Monday, June 05, 2006

Back to politics


More on the Bolivarian Revolution - Venezuela.
Where the mainstream media in this country portrays President Hugo Chavez as the next Fidel Castro, busily turning Venezuela into a Communist (or at least anti-US) dictatorship, the US left in general has welcomed Chavez uncritically as the new face of progressive struggle in Latin America.

Read it all, key point I want to take up:
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Venezuela was the enthusiasm shown by nearly everyone we met, regardless of their political outlook (or lack thereof, in some cases). Wherever we turned, people not only wanted to show us their favorite parts of town, they also wanted to share their analysis of the political situation. Whether they thought of themselves as pro-Chavez or anti-Chavez (or somewhere in between), people displayed no trepidation about sharing their opinions with us. This openness stood in stark contrast to our experiences in other Latin American countries, where much of the population is reserved, especially in discussing political matters. It was unclear to us how much of this enthusiasm was a result of the changes wrought by Chavismo, and to what extent it pre-dated his rise to power; many people claimed the openness was a new phenomenon, while others argued that it has long been part of the “national character.”

Regardless, it seemed to us that these unique circumstances presented an amazing opportunity for anarchists in Venezuela. In the US, it often seems that the biggest impediment to anarchist organizing is the sort of cynicism and irony that characterized the presidential election of 2004: how can people be convinced of the possibility of revolution if a majority think that everything revolves around picking the lesser of two evils? The situation in Venezuela is refreshingly different, because a massive section of the population is not only open to the possibility of radical change, but seems actively interested in comparing alternative visions and strategies. It remains to be seen whether the anarchists in Venezuela have the numbers, the resources, the skill and the fortitude necessary to have a noticeable impact on the ground. Nonetheless, through both propaganda efforts like “El Libertario” and grassroots projects like the Centro, anarchists have a real chance to change the political trajectory of Venezuela, and possibly even the continent.
I'll second that sentiment - although the SPGB roundly condemned reformism, the height of reformism - 1945-1950 (or thereabouts) saw the height of the SPGB (about 1,000 members). The current politics of fear ann managerialism relies on passivity - consumer voters rather thaan active citizens.

Hat tip:the Mutualist


Anonymous Gregg said...

the height of reformism - 145-1950 (or thereabouts)

You'd think schools would do more to teach children about the eighteen centuries of reformist socialism in Britain, and particularly the influence of Gramsci on the Roman Empire.

4:02 PM  

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