Franz J.T. Lee, June, 2006
At this very moment a ferocious class struggle is sweeping across Venezuela
A while ago, I published a commentary on VHeadline.com, titled "Kwame Nkrumah: The dark face of the Bolivarian Revolution," in which I described the strange historic ways of the dialectical law of even, uneven and combined global development, with reference to the African and Bolivarian Revolutions, to Kwame Nkrumah and to Hugo Chavez Frias.
I underlined the necessity of learning from past revolutionary events, from world history: "Surely, Latin America and Venezuela have to create their own revolutionary praxis and theory, to realize their own socialism, however, ... our current Bolivarian relations to Africa should not be only diplomatic, economical or commercial; for the sake of our own emancipatory advancement, they have to be, all in one, historical, social, global and emancipatory. Only in this way, we need not go North, East or West, but straight forward."
Apart from the obvious differences in time and space, related to different centuries or continents, in the field of science and philosophy another important trans-historic coincidence becomes evident.
In 1966, the then democratically elected President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, was declared a "dictator" by the international mass media and while on an official visit to Hanoi he was toppled by means of a military coup organized by United States and British imperialism.
Thirty-four years after his death, officially at metropolitan universities, today still innocent, brainwashed students are learning that this "Black Monster" was a "Stalinist dictator."
Will this also occur to President Hugo Chavez Frias of Venezuela?
By means of developing consciousness, how could we avoid that this would happen?
What kind of consciousness is political, revolutionary and emancipatory?
In 1970, already living in exile in Conakry, Guinea, Kwame Nkrumah published a famous book titled "Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for De-Colonization," in which he elaborated his ideas with reference to a revolutionary theory and philosophy for the African Revolution, to guide it from African Nationalism, towards Pan-Africanism, and further towards African Socialism. Also in this case, the parallels are obvious.
In this book, Nkrumah explained how all pre-colonial, traditional African societies, how "ujamaa" (familyhood, Julius Nyerere), were essentially humanist, socialist and egalitarian. He also underlined the urgent necessity of a new logic, science and philosophy for the African liberatory movements that should supersede western, capitalist, unilateral methods of thinking and their corresponding racist, dominating and dominant absolute truths. In his own words, "the principles which animate capitalism are in conflict with the socialist egalitarianism of traditional African society."
Hence, Nkrumah already summarized the dangerous class contradictions of our epoch of self-destructive globalization, of "socialism or barbarism" (Marx): "the principles which animate capitalism are in conflict with the socialist egalitarianism of traditional African society." (ibid.)
"Till today, among revolutionary groups Nkrumah's Pan Africanism is still the most popular political philosophy in all Africa. This was verified by a poll carried out by the BBC Africa Service. Along with Karl Marx, who still enjoys global fame, Kwame Nkrumah was voted by the African listeners "Man of the Millennium."
Now, thirty-five years later, after the publication of Nkrumah's "Consciencism" (1970), on June 20, 2006, President Chavez and his government launched the Revolutionary Movement Conscience (Movimiento Conciencia Revolucionario" (MCR), which forms an integral part of the "Proyecto Gran Nacional” (Big National Project), and which is aimed at strengthening the spirit of the "Political Bloc of Change" (Bloque Politico del Cambio, BPC), and at winning ten million votes in the next presidential elections planned for December 3, 2006.
On June 22, 2006, at the celebration of the 180th anniversary of the "Congreso Anfictionico," held at the University of Panama., in his address, President Chavez pointed out that the theoretical point of departure of continental integration, of the “Proyecto Gran Nacional” is "Conciencia" (Consciousness, Conscience), more precisely, it is "con ciencia," is scientific, is scientific knowledge.
Theoretically, he elaborated the five points of his political project: inter alia, by describing "conciencia" itself, its search for current knowledge, concretely based on past reality; also, extensively he explained the meaning of individual and collective popular will power to change corrupt society based on conscious knowledge, correct political actions, communal decisions and revolutionary strategy. Finally, he explained that "will power is like faith, it can move mountains."
Finally, now concerning past scientific and philosophic knowledge, Nkrumah's "Consciencism" of the epoch of de-colonization in Africa, and Chavez' "Conciencia" in the era of globalization, could learn from one another, but all of us could learn something really revolutionary, authentically socialist, from Georg Lukacs' classic, "History & Class Consciousness" (1920).
