Published: Friday, August 13, 2004
Bylined to: Franz J. T. Lee
Franz J. T. Lee: Venezuela ... Alienation and Emancipation
University of Los Andes (ULA) professor Franz J. T. Lee writes:
What is really behind the mass manipulation of the huge mass media in
Venezuela? The pathological effects go far beyond the attempts of the
"opposition" and of the Bush government to oust President Hugo Chavez
Frias from political power. Its indoctrination serves the interests of
global fascism in the making, it serves "Newspeak", mind and thought
control, the eternalization of the current world order.
President Hugo Chavez Frias meets supporters of his government reforms
Briefly, let us look at the
psychological and philosophic, historic essence of the social functions
of the "four storm-troopers of the apocalypse" (Chavez) in Venezuela
... that is, how they are trying to dissocialize, to denaturalize the
Venezuelan population, in one word, alienating it.
Alienation itself is a very old notion with
religious origins. The German philosopher, G. F. W. Hegel took over
this concept from his predecessors and gave it a new ideological
content. In the revolutionary process of change, like the one taking
place currently in Venezuela, dialectically, everything has an
antithetical nature, a unity and contradiction of opposites, it is both
itself and becoming something else, its "other.“ But this "other“ is
simply a development of the "itself“; the implicit becomes explicit,
the possible becomes real.
President Hugo Chavez Frias
Concerning this process, Chavez always cites
Marx's expression of the "counter-revolution" of the "opposition" as
being the "whip" of the Bolivarian Revolution. According to Hegel, all
these involve "Entfremdung“ (estrangement) from the original form and the realization of the essence in a higher form of existence.
In Venezuela, like elsewhere, the
worker is alienated because labour is alienated. Now let us underline
the social relation of slaving for the multinationals and human need in
Venezuela and Latin America.
The Dialectics of Need and Labor
Here, where 80% of the population live in dire
poverty, human needs are always one step ahead of the available
economic resources. It is impossible to fulfill human needs, because
under "neocolonial" capitalism the goal to equalize human needs with
the organization of resources can scarcely be attained. To try to
alleviate this social problem, the Bolivarian Revolution aims at a more
equitative and just distribution of national income.
The crux of the matter, already Hegel, the
idealist, has explained. By producing something, we separate ourselves
from the product of our labor. Thus our idea does not continue to live
in our mind, we project it out of our body.
It is even worse, we labor and the boss thinks, gives orders.
Such then essentially is the anthropological
definition of Hegel of alienated labor. The manual laborer is condemned
forever to become separated, alienated, from the products of his labor.
The products of his labor, of his" labor force" (Marx), impoverish him
and enrich the transnationals. Philosophically, in a religious sense,
this idea Ludwig Feuerbach deepened even more.
- In 1844, in his Parisian Manuscripts, Marx
explained why revolutionary efforts, like those introduced here in
Venezuela, could improve the living standards of a people.
He stated that humanity is not condemned to
live "by the sweat of its brow,“ under alienated conditions forever.
Humanity can become free, its labor can become free, under specific
Marx criticized Hegel for having
neglected the aspect of labor in a class society, the alienation of
real man who produces capitalist commodities and surplus value.
Concerning that what is human, humanist and
ethical, concerning the "Moral Power" in Venezuela, the young Marx was
fascinated by Feuerbach’s anthropological humanism. He showed us how to
analyze capitalist relations, showing what dehumanizes and what is
Concerning rudimentary alienation in
"primitive," "pre-civilized" societies, by European scholars arrogantly
called "barbarism“ and "savagery,“ alienation had very much to do with
ignorance and fear. The still low degree of social consciousness of
indigenous peoples across the globe did not enable them to penetrate
scientifically the natural environment deeply or to understand the
forces or laws of Nature. However, this was not really a serious
historic problem, not in the Orinoco Delta, not in the Amazon Basin.
The real disaster of alienation originated with
the "discovery," the "Christianization," with "missionary education,"
with "religious socialization," with the Conquest, with the
introduction of slave labor, with industrial labor in America and
elsewhere. The mental holocaust of millions began with this massive
indoctrination of strange beliefs, rites, customs and traditions. This
is the origin of the current oligarchic impregnation of "psychotic
disassociation" in the minds of the Venezuelan people.
Now, suddenly outside his/her authentic field
of knowledge, an immense colonial area of enigmatic and un-mastered
phenomena was explained by a mass of strange rituals and alienating
conceptions, commonly known as "religion," "ideology," "education" and
- Thus the rulers, ruling class man, began to
assume supernatural powers, which had to be counteracted, neutralized
or won over. Many imaginary powers were fabricated, religious ones,
economic ones, invisible hands of the economy, etc.
