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II. Twenty-First Century Socialism

Transition and its Varieties

We should distinguish three kinds of transition to socialism: transition in advanced countries, transition in backward countries where state power has been conquered, and finally, transition in countries where only the government is in our hands.

Marx and his followers thought that socialism would start in the more advanced countries, where capitalism itself had created the material and cultural conditions for it. Revolutionary access to state power was thought to be the sine qua non which would make it possible to expropriate from the expropriators, create producer associations, and convert the state into an expression of society instead of a body above it.

Transition in Backward Countries where State Power Has Been Won

However, history took a different road. The construction of socialism did not begin in advanced capitalist countries that had a large and experienced industrial working class, but in countries where capitalist development was only just beginning, whose population was predominantly peasant, and whose working class was a minority in the population.

Why did it happen like that? It is because political conditions outstripped economic conditions.74

The outcome of the February 1917 revolution in Russia was that the bourgeoisie gained power, but shared it with the Soviets of workers and soldiers. This revolution was considered by Lenin to be an “unfinished revolution…the first stage of the first of the proletarian revolutions caused by the war.”75 According to him, it was the horrors of the imperialist war that had led to these proletarian insurrections, and these evils could only be cured if the proletariat took power in Russia and adopted measures that, even if not yet socialist, were steps toward socialism. Lenin was fully aware that the backwardness of his country would prevent the immediate installation of socialism, but also saw with total clarity that the only way to get the country out of the critical situation the war had led them into was by taking steps toward that goal.

In my book Reflections about the Problem of the Transition to Socialism, there is a thorough discussion of this subject. 76 According to Lenin, “Beginning with April 1917, however, long before the October Revolution, that is, long before we assumed power, we publicly declared and explained to the people: the revolution cannot now stop at this stage [the bourgeois revolution], for the country has marched forward, capitalism has advanced, ruin has reached fantastic dimensions, which (whether one likes it or not) will demand steps forward, to socialism. For there is no other way of advancing, of saving the war-weary country and of alleviating the sufferings of the working and exploited people.”77

A few weeks before the October Revolution, Lenin gave an exhaustive explanation of the analysis he had often repeated in the preceding months: “It is impossible to stand still in history in general, and in war-time in particular. We must either advance or retreat. It is impossible in twentieth-century Russia, which has won a republic and democracy in a revolutionary way, to go forward without advancing towards socialism, without taking steps towards it (steps conditioned and determined by the level of technology and culture: large-scale machine production cannot be ‘introduced’ in peasant agriculture nor abolished in the sugar industry). But to fear to advance means retreating.”78

The Russian Revolution thus shattered European Social Democracy’s traditional preconceptions. The proletarian revolution was victorious when the objective premises for socialism did not yet exist in Russia, when the development of the productive forces had not yet reached the level of development that makes socialism possible. The leaders of the Second International drew the conclusion, therefore, that it was a mistake for the proletariat to have taken power and to have embarked on the construction of socialism, that it should have gone down the road of capitalist development and Western European bourgeois democracy.

Lenin, in one of the last things he wrote, in January 1923, rails against those who supported this thesis.79 He maintains that these people failed to reflect on the reasons that determined the outbreak of revolution in Russia and not in the advanced European countries. They did not realize that the war had created “a hopeless situation” in that country; and, concomitantly, that the political conditions, the combination of a peasant war with the workers’ movement, had created a balance of forces such that it was possible to overthrow Czarism and big imperialist capital.80 Should they have rejected the road of the socialist revolution because they did not yet have all the material and cultural prerequisites for building socialism?

Lenin, referring to the Social Democrats, maintains: “You say that civilization is necessary for the building of socialism. Very good. But why could we not first create such prerequisites of civilization in our country by the expulsion of the landowners and the Russian capitalists, and then start moving toward socialism?”81 However, even if Lenin thought that Russia had to go down the socialist road because it was the only way of solving the serious problems caused by the war, he was not unaware of the fact that it was an extremely difficult task and knew that “The final victory of socialism in a single country is of course impossible.”82

It was also the political conditions caused by the Second World War that allowed revolutionaries to take state power in Eastern Europe and then in Africa and Asia, and use that power to begin the transformations to build socialism.

Transition in Countries where Only the Government Is in Our Hands

To a certain extent, one could compare the situation in Latin America today with the situation in prerevolutionary Russia. In our countries, neoliberalism has aggravated poverty, injustice, and social discrimination. It has destroyed nature, laying waste to ancestral forests, contaminating the waters, and destroying biodiversity. Our peoples have reacted to all that, saying “enough.” They are on the move, resisting at first, then moving to the offensive and supporting presidential candidates with anti-neoliberal programs. The new governments have faced the same dilemma as the Bolsheviks in Russia: they either implement capitalist measures to try to get our countries on the road to development, which would mean more suffering for our peoples, or they throw themselves into the task of building a society that is an alternative to capitalism. In other words, they set off down the road to socialism and give the role of principal builders of the new society to our peoples.

However, even if there are similarities between what happened in the Soviet Union and what is happening now in Latin America, the situation facing our “left” governments is even more complex than that which faced the Soviet government. The dilemma is how to advance toward that horizon using the government when—as Álvaro García Linera, says—the cultural and economic conditions that could serve as the foundation for that progression do not exist.83 This was the dilemma Lenin spoke of in 1917, and of which many of our current heads of state speak, but with the added difficulty that, in our case, we have not conquered state power.

It is not only that the economic, material, and cultural conditions in our countries are not very favorable to building socialism but also that the most important condition is lacking, one that, until now, has been considered indispensable: we do not have the whole of state power, we only have a tiny part of it. Let us remember that the power of the state is not limited to the executive branch, but includes the legislative and judicial branches, the armed forces, local government bodies (municipal and state governments), and other institutions.

Therefore, taking government power is not the same thing as conquering state power. This was one of the errors made by some sectors of the left in Chile. People said, ignoring the existing balance of forces, that we had conquered power and thus, all we had to do was implement our program.

The fact that we were the government meant, it cannot be denied, that we had gained a portion of political power. But it must not be forgotten that, although we had very large left parties and a fairly strong labor movement on our side, we didn’t have the armed forces and were a minority in Parliament. In fact, we never won an absolute majority in any election. The Christian Democrats still had a large following, not only in the middle and upper classes but also among workers and peasants. This partly explains why Popular Unity, the political coalition that supported Allende, never proposed holding a constituent assembly. What it did was to use the existing legislation to look for legal loopholes. Some laws passed in the 1930s by a socialist government, which had existed for one hundred days, were still in effect. Using those laws, we were able to nationalize the most strategic sectors of the economy, referred to by Popular Unity as the “area of social property.”84

I agree with Pomar that the “conquest of state power is a complex process,” and that one of its more important aspects is having the support of the armed forces or what is referred to as “the monopoly of violence” (or at least an important part of it). It is because of this need for military support that Chávez insists there is a fundamental difference between the process led by Allende in Chile and the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela: the first was a peaceful, unarmed transition, the second, a peaceful armed transition—not because the Venezuelan people are armed but because most of the armed forces support the process.

An Inherited State Machine Unready to Walk the Road
to Socialism

We should recognize that our governments inherit a state apparatus whose characteristics work well in a capitalist system but are not suitable for a journey toward a humanist and solidarity-infused society; a society that not only places human beings at the center of its own development but also makes them the lead actors in the process of change. Nevertheless, experience has demonstrated that, contrary to the theoretical dogmatism of some sectors of the radical left, you can take this inherited state and transform it into an instrument that collaborates with building the new society. The fact that state institutions are run by revolutionary cadres, that are aware they should aim to work with the organized sectors of the people to control what the institutions do and to press for transformation of the state apparatus, can make it possible, within certain limits, for these institutions to work for the revolutionary project.

