Venezuela: the advancing counter-revolution and how to fight it

The fascist bourgeois opposition, with the support of North American and European imperialism, threatens to crush the Venezuelan revolution and to wreck its achievements. The fascist attacks, in working-class neighbourhoods and against Chavista, are a taste of what is to come if the opposition takes power. This ultra-reactionary opposition must be defeated now, and only the workers’ revolutionary initiative can achieve this.

Maduro’s government is completely incapable of facing the counter-revolution. Indeed, it is actually undermining the revolutionary forces by trying, at all costs, to maintain capitalism and and making conciliations with the bourgeoisie. Its policy of privatisations and concessions to international capital only weakens the revolution. Its belief in the possibility of a deal with the opposition has absolutely no foundation in reality. With the bourgeoisie’s economic sabotage, the result of Maduro’s government has been a lack of food, medicine, etc. And the government has already shown to be incapable of solving this situation.

The estrangement of sectors of the proletarian masses from the government is a consequence of the pro-capitalist policy that Maduro maintains, and which is causing more and more suffering for the workers. The government’s repressive action, including against sections of the left that are critical of it, the attacks on party freedom, and the persecution of left-wing militants are proof of the government’s political failure. Against the background of economic chaos and suffering of the masses, a situation arose where an offensive of bourgeois reaction grew in the streets. Its fascist bands have already killed dozens of people.

What is failing in Venezuela is Maduro and the policy of class conciliation. It is not the revolution that failed. Those that failed were the bureaucratic leaders, supposedly socialist but in fact pro-bourgeois, who are entrenched in the government.

The revolution has expended gigantic forces in the last 20 years and the masses have mobilised in its defence every time it has been under threat. They have demonstrated by the millions, taken over factories, forced the counter-revolutionaries who had kidnapped Chávez to bring him back, fought against sabotage and the bosses’ “strike” by taking over PDVSA and other companies to keep them functioning.

The Chavista masses were giants in the struggle to defend and deepen the revolution. And they still have huge reserves of fighting strength, as they have been showing in recent weeks. Their leaders were the ones who failed. They were incapable of deepening the revolution by breaking with the bourgeoisie and expropriating capital, thereby creating chaos with the useless reformist idea of “regulating” capitalism.

Today, all the achievements of Chávez’s time (stability in employment for all workers, free public health and education, quality social housing, universal social security, and much more) are threatened by the policies and the inability of Maduro and his friends, opening the way for the fascist terror of the counter-revolution. One cannot place any confidence in this government. The workers should rely on their own strength and organisation alone.

In the face of the fascist offensive, the workers need to organise popular assemblies in the neighbourhoods and the factories, form armed self-defence committees, and confront the fascists. Only the general arming of the workers can save the revolution.

All power to the Constituent Assembly

The National Assembly is the bunker of the fascists. The revolutionaries ought to build their own. Maduro convened a Constituent Assembly with the aim of negotiating with the opposition. Once again, he reached out to the counter-revolutionaries on the very night after millions of Venezuelans had faced the fascist bands in order to vote on the elections he had called. It is time to build an independent revolutionary fortress and to face and defeat the bourgeois opposition.

The revolution does not need new laws within the framework of capitalism. That is exactly what is defeating the revolution. What is necessary is to expropriate capital, redistribute the land, cancel the foreign debt, declare the monopoly of foreign trade, and plan the economy in the interest of the people and not of the profits of a minority of parasites.

The proletarian people of Venezuela have clung to this Constituent Assembly as a way of defending themselves from the bloodthirsty right, and millions have participated in these elections. It matters very little what Maduro’s intentions were, or the actual number of participants – there were millions. If a vanguard of millions has rallied to elect representatives for a Constituent Assembly in defence of the revolution and to confront the right, then it is time for these popular proletarian representatives to follow through and take all power. This is the instrument that is at hand to fight, to unify the millions of workers, peasants and young people in defence of their immediate interests.

It is necessary to submit to this elected Constituent Assembly a motion supporting “All Power to the Popular Constituent Assembly”, with the appointment of a government answering to the Constituent Assembly formed by its fiercest and most recognised members.

  • All power to the Constituent Assembly to organise the armed defence of the revolution,
  • Cancel the foreign debt that strangles the country,
  • Decree the immediate freezing of all prices and a decent salary for workers,
  • Expropriate the banks and all speculative capital,
  • Expropriate the Polar conglomerate, as well as all the large national and multinational companies,
  • Expropriate all TV and Radio networks in the hands of the opposition,
  • Declare the Agrarian Reform in all the latifundia,
  • Cancel the Special Zones and all the concessions and privatisations given by Maduro to national and international capital,
  • Confiscate and distribute to the population all food that has been diverted and hidden by the capitalists,
  • Organise the arming of the workers and of the 2 million popular reservists, fraternising with the Chavista soldiers,
  • Arrest the leaders of the reactionary bourgeois opposition and constitute Popular Tribunals to try them.

Such a revolutionary Constituent Assembly would revive the forces of the Venezuelan revolution and would arouse a wave of support and solidarity throughout the Americas and the world. Proletarian struggles against every capitalist government would intensify, thus weakening the imperialist ability  to attack the revolution.

