Friday December 19th, 2014, 8:40 am (EST)

Venezuela

Chavez’ Message

He returned from his trip to Europe on Friday. He was away for only four days. Flying west, he arrived at Caracas at 11 at night, at sunrise in Madrid, the point of departure. The call from Venezuela came in early on Saturday. I was told he wanted to speak to me over the phone that day. I replied that I could speak to him at 1:45 in the afternoon.… | more |

The Only Road Is Practice: After the Venezuelan Referendum Defeat

I am certain that, like many people these days, the first thing on your mind is the question of the referendum on reform of the Bolivarian Constitution — what the defeat means and where do we go from here. What I want to talk about today is not on that topic specifically, but it is related.… | more |

Chavez’ visit

Raul had invited him. He replied he didn’t want to come see me so I wouldn’t catch the flu he had. That was nothing but a pretext to avoid the torture of my habitual questions…… | more |

January 2008 (Volume 59, Number 8)

January 2008 (Volume 59, Number 8)

The victory of the No vote in the Venezuelan constitutional reform referendum in December is being treated by Washington as a major defeat for Chávez’s efforts to promote a socialism for the twenty-first century in Venezuela. But the opposition to the Bolivarian Revolution was so aware of its own weaknesses that it adopted as its final slogan “Chávez, Yes; Reform, No.” The defeat of the constitutional reform was guaranteed by the fact that 44 percent of the population, many of whom had supported Chávez previously, chose not to vote. This may simply be due to the fact that the proposed constitutional reforms were enormously complex with changes in 69 articles. But it is also true that a propaganda campaign authored and choreographed by Washington and the CIA, and implemented by the Venezuelan elites who control the private media, had a considerable effect in blocking the reform effort.… | more |

Against the Market Economy: Advice to Venezuelan Friends

I am here to salute you—because you are attempting to do what nobody has ever succeeded in doing before—help autonomous groups of workers and consumers plan their interrelated activities democratically, equitably, and efficiently themselves. You have already created the elements of what you call the “social economy”—worker-owned cooperatives, communal councils, municipal assemblies, participatory budgeting, subsidized food stores, health care clinics, and nuclei of endogenous development. Now you want the cooperatives and communal councils to display solidarity for one another rather than treat each other as antagonists in commercial exchanges. And sooner rather than later you want the benefits of this kind of participatory, socialist economy to encompass the entire economy and all Venezuelans.… | more |

The conversation with Chavez

Last November 15, I referred to a third reflection on the Latin American Summit which, as I then wrote, “I have yet to publish”. It strikes me as timely, however, to do so before the referendum of December 2.… | more |

Workplace Democracy and Collective Consciousness: An Empirical Study of Venezuelan Cooperatives

Liberal ideology insists that a society in which conscious solidarity is the dominating attitude/approach is impossible, because humans are primarily and perpetually motivated by individual material incentives. But the revolutionary process that Venezuela embarked upon in 1999, known as the “Bolivarian Revolution,” is challenging the core liberal tenet that narrow self-interest is the immutable human condition… | more |

Dual Power in the Venezuelan Revolution

Too often, the Bolivarian Revolution currently underway in Venezuela is dismissed by its critics—on the right and left—as a fundamentally statist enterprise. We are told it is, at best, a continuation of the corrupt, bureaucratic status quo or, at worst, a personalistic consolidation of state power in the hands of a single individual at the expense of those “checks and balances” traditionally associated with western liberal democracies. These perspectives are erroneous, since they cannot account for what have emerged as the central planks of the revolutionary process. I will focus on the most significant of these planks: the explosion of communal power… | more |

Venezuela: A Good Example of the Bad Left of Latin America

Fair wages, a fair day’s work! Through their struggles within capitalism, it has often been possible for workers and citizens to secure themselves some share of the benefits of social labor. Capitalist globalization and the offensive of neoliberal state policies, however, have encroached upon all those gains from past struggles; and the answer to those who were surprised to find those victories ephemeral was the mantra of TINA — there is no alternative… | more |

Venezuela: Who Could Have Imagined?

Michael A. Lebowitz, Build It Now: Socialism for the Twenty-First Century (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2006), 127 pages, paperback, $14.95.