This does not mean that we should limit ourselves to using only the state we have inherited. Rather, it is necessary that, using that same state, we begin laying the foundations of new institutions and a new political system, creating spaces from the bottom up where popular protagonism can be exercised; spaces where popular sectors can learn to exercise power from the simplest level up to the most complex. There are people like Pomar who think that, as long as this condition does not exist, as long as the working class has not taken over state power, it is only possible to speak of “the struggle for socialism but not of the transition to socialism.85 I do not share this opinion because I think that what baptizes a process with the name “transition” is the aim that it pursues and the measures used to achieve it. Of course, these measures must be consistent with the aim pursued, as we shall see below.

Why call these processes socialist, then? We do so because the governments begin to implement measures that will lead to a socialist transformation and so begin a process in which they could conquer all state power. I agree with Pomar that “conquering state power is a complex process,” but I think this process can be initiated precisely because left forces take government power.86

To Each Country, Its Own Transition

Before we look more deeply into this subject, let us look at some of the characteristics of any transition to socialism. As Lebowitz says, “Socialism does not drop from the sky.” Every society has its own unique characteristics that differentiate it from other countries, and, although there may be a shared goal, the measures taken in the transition process must be adapted to the specific conditions of each country. Socialism must necessarily be rooted in a particular society.

“Every society has its unique characteristics—its unique histories, traditions (including religious and indigenous ones), its mythologies, its heroes who have struggled for a better world, and the particular capacities that people have developed in the process of struggle.”87

The starting points of each transition process are different too. The measures adopted will depend on the conditions that exist when the process begins: the specificities of the inherited economic structure, the level of development of the forces of production, the way in which daily life expresses itself, the population’s educational level, and so on.88 What is more, both the balance of forces that exists between the actors who want to move toward the construction of a new society and those who want to prevent such a change, and the manner in which the class struggle takes place both domestically and internationally will mark each transition.

Finally, depending on the class structure of each country and the history of its struggles, the historical actors who work for the transition will be different. In some cases, they might be working-class parties; in others, indigenous and peasant movements; in others, a sector of the military; and in others, charismatic leaders.

It is implicit in the foregoing that there cannot be a general theory of transition, but that each country must design its own particular strategy for the transition. This will depend “not only on the economic character of that country but also on the way the class struggle is waged there,” and this strategy should guide the way the process advances.89

Nevertheless, even with all these variants, in the current situation in Latin America and the Caribbean, all of our transition processes have one common feature: we are “transitioning” peacefully. This means starting out from what is inherited from the previous regime and, little by little, transforming it, by first of all taking over the government, as we have indicated above.

Some Features of Twenty-First Century Socialism

In what follows, I shall present some of the features that, according to the opinions of several thinkers and political leaders, should be characteristic of twenty-first century socialism. In fact, they restate many of Marx’s original ideas.

Our socialist conception does not, unlike the capitalist, start off with the idea of people as individual beings isolated, separated from others, but with the idea of people as social beings, who can only develop themselves if they develop together with others.

As the French philosopher Henri Lefebvre understood, there is no such thing as an abstract citizen, someone who is above everything, who is neither rich nor poor, neither young nor old, neither male nor female, or is all of those things at once. As Miodrag Zecevic said: “What exist are concrete persons who live amongst and depend on other people, who associate with and organize in various ways with other people in communities and organizations in which and through which they make real their interests, rights, and duties.”90

In positing social human beings as the philosophical basis of socialist democracy, we are not proposing the negation of the individual; what we are saying is that individual human nature is eminently social and that by developing social values—for example, solidarity—the individual develops more fully. There is a complementary, dialectical relationship between individual being and social being that makes it impossible to separate the individual character of human beings from their social surroundings.

