The current dilemma that the Venezuelan working class is facing is precisely of the end nature of the current revolutionary period. Over the past few months we have witnessed the increasing disillusionment of a large section of the population with the government of Hugo Chavez and its inability to bring about a solution to the social and economic problems that the vast majority of the population is facing. The theoretical bankruptcy of the Venezuelan social democratic party AD, under the current leadership of bourgeois representatives, on the one hand, and the socio-economic deficiency of the Venezuelan capitalism on the other, has placed the Venezuelan proletariat and peasantry in the midst of political obscurity and disarmament, and like a rug is pulled and ripped to pieces on the one side by a dog and on the other by a wolf.
The political rhetoric that Chavez used during the 1998 election campaign to poison the consciousness of the workers and peasants has now revealed it’s reactionary character as Chavez has steadily moved to establish his grasp over the country by establishing a bureaucratic regime able to stretch its will to every section of the Venezuelan state. The difference being that while in 1998 under the pressure of a mobilised militant labour movement the Venezuelan financial oligarchy, along with their foreign collaborators, were prepared to tolerate and even use to their advantage the election of a populist party and the move towards a more autocratic administration, they no see their economic and political position threatened. To conclude from this, however, that Hugo Chavez’s government de facto represents the interests of the proletariat and the peasantry in Venezuela is a philistine attempt to oversimplify the deep class contradictions that are present.
What it must be understood and stated a thousand times, is that the election of Hugo Chavez did not take place subsequent to the development of a revolutionary ferment amongst the consciousness of the Venezuelan working class, but as the product of the political degradation of the bourgeois society and it’s institutions. A loss of legitimacy that becomes particularly evident at times of economic crisis and thus increasing exploitation and impoverishment of the workers. The economic recession that countries like Britain and the United States have started to experience only recently, had already started to making it’s impact in countries that are the direct victim of global finance capital by the end of the 1990s.
In Venezuela, by 1998 the sudden drop in the oil prices exacerbated the economic problems the country was already facing. With almost 80% of the population living under the poverty line and an unemployment rate reaching 20% (unofficial figures), it was inevitable that the class struggle would reach pre-revolutionary proportions. The question in relation to the role, social democratic parties must play becomes once again starkly evident especially in relation to the period the Venezuelan working class in now passing through. Since, it was precisely the inability of the AD to provide the movement a clear revolutionary programme that threw the workers and peasants into the hands of an adventurist. While a historical extended analysis of the AD cannot take place in this article, it is necessary to state that the task for the successful completion of the current movement to the establishment of workers’ control of the productive forces can only be realised with the transformation of the AD into a revolutionary Party, able to influence and mobilise the working class along with the peasantry towards such direction.
This necessity is a now even more apparent as the opportunistic attempts of Hugo Chavez to buy off, in particular the peasantry by addressing Venezuela’s agrarian problem in the most reactionary manner, which will only lead to the further impoverishment and enslavement of the peasants into the hands of the so called free market, has deeply split the exploited classes. Leaving the majority of the proletariat in the grasp of the exploiters.
This so called opposition the Venezuelan bourgeoisie has organised can only be temporal, as Hugo Chavez or any Hugo Chavez that may come, will inevitably comply by satisfying their interests. Let nobody forget that in the first thee years of his government, Hugo Chavez’s main priority was the expansion of the non oil sectors by providing financial subsidies to the private sector, always combined with the introduction of new labour laws which would effectively weaken trade unions and allow greater labour flexibility. That the bourgeoisie are now voicing discontent towards his government lies solitarily, as stated above, in the fact that in his attempt to crush any possible workers movement finds it absolutely necessary to secure political influence in every sector of the state, an action that in itself becomes a threat to the ruling class’s presence in the Venezuelan socio-economic life.
The current situation is a testament to the fact that the ruling class is incapable of providing even the limited freedom that bourgeois democracy claims to entail. They dare to call upon the workers to march in protest and in support of bourgeois democracy, when it is precisely the failure of bourgeois democracy that has allowed for the first steps to take place towards the establishment of a deformed capitalist state. This state’s role will unconsciously become not that of diffusing the ruling class’s control over the Venezuelan society, but that of nourishing and nurturing it throughout this period in which capitalism has found itself in a crisis.
The necessity for the Venezuelan Social Democratic Party AD to develop a working class character and rid itself of any liberal influences is as ever urgent. The current disillusionment and political uncertainty that has penetrated the workers as a result of the betrayals they have experienced from their leaders, can easily be averted if the workers were to become armed with a clear class program by their Party. A program which will enable the workers to unite every exploited section and allow them to decisively sweep through any reactionary force.