Month: May, 2010
Eva Golinger and the essence of revolution
worker | May 27, 2010 | 4:22 am | Analysis, Latin America | Comments closed

Arthur Shaw writes:

Eva Golinger, who usually dwells in the concrete in a highly empirical manner, stretches out into the theory of power, mentioning number of patterns and regularities that come into being, abide or pass away as the process in Venezuela develops.

In my comment, I’ll try to touch on one thing Golinger mentions — revolution.

Under a caption of “Power to the People,” Golinger writes: “The foremost achievement of the Bolivarian Revolution, as it is called in Venezuela, taking the namesake of Liberator Simon Bolivar, has been the inclusion of a mass majority, previously excluded and invisible, in the nation’s politics and economic decisions. What does this mean? It means that today, millions of Venezuelans have a visible identity and role in nation-making. It means that community members — without regard to class, education or status — are actively encouraged to participate in policy decisions on local and even national matters. Community members, organized in councils, make decisions on how local resources are allocated. They decide if monies are spent on schools, roads, water systems, transportation or housing. They have oversight of spending, can determine if projects are advancing adequately, and even can determine where the workforce should come from; i.e. local workers vs. outside contractors. In essence, this is a true example of an empowered people — or how power is transferred from a “government” to the people.”

This indeed is the foremost achievement. In other words, the foremost achievement of the revolution is the revolution itself. The above-quoted statement is more than an affirmation of the classical concept of revolution, which tolerates a focus on revolutionary leaders and celebrities. The statement emphasizes the role that the masses play in the struggle since the struggle is participatory as well as representative. And, the statement indicates that steps are being taken to grow and strengthen the participatory side of the struggle. Power is being peeled from the representatives.

V.I. Lenin, who possessed extraordinary powers of perception, said “The passing of state power from one class to another is the first, the principal, the basic sign of a revolution, both in the strictly scientific and in the practical political meaning of that term.”

What does this mean? Does it match Venezuelan reality? There seems to be some differences between Lenin and Golinger.

Lenin talks about the passing of state power from one class to another, while Golinger talks about “power is transferred from a ‘government’ to the people.” Since the working class constitutes the mass of the “people,” Golinger implicitly hints power passes from the State to the working class, not so much from the capitalist class to the working class. The difference is the social point from which power begins to pass. Both Lenin and Golinger seem to agree that the people or the working class is the social point to which power passes. Unlike Lenin, Golinger emphasizes that revolution is perhaps something more than a passing of power from one class to another. Golinger seems to suggest that revolution is also the exercise of power by the class to which power passes, not just the exercise of power by representatives or leaders of the class. This may be also what Lenin meant by “class.”

The main difference between Golinger and Lenin on the essence of revolution is that Golinger implies some “government” has state power before it passes, while Lenin seems to think that some “class” that happens to own the government has state power before it passes. Perhaps Golinger suggests that after state power in Venezuela passes from the capitalist class to the working class, power remains concentrated within the “proletarian” state. So, a second passing becomes necessary … that is, a passing of power or, at least, some of the power from the state to the people.

The Nazarenes talk all the time about a second coming. So, revolutionaries can talk about a second passing.

It seems that before the second passing can take place, the first passing must occur. Impressionistically, I would estimate or, better still, guess that only half of the state power in Venezuela has passed from the capitalist class to the working class. In some agencies and entities of the State, say the intelligence services, perhaps more that half of the power has passed. But in other agencies and entities, say the police and most of the bureaucracy, less than half of the power seems to have passed. So, overall, what has passed and what has not passed seem to balance out at about half of the power remaining the hands of the capitalist class and other half transferred to the working class for further distribution away from the government apparatus into masses.

Golinger’s idea about the dispersal among the masses of some of the power that has passed from the capitalist class to the working class accelerates the proletarianization of the state power, especially the proletarianization of parts of the bureaucratic apparatus infested by servants, representatives, and agents of the bourgeoisie. Impressionistically, we can guess at how much power has passed from the capitalist class to the working class, but we can’t seem to guess about how much of that half that has passed has been subsequently passed from the semi-proletarian or semi-bourgeois state to the masses.

When Lenin talks about a passing and Golinger about a “transfer,” it seems that a rate of passing or a rate of transfer is implied. Is power passing at the right rate in Venezuela? Or is the passing too fast or too slow?

Conceptually, it would seem that the rate of passing of state power should accord with the capacity of the working class to absorb and assimilate the power ideologically, politically, and organizationally.

It’s hard to say whether the rate is right or wrong.

Sometimes however concepts aren’t any good in making determinations about things. One must rely on class instinct. And, my proletarian instinct tells me … in regard to the first and second passings … that the rate is wrong. The rate should be stepped-up. The rate is too slow.

But one thing is for sure. It is only by the exercise of power that the capacity and appetite of the working class for power grows and, it is by the exclusion or withdrawal or abstention from the exercise of power that the capacity and appetite die.

Imperialist regime in Washington always protects certain drug traffickers
worker | May 22, 2010 | 9:20 am | Analysis, Latin America | Comments closed

By Arthur Shaw

On May 19, 2010, the bourgeois regime in Washington D.C., under Obama, finally accused 16 people … almost all Venezuelan millionaires … of conspiracy to launder money from drug trafficking through Venezuela’s illegal or so-called ‘parallel’ foreign exchange market, a market which unofficially and illegally rigs the foreign exchange rate between the US dollar and Venezuelan bolivar.

Most of the crooked Venezuelan millionaires and their other accomplices were arrested in the Miami, Florida; New York City, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, and the search for additional racketeers is continuing.

The illegal currency market in the Venezuela routes its racketeering operations through US banks, especially the Bank of America, with the full knowledge of the US authorities, including the FBI, DEA, and federal reserve system officials. The Obama and Bush regimes in Washington for the most part looked or looks the other way because the illegal foreign exchange market in Venezuela is a key part of a US imperialist aggression against the Venezuelan Revolution. The illegal foreign exchange market in Venezuela aims, under imperialist supervision, to produce a currency crisis of the bolivar, the Venezuelan currency … that is, something like a 2000-point crash or sudden depreciation of the bolivar which may produce a collapse of the whole financial system in Venezuela.

To implement the plot to produce a currency crisis in Venezuela, US imperialists have recruited, trained, and financed about 100 Venezuelan quislings to run a huge currency trading operations. The I6 people arrested this week by the US authorities are mostly mere employees or mere representatives of these 100 big shot imperialist agents.

These 100 big crooks, the creme de la creme of the financial sector of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, make their money chiefly in four ways.

(1) Laundering money from drug trafficking

(2) Laundering money from human trafficking

(3) Manipulating the size of difference (the “spread”) between the value of the dollar and value of the bolivar

(4) Speculating on the US dollar-denominated debt securities issued by the Venezuelan government.

The US imperialists are most interested in (3) …” the spread” … because it is by the use of this difference in value between the dollar and bolivar that the US imperialists dream of bringing down the Venezuelan economy through a collapse of the economy’s financial and monetary components.

But the 100 or so Venezuelan financiers who dominate the illegal foreign exchange market are more interested in (1) and (2) … that is, money laundering and drug trafficking … because the (1) and (2) generate bigger profits than (3). Thus, something of a contradiction has emerged between the interests of the US imperialists and the drug-trafficