Franz J.T. Lee, November, 2008
Venezuela ... under such circumstances today Marx would say: I am NOT a revolutionary!
President Hugo Chavez insists that we bury capitalism immediately. However, according to history in the White House, always after the "democratic" ballot, in the name of "freedom," comes the "republican "bullet." This, Simon Bolivar already knew. Quantitatively we won, but qualitatively and strategically we have to be extremely careful ... Antonio Ledezma is "going to Miraflores" again.
Also, it is clear that without a radical, principled revolution it is impossible to bury capitalism and to replace it with socialism.
The global capitalist Moloch is the child of a gigantic revolution, in fact, of the father of all global, social, cultural, economic, political and military revolutions. It took the bourgeoisie more than five centuries to conquer political power, to make its political revolutions, to wrest the State from the claws of the parasitic clergy and from the fangs of the decadent nobility, to separate Church and State and to replace Catholic, idealist theology and metaphysics with capitalist, atheist, mechanical materialism. Even then, in the 1848 European revolutions the bourgeoisie was so weak that it nearly lost its French Revolution; in Russia the huge peasant masses under the leadership of the relatively small working class and the Bolshevik Party of Lenin even first had to carry out the historic tasks of the bourgeoisie, had to make the February Revolution of 1917 for the weak Russian bourgeoisie. Only thereafter, in October, Lenin and Trotsky could proceed with the making of the proletarian, socialist revolution.
Thus, as Marx explained, revolution is permanent, it comprises an epoch, and it necessitates the unity of all workers.
Before talking anything about socialism, we have to know the ABC of revolution in all its multiple meanings and appearance forms. Revolution is a matter of life and death, for example, in the 1950s, in Vietnam, Indonesia, Cuba and Algeria millions were massacred by imperialism because they seriously dared to make a workers' social and socialist revolution.
Hence, comrades, it is now or never, we do not have all the time in the world, not centuries, only decades to study, to understand, to comprehend, to make the revolution here in Venezuela and elsewhere. Consequently, this presupposes that we know what is capitalism, dialectics, socialism and Marxism; and that we live according to that what we know scientifically, and not according to that what we religiously and ideologically believe and, above all, that we know what we are living for. In this way nobody can convert us into passive Pavlov dogs, massive electoral chow and mortal cannon fodder.
In two parts we will explain firstly the fundamentals of revolution and thereafter, the Marxist Theory and Praxis of Revolution.
In this way, we will be able to understand and enrich our own Bolivarian Revolution...
the 18th century the European weltgeist ushered in capitalist storm,
... like so many others, including Hegel and Marx, Francisco de
Miranda and his co-fighters were fascinated by the bourgeois,
democratic revolution, by the French Revolution, that is why his name
is engraved in the "Arc de Triomphe" ... now the world
spirit ominously spells doom, is writing on the human wall of
woe: "socialism or barbarism".
Gone are the good old days of falsifications and caricatures of revolution and socialism. Like in Vietnam, Cuba, Guinea Bissau and Chile, many revolutionary and socialist attempts were valiant and glorious, and we honor them with due respect, love and admiration. However, it turned out that many of these experiments have led us into a never ending democratic cul de sac, in an intrasystemic labyrinth of ideological confusion: for example, African socialism, Arab socialism, national socialism, democratic socialism, revolutionary socialism, Christian socialism, utopian socialism, cooperative socialism, the socialist international, Maoism, Stalinism, etc., etc. What is absent was simply socialism itself, the dialectical negation of capitalism, that is, radical, principled, scientific, philosophic anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism, that is, permanent world revolution.
It is not a matter of language and words; words are miserable tools, they do not think for us. There is no substitute for free thinking and thought. As the Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch has pointed out within the context of his concrete utopia, in official sanctioned language a whole range of concepts are absent, they have to be invented and created to express the new, a new science and philosophy. Marx explained that in every epoch (mode of production) the ruling ideas (language, words and concepts) are the ideas of the ruling classes.
To survive, inter alia, this is what is to be done by the Bolivarian Revolution in 2009. A fresh breeze has to renovate what we are saying and doing, to capture en masse the revolutionary fantasy and creative imagination of the "cerros" and "favelas" of Venezuela and Latin America.
In a speech after the elections, President Chavez quoted Marx saying: when theory grasps the imagination of the masses, it becomes material force. In the same manner, the following is true for our socialist party, for Venezuela: when theory passes from one brain to the other, it becomes praxis, the truth.
Why? Marx gave the answer: Not only thought must approximate (objective) reality, reality itself must push towards thought. This is dialectics, this is the permanent oscillation between natural science and social philosophy, this is not only to interpret the world in different ways, in different words, but to change it consciously, with class consciousness, this is Marxism.
