Franz J.T. Lee, September, 2007
Venezuela: Constitutional reform, ideology and private property
All over Venezuela and abroad the planned constitutional reform is being studied, criticized and even bedeviled. Article 115 (which concerns property relations) seems to be the real capitalist apple of discord against which most observations are directed. This occurs because it defines the economic, material basis of Bolivarian socialism, and therewith indicates its future ideological superstructure, the political rules and regulations to come.
It also explains why the emerging Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) from the point go can not adopt a modern radical Marxist world outlook.
To achieve this, at first, profound praxical and theoretical class struggles will have to be waged, which would precipitate an avalanche of more radical constitutional reforms.
According to the suggested reform of Article 115 of the current Constitution of Venezuela, private, social, collective, State and mixed forms of property of the means of production and of goods sold and bought on the market, legally would be guaranteed.
Unfortunately, a definite scientific differentiation is not being made between 'property,' 'private property of the means of production' and 'simple goods and wares on the labor and world market,' which also would include the alienated physical labor forces of the workers of Venezuela.
To understand this problem, a Marxist political, economic world outlook is opportune.
Now, respecting all other views, highlighting our theoretical, revolutionary dilemma, from a scientific, philosophic point of view, that is, from a Marxist perspective, what is the material base of 'Ideology' still rampant in Venezuela, everywhere?
Why does private property of the means of production, produced by modern slave labor, also control intellectual production, and therewith will perpetuate ruling class capitalist ideology in Venezuela, Latin America and the Caribbean?
Let us see what history and Marxism could teach us, how up to date their revelations and predictions are.
Ever since the victory of the capitalist French Revolution, the ruling bourgeoisie nationally and internationally was taking over control of global ideological production from the obsolete, feudal, decadent clergy and nobility. The Western metropolitan dominant mass media, the disinformation empires of Time Warner and Murdoch, practically has a monopoly, their 'think tanks' are experts in censuring and falsifying news about Venezuela and other countries classified as the global 'axis of evil'; all over schools, universities and churches join in on this crusade of exorcism and character assassination of true popular workers' leaders like Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez Frias.
There is nothing surprising about all this; across history it happened over and over again, for example, against Sukarno, Ho Chi Minh, Patrice Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah, Fidel Castro and Salvador Allende, against Marx himself; in fact, against all true socialists, Marxists and communists, nowadays, in the Orwellian present, the ruling class violence and hatred are directed against all 'international terrorists' who according to Washington D.C. urgently need the royal 'military humanistic' treatment.
History tells us that as long as the European bourgeoisie was young, still weak, revolutionary and relatively stable, its ruling class ideology influenced the working classes. In this way the ideals of the capitalist French Revolution have influenced our liberators. Till today such ideological remnants survive in Venezuela, as obsolete, ossified 'absolute truths' in the heads of the 'opposition,' inside and outside of the Bolivarian Revolution.
In the 19th century, in the first phase of the workers’ struggles, the leaders did not yet understand the truth about bourgeois democracy, revolution, liberty, equality, fraternity and justice. Till this very day many of us are ideologically still confused with reference to these concepts.
The top culprit of ideological confusion is the very concept 'ideology' itself.
In the 20th century, progressively the international corporations, which possess the private property of the major means of material global production, began also to control the intellectual forces of society, that is, intellectual property. With few exceptions, universities and other educational institutions of higher learning became corporate factories of intellectual production, but also of conspiracy, sabotage, of thought and mind control.
The Fuhrer said it: If you want to control a people, control its education.
As we notice, Bush is learning pretty fast from Hitler ... Let us do likewise with Marx.
Long ago, in 1845, Marx and Engels explained the essence of the current mental control, of the dominant ruling class ideas, of religion and ideology in general, as follows: "The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it."
(Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology (1845), pp. 39f. Also see: marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01b.htm).
The ruling ideas that we inherited nearly nine years ago from colonial history, from the 'puntofijista' era, are still playing havoc with our young revolutionary minds and acts.
Radically, namely, at its very transhistoric exploitative and racist roots, we did not yet grasp the global ruling class ideology. In Venezuela archaic ideology veils and perpetuates exploitative class relationships, private ownership of the means of production and therewith, master-slave relationships. All true Bolivarians try their utmost best to act as midwives of the new, of the original, but very often global anti-naturalization and anti-socialization processes drive us still off track.
Anywhere, in any capitalist world, nurtured by economic boom and bonanza logically produces accelerated exploitation, domination, discrimination, military violence and human alienation.
At the current level of destruction of nature and society, we are moving light years away from realizing socialism in the 21st century. On a world scale; certainly, Venezuela is still a capitalist country; also, till now, the Bolivarian Revolution was not able to eradicate capitalist ideology once and for all. It was not its main task, it first had to save the revolution itself from internal and external violent attacks, which still continue.
