And so like it started, it has come to finish. The Bolivarian revolution started with an electoral result and it finished with another. What remains in the middle is the emptiness of a populist struggle, the disappointment of a struggle with no advancement but the advancement of disillusionment and fear of a past that was thought to have gone, becoming the present once more.
Thus the revolution, the act of historic social change has been reduced to an electoral procedure. For that matter 300,000 votes is the difference between a society experiencing revolution and one that does not. A procedure that can take place within the boundaries of bourgeois democracy, with exit polls, international media coverage, political analysts and all the drama modern bourgeois parliamentary politics entails once every four or five or six years. In the end it seems that ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’. And after fifteen years of revolution, Venezuelan society is left with the empty revolutionary task of defending an electoral result.
The issue here is not to quantify the region and the depth of social reforms that Hugo Chavez and the PSUV undertook in the past period or the manner through which they were financed (Although the reality of this populist means of financing for social reforms will bear down on the Venezuelan working class and peasantry in an intolerable manner at the time the populist project ceases to exist and the bill starts to become too big). But to recognize them and place them within the frame of reformism, executed within the boundaries of the bourgeois state and through its institutions. The task of a revolution is not to appoint a new manager of the bourgeois state but to end it from existence and substitute it with a new form of social government and administration. The Venezuelan working class did not undergo the process through which it established its own institutions of power that can challenge the bourgeois state. It merely handed over its representation as a class to a party not forged and born through the political struggle of the working class against its oppressors and the State, but in the first instance in the form of the MVR in order to support the political aspiration of an ideological group, and afterwards in the form of the PSUV, to consolidate bureaucratically the same ideological group’s position of State power. In doing so, it automatically rendered itself to nothing but a political pressure group. The populist alliance in turn as is natural for any reformist political force, through State financing of social programs managed to temporarily conceal from the biggest section of the working class the reality of the continuing existence of the class struggle. Thus the political soul of the Venezuelan proletariat was bought off, blinding the fact that as a class had not moved any further into a position of changing its economic and social circumstances and thus transforming its political environment to a classless form of existence.
The issue is not this or that reform. The issue is how will in the future, when the time will come for such an act, and such an act will come sooner rather than later, firstly by the present populist bureaucracy, then by the domestic ruling class and finally by the international financial oligarchy, the working class of Venezuela will defend these reforms. Through what institutions will it defend itself, when the State machinery will be turned against it to re-take what was once given, when every section of the society has been polluted by the bureaucratic stench of the current State apparatus? When every organization of the working class has been infiltrated by the bureaucracy, making it impossible for the workers to organize on the basis of an economic struggle, to defend their wages and rights, let alone a political one to reorganize and regroup as political force. It will stand defenseless, and politically exploitable. It will be the final nail on the coffin of this adventurism. For this, every so-called Marxist group that continuously propagated in favor of this populist project, proclaiming it a revolution, stands responsible for this political blinding of the oppressed classes of Venezuela.
The Venezuelan proletariat will soon face the reality of a renewed class struggle as the veil of adventurism and populism will start to disappear. It will need to regroup reorganize cutting itself free from the bureaucratic hand of the populist alliance. It will need to restructure its daily economic struggle and defense, and through that reemerge politically stamping its class and theoretical presence in bourgeois politics but at the same time slowly but steadily establishing institutions able to challenge the bourgeois State. From this the road to revolution can start.