a capitalist society into a true working class one. It has an abundance of oil. A recent survey by an American company, estimates that Venezuela may have twice the reserves of Saudi Arabia. Although they said it may be hard to extract all of it. I personally treat this statement with some skepticism. Seeing as it was an American company that did the survey, and Venezuela is not exactly the flavour of the month in the USA.
So as Venezuela has wealth why is the Bolivarian Revolution going wrong.
Venezuela is currently importing two thirds of its food from amongst others a fellow Latin American country Brazil. You see people lining up to get a few pieces of chicken for their families. Cooked from frozen chickens imported from Brazil. Where is Chavez going wrong? He has alienated himself from countries that could be of help to him, And has aligned his country with Iran, and probably worst of all he is taking advice from Fidel Castro. Castro is an old sick man. He is yesterdays man. So he is very happy for someone anyone to listen to him, and take his advice. Chavez has also been talking to Robert Mugabe. A vicious dictator, who unlike Chavez cares nothing for his people. Chavez has been following Mugabe's model of expropriating land from rich capitalist landowners, and giving it to people who know nothing about cultivating the land. Those people just lay around with little or no shelter waiting for Chavez to wave his magic wand, for something to happen. What he should have done is come to an agreement with the land owners to lease the land from them. So that they can teach the Chavistas how to run the farms, and in time give the landowners a fair price, and then hand the land over to the people.
A similar situation is also happening on the industrial front. Factories are being nationalized, and handed over to the workers. Here we have a different situation, because the workers know the factories, and how to produce, and run them. As a worker myself, I was often frustrated by the lack of liaison between the boss, and the factory floors I saw mistake, after mistake being made that I knew would eventually lead to closer, and being made redundant. But once aging Chavez must be aware of falling into the trap that befell the USSR. That is of over production. Producing goods just to give the impression of full employment, when in fact there are not enough people able to buy the goods, and they are dearer than what could be imported from abroad. This leads to inflation. Chavez has also set up a factory with Iran to produce tractors. Iran the worlds great tractor maker!All these accounts of misinterpretation of how to set up a socialist society are being done so that Chavez can stay in power. We must give him the benefit of the doubt that he is doing it so that he can help the poor of his country. He is also buying fighter aircraft from Russia, because the F16's he has are in need of spare parts that of course the USA will not furnish him with. He could backward engineer these parts, or buy them in the arms market. Because these planes are old the parts are available. No he is buying these weapons because he thinks it will somehow bring him a political alliance with Russia. As other countries have found out to their cost Russia's only interest is its own, and any harm it can do to the western alliance. To make matters worse he is borrowing the two billion Dollars to purchase these planes. Why does oil rich Venezuela need such a paltry lone.
He must change his position. Realign him self on a business platform with countries that can help Venezuela. These counties still buy his oil. Their capitalist greed will allow them to deal with him. He can buy good tractors, find real markets for Venezuela's products. If they are not good enough improve them. Disalign himself from Iran. He will then be able to associate himself with countries that can help his agriculture. If he does do these things, then in time he will be able to complete his socialist revolution. Then the world will see that he, and his country are no threat. If he continues on his present path, he will squander the oil money. If he still keeps Venezuela a democracy,he will be thrown out, and the ruthless capitalist elite will return to power, and the poor will be worse off because they will suffer the full force of retribution for Chavez's mistakes. Or he will turn Venezuela into a dictatorship like Castro's Cuba, and that will be a tragedy, and all the hopes and dreams of the Venezuelan people will be dashed, and socialism will just remain a dream.

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