Beyond doubt, in many spheres we have made remarkable revolutionary progress, however, still so much to do, so little done!
Concerning ruling class superstructural and cultural indoctrination, Marx and Engels explained: "The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships, the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas; hence of the relationships which make the one class the ruling one, therefore, the ideas of its dominance." (ibid.)
Socialism teaches us that those who definitely do have class consciousness and who are thinking and acting in official society, that is, who are defending their class interests and property relations and rights, are precisely the members of the ruling classes, and those who have upper middle class pipe-dreams, who are yearning for imported whiskey.
Our immediate past history in Venezuela can verify this truth with hundreds of examples. Theoretically blind we can not face ruling class consciousness.
To deny the existence of modern, global class struggle in Venezuela is simply historic suicide.
In the past, the Cisneros, Mendozas, Capriles and their loyal watch-dogs were ruling and partially still are directing the country as their own private property, that is, directing it "as a class and (they) determine the extent and compass" (Marx) of our direction. Hence, only a workers' class, the proletariat of Venezuela, all the wage-slaves, can shake off the chains of class bondage.
Hence, in the absence of the vile ideological attacks of international imperialism, it would not be necessary carefully to hide socialism between Jesus Christ and the Mount.
Those who own private property of the means of production also exploit the workers; "as thinkers, as producers of ideas, (they) regulate the production and distribution of the ideas of their age." (ibid.)
For these transhistoric reasons, a radical cultural revolution is necessary in Venezuela. However, as long as private property of the major means of production exists, it will be a Sisyphus task to achieve in the 21st century.
Within this context it becomes clear what is class collaboration, alliances of capital and labor, secret gentlemen agreements, hidden from the toiling workers, that is, what really is reformist political separation of powers: "... In a country where royal power, aristocracy, and bourgeoisie are contending for mastery and where, therefore, mastery is shared, the doctrine of the separation of powers proves to be the dominant idea and is expressed as an 'eternal law.' " (ibid.)
Furthermore, concerning thinking in bourgeois terms, especially until 1848, in Western Europe, much later in other regions, the proletariat objectively as a "class in itself“ still used the bourgeois terminology and ideals, for example, liberty, equality and fraternity, but also the ideology of the bourgeoisie. As the class struggles intensified on a global scale, especially in the 20th century, particularly in the colonial and neocolonial South, bourgeois class rule became unstable and shaky, as a result, in consonance with the dialectical law of equal, unequal and combined development, the exploited world proletariat attempted to become class conscious, that is, to become a "class for itself."
Many social revolutions swept across the globe, across the whole 20th century, but they could not wipe vile, heinous capitalism out of the book of global production, of world history.
However, at this very moment, with the help of Marxism, and vice versa, the Bolivarian Revolution has an immense, exceptional contribution to make towards bringing into existence a global proletarian revolutionary subject, a class conscious world proletariat. To many this may seem outdated, an absurd, obsolete idea.
Capitalism, with an age that already competes with Methusalem, was born in Ancient Greece 3,000 years ago. Is it not yet senile and absurd?
Are people (Plato) or gods (Jesus Christ), who were born millennia ago, not obsolete already?
How about young, fresh Friedrich Engels who still lived less than a century ago?
Probably there are still some people living today who remember the intelligent Marxist genius of the 1890s.
Hence, as Chavez underlined: We have no alternative but to be victorious!
Now in the 21st century, also in Venezuela, thanks to the Bolivarian Revolution, the workers more and more are becoming conscious of their own class interests, their own historic creative mission.
Nonetheless, as can be witnessed in the 'Opinion' articles of Aporrea.org, especially in the analyzes and commentaries of VHeadline.com, an urgent, subjective, theoretical, revolutionary debate is taking place.
It is a direct reflection of the objective class struggles here and abroad, in reality, it is a healthy, contradictory, dialectical controversy between bourgeois ideology and proletarian class consciousness. It will certainly affect the upper political echelons of Venezuelan society; internationally, it already has far-reaching revolutionary effects. Currently this expresses itself in the necessity of negating capitalist ideology with revolutionary theory.
Finally, concerning the eradication of "ideology“ and developing socialist praxis and theory, Marx and Engels reminded us: "This whole semblance, that the rule of a certain class is only the rule of certain ideas, comes to a natural end, of course, as soon as society ceases at last to be organized in the form of class rule, that is to say, as soon as it is no longer necessary to represent a particular interest as general or ‘the general interests’ as ruling" (ibid.)
George Orwell gave us the secret of the emancipatory Gordian Knot: In a world of universal conceit, deceit and lies, to tell the truth is revolutionary praxis.
In reality as Marxism teaches us: When revolutionary ideas pass from one brain to another, this is already emancipatory praxis.