Necessary Reflection: Where are We Going? What Do We Do?

8 July 2019 — Internationalist 360°

Gerónimo Paz

These are the questions that we most ask ourselves in these times of crisis, uncertainty, anguish in the face of our own destiny and that of the country. For those of us who are concerned with the commitment to make humanity fairer and are part of the Bolivarian historical watershed, the current picture of the country should summon us to a serious effort of debate and reflection to seek answers from a transformative perspective aimed at finding a real and possible horizon to overcome the crisis.

In order to do so, it is necessary to have great insight when diagnosing the situation. Not with an inquisitorial attitude but neither with evasive and negationist positions about reality. Only the truth will set us free, we could say paraphrasing the Bible. One can be critical and loyal at the same time. Moreover, ethically, to be loyal one must first be critical. Equally, one can be patriotic and irreverent; there is no antagonistic contradiction in this, as the seasoned Marxists say.

It is true that we have come this far, to the deepest and most devastating crisis of living conditions of the majorities that we have had in all our republican history, as a consequence of multiple factors. The foreign aggression is one, the systematic and continuous plan of sabotage, of sedition, of permanent conspiracies, undoubtedly has affected to a great extent the plans and policies of the Venezuelan government and State. We all know that from the very moment that this process was declared to be nationalist, popular and democratic from a logic that does not correspond to the liberal one, the attack by the North American economic and political power began. Not only has it not ceased, but it has been escalating until it constituted a real and true unconventional war that seeks to undermine the economic, political, defensive, psychological, symbolic capacities of the country and of the State in order to subordinate it to the interests of American financial and energy power.

It is also true that the exhaustion of the extractive petroleum monoproducer model adds a key factor that significantly influences the economic component of the crisis. An economy subject to the changes of economic cycles that dominate market demand, especially at a time when capitalism moves in an unstable way as a result of its own contradictions, it is inevitable that it will be affected according to the increases or decreases in the prices of its main source of income. The rentier model not only configured an economic model but also a model of State, a way of doing politics, clientelism, an economic elite without a vision of national productive development and also a social culture very marked by paternalism. The failure to concentrate the energies capable of radically changing this has perhaps been the greatest failure of the Bolivarian revolution. It was proposed as strategic objectives, in the discourse, in the programs, in the plan of the homeland. So what happened? This is a crucial question. Why don’t we make significant progress in overcoming the rentier economic model and with it all its ballast, its political, social and cultural scum?

This inevitably leads us to the need for a profound, integral assessment of these twenty years of revolution. The construction of a transforming solution to the crisis will not be possible without this exercise. The crisis of the Bolivarian revolution, its limits, its successes and failures, its internal contradictions, must be placed within the framework of the debate as a key factor or variable of the complex and challenging moment that the country is experiencing. Recognizing that the revolution is living through an organic crisis, a crisis of its transforming impulses, is not the problem, but what are its causes, what caused this revolutionary crisis, not from the old Marxist concept, but from the perspective of a country project that lost the capacity to sustain itself as an alternative for the national majority. Not because it is not so theoretically or programmatically, or even strategically, but because it does not seem so in reality, because by errors or by the efficiency of the psychological and communicational war campaign the enemy has won over us the battle of perception.

To be unaware of the serious symbolic crisis and its signifiers of the socialist proposal in the national common sense would be to not have our feet on the ground. We are going through a profound hegemonic crisis as an expression of an ethical crisis, a crisis of leadership, a crisis of credibility, a crisis of truth, a crisis of politics as an activity in function of the common good. The hegemonic crisis, the significant crisis of the Bolivarian revolution, is the most complex challenge facing us in terms of sustaining the transforming, democratizing and sovereignist horizon of this project.

The battle against American interventionism, against the criminal commercial and financial blockade, against the threat of war, must succeed in uniting us without hesitation, but it is also necessary that progress be made in the direction announced for overcoming the internal crisis of the Chavista project. Where was the dialogue for change and rectification? What happened to the change of cabinet? Where are they headed and what are the results of thousands and billions that are announced for productive activity, for the revival of the communes?

The country is in limbo, in a zone of non-viability as a country neither from the capitalist perspective nor from the socialist horizon. Meanwhile, the social drama of the majorities becomes unsustainable. It is urgent to build a transforming solution to the crisis, a realistic solution that does not mean renouncing our historical objectives but rather to put those objectives in a realistic horizon, possible from a revolutionary realism and that is the result of a broad debate with the whole country. What is possible and what is not possible? What tasks and objectives should we deepen and what should we postpone or redefine? How do we deal with the country’s great problems, the most serious corruption, for example?

How can we advance in a transforming solution to the crisis? How do we give back to the Bolivarian revolution its aura of change, of hope? How do we conquer once again the national majority? The first thing, from our modest point of view, is to give back to politics its altruistic, ethical, humanist values. In order to do so, we must advance towards a Radical Political Ethics as the foundation of public action, a conception and a praxis of doing politics that restores the trust of the people in those who govern, in those who practice it. This will require a new leadership, Ethical and Transformative Leadership, leaders who are instruments of the collective, focused on generating and leading dynamics that are based on processes of real change in all areas of social life, whose raison d’être is the empowerment of people, the radical democratization of society.

Then we need a program or proposal that calls for the national majority and not just Chavismo. The economic issue must be the starting point of a broad proposal; we cannot classify the economic model in an orthodox and dogmatic closed framework. A mixed humanist productive economic model seems to be the realistically revolutionary element. An economy where the State, the private sector and social property harmonize to generate the wealth we need as a society. In order to do this, we must have a legal framework that guarantees and provides security for each sector. In the private sector we should support small and medium enterprises as the engine of the economy. In the social sector, the Commune has great potential as a way to advance in the democratization of the economy. However, we cannot rule out the various existing forms of collective production such as cooperatives, producer associations, networks of free producers and members.

The radical democratization of political power must be a strategic axis to be deepened in the framework of an offensive to overcome the crisis. Retaking and radicalizing revolutionary democracy does not mean imposing flat forms of participation and empowerment. Revolutionary democracy must have as its premise the broadest possible participation, the empowerment of society in the most diverse forms that allow the emergence of new power relations within it. Commune? Yes, as many as possible, as many as are voluntarily assumed, that are the result of the will of the people in their territory, but what about those social sectors that do not assume the commune? That is why revolutionary democracy must be plural, diverse, creative in proposing, debating and agreeing on the mechanisms of participation and exercise of that democracy.

To overcome this profound crisis there are no shortcuts, no immediate answers or solutions. We must begin by building a great national, democratic consensus, whose central purpose is to preserve peace, recover economic stability, guarantee sovereignty and independence. To that end, the transforming forces must arm themselves with a strategic vision that allows us to navigate through a highly challenging and complex period that, without a clear and realistic vision, we will not be able to successfully confront. Much revolutionary realism, much breadth and sense of reality is required.

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