As our African forefathers had demanded a good
harvest from the God of Rain, later under European colonialism, and
still in the era of "globalization" the Black descendant, the
"civilized savage“ was taught to beg: "Give us this day our daily
Meanwhile on the world market, during the
over-production of the Depression of 1929, grain was being destroyed to
keep prices high, and millions of children (till today) have no bread to eat.
And, should somebody, in a true Christian
spirit, try to materialize hungry prayers, then, like Chavez, s/he is
condemned by the oligarchic and corporate mass media as a "tyrant," a
Over five centuries of colonialism, with the
development of agriculture, craftsmanship and stock-breeding, higher
forms of alienation were engendered. The now “civilized“ colonized man
began to control Nature increasingly, but he also began to lose control
over the social process of production. He lost his land, his stock, his
knowledge. After the social division of labor, goods became converted
into commodities and were exchanged on the market. The laws of the
market began to rule the producers and later the manual laborers,
toiling for the multinationals, themselves became commodities that
could be bought and sold, be prostituted. In this sense, in our
latitudes, historically, slavery was the first organized system of
alienated labor; wage labor will be the last.
What happened here in Venezuela over the last four decades, under oligarchic rule, under Puntofijismo?
What does it mean when a Venezuelan worker
sells his labor power -- not labor -- to the Cisneros, Mendozas,
Capriles -- to a boss of a factory or a company? He sells his labor
power, part of his life energy, part of his life-time, to another, to
the capitalist, to live on like a parasite.
The worker loses control over a large part of his waking hours, for example, in Caracas, going to work (usually up to 2 hours), 8 hours at work, going home (up to 2 hours),
thus 12 hours, half-a-day of his daily life. The time which has been
sold to the employer belongs to him, not to the worker. He dictates
what the worker will or will not do during that time. He dictates what
the worker will produce, how he will do it, and where he will do it. He
is master over the worker's activity. The boss thinks, the worker only
acts -- here the modern mental holocaust begins, this is the
quintessence of contemporary alienation in Venezuela; this is really
what the huge mass media disseminate. To be victorious, this is what
the Bolivarian Revolution has to annihilate.
In the final analysis, capitalism
constantly extends the needs of the consumers. Up to a certain limit,
real human needs, like healthy feeding, proper housing and necessary
clothing, can be fulfilled. This is what the projects of the Bolivarian
Revolution try to realize.
However, capitalism -- CANTV, Telcel, Movilnet,
etc. -- must forever create new, artificial needs, has to commercialize
everything, love, death, lies, leisure, etc. All kinds of gadgets are
sold, cell-phones, a chess-computer with which one can compete, a
computer for washing dishes, dolls which speak to the baby, stifling
her creative imagination, etc.
Thus alienation becomes social and
psychological in nature. Human needs are extended beyond what is
rational, permanent dissatisfactions are being created. Of course,
corporate capitalism would cease to exist when all human needs were to
be fulfilled -- thus "wear-and-tear“ has to be built into the
commodities, they have to last only for a while -- all rubbish which
cannot be sold in the metropolis either is obsolete or is being dumped
into Venezuela, Latin America, the "Third World“ at exorbitant prices
... thus the pathology of social alienation spreads across the globe.
Thus human relations become „thing-relations“, money-relations. About this tendency towards "Verdinglichung“ (reification),
in Capital, Marx warned already. Bourgeois economic relations have
completely pervaded human relations. Man-Woman relations have become
money-relations; friendship flourishes on thing-relations; pure human
qualities like politeness, sincerity, respect, consideration,
helpfulness, beauty, love, truth, become the exploitative field of
touts, crooks and corruption.
Everything one urgently needs or wants to do, can only be achieved over the money-nexus -- this has already become a modus vivendi
in most "Third World“ countries. Peoples are being "dehumanized";
progressively they acquire a bourgeois or middle class mentality, in
reality, without possessing a cent of their own. All this occurred here
in Venezuela across the last decades.
Dis-alienation and Revolutionary Praxis-Theory
President Hugo Chavez Frias
To say that Venezuela, like the whole of
humanity, has the choice between Emancipation and Barbarism, between
the Bolivarian Revolution and US global fascism, is the same as saying,
that it has the choice between the ALBA and the ALCA, between
inexorable creative emancipatory dis-alienation and inevitable, savage
alienation in global capitalism.
Alienation, like capitalism itself, is not
God-made ... is not Devil-made ... it is a historically produced,
man-made, class-made evil, neither rooted in physical nature nor in
Thus, here in Venezuela, in Latin America,
alienation and capitalism can be unmade by man, by the real, true
species man, by emancipatory man proudly walking in upright gait, with
human worth, and not forever bowing and genuflecting, sprawled at the
feet of Mammon, kissing the filth and slime of the oligarchic "devils".
This is an intrinsic part of the praxis-theory of the current
Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela.
On August 15, 2004, ¡Hasta la Victoria Siempre!
Franz J. T. Lee