Franz J.T. Lee, July, 2007
Instead of interpreting Venezuela in different ways, we have to emancipate her
We welcome all the serious socialist studies and scientific reflections that are being made across Venezuela ... it is simply wonderful to see how a whole people is politicizing itself, in an ocean of freedom of expression.
What is especially notable is the debate about Marxism, socialism and communism, about the future praxis and theory of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
Socialism, as Lenin explained, original Marxism was the historic product of the three most developed currents of European knowledge in the middle of the 19th century: of philosophy, national economy and political praxis and theory. Ever since then, it enriched itself and became a world instrument of revolution and emancipation.
However, as Marx and Che warned, our historic duty is not to interpret the world in different ways, to use Chavez as a scapegoat, it is to make the revolution in Venezuela.
Surely, there are no recipes or catechisms for social or socialist revolutions; revolutions can neither be imported nor exported. However, there are guide-lines what scientific and philosophic socialism is all about in world reality.
We have more than 150 years of praxical and theoretical socialist experience in this field. Of course, as utopian socialism, that is, not as a dominant mode of production, some brilliant minds and promising experiments, did prepare the ground for the existing negation of capitalism within the world system.
Comrades, the worst that we could do is to tune in to CNN, to participate in all the standard diatribes against "Castro Communism" and Marxism, by repeating the eternal ideological salvos against our own revolution, against our global socialism. If we study all the works of Marxism, of scientific and philosophic socialism very carefully, with the necessary revolutionary spirit, then we will discover the endless lessons that could serve the Bolivarian Revolution here and now.
Our arch-enemy is not Marx, it is capitalism.
Socialism is an intrinsic part of the revolution within capitalism, it is a direct product of the French and Industrial revolutions. In our opinion, negating formal logics, we underline that socialism will not come after capitalism as a transitory mode. It is there already. As dialectical negation, it will only perish with the annihilation of capitalism, which could bring forth either global nuclear barbarism or galactic communism, that is, creative and creating human emancipation.
At this very moment, second by second, in the Middle East, we are approximating a possible brutal massacre of hundred thousands of human beings with cruel weapons of mass destruction, simply because world capitalism is in a life and death crisis. We have to act and think pretty fast, we have to know what is socialism and apply our self-defense.
Of course, Marxism does not claim the copyright of socialism, that its understanding of socialism is exquisite and that it is the one and only way to topple world capitalism. It only explains that socialism is the dialectical opposite of capitalism, is its opposite side, and that as long as capitalism survives, socialism will live. Both have to be surpassed, to enter human emancipation, Marx, Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin and Trotsky called this communism. Socialism is not the private property of anyone, of any people, it is a treasure of humanity in its totality.
Hence, this commentary is simply a defense of scientific and philosophic socialism, as living Marxism. It is directed against unscientific arguments that Marx deliberately discriminated the "Third World," hence, today he must be declared obsolete, is already a dead dog. Thus, he does not serve any liberatory endeavor in Venezuela or elsewhere in America, Asia or Africa.
Things are not that simple.
Socialism is not a personal matter, it does not concern ad hominem attacks on any political thinker, against a secretary of world historic events. To err is human, what is sublime is to correct mistakes, also those of others. Hence, what is at stake on a world scale in the first place is not what Marx in ignorance wrote about Simon Bolivar, that he called Ferdinand La Salle a "Jewish nigger."
In the current war of ideas and information, many a serious thinker innocently could commit errors and write a lot of crap about President Chavez. The fact is that Marx and all true Marxists fought and are permanently fighting against absolute truths, and would rectify any mistake when confronted with true data and concrete evidence. To deny a Marxist, a socialist, this possibility, is not to understand what scientific and philosophic socialism is all about.
Every outstanding political, revolutionary person is a socio-historic reality of his time, she or he is not a prophet and does not possess a crystal ball to look into the future.
He has limited information and data of world events, especially in a world where he ruling ideas are the ideas of the ruling classes. Today very few Europeans know anything about a big part of the Third World, in Marx' time even less. Because great gods, ideas, men and races make history, and because the working classes, the workers, do not make history, do not direct the course of the process of production, hence, reality is bourgeois, capitalist reality.