Revolutionaries and reformists who have lost their head

A large number of currents that claim to be socialist and revolutionary are at present disoriented throughout the world, but in particular in the Americas. Some have completely lost their mind in the face of Maduro’s policies and have taken to shouting “Down with Maduro”, objectively crossing to the side of reaction.  If Maduro were to fall today, he would be replaced by a semi-fascist government of the bourgeois National Assembly or a military coup. Drawing a parallel with Brazil, with due proportion, it would be analogous to supporting the impeachment of Dilma, whichwas organised by Temer, the PSDB, and almost all the right-wing parties.

Others, incapable of independent political thinking, believe that support for Maduro is the only thing that can be done. But how can one support precisely those who allowed the situation to get to this? They do so because they are also prisoners of the reformist programme that claims there is no life outside capitalism. Their position is disastrous because it closes all the doors to the masses, who are condemned to choose between bourgeois reaction and Maduro’s chaotic capitalist policy. This can only lead to the demoralisation of the masses. That is what the PT almost achieved in Brazil.

Others, confused, attempt to distance themselves from these two sectarian variants and believe it possible to defend the fall of Maduro without joining forces with the right-wing opposition, placing themselves in a “third camp”. They cry out for overthrowing Maduro and crushing the right-wing opposition without any sense of reality or proportion. This force does not exist in Venezuela today. It can only arise from the process of struggle against the right and mostly from the Chavista bases of the revolution.

Can the Russian Revolution save the Venezuelan?

This year, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. It’s high time some comrades would learn something from it.

In August 1917, the Kerensky government of the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks (the reformists of the time) wanted to continue the imperialist war, which drowned in blood the workers and peasants dressed as soldiers at the front. Bread was lacking in the cities, and the landowners reigned in the fields. The Bolsheviks, led by Lenin and Trotsky, fought under the slogans of “Peace, Bread and Land” and were harshly repressed. But, as Lenin used to say, they continued to patiently explain the situation to the workers.

Kerensky ordered the destruction of the Bolshevik press and organised a slanderous campaign, claiming that Lenin and Trotsky were “agents of the German Kaiser”. Finally, after the July demonstrations led by the Bolsheviks, he ordered their arrest. Trotsky was arrested and Lenin had to seek refuge clandestinely in Finland.

By the end of August, General Kornilov, commander-in-chief of the Army, attempted a fascist coup to liquidate the revolution and re-establish the monarchy.

The Bolsheviks were being persecuted: Lenin was underground, Trotsky had been arrested and the peasants and workers were being decimated at the front. All this was due to the actions of Kerensky. No one in their right mind can say that Maduro is worse than Kerensky.

The armed workers and sailors went to the prison where Trotsky was being detained and demanded to speak to him to know how to stand in face of Kornilov’s offensive. Trotsky explained that at that moment, without giving any support to Kerensky, they should rest their rifles on Kerensky’s shoulder and shoot at Kornilov. Afterwards, they would settle accounts with Kerensky.

Lenin sent letters to the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party on the 28th and 30th of August, where he gave the same orientation to the CC. He explained that in no way could one support the government, but that the goal at that moment was to defeat Kornilov. One had to turn all forces against the reactionary coup. He said that they should continue to denounce Kerensky for his inability to defend the revolution and for his criminal policy, but at the same time call on the workers to fight together against the reactionary general.

With this independent revolutionary policy, the Bolsheviks defeated Kornilov. They won over many of the general’s own troops and dispersed the rest of his forces, but also won the support of the majority of the masses of workers and soldiers. In October, they took power with the support of the vast majority of workers, peasants, soldiers, and sailors.

Maduro’s supporters are the Mensheviks of our time. They are those who would love a popular front with the bourgeoisie, much like the leadership of the PT who led their party to the current disaster. They can only reason within the constraints of capitalism and therefore even adopt Keynesianism as a popular left-wing policy. This despite the fact that Keynes himself wrote that his policies were aimed at stopping Bolshevism!

Those who cry for the fall of Maduro, while the modern Kornilov is at the gates of Caracas, are infantile revolutionaries who, had they any weight (which is not the case), would be rendering a service to the counter-revolution, regardless of what they desire. But the world is not made simply of what we desire.

To the latter, we challenge them to find in the writings of Lenin during 1917 a single mention of “Down with the S–R/Menshevik government” or “Down with Kerensky”. Instead, they will find slogans such as “No confidence on the Provisional Government”, “Down with the 10 capitalist ministers”, or “All power to the Soviets”. All these meant, in effect, all power to the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, who still commanded a majority among the masses. This is the exact opposite of what these comrades do today.

Only when the Bolsheviks won the majority in the Soviets did they organise the insurrection and took power. To get there, they had to defeat Kornilov whilst still under Kerensky’s government.

In this centenary year of the Russian Revolution, would it not be possible for those who claim its heritage to learn a little about what happened in that year of 1917, under the brilliant leadership of Lenin and Trotsky?

  • Long live the 1917 Russian Revolution!
  • Long live the Venezuelan Revolution!
  • All the power to the Constituent Assembly!
  • Popular tribunals, prison and trials of the fascists!
  • No payment of foreign debt!
  • Money for food, wages, and health!
  • Land Reform and expropriation of the banks and large companies!
  • Long live the international socialist revolution!

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