This implies a rejection of “collectivism,” a way of thinking that suppresses the differences between individual members of society in the name of a group. Collectivism is a flagrant distortion of Marxism. Remember that Marx criticized bourgeois law for trying to make people artificially equal instead of acknowledging their differences, and maintained instead that any really fair distribution had to take account of people’s differentiated needs. Hence, his maxim: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”

The goal of twenty-first century socialism is full human development. It cannot, therefore, come into being because a government or an enlightened vanguard says so; it cannot be decreed from above; it is a process that is built with the people, in which, as they transform their circumstances, they transform themselves.91 It is not a handout; it is something to be conquered.

Participative Democracy and Protagonistic Participation: Democracy and Participation by the People

We have spoken of full human development, but how can that be achieved? Lebowitz says that “only a revolutionary democracy can create the conditions in which we can invent ourselves daily as rich human beings.” He refers to a “concept…of democracy in practice, democracy as practice, democracy as protagonism.” “Democracy in this sense—protagonistic democracy in the workplace, protagonistic democracy in neighborhoods, communities, communes—is the democracy of people who are transforming themselves into revolutionary subjects.”92

This is why it is not only a matter of giving democracy a social content—as Alfredo Maneiro, a Venezuelan intellectual and political leader, said of solving the people’s social problems (access to food, health care, education, etc.)—but also of transforming the very form of democracy by creating spaces which allow people, as they fight to change their circumstances, to transform themselves as well. It is not the same, Maneiro said, if a community, for instance, manages to get a pedestrian bridge that it has organized and fought for, as when it is given the bridge as a gift from a paternalist state. State paternalism is incompatible with a popular protagonism. It tends to turn people into beggars. We must move from a culture of citizens to become a culture of citizens who make decisions; who implement and control; who manage things themselves; who govern themselves. We have to move, as [former Venezuelan Minister of Education] Aristóbulo Istúriz says, from government for the people to people’s self-government, to a point where the people take power.

The need for popular protagonism is a recurring theme in the speeches of the Venezuelan President, and this distinguishes him from many advocates of democratic socialism. In a June 11, 2009, television and radio broadcast, Chávez quoted at length from a letter that Peter Kropotkin [a Russian anarchist thinker] wrote to Lenin on March 4, 1920. Kropotkin, in this letter, maintains: “Without the participation of local forces, without an organization from below of the peasants and workers themselves, it is impossible to build a new life. It seemed that the soviets were going to fulfill precisely this function of creating an organization from below. But Russia has already become a Soviet Republic in name only. The party’s influence over people…has already destroyed the influence and constructive energy of this promising institution—the soviets.”93

Participation, protagonism in all spaces, is that which allows human beings to grow and increase their self-confidence, that is to say, develop humanly. The Bolivarian Constitution—approved by the Constituent Assembly in 1999—emphasizes popular participation in public affairs and stresses that it is this protagonism that will guarantee complete individual and collective development. Although there are several articles in the Constitution that refer to this subject, probably the most specific one is Article 62. It says that “the people’s participation in creating, implementing, and controlling public policy is the necessary way to achieve the protagonism that ensures its full development both individual and collective.” It goes on to say that it is “the state’s obligation and society’s duty to create the conditions most favorable to this participation.”94 In addition, Article 70 points to other ways that allow people to develop “their capacities and abilities”: “self-management, cooperatives of all kinds…and other forms of association that are guided by the values of mutual cooperation and solidarity.”95

As for participation on the local, territorial level, emphasis has been placed on participative diagnoses, participative budgets, and social auditing.96 Initially, Local Public Planning Councils were set up at the municipal level. These were composed of representatives (mayors, councilors, members of the parish boards) from already existing institutions, and community representatives to perform public planning.97 It is important to point out that there was a higher percentage of community than institutional representatives (51 percent to 49 percent), reflecting the clear political will to encourage community protagonism.

Creating Appropriate Spaces for Participation

This would have never gone beyond mere talk if appropriate spaces had not been created where participatory processes could take place freely and fully. For this reason, Chávez’s initiative to create communal councils—which was followed some time later by his proposal for workers’ councils, student councils, and peasant councils—is an important step toward forming real popular power and how this power should then be expressed in the communes. It is only if a society based on worker self-management and the self-management of community residents is created that the state will cease to be an instrument over and above the people, serving elites, and will instead become a state whose cadres are the best of the working people.

One of the most revolutionary ideas of the Bolivarian government is that of promoting the creation of communal councils, a form of autonomous organization at the grassroots level.98 These are territorial organizations unprecedented in Latin America because of the small number of participants. They number between two hundred and four hundred families in densely populated urban areas; between fifty and one hundred families in rural areas; and an even smaller number of families in isolated zones, mostly indigenous areas. The idea was to create small spaces that offered maximum encouragement to citizen involvement and facilitated the protagonism of those attending by putting them at their ease and helping them to speak without inhibition. This model was arrived at after much debate and after looking closely at successful experiences of community organization, such as the urban land committees (Comités de Tierra Urbana or “CTU”), some two hundred families organizing to fight for the regulation of land ownership, and health committees, some one hundred fifty families that form committees to offer support to doctors in the most disadvantaged communities.

Estimates indicate that in Venezuela, which has about twenty-six million inhabitants, there are about fifty-two thousand communities. (These numbers are based on our understanding of “community” as a group of families that live in a specific geographical space, who know each other, can relate easily, can meet without needing to rely on transport, and who, of course, share a common history, use the same public services, and share similar problems, both socio-economic and those connected to urban development.) Each of these communities has to elect a body that would act as a community government.

The kind of democracy I propose is against any imposition of solutions by force; instead it advocates winning over the hearts and minds of the people to the project that we wish to build—in other words, obtaining hegemony in the Gramscian sense and using that hegemony to build it. As Chávez says, hearts and minds are won in practice by creating opportunities for people to begin to understand the project while they are engaged in building it.99

However, what does this mean in practice? That workers’ councils must have all the workers in the company as members; the communal councils have to be composed of all the residents in a given area; the health councils, the technical water committees, the energy committees, and the cultural groups have to have all those interested in working on these matters. No one who, in good faith, wishes to work for a collective, for the welfare of that collective, seeking solidarity with other collectives, should be excluded.

From Representative Democracy to Delegated Democracy

Now, even if our starting point is the worker organized in his or her community, in the place where he or she works or studies, we should not limit this self-governing system to small-scale grassroots experiences. A system must be created that allows us to reconcile and merge the interests of each locality, workplace, or interest group with the interests of other communities, workplaces, or interest groups, so that we can manage the public affairs of society in general. This self-governing system should extend over the whole country and, in order to do that, some form of representation or delegation must be established.

Therefore, we do not reject all kinds of representation, but what we do reject is bourgeois representative democracy. This is not because it is representative but because it is not representative enough. When it comes down to it, it is socialist democracy and not bourgeois democracy which most resembles the classical definitions of democracy. It is socialist democracy which can make Lincoln’s famous words—“government of the people, by the people, and for the people”—come to life.100

The challenge, then, is to build a different kind of system of democratic representation that is the true expression of the interests of the working class and of society in general. It is a question of promoting a system for decision making by society in all spheres of social life; in other words, a process of socializing decision making in which representatives or delegates or spokespersons are elected from communities and workplace assemblies, and must be accountable to them. In order to make this goal possible, the representative system of bourgeois liberal democracy must be replaced by a delegate or spokesperson system.

How this Differs from the Bourgeois Representative System

The delegate system or spokesperson system is not just a form of political representation, nor just an electoral system. It cannot be reduced to a single act of voting every four or five years. It is not that five-minute democracy where citizens drop their ballots in the box every so many years and then never hear anything more from the representative for whom they voted. Its aim is to ensure that the workers, the organized people—in other words, the majority and not the elites—exercise power and are involved in running public affairs.