Any true scientific analysis will reveal that during the 19th century there was no real anti-capitalist possibility in Africa, Asia and America to topple world capitalism and to march forward towards socialism. Marx affirmed the only forces that could have changed the whole course of history, the workers of metropolitan countries.
In fact, with their victory in Paris in 1848, with the Paris Commune, with their workers' "republics" they paved the road to overthrow capitalism in its infant stages.
One thing for de facto colonial slaves is to topple decadent modes of agricultural feudal production, with wars of liberation, as was the case of Portugal and Spain, another thing is to fight as wage-slaves against a capitalist colonial British empire. For this you need socialist praxis and theory.
This the not industrialized Third World simply could not evolve.
This is why till this day they are using obsolete forms of liberation struggle, for example, Christian socialism, ideology and practice.
Marx and the Marxists till after intra-imperialist World War I simply stated the facts as they were. The colonial question or theses were only discussed after the death of Lenin in the Third International.
To have done the opposite, by conveying the subject of revolution in competitive liberalism to Oceania, out of Christian love for us the poor discriminated Third World, would have been very progressive, however, it would not have been real,
Only later, in monopoly capitalism, things changed radically, and anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism were launched outside Europe, especially in Asia.
In the case of Africa, we needed the Conference of Berlin, the Conference of Bandung, the non-aligned movement and the 5th PanAfrican Congress, before African Socialism seriously could be placed on the order of world politics. Otherwise, it would have been absurd.
It would be like saying today that the Third World pygmies could gain a smashing military victory over the evil forces of NATO and could establish socialism of the 21st century in Amazonia.
Who knows, with a new logic, science and philosophy, perhaps they could really do it! Shakespeare warned: "There are more things in heaven and on earth, Horatio, than are dreaming of in your philosophy."
For Marx socialism was not Christian communist poverty, namely, to sell all that you have, to give it to the poor, and then to live as a medieval beggar amid productive exploitation of others. It is not cloister socialism, equal distribution of wine and bread, which exploited slave labor was producing. It is not egalitarian redistribution of "wealth" gained by exploited labor.
Marx saw socialism as a transitional mode of plenty, of solving the basic problems of humanity, caused by capitalist, by labor production.
Furthermore, liberal capitalism was just seen as a transitory mode of production. Marx and Engels thought that the socialist revolution would come in their life time. They even saw the socialist revolution in the metropolitan countries unfolding as a peaceful historical act. Because of this, they made erroneous statements about a possible socialist revolution in the "Third World" in the 21st century.
In the middle of the 19th century, the necessary level of capitalist and technological production did not exist in the colonial world, which till today is mercilessly still being exploited, dominated and discriminated. In Latin America some possibilities did exist, but world capitalism nipped them in the bud. Even if there would have been massive revolts like later in Vietnam or China, the real economic base for global productive socialism or communism, for a powerful dictatorship of the world proletariat, against heinous imperialism, never really existed.
Stalin's Soviet Union was just a caricature of a powerful socialist force. Where overripe conditions did exist, as Marx foresaw, was in metropolitan countries.
Meanwhile, the possibility for global socialist revolution is real and final.
Yes, like never before, there exist conditions to realize socialism on a world scale: the totality of all the existing negating conditions of the capitalist world order, objective, subjective and "transjective" ones.
Our argument is dialectical. We have to interpret and change the world. Our current affirmation is capital, is a mode of production, is a real capitalism that has developed from slavery to self-destruction, from primitive forms of accumulation to competitive liberalism, to mono- and oligopolic imperialism, to corporatism, to space militarization and occupation, that already are destroying the macro-, meso- and microcosmic worlds, by creating natural Frankenstein Monsters and social Zombies.
This is our contemporary world reality as it evolved over the last two centuries. The negation of all this, of perverse accumulation, of mega-profits and infinite military power, is Labor, is the perverse, unilateral relation between Nature and Society.
Marx explained how human life energy, eros and orgon, have been transformed into cheap labor power for sale on the world capitalist market. The resistance to this insanity which alienates and dehumanizes humanity is emancipation. It is directed against the conversion of human beings into wage slaves, into physical and mental laborers.
Perhaps in a normative sense, Adorno made a point.
Currently, it seems that within the world system a negative dialectics is at work. Cum grano salis, with all due respect, nearly all the "socialist" revolutions and revolutionary efforts, all the revolutionary attempts of Labor, especially in the Third World failed to topple world imperialism, they did not reach their emancipatory objective. Similarly, Labor in metropolitan countries also failed, on the contrary, global fascism is rife in the North and this is really the issue.