Nowadays, as stated by George Orwell in 1948 already, in the epoch of Big Brother, no matter what skin color he may have, just to tell the truth ... which is daily vanishing on planet earth ... is already a revolutionary act, is socialist praxis. After the recent November 23 elections, Venezuela: Quo vadis?
Whatever we will think or do, for us there will be no imperialist amnesty, no dialogue. We will not be exempted from making the world revolution against capitalism, against globalization.
Hence, let us tune in on our historic memory; in the absence of a bourgeois democratic guillotine blade, let us sharpen our oxidized intellectual machetes, for the 666th time the question: what is revolution all about? We must know what is the heart beat of global capitalism, its dialectics. If not, ... as it so often has happened already, ... by mistake, in the name of "democracy", we may be burying our true socialists, and therewith also the possibility of realizing socialism itself, i.e., the radical negation of world capitalism. Yes, the corruption of the best, especially of the youth in our schools, missions and universities, is the worst corruption.
All across the 20th century, as the result of deliberately inculcated international ignorance, of mind and thought control and of lethal ideology, about capitalism, socialism and Marxism, we, the mass population of the globe, know very little. To bury capitalism, at first, its internal dialectics, its life wires, its social contradictions and arsenals of arms of mass destruction, have to be studied, be known, penetrated and annihilated. If not, we will be burying the biblical thief in the night, the prince of darkness, Dracula, but also his local vampires.
In other words, inter alia, we have to examine very carefully what is the connotation of 'revolution' in the French, American, Industrial and Bolivarian revolutions. This could be a very tedious enterprise, yet let us just illuminate some theoretical aspects.
Revolution was and still is the strongest and most effective weapon of capitalism. It was decisive in the conquest of political power for the emerging bourgeoisie and to retain social power. Originally, in feudalism, by studying the movements of the stars and planets the physical, astrological concept of revolution was used by medieval fortune-tellers to predict the luck of the princes in times of war. Later, after the 'Glorious Revolution', the term gained subjectivity, the desire of a class to make the revolution, that is, it acquired a subjective factor, revolutionary theory. The very bourgeoisie discovered that without theory, no social revolution was possible.
Nonetheless, for us in Venezuela the theoretical question remains: will we be able to poison the coming black mamba with its own venom? Until now we fought a valiant battle, but we did not succeed as yet, the war is still on.
Will and can the Bolivarian Revolution eventually succeed, to globalize itself, in solidarity with other revolutions?
To answer this question: Knoweth thyself! Knoweth thy revolution!
We should not forget that the capitalist mode of production became a dominant world order precisely because of its social revolution. Now it uses the very revolution to perpetuate imperialism and corporatism. As self defense, capitalism is an expert in producing ideology and practice. Hence, could we rally supersede capitalism with scientific socialist praxis and philosophic emancipatory theory?
Across the last two centuries tons of volumes have been written about the concept, form and content of revolution, here we can only highlight some aspects that pertain to our construction of socialism on a global scale. This is just an introductory approximation, more deliberations will follow.
In medias res, how is it possible that after a decade of fervent revolution in Venezuela and elsewhere, after April and December 2002, that so many students, youths and comrades still do not have the most rudimentary scientific knowledge about revolution, about capitalism, about socialism? All over Venezuela we have launched revolutionary projects and missions, and yet capitalism is flourishing all over. What is happening? Sincerely, comrades, what is going wrong?
What have we learned at school, at the university, about revolution? Let us look at our everyday concepts, at the "re-" generation of the current 'war of ideas', of 'full spectrum dominance': at words like religion, reform, renaissance, rearm, reaction, repeat, return, revolve, revolution. In re, all have something in common: the repetition, the regression, the repression, the return to the status quo ante rem, to the established world order. Except surplus value, they negate anything that is really excellent, extra, any exodus, exit or "ex-volution" out of this imperialist vale of tears. .
As President Chavez urgently demands, of course, we must bury capitalism but not our revolutionary hatchet, our militant, scientific praxis and optimistic, philosophic theory. Also in this global depression, we should not forget the existence of a terrorist "Empire", and blindfolded begin to smoke our peace pipes with metropolitan leaders. Tactics, strategy and diplomacy is one thing, revolution is another matter. Myopic political amnesia should not occur here in Venezuela in 2009, not in Afghanistan, not in Iraq. The "opposition" and the CIA have refined their infiltration and tactics, they already occupy the "Alcaldía Mayor" (Mayor's office) of Caracas. Here in Venezuela they are applying the modern rainbow colored conception of "revolution".
The problem is that nowadays everybody is a revolutionary, a liberator. Under such circumstances today Marx would say: I am not a revolutionary!
Nearly every week my under-graduate and post-graduate students at the University of The Andes want to know the following:
* What are the praxical seeds and roots of social revolutionary upheaval, of class struggle in Venezuela and elsewhere?
* What does the concept 'revolution' express? How can we begin to revolutionize, to change the world?