This short work consists of two parts: analytical and programmatic. The analytical emphasis is upon the most important crime of capitalism: namely–its dependence upon alienation/dehumanization… | more |

April 2007 (Volume 58, Number 11)

April 2007 (Volume 58, Number 11)

The U.S. economy in early March 2007 appears to be rapidly decelerating. Orders for durable goods in manufacturing dropped 8 percent in January and the manufacturing sector as a whole shrank during two of the last three months for which data is currently available (November–January), representing what is being called a “recession” in manufacturing, and raising the possibility of a more general economic downturn (New York Times, February 28, 2007)… | more |

November 2006 (Volume 58, Number 6)

November 2006 (Volume 58, Number 6)

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez’s extraordinary speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations in September drew worldwide media attention not simply because he referred to the current occupant of the White House as “the devil” for his nefarious actions as the leader of world imperialism, but also because of his scarcely less heretical praise of MR and MR Press author Noam Chomsky for his book Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance. As the foremost dissident intellectual in the United States, Chomsky is generally ostracized by the dominant U.S. media system, treated as a ghost-like or even non-existent figure. The establishment was thus caught off guard when Chávez’s comments suddenly catapulted Hegemony or Survival into the bestseller list, along with another recent Chomsky book, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda. The speed with which orders for Chomsky’s books piled up in bookstores and Internet distributors across the nation demonstrated beyond any doubt that people are hungry for serious radical critiques of U.S. imperialism but seldom know where to look—since all such dissident views are deemed off limits by the ruling media-propaganda system… | more |

November 2005 (Volume 57, Number 6)

November 2005 (Volume 57, Number 6)

Speaking in New York to the United Nations in September Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez delivered a fiery speech sharply critical of U.S. imperialism and what he called a “frightening neoliberal globalization.” Chávez denounced the blatant manipulation of the United Nations to support U.S. geopolitical ambitions and military aggression. He condemned the U.S. government for allowing Christian evangelist Pat Robertson and others to call openly for his assassination in violation of international law… | more |

Made in Venezuela: The Struggle to Reinvent Venezuelan Labor

Last month, the National Union of Venezuelan Workers (UNT) turned two. Since its inception in May 2003, the UNT has been at the center of debates surrounding the advances of Venezuela’s revolution in the labor arena. At root, these debates turn on issues of worker control: over their factories and over their unions. Democracy is at the heart of the attempt by Venezuelan workers to reinvent a labor movement long characterized by corruption and class collaboration… | more |

May 2005 (Volume 57, Number 1)

May 2005 (Volume 57, Number 1)

With the failure of its three previous attempts since 2002 to topple the Bolivarian Revolution of President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Washington has recently announced a new “containment” strategy for crippling the democratically elected and socialist-oriented government of Latin America’s leading oil power… | more |

Report from Venezuela: Aluminum Workers Choose Their Managers and Increase Production

Alcasa, a state-owned aluminum processing plant in the southeastern state of Bolívar, has long been an important employer in a region where the lion’s share of Venezuela’s mining and processing plants are located. Yet since the mid-1990s it has been plagued by inefficiency and corruption. According to Trino Silva, secretary general of the union, Alcasa’s production has been in “the red” for the past sixteen years. Though the aluminum they produce is in high demand and despite considerable production increases over the past few years, the company has been unable to turn a profit. Silva blames a corrupt factory management that used Alcasa as its piggy bank throughout the 1990s, all the while holding the threat of privatization over workers’ heads. It was no idle threat. A few miles down the road, SIDOR, one of Latin America’s largest steel plants and long the pride of the state Venezuelan Corporation of Guyana (CVG), was privatized in 1997. From a workforce approaching 20,000 full-time direct employees (with several thousand more contract and temporary workers) in the late 1980s, SIDOR has downsized to only 4,000 direct employees and approximately 6,000 contract workers… | more |

Prevention and Solidarity: Democratizing Health in Venezuela

Halfway up the hill, in a semi-finished, rustic house, a sheet divides the consulting room from the treatment room. Rarely is there a need to identify oneself upon arrival. “How are you Mr. Antonio, has your pressure decreased?” says the fifty-three-year-old Venezuelan nurse Carlota Núñez. Antonio goes in and, little by little, the inhabitants of the neighborhood Las Terrazas de Oropeza Castillo, municipality Sucre, Caracas move through the waiting room… | more |

After the Referendum: Venezuela Faces New Challenges

With President Hugo Chávez’s victory in the August 15 referendum, the Venezuelan opposition suffered the third great defeat in its struggle to end his government. The unprecedented recall referendum ratified Chávez’s presidency by a margin of two million votes and was declared valid unanimously by the hundreds of international observers who scrutinized it… | more |

The Greening of Venezuela

With all the hullabaloo about Chávez’s alleged authoritarianism, opposition strikes and demonstrations, and a possible recall referendum, you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing constructive is being done in Venezuela and that the nation’s energies are entirely absorbed by political mud-slinging. Indeed, that’s just what the corporate media would like you to think… | more |

October 2004 (Volume 56, Number 5)

October 2004 (Volume 56, Number 5)

For more than a decade now the major corporate media and the U.S. government have been celebrating the growing “democratization” of Latin America. Rather than reflecting a genuine concern with democracy, however, this was meant to symbolize the defeat of various revolutionary movements, particularly in Central America in the 1980s and early ’90s. To the extent that formal, limited democracy actually made gains in the region this was viewed by the ruling powers in the United States as a means of institutionalizing and legitimizing structures of extreme inequality in line with the ends of the American empire… | more |

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