The delegate or spokesperson system—which came into being during the Paris Commune and showed in practice how classical political representation can be transcended—is a system that allows the people to exercise their sovereignty at all levels of the state system.101

Some of harshest criticisms of bourgeois representative democracy have been made in Venezuela, with the introduction of the term “spokesperson.” Venezuelan militants refuse, with reason, to use the term “representative” to describe these individuals because of the negative connotations this term has acquired in the bourgeois representative system. “Representatives” only approach their communities during elections, promising “all the gold in the world,” and then, after being elected, are never seen again.102 Those elected to be part of a communal council are called spokespersons (Spanish: vocero or vocera, from voz, voice). That is why, when these people lose the confidence of those who elected them, because they have ceased to transmit to higher levels what the community thinks and decides, they should be recalled. They have ceased to be the voice of the community.

The aim of a delegate or spokesperson system is to abolish the legal precept of political representation and to ensure a direct relationship between the voters and the decision-making process at all levels. The characteristics of this system include the following.

Delegates Elected where They Work or Live: Unlike the representative system and formal democracy, delegates are elected exclusively in the places where they live or work, and every person is a potential delegate or spokesperson.

Directly Connected to the Base Organization: Since all delegates are part of some grassroots organization or local organized community, they have firsthand experience of the problems of their community or workplace. Unlike professional political representatives, they are directly connected to the grassroots organization that elected them, and that organization must supervise and guide their work, preventing them from becoming bureaucratized and separated from their roots.

Electors Do Not Transfer Their Rights to Delegates: Delegates are not classical political representatives to whom voters transfer their rights to make decisions and to participate in governing. These rights remain in the hands of those who elected the delegates. Nevertheless, even if the electors keep all their rights and powers, they do not exercise them directly because some of them are implemented through the work their delegates do.

Not Professional Politicians: Delegates receive no salary; they continue to work at their respective jobs and, therefore, do not turn into professional politicians.

No Carte Blanche from Electors: Unlike the representative parliamentary system, delegates do not get carte blanche from their voters for a given period of time but must be guided by the decisions and directions adopted by the voters, who then must evaluate whether delegates perform their tasks satisfactorily. Moreover, the grassroots bodies that elect delegates must be those who decide which matters should be taken to the next-level delegate or spokesperson assembly with no changes, and which questions can be left to the delegates to decide, provided they follow the general guidelines they are given.

No Binding Mandate: Nevertheless, this does not mean that delegates are given an “imperative mandate.” They are not automatons who receive messages and transmit them. They are, rather, responsible and creative people. They have to be active and creative during the whole process, in expressing their electors’ points of view, in creating bonds with other delegates, and in making decisions in the assemblies.

Often delegates have to make decisions concerning policies and interests put forward by delegates from other grassroots bodies that clash with their organization’s interests and policies.

Votes Not Predetermined: When a conflict of interests arises, delegates have to bear in mind the guidelines they received and try to act accordingly, but they must also consider general interests and needs that were perhaps not analyzed when they were given certain instructions. Therefore, their vote cannot be predetermined by those who voted for them. It is normal that when delegates—who genuinely represent the interests of their fellows—are faced with matters about which there has been no discussion with their base organization, they will react by interpreting the wishes of the voters.

Delegates Safeguard Original Interests of Voters: Whereas in the bourgeois system of political representation, the interests of the voters become distorted and lose their authenticity, the delegate system safeguards the original character of the interests expressed by the voters.

Duties Beyond Decision Making: Delegates’ jobs and duties do not end when decisions have been made. They return to their grassroots communities, workplaces, and interest groups. Delegates must explain to the voters how a given problem was solved or why (if this be the case) a community’s proposal was not taken into consideration in the guidelines and basic agreements.

Recall: Those who elected them will be the ones who decide if the delegates were justified in straying from the agreements reached. If voters feel delegates were not justified, they can demand that appropriate political measures be applied for such delegates, up to and including recall.