Let us commence by stating, that before the French Revolution of 1789, during the class struggles of the bourgeoisie against the clergy and nobility, the word 'revolution' was still truer to its real, literal, etymological meaning. Ever since, it has acquired a galaxy of modern ideological meanings. We stand in the center of the thick jungles of Malaysia, the Congo and of Amazonia, and because of hundreds and thousands of trees around us , we are not able to see the forests anymore. We just see individual great gods, great men, great ideas and great races making individual great revolutions. Which are the idiomatic roots of our conception of revolution, but also of scientific and philosophic socialism? Is our revolution a social or a palace revolution?
Because so many of our comrades were never taught about the 'revolution' let us briefly get down to the ABC of revolution. In its manifold current meanings lies the core of revolutionary ideology, of mind and thought control. In the international mass media the term, especially associated with Venezuela, has acquired a dangerous, watery, a wishy-washy meaning.
Transhistorically, what do 'volver' and 'revolver' signify? Inter alia, "volver" in Spanish means to "turn" or to "roll"; among other connotations the Latin or English prefix "re-" means to "return", to "roll back", e.g., to return loans, to "revolve" credit. Revolution was always a central economic and political term in business, in the European historic process of the accumulation of capital. In Latin the nouns "revolūtus, revolūtiō or revolūtiōn" were derived from the past participle of the verb "revolvere", to turn over, to make sales, to have an excellent turnover, realization of capital. As such this capitalist concept appeared in many languages, e.g., as "revolucioun" in Middle English, as "revolver" and "revolution" in Old French.
The English verb "revolve", which is the heart beat of "revolution", expresses many things:
* to orbit a central static or moving point, like Mars around the Sun.
* to turn on an axis, to rotate like the planet Earth.
* to recur in cycles, like the crises of capitalism as predicted by Karl Marx.
* to happen regularly at periodic intervals, e.g., the four seasons.
* to be treated formal logically, i.e., to be centered. His problems only revolve around corruption.
In general terms there are many verbs that reflect the "making of a revolution". One thing is to move a whole life time in circles, guided by an ideological axis of evil, another thing is to make a revolution, to cause, to guide and to defend a revolution. In general, we all know how easy it is to take the line of least resistance, to beat around the bush, to circumvolve "Marxism", to gyrate around a messiah or to wheel along after the "good shepherd". In the strict sense of the word, as daily practice, without pondering, without intellectual reflection, also this is "making a revolution", the bourgeois, democratic, capitalist revolution. This happens when we do not create precise, incisive concepts for a certain thing, for a certain real process.
However, a concrete revolution also has a theoretical dimension, it is a generator of thinking and thought, of class consciousness and proletarian praxis, but, it can also be used by the ruling classes, by the State, to control the mind, to inculcate ideology, and in global fascism, to annihilate any critical theory and emancipatory praxis.
In scientific and philosophic socialism, in Marxism, the revolution of the mind begins when we all as global exploited, dominated and discriminated social classes independently start to think all of, by and for ourselves, to discuss consciously social, political and economic issues. In other words, the revolution begins when we as workers, peasants, educators, professionals and reporters start to apply the intellectual principle of Rene Descartes: dubito, cogito ergo sum, I doubt, I think, therefore I am. We put on our red thinking cap, begin to rack our oxidized neurons and brains.
Over the last decade this did begin in Venezuela, no matter all the constructive critique, a social revolution was and still is in the making.
All the glorious socialists, Marx, Engels, Rosa Luxemburg, Clara Zetkin, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Nkrumah, Castro and many others, have stressed the revolutionary necessity of thinking and thought for acts and actions. In "What is to be done", Lenin went so far as to say: without socialist daydreams, without theory, no social revolution is possible.
Hence in a Cartesian sense we as socialist revolutionaries have carefully and at length to cogitate, permanently to excogitate. After having drunk ruling class ideology and religion with mother's milk, or with Nestle and Parmalat, and after having chewed and ruminated all classes of merchandise, it is really high time to become revolutionary, to look before we leap, to think everything and anything all over, to have an overall, total, process-like perspective. Nowadays, in the global 'war of ideas', as revolutionaries, by definition, we have to cudgel our bamboozled brains.
On the other hand, to make a "revolution" is being seen from the point of view of Washington as national organized "democracy" which intends to change or overthrow a "dictator", that is, the legitimate government of President Hugo Chavez Frias.
In this terrorist connotation, the term 'revolution' is distorted, it includes anything that is launched against the stagnating democratic or undemocratic status quo, it comprises insurgence, conspiracy, military coups, rebellion, revolt, uprising, sedition and secession.
Finally, let us affirm, currently it is "the best of times, the worst of times" (Charles Dickens), times of sweeping social changes, of class struggles: profound cataclysms, painful convulsions and a series of political upheavals. There is no turn, no return for us, it is simply onward, is the battle for mankind, for planetary emancipation.