Hugo Chavez lost to the prolonged battle with cancer. He survived amongst us as a person who preferably fashioned himself as the iconic guide and leader of ‘the Bolivarian Revolution’. He reasserted the regional independence of Latin America, initiated economic & political reforms in Venezuela, thereby leading to a significant decrease in indigence,provisioning of improved health care services and free education to a large number of Venezuelancitizens. Venezuela and whole Latin America mourned his death. The mourners came into the streets and committed themselves to ensuring that Venezuelan bourgeoisie ‘will never return’ to the Miraflores Palace. For a decade & half, Chavez has demonstrated to them to believe that ‘the people united shall never be defeated’
Under the leadership of President Chavez Venezuelan government took back control of the national petroleum company PDVSA and utilized the oil revenues to build up the infrastructure and invest in the social services that Venezuelans so sorely needed. The government increased social spending by 60.6 percent, a total of $772 billion. The effect was notable as Venezuela is now the country in the region with the lowest inequality level, having reduced inequality by 54 percent, and the reduction in poverty by 44 percent.
The achievement of Chavezgoes beyond his attempts to uplift the poor masses in his own country. Expressing internationalism Chavez supported the ‘third-world’ countries in the region and across the world. He unequivocally opposed attacks on the Palestine and threats to Iran at international forum. He constructed the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) against FATA and established an exemplary model of cooperation between countries of his continent. These have been formidable moves of Chavez, for had thee at a time when bourgeoisie economic agenda through IMF and World Bank has left almost no space for any alternative economic model to successfully survive.
However, to remember comrade Chavez is also to recognize the historical process he was part of and to evaluate the revolution he led in his country. Ignoring this process would mean either an eulogisation of a person or allowing his approach ‘Chavismo’ to be reduced and appropriated in one or another kinds of leftist formulations that have emerged within broder left after the fall of USSR and East European socialist countries.
In the present world condition, when Capitalism seems indestructible and hegemony of International Finance Capital paramount, leftist formulations around the globe have either shifted to an understanding of agitating for a ‘demand impossible’within the hegemony of capital and its political counterpart liberal democracy. Or, it is engaged in underlining the futility of all struggles. The aim to retain something called ‘Marxism’ while changing it from its core is a classical dilemma of present world Marxist traditions.
Strange and a-dialectical attempts are being done to synthesize ‘reform’ with ‘revolution’ either to appropriate popular mass struggles into the ambit of Marxism or to legitimize the transformation of leftist formulations from revolutionary to reformist.
In a recent tribute to Chavez, Marxist Economist Prof. Prabhat Patnaik has offered such an appropriation of ‘Chavismo’ into Marxist traditions. He has stressed that ‘genuine, honest and consistent’ agenda of reforms would inevitably find itself to be pushed towards revolutionary position, for global capitalists are no longer placed in any empathetic concessionary mood to reforms. Differentiating the current historical situation (where economic contradictions are emerging very directly throughout the globe) with the classical conditions (of Chinese and Vietnamese revolutions, which he called were the Althuserian case of ‘ Over determination’, i.e., economic contradiction refracted through national contradiction),he has underscored little scope of direct confrontation of Labour with Capital owing to Global maneuverability of capital. That is to say, a direct economic contradiction throughout the globe in the present condition may not be sharpening the dialectics of labour &Capital, but always live with a threat of migration of Capital. Thus, the masses would see that any hope for genuine, honest and consistent reform would pass through a corridor of revolution. A ‘reform which entail an improvement in the economic conditions of the people, these reforms themselves if consistently adhered to would in fact increasingly be pushed to a revolutionary position.’
Here, it is a case of integration of ‘Chavismo’ within Marxist tradition with such a reformist formulation by invoking dialectics of reform & revolution. It is, in fact, an attempt to legitimize the retreat that leftist organizations are proposing in place of historical aims to change in economic relations, abolition of private property &establishing a new economic & social order. At the same time,it would also belittle the merits of “Chavismo” independent of Marxist traditions.
The merits of Chavismo lies in this fact: When Global capital ensured a systematic exclusion of the masses from active participation in social and political life, President Chavez as pointed by Zizek‘ not only “took care of the poor” in the old populist Peronist style, to speak for them, but seriously put all his energy into awakening them and effectively mobilizing them as active and autonomous political agents.’ The awakening and mobilization of masses aiming to change in economic relations and establishing an alternative social order is the historical agenda that Marxists traditions are expected to pursue. It can be underlined that the vision& aims of com. Chavez perhaps do not appear similar to the so-called Marxist goals for the simple reason that he never belonged to Marxist Camps. However, his aims certainly overlapped with the humanist aims of democratic camps, including Marxists. He dreamed turning our time into the Century of life. We recall the speech of this beloved comrade during his JNU visit:
Team of Tirchhispelling presents the above tribute and upholds the legacy of com. Chavez. We have been following and web-paging the intellectual and political march of President Chavez for quite some time with a view to enlarge and strengthen the Axis of Hope.
There is a true resurrection of the people today. We must invoke all of them to remake and rebuild the agenda of the South… for the spirit of unity, future and truth. Only the unity of the people will make us free. The 21st Century could be the century of true freedom and equality. Let it be the century of life.