8 February, 2010 — Solidarity Economy
The challenges facing 21st century socialism in Venezuela
“In Venezuela the biggest threat to the revolution does not come from the right-wing political opposition but from the so-called ‘endogenous’ or ‘Chavista’ right wing, in that chunks of the revolutionary bloc, including state elites and party officials, will develop a deeper stake in defending global capitalism over socialist transformation”’ — William I. Robinson
Interview with William I. Robinson, professor of sociology, University of California at Santa Barbara, by Chronis Polychroniou, editor of the Greek daily newspaper Eleftherotypia
Chronis Polychroniou: There are scare stories coming from Venezuela. The border is heating up, infiltration is taking place, a new Colombian military base near the border, US access to several new bases on Colombia and constant subversion. Is the regime concerned about a possible invasion? If yes, who is going to intervene?
William I. Robinson: The Venezuelan government is concerned about a possible US invasion and certainly an outright invasion cannot be ruled out. However I think the US is pursuing a more sophisticated strategy of intervention that we could call a war of attrition.
We have seen this strategy in other countries, such as in Nicaragua in the 1980s, or even Chile under Allende. It is what in CIA lexicon is known as destabilisation, and in the Pentagon’s language is called political warfare — which does not mean there is not a military component. This is a counterrevolutionary strategy that combines military threats and hostilities with psychological operations, disinformation campaigns, black propaganda, economic sabotage, diplomatic pressures, the mobilisation of political opposition forces inside the country, carrying out provocations and sparking violent confrontations in the cities, manipulation of disaffected sectors and the exploitation of legitimate grievances among the population.
The strategy is deft at taking advantage of the revolution’s own mistakes and limitations, such as corruption, clientalism and opportunism, which we must acknowledge are serious problems in Venezuela. It is also deft at aggravating and manipulating material problems, such as shortages, price inflation and so forth.