Chavism: critical but unconditional ..

6 Sep
This post also features on Renegade Inc

With single voice, mainstream media trash Maduro for election theft  and tanking the economy.  As with Syria and North Korea, many buy such poppycock. This despite the fact leaders in the global south who won’t open their economies to IMF prescribed global value chain plunder, or who otherwise defy Wall St, are always  portrayed as ideologically driven incompetents and/or psychotic tyrants. Few join the dots. Few see the pattern:

Deranged dictator threatens America and abuses his citizens; take him out before he does more harm!  People buy it again and again, like kids watching Scooby Doo: “this monster’s real for sure!” Caitlin Johnstone

Johnstone’s context is North Korea but Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria spring readily to mind. Venezuela too: Honduras 2009 already forgotten. For weeks our media have screamed of July’s ‘fraudulent’ election but, when I posted Ricardo Vaz’s detailed rebuttal of their hypocrisy, an English friend and naturalised Columbian emailed. ‘Red herring’, she wrote. Hmm. She should notify said media, and while she’s at it her neoliberal president. Untrustworthy as western media are on Venezuela, historic tensions with its neighbour make Columbia’s even worse.

Media ownership [is] in the hands of wealthy families, large national conglomerates, or groups associated with .. the two main political parties. Wiki

I digress. For my friend, echoing the dominant narrative, the issue is failed Chavismo.  I offered space on my blog for her recipe for Venezuela. I hope she’ll accept. It’s rare for liberal critics of states resisting imperialism to offer alternatives, even in outline. That’s not hypocrisy. It’s that liberals are shielded from the horror of a system which must  subordinate everything  to profits. Few look beyond corporate media’s slit-window to see an appalling world order. Not grasping the extent of its criminal insanity, even doubting imperialism’s existence, they see no need for a ‘third way’. What’s wrong with the IMF way?

That hardly lets internationalists off the hook. Yes, in denouncing global theft and wars of profit risibly sold as humanitarian, ditto terrifying environmental destruction, we must be relentless. Equally though we need answers to well meant concerns. My friend cites Venezuelans pouring into Columbia. I don’t know who’s fleeing or why and neither, unless she leaves her affluent Bogata home for the border to hear their stories, does she. As with Saddam’s alleged WMDs, Assad’s sarin, Kim’s psychoses or Chavist meltdown, we’d be fools to take media reports as gospel. But blanket denial, while tempting in the face of billionaire propaganda, doesn’t help either.

Unlike my friend, I say imperialism threatens us existentially. (All westerners have some stake but for reasons beyond my scope it will lessen and in any case won’t protect us from either of the two likeliest endgames: nuclear war or environmental breakdown.) Then again, unlike those who uncritically and selectively defend their favourite movements – Ba’athist, Chavist, Stalinist, nationalist, theocratic – I say that in this imperialised world all such movements will be flawed. Some flaws are intrinsic to particular worldviews. Others stem from harsh choices imposed by imperialist hegemony. Those who accuse Chavez of overreliance on buoyant oil prices speak truer than they know: Washington has form on manipulating them to bend the disobedient to its will. Those who blame defiant leaders for the murderous effects of sanctions apply Alice in Wonderland logic. And those who see the key problem as Chavism pair skin deep analysis with touching credulity.

There’s no moral equivalence here. Chavismo’s sins are orders of magnitude below those of imperialism. So what is to be done?

I’m no Trotskyite. I’d love to be wrong but see no prospect of a vanguard party leading the proletariat to replace capitalism’s reckless exploitation, of labour and nature alike, with wealth creation planned by and for humankind. But amid the ruins of that Fourth International, one jewel still shines: the principle of critical but unconditional defence.

True internationalists will defend Maduro without reservation. Like Assad and Kim, he faces the might of imperialism and support must be unconditional. But we remain free to make criticisms; informed not by the West’s phoney tears but by analyses which highlight the shortcomings of all nationalist programs in an imperialist world, while standing shoulder to shoulder with those united under their banners.

4 Replies to “Chavism: critical but unconditional ..

  1. Not so much an Alice in Wonderland view by the comfortable armchair apologists of the post war imperialism more Malice in Blunderland when perusing the shattered landscapes of a planet and it’s environment occupied by those who truly see the existence of other countries and their populations as a barrier to their access to the necessary resources to maintain their comfortable way of life. Ignorance truly is bliss.

    Which is why the existence of everything and everyone outside of the US is considered a threat to “their” way of life because the feature world populations are in the way of “their” resources. Hence the consistent gangster capitlism behaviour elequently articulated by the late General Smedley-Butler.

  2. On this gloomy anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11, 2001, with so many consequent deaths and horrors, I also bow my head in sorrow to another dread 11 September, this one in 1973 when a CIA-funded coup brought a bloody end to a democratically elected socialist government in Chile.

    The parallels with the situation in Venezuela are many: prior to the coup, the tireless representatives of US elite economic interests had colluded with the Chilean moneyed class to drastically undermine the economy, organise middle-class strikes to disrupt services, spread demonising propaganda, foment civil unrest – and generally do everything possible to make ordinary people’s lives miserable, force the government into no-win choices and discredit the socialist leaders as authoritarian and incompetent.

    It didn’t work; so they brought in the tanks.

    Too many Chileans, pissed off but loyal, had appreciated what the government had managed to achieve in the teeth of mighty opposition and what it was still trying to do.

    Thus I offer a fine example of critical but unconditional defence: Chilean President Salvador Allende (the first Marxist ever to become an elected leader of a Latin American country and soon, alas, to die) was speaking at an open-air rally, trying to encourage support for his beleaguered administration, and he noticed a man in the audience holding a placard that said (the equivalent in Spanish of) “It’s a shitty government. But it’s MY government.” Allende jumped down from the platform and made his way into the crowd to shake the man’s hand.

    • Thanks for this Caroline. Good story about Allende.

      Last Thursday (Sep 8) Maduro said his government will decouple the bolivar from the dollar and consider a basket of currencies, most likely the yuan, as unit of account. The last leader to do similar was Saddam. He ditched petrodollars for euros in 2000 and overnight upped Iraq’s earnings by a double figure percentage. (The dollar as unit of account is but one of several ways in which the USA has for decades – certainly since Nixon took it off gold in 1971 – led the life of Reilly on the back of poorer countries.) Look what happened to Saddam, but the world, engrossed in fairy tales about toppling the evil tyrant and in any case clueless on matters economic or fiscal, never noticed.

      The Caracus move – if it actually goes ahead – is exciting and dangerous, coming at a time when dollar hegemony is under threat as never before; via the Beijing/Moscow Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank project, and China’s announcement this year that it will gold back the renminbi. See also my post of a year ago, perilous days.

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