Top Menu

NEW! Commune or Nothing! Venezuela’s Communal Movement and its Socialist Project


A front-row seat to Venezuela’s most innovative socialist project, with important lessons for movements worldwide

Commune or Nothing! Venezuela’s Communal Movement and Its Socialist Project opens a window on one of the most ambitious revolutionary projects of our time, as it took shape in a country suffering the cruel consequences of US imperialism. In recent years, repeated coup attempts and U.S. sanctions, combined with falling oil prices, have plunged Venezuela into a series of severe shortages leading to malnutrition, sickness, death, and mass migration. Still, as author Chris Gilbert shows, the Venezuelan people have not been passive in the face of these attacks. Resisting the pressures of capitalism, a significant segment of the population persists in pursuing the strategy for socialist construction that Hugo Chávez developed in his final years in dialogue with the popular movement. That strategy consists in building socialism with the commune as “its basic cell.”

Gilbert’s account gives readers a front-row seat on the country’s communal movement as he chronicles the efforts of grassroots initiatives and gives voice to the communards living and working in communes such as El Panal, El Maizal, Che Guevara, and Luisa Cáceres. He blends these firsthand accounts of communal construction with theoretical reflections and historical insights. The central story of the book is how Venezuelan communes bring people together to democratically determine their ways of living and working, thus generating a new, non-alienated social metabolism that the communes also work to extend to the whole society. Along the way, readers learn how Venezuela’s communal project draws inspiration from advanced Marxist theory—including the innovative work of István Mészáros—and derives from Indigenous and Afro-Venezuelan traditions of communal self-governance.

Titled after the battle cry of this heroic movement, “¡Comuna o Nada!,” Commune or Nothing! portrays an expanding network of communes pursuing the strategic goal of—not only overcoming the entire capitalist economy—but transcending the state formations upon which the capital system relies. The communal project in Venezuela has proven the viability of its model of all-round human emancipation as an alternative to the increasingly exploitative, destructive, and unsustainable capital system. For this reason, Commune or Nothing!, like the trailblazing movement it depicts, offers important lessons not only regarding the construction of socialism in Venezuela, but for socialist praxis worldwide.

What people are saying about Commune or Nothing!

Written by a fellow traveler of our movement, this book uses the lenses of Marxism, social reproduction theory, and history to understand a concrete process of socialist construction. In so doing, it reveals the enormous emancipatory potential of Venezuela’s communal movement and also its challenges.
Bárbara “Anacaona” Martínez, spokesperson, El Panal Commune

Invaluable! With clarity and insight that could only come from years of study and practical engagement, Chris Gilbert provides a historical and political framework for understanding the complexities involved in attempting to build new societies in the womb of the old. Commune or Nothing, is not just an effort to remind the public of the contributions of Hugo Chávez, but a call to action. Chávez was clear. An unambiguous commitment to bottom-up socialist construction is a historical necessity for the people of our region and the world. Gilbert’s magnificent contribution traces how that can still be achieved in Venezuela and serve as a model for all who are serious about building a new world.
Ajamu Baraka, National Organizer, Black Alliance for Peace

In this theoretically informed study, Chris Gilbert reveals how productive forces (human and material) are developing in the Venezuelan communes as they struggle to overcome obstacles both economic and political. We learn here along with Gilbert and the communards themselves how the establishment of social relations of protagonistic democracy and direct social labour builds new capacities, pride and dignity.
Michael A. Lebowitz, author of Beyond Capital: Marx’s Political Economy of the Working Class and Between Capitalism and Community

I enthusiastically recommend this book, which explains how the communal movement opens a window on the construction of a future in which people collectively emancipate themselves, through an alternative project beyond the logic of capital. Chris Gilbert’s book shows that Chávez’s legacy is alive and continues to shed light on the construction of socialism.
Angel Prado, spokesperson, El Maizal Commune

Chris Gilbert is a professor of political studies at the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela and creator and co-host of Escuela de Cuadros, a Marxist educational television program and podcast. Gilbert is co-author of Venezuela, The Present as Struggle (Monthly Review, 2020).

Format Clear
SKU: mrp0236 Categories: , , , Tag:

Publication Date: 10/01/2023

Number of Pages: 208

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-68590-023-6

Cloth ISBN: 978-1-68590-024-3

eBook ISBN: 978-1-68590-025-0