Notes

  1. The two following paragraphs are drawn from my paper “How Lenin saw socialism in the USSR,” given at a seminar sponsored by the journal América Libre, Sao Paulo, Brazil, December 2000. We found texts and proposals that are not very well known and that demonstrate that Lenin had no illusions about the difficulties of building socialism in the conditions in the USSR at that time.
  2. V. I. Lenin, The Seventh (April) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.), http://marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/cw/volume24.htm.
  3. Marta Harnecker, Reflexiones acerca del problema de la transición al socialism (Managua: Nevo Nicaragua, 1986), 23-35.
  4. V.I. Lenin, The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky, http://marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1918/prrk/subservience.htm.
  5. V. I. Lenin, The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It, http://marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/ichtci/11.htm#v25zz99h-360.
  6. Lenin, Our Revolution, http://marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1923/jan/16.htm.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. V.I. Lenin, “Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers,’ Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies,” Collected Works, Vol. 26 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972), 453-82.
  10. I use this word in its strict sense. It is usually understood to mean that body (which can be composed of a president or prime minister and a variable number of ministers) that the constitution or the fundamental rules of a state awards executive duties or powers and that exercises political power over a society (definition taken from Wikipedia).
  11. Marta Harnecker, “La lucha de un pueblo sin armas” (“The Struggle of a People without Arms”), Encuentro XXI, 1995, http://rebelion.org/docs/95161.pdf.
  12. Pomar, Las diferentes estrategias de la izquierda latinoamericana, 246.
  13. Ibid., 247.
  14. Lebowitz, Build it Now, 67.
  15. V. I. Lenin, first draft of “The Immediate Tasks of Soviet Power,” Collected Works, Vol. 27 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1972), 235-77.
  16. Marta Harnecker, Los conceptos elementales del materialismo histórico (Mexico: Siglo XXI), 215; E. Balibar, “Sur la dialectique historique (Quelques remarques critiques a propos de Lire le capital)” in Cinq études sur le materialismo historique (Paris: Maspero, 1974), 243. This article implies a radical change in the author’s ideas about the problem of transition in comparison with those expressed in Lire “Le capital(Paris: Maspero, 1965).
  17. Miodrag Zecevic, The Delegate System (Belgrade: Jugoslovenski pregled, 1977).
  18. This approach runs through all of Michael Lebowitz’s work, and thanks to his influence, I have incorporated it into my work.
  19. Michael Lebowitz, The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010).
  20. Kropotkin goes on to say, “At present, it is the party committees, not the soviets, who rule in Russia. And their organization suffers from the defects of bureaucratic organization. To move away from the current disorder, Russia must return to the creative genius of local forces” (a letter from P. Kropotkin to V. I. Lenin, March 4, 1920, http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_archives/kropotkin/kropotlenindec203.html).
  21. Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Chapter IV: Political Rights and Popular Referenda, Section One: Political Rights, http://vheadline.com/readnews.asp?id=6831.
  22. Law of Municipal Public Power, Art. 234, May 17, 2005; Ibid.
  23. Ibid., Art. 33.
  24. In Venezuela, the municipalities are divided into parishes.
  25. See Marta Harnecker, “De los consejos comunales a las comunas” (“From Communal Councils to Communes”), http://rebelion.org/docs/97085.pdf.
  26. Hugo Chávez on his radio and television program, “Aló, Presidente” Teorico, June 11, 2009.
  27. Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863.
  28. Karl Marx, The Civil War in France, http://marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1871/civil-war-france/ch05.htm. This concept was also applied in the soviets that existed in Russia in 1905 and again during the October Revolution, and became the base of the Soviet state in the early years of its existence. However, it became bureaucratized and lost all its original creativity; Socialist Yugoslavia managed to formalize a delegate system in its 1974 constitution. See Zecevic, The Delegate System. Cuba, in its 1976 Constitution, established a political system where state power is exercised directly or through delegates to the assemblies of People’s Power and other state organs that are under them.
  29. Harnecker, Rebuilding the Left.
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