Franz J.T. Lee, October, 2005
Why the unity and integration of Latin America is an issue of life or death...
More than three decades ago, in Southern Africa, we were occupied with problems such as:
Who will unite, integrate and change Africa?
What is the quantitative and qualitative strength of the African Revolution?
How to develop a victorious scientific práxis and philosophic theory for Southern Africa?
Meanwhile on a world scale many things have changed, however, not precisely how we had wished them to develop.
Is Apartheid really gone? Or is it very much alive in Israel and in the USA?
In fact, after political victory, after dismantling Apartheid, the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie, expressed this sentiment as follows: "This is not the South Africa for which I have ruined my life!" This defeatist feeling should be avoided here in America at all costs.
On the other hand, it is true that Southern Africa is today partially free from traditional colonial shackles, however, more than ever it is now caught up in the modern capitalist tentacles, in neocolonial pangs and corporate imperialist fangs of neo-liberal, fascist globalization.
Kindly note that in this and future articles to differentiate specific revolutionary action from everyday, common, repetitive acts, from "practice", scientifically, we will be using the Ancient Greek concept, praxis, and logically also its corresponding adjective "praxical," that is being coined by us, and which still will not be found in older versions of dictionaries.
Now, with reference to the current Bolivarian Revolution, let us briefly revive some of the fruitful African revolutionary observations of yesteryear, that is, relive Lenin's revolutionary praxis and theory, and their conversion into trans-historical lessons and weapons not only for contemporary African, Asian, Central and South American but also for Caribbean emancipatory processes.
In the 1960s, at the advent of African "decolonization", and on the revolutionary crest of the then political independence movements ... of Gandhism, Liberalism, African nationalism, Pan-Africanism and African socialism ... lively disputes resulted with reference to the African revolutionary subject, to its vanguard, to Lenin's "theory of a new party", but also to "the guerrilla as the masses in arms" (Kwame Nkrumah).
In South Africa, that had and still has advanced socialist and Marxist movements, Lenin's dispute with "The 'Rabotcheje Djelo'" in 1901-1902 was extraordinarily instructive. At the moment here in Venezuela, Lenin's views on how to deepen the revolutionary process are highly educative. (See: Cf. V.I. Lenin, "What is to be Done?“ (1902) in: Selected Works (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1960) Vol. 1, p.125-284).
It is well-known that at the turn of the 20th century, in his dispute with Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin was investigating the relationship between the spontaneity of the masses and economic policy. On the other hand, very carefully he studied the real relationship between spontaneity and revolutionary praxis and theory under severe conditions of acute oppression and repression. Relevant for us, in this special case, is that he studied this problem in an economically "under-developed," backward country, viz., in the Russian Empire.
From these analyses he drew general praxical observations and theoretical suggestions, especially of founding a revolutionary vanguard party, a socialist international, to permanently direct the global revolutionary struggles; all of them are valid for the coming "Third World" socialist revolutions.
We should note that Lenin's thesis was that the spontaneous mass movements of the oppressed would not automatically assume a socialist-revolutionary character but rather would tend towards a trade union conscious (middle class or even bourgeois oriented) policy.
He explained that in many countries, socialist ideas that contradict capitalist ideology and the spontaneous growth of the workers’ movement had initially arisen quite independently from each other, the former "as a natural and inevitable outcome of the development of thought among the revolutionary Socialist intelligentsia."
Contrary to Rosa Luxemburg, Lenin warned that spontaneous mass action, by its very nature is not permanent, is not constant, hence a revolutionary vanguard socialist party is indispensable to function as the locomotive of permanent revolution.
Building an effective, efficient vanguard party is one of the most urgent tasks of the Bolivarian Revolution.
However, according to Lenin, the spontaneous movement of the workers (and even of the peasants), would lead to the domination of (petty-)bourgeois or middle class ideology, especially because the small local bourgeoisie has a more varied structure and "has at its disposal immeasurable more means of dissemination."
Today in our case in Latin America, Lenin would talk about the monopolic possession and control of the national and international means of mass communication. He postulated that the reactionary tendency towards what he called petty-bourgeois "trade union consciousness" must be fought in two specific interconnected ways.