With all the freedom in the world, many authors deny their excellent works of youth, some even became classics, they declare them as youthful "sins," among the most famous ones we find Max Horkheimer, Georg Lukacs and Heinz Dieterich, and yet their early works really let Schroedinger's Cat out of the Box.
Introducing the problem of workers' "conciencia," Lukacs reminds us of a very important statement of Marx concerning "consciousness": "The question is not what goal is envisaged for the time being by this or that member of the proletariat, or even by the proletariat as a whole. The question is what is the proletariat and what course of action will it be forced historically to take in conformity with its own nature." (Karl Marx: The Holy Family)
Hence, consciousness is a social class category, and is an intrinsic element of revolutionary class struggle. "Conciencia" outside the workers' class struggle in Venezuela, in Latin America, is simply lame, cannot nurture and cultivate itself, cannot confront world fascism. If it should be the matrix of a whole project and strategy, then it should really have a solid, consolidated social class base.
According to Lukacs, who like anybody else is not perfect, what is the meaning of class consciousness?
By formulating the respective related revolutionary questions, he indicates the complexity of social and class consciousness: "The question at once branches out into a series of closely interrelated problems. First of all, how are we to understand class consciousness (in theory)? Second, what is the (practical) function of class consciousness, so understood, in the context of the class struggle? This leads to the further question: is the problem of class consciousness a ‘general’ sociological problem or does it mean one thing for the proletariat and another for every other class to have emerged hitherto? And lastly, is class consciousness homogeneous in nature and function or can we discern different gradations and levels in it? And if so, what are their practical implications for the class struggle of the proletariat?"
Here in detail we cannot summarize the contents of this excellent Marxist work on proletarian consciousness, however, we strongly recommend that the Bolivarian comrades analyze and criticize it profoundly in their study circles of developing an own "ideology."
However, very briefly here we will cite the core of Lukacs' scientific deliberations and philosophic reflections. He explained that there is a huge distance between individual "consciousness" and "working class consciousness": "Thus we must never overlook the distance that separates the consciousness of even the most revolutionary worker from the authentic class consciousness of the proletariat. " (ibid.)
He explained that the revolutionary struggle is not only a struggle against external enemies, for example, against the local exploiting upper classes, or external against Yankee imperialism, but also one against oneself, against the master -- slave relations, against the working class itself as an exploited class.
Here neither labor nor the worker is being glorified. Both are part and parcel of total human alienation.
"But even this situation can be explained on the basis of the Marxist theory of class struggle and class consciousness. The proletariat only perfects itself by annihilating and transcending itself, by creating the classless society through the successful conclusion of its own class struggle." (ibid)
Also in Venezuela, the daily labor process is the material matrix of class struggle, it generates a collective social consciousness against human alienation, that negates reformism, the production of new antagonist social classes, class consensus, impunity, corruption and bureaucracy.
In Ghana, Nkrumah knew this very well, that is why he wrote the book, "Class Struggle in Africa," and thus became the most hated president by all world imperialists. Also, here we encounter a similitude between Nkrumah and Chavez.
Whether Chavez calls for an individual, social or class consciousness, this will not affect the class hatred of the Cisneros, Mendozas or Capriles in the least.
As underlined in previous commentaries, the least hat the comrades discuss here is the class struggle.
Are we really dreaming about installing a utopian socialism without class struggle, without the threat of atomic bombs?
At this very moment a ferocious class struggle is sweeping across Venezuela, and it is accompanied by another possible military intervention, in fact, if we are not very careful, we may not even see the presidential elections of December 2006.
From the point of view of social consciousness, what deepening of the revolution within the revolution in Venezuela really means, Lukacs explained as follows: "The proletariat will only have won the real victory when it has overcome these effects within itself. The separation of the areas that should be united, the diverse stages of consciousness which the proletariat has reached in the various spheres of activity are a precise index of what has been achieved and what remains to be done." (ibid.)
Because of praxical and theoretical insecurity, many comrades in the Bolivarian Revolution still do not realize as yet that to gain a social self-consciousness, a class consciousness, two requisites are fundamental: "The proletariat must not shy away from self-criticism, for victory can only be gained by the truth and self-criticism must, therefore, be its natural element." (ibid.)
Hence, President Chavez, "Conciencia" can only be Class Consciousness