Marx and Marxists erred in that they have placed their revolutionary bet only on socialism in the North, which now produces open patriotic acts of barbarism. This is not a matter of obsolescence, of the victory of fascist capitalism, rather what Marx discovered was a possible way to save humanity from itself, from self-annihilation.
Capitalism is a problem of the species man, and, in this case, it does matter that Jesus Christ did not die in France in 1789 under the guillotine, or that Marx was not born in Nazareth and that Napoleon was not fighting in the Peloponnesian War.
Capitalism is crazy and chaotic but it is nor stupid and ignorant, it follows tendential laws of development, and it was precisely Marx who discovered all of them.
Capitalism was born in the Mediterranean region, developed across Italy, Belgium and Holland towards Britain, later it invaded Germany, while Spain and Portugal were dying in feudal and religious agony as world empires and powers. Capitalism and its other side, its negation, Socialism, were not born on Mount Kilimanjaro, and then emigrated to Mount Everest, and eventually settled down on Pico Bolivar. In this case, Marx would have showed us the future of Europe in the natural mirror of socialist Pico Espejo.
That Marx celebrated the invasion of Mexico by the USA and of India by Britain, concerns the barriers of his time, the celebration of the French Revolution, which founding fathers like Bolivar and Miranda also did. Not knowing it, they were celebrating the coming capitalist bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the military invasions of the North in the South. Then, too near to the fleeting moment of history, they could not see what the Liberty, Equality and Fraternity would bring to the whole world.
All this does not make them obsolete.
The bourgeois thinkers of the Enlightenment, like Montesquieu and Voltaire, were reactionary racists, some were even connected to the African slave trade, and yet Marx and Bolivar were fascinated by their enlightening capitalist ideas. Surely revolutionary Africa is not fascinated by the racist ideas of Montesquieu, not even of his capitalist political philosophy.
This we know, and there is no reason to condemn any Bolivarian or Marxist of that epoch. They just could not jump over their own French revolutionary shadows. But, in the field of human emancipation both revolutionaries transcended their own weaknesses and are loved and admired by millions.
This is true, and for future generations will also be valid for President Hugo Chavez Frias of Venezuela.
Finally, it is not a matter of who goes first, last or never to socialism. Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky stated categorically that socialism or communism is a global mode of human creativity, creation and emancipation.
They never stated that the "Third World" has absolutely nothing to do with liberation, with class struggle: "All history hitherto was the history of class struggles." This was described by bourgeois thinkers long before Marx. "Third World" colonialism is capitalism, is class struggle.
In fact, in Capital, Marx was describing the cruel birth of the capitalist world market, "dripping from head to foot with dirt and blood." This triangle as explained by Walter Rodney, originally consisted and still consists of three basic parts: Europe -- Africa (Asia) -- America -- Europe. Much has changed over the centuries, but Marx did explain the brutal contribution of enslaved Africa and ransacked indentured Asia and of subjugated America towards the perverse accumulation of wealth and power in Europe.
Later Marxists, like Ernest Mandel, but also serious non-Marxist scientists, using socialist categories, gave us accurate data and accounts about the genocidal dimensions of this mental and physical holocaust.
Hence, for Africa or Asia it was not a matter of "waiting" till doomsday. Especially in the colonial world, as explained by Frantz Fanon, all the subjective conditions for world revolution were systematically destroyed by capitalist Europe. All the colonial master-slave relations, the religious and educational processes were directed against Marxism, against all forms of anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism. Till today we suffer of chronic alienation, are still being devoured by this mental holocaust, called Western, Christian Civilization.
After 500 years of Portuguese ultra-colonialism and Roman Catholicism in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau, Agostinho Neto, Samora Machel and Amilcar Cabral had to inform us that there were not a single university in their liberated colonies and that no African child was able to draw or paint his own loving mother, of course, except by painting her eyes blue, her complexion white and her hair blond.
Furthermore, all the angels were painted as white and Chaka and Dingaan as black, savage monsters ... this is the acme of alienation.
With this class "consciousness" it is impossible to understand Marxism, to make world revolution anywhere on the globe.