Students in Venezuela: The perspective of struggle against both Chavez and the opposition

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We are publishing a leaflet by a close contact of the ICC about the student movement in Venezuela. It was produced by the comrade at the height of the movement and distributed at a student assembly held on the 22 June in one of the lecture halls of the Universidad Central de Venezuela.

We share the comrade's viewpoint, particularly the perspective posed by the movement: "It is towards the proletariat that the assembles organised by the young today throughout the country have to direct themselves, it is through discussion of the revolutionary potential of this class that the young will find the means to strengthen their movement, to orientate their struggle in the only direction that makes sense: that of the struggle of the working class against all the social inequalities of the capitalist system".

It is two months since the student movement began, and we can see that there has been a loss of impetus compared to the first few weeks. This has been brought about by the joint action of the forces of the bourgeoisie in power and in opposition, who have made it impossible to prevent the movement being identified as one more part of the opposition. In order to do this the student leaders linked with one or the other gang have been mobilised. The danger is that not only this student movement, but any social movement in Venezuela that tries to place itself outside of the strait-jacket of the political polarisation imposed by Chavistas and the opposition, will end up getting caught up in just such a trap.

Nevertheless, despite the actions of the opposition and the government, the student movement has not finished, but it is rather ‘in recess' during the holiday period. The conditions that gave birth to it, the growth in poverty, criminality, the high cost of living, etc, not only continue but are becoming increasingly unbearable.

We have also seen the slow beginnings of the mobilisation of the workers on their own class terrain: the oil workers (accused by the government of being oppositionists) have carried out several protests against the laying off of more than 1000 drilling workers and delays in the discussion of collective contracts; public sector employees have also being pushing for a discussion of the collective contracts, delayed for a year; transport workers have threatened a general strike due to the daily killings of drivers and assaults on passengers, etc...The workers' discontent is such that the official unions, for example the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores and the oil sector unions, have had to begin to ‘oppose' the government, as a way of channelling workers' discontent.

This corroborates what we said in our article that analysed the student movement that it is an expression of the social discontent that exists in Venezuelan society. Thus it will not be necessary to have a ‘hot autumn' for the bourgeois hoax that is Chavismo's ‘Socialism for the 21st century' to start to be exposed. ICC, 20/8/07


Rebellion of the innocents or the implosion of ideology?


The youth protests that have flowered on the political and social scene of this country in the last few weeks, whose main protagonists have been university students (private and autonomous), as well as students of the education sector, have been an important political movement. Though burdened with certain demands (defence of the freedom of expression and protests against the closure of RCTV), this movement has opened the floodgates of an interesting scenario where, from now on, the working class can develop its struggle against the representatives of the capitalist system.

We will begin by making some things clear: we have to salute the spontaneity, the calmness and strength that this movement has shown since the beginning. This clearly place it outside of the influence of the antagonistic political factions that buttress Venezuelan capitalism and which have dominated the political scene over the last 8 years.

We need to look at the shape of these factions of capitalism. On one side is the faction that defends the liberal orientation of capitalism and which includes elements of the ‘critical left', remnants of Stalinism who used to flirt with Chavismo and who today are against it, as is the case with MAS, BR, Douglas Bravo, Pablo Medina, etc. Cohabiting with them we find recalcitrant factions of the right: the residue of COPEI, the Church, Primero Justicia, retired military men, along with the Centre Right with the Social Democrats around AD, Alianza Popular, Un Nuevo Tiempo etc, and a union fraction tinged by various orientations. All of these good gentlemen declare opposition to the regime controlled by Chavismo.

On the other side, we find the state capitalist model as the alternative to the crisis of capitalism. Those in this faction nestle under a posture of recalcitrant nationalism, tinged by an ideology based on Bolivarianism and militarism. It is important to highlight the theoretical framework that serves as the support of this movement. This is made up of the counter-revolutionary traditions of Stalinism, the guerrillas movement of the 60's, the experience of the ‘heroic Cuban revolution', which today is caricatured in the snobbery of Chávez's anti-imperialism. This rag bag of ideologies are the foul-smelling leftovers of Trotskyism, anarchism, Gramsci-ite pedagogy of the oppressed, mystifications about Afro roots and nativism, liberation theology and evangelism, Guevarism, Islamism etc. All this ideological vomit is the preamble to the piece of nonsense that is called ‘the socialism of the 21st century'.

These two capitalist factions have used different methods in order to try and capture the youth movement which today is shaking the homeland of the god Bolivar. The first, the petty-bourgeois and whining opposition, is trying to ride the crest of the wave, using the defence of freedom of expression and RCTV as its slogan, but the youth put a break on this by telling them that there was no room for them in this movement, and that this movement has nothing in common with their reaction or methods of struggle.

The second, at the beginning was panicked. Chávez in a livid and threatening speech on national TV told the parents of the children to reprimand and control them. As this drivel didn't work, they then resorted to summarily condemning them as the pawns of imperialism, as enemies of the motherland, as little bourgeois from the private universities who received counter-revolutionary instructions over the internet from the Empire. What bollocks! These obscenities are clearly not working; they are the product of a whole reactionary culture that is part of the theoretical repository of the ideologies of ‘Socialism for the 21st century.' Nor is the advice that Chávez desperately asked for at the enclave held in Cuba, called by the mummifed Fidel and the cocky Daniel Ortega. This wretched person was brought to Caracas by Chávez in order to besmirch the students who were looking for a political space within the class struggle.

The fear and cowardice of the regime was made clear in the pathetic attitude adopted by Madame Cilia Flores and Chávez himself when they furiously scolded the young who had left the environs of the National Assembly after fulfilling their mission of rejecting, through the right of reply, the shabby and slanderous accusations of the cretins of the Chavist parliament, thus again clearly demonstrating their independence. This was also demonstrated when they were ambushed in the concourse of the Parliament by Chávez and the ‘heroes' of the student section of Chavismo who tried to trap them. These actions show the wearing out of their accusation about the young being agents of imperialism and coup plotters.

We can see that the militant forces of reaction, Chavismo as much as the opposition, have not been able to shackle the movement of the young.

The prison in which the young have been confined is precisely the one that is dearest to them: the universities. The university, as a status institution, is the organism where all of the ideological justifications for the fundamental social and economic relations of capitalism are refined. The confrontation between the autonomous and private universities boils down to an antagonism about two visions, Chavismo's Gramscian vision of what education ought to be, particularly what must be imparted in the universities and, on the other side, the traditional conception. This is nothing more than a turf war between gangsters over how the universities will serve to impose their liberal or state capitalist conceptions. The demonstrations called by the rectors of the autonomous and private universities was a manoeuvre whose aim was, in the first place, to engrave in the minds of the young the bourgeois slogans of freedom of opinion and expression, and the defence of the instrument par excellence for capitalism's stupefying of society: television. Another aim was to tie them to the broken-down car of the defence of university autonomy. The universities have shown themselves to be the ideal instrument for drawing the young away from the direction that their movement instinctively takes towards the class struggles, towards contact with the only class that has a revolutionary historical perspective: the working class. It is towards the proletariat that the assembles organised by the young today throughout the country have to direct themselves, it is through discussion of the revolutionary potential of this class that the young will find the means to strengthen their movement, to orientate their struggle in the only direction that makes sense: that of the struggle of the working class against all the social inequalities of the capitalist system; the struggle for the destruction of the state at whose head we find either Chávez or the liberal bourgeoisie. In short, the direction towards real socialism, the classless, communist society.

We are En La Barricada

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