During the military coup and oil sabotage of 2002, we ourselves in Venezuela had a full dose of this kind of reactionary ideology, that was launched by the putschist and gambler Carlos Ortega and his Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV).
Furthermore, concerning the double-attack, he explained that on the political praxical plane, against the capitalist "trade-unionist" tendency has to be fought very vigorously, so as to allow the spontaneous workers’ movements and the revolutionary socialist process to merge into a single proletarian-revolutionary fighting social force, led by a socialist vanguard party, composed of the most conscious social elements, of peasants' and workers' leaders and of loyal Marxist intellectuals.
In this respect, Lenin told us, here and now, "What is to be done?":
According to him, firstly, to unify and integrate the revolutionary movement, we must formulate or restate our revolutionary praxis and theory in their true light and proportion and to subject them scientifically and philosophically to rigorous, stringent, constant revision.
Secondly, the comrades have to intensify revolutionary information campaigns, theoretical schooling and public agitation among the masses with a view not only to expose the exploitative conditions of economic life but also to achieve total political education of the masses, and of their leaders themselves.
Apart from this suggestion of launching revolutionary Bolivarian "Missions," the trans-historic relevance of Lenin's theories for the Bolivarian Revolution can be summarized as follows:
(a) that spontaneous mass movements of the oppressed (strikes, uprisings, etc.) cannot simply and 'mechanically' be equated with a revolutionary consciousness or policy, and
(b) that such occasional popular spontaneity points to concrete negative possibilities of socialist science and philosophy becoming divorced from revolutionary praxis and theory whenever the reformist ideological doctrine evolved from them suddenly presents an ossified "completely formulated program" of groups of "revolutionary" intellectuals or traitors, that is, of "escualidos" or "Chavistas without Chavez."
According to Lenin, such possibilities can only be obviated by a consciously established unity of the praxical, theoretical, economic and political class struggle, embedded firmly in the revolutionary, popular, mass base.
Surely, the above socio-political reflections directly concern the current stage of development of the Bolivarian Revolution. However, in our daily revolutionary struggle in Venezuela, the danger of praxis becoming repetitive, sterile practice divorced from fresh, germinating theory ... and even from the understanding of what is ossified, ruminated ideology ... is considerably high.
Furthermore, to develop our new socialism, as an intrinsic part of world socialism, theory has to be tested in a new social situation which differs considerably from previous European, Russian or Chinese conditions, that is to say, at first revolutionary theory has to concentrate on an analysis of American and Caribbean reality lest it would degenerate into sheer dogmatism.
Until now, summing up, our Bolivarian Marxists had great difficulty both in translating their scientific analyses into effective revolutionary theory and mass education, and in developing adequate socialist methods for the latter.
If our socialist friends are foreign, coming from metropolitan countries, like so many of them, generally, because of disinformation campaigns, they know very little about the concrete consciousness of the oppressed Latin American peoples; and, even if our true comrades and real compatriots come from the barrios, or even come as Bolivarian youth and intellectuals, only yesterday they have been able to work their way out of the generalized morass and mass of the oppressed, today still living in dire poverty and misery, at the cost of many ordeals, denials and inhibitions.
Furthermore, Lenin underlined that revolutionary theory must maintain its independence and has to strengthen itself against ideological influences arising from tactical alliances between "Labor and Capital", with the liberal-democratic camp, which, as we know in Venezuela, is the lair for neo-liberal vipers. He stated categorically: Without revolutionary theory, no revolution!
Note: he did not say: Without Ideology, no Revolution!
Concerning other burning issues, like armed self-defense, corruption, bureaucracy or rotation of governing ministers, Lenin had much to say. He also fought to solve the national and nationality questions, problems concerning agrarian reform and the fight against latifundia. He was fully aware of such revolutionary issues that haunt Venezuela and Latin America still today. These questions doubtlessly represent the most important problems that face radical revolutionary change in the "Third World."
The fact that it has been impossible to solve these problems, which affect the majority of the world population to this very new millennium, is simply due to the persistence of unequal exchange on the world market and of aggressive imperialism on our soil.
This is why the Bolivarian Revolution necessarily has to be anti-imperialist, why unity and integration of Latin America is an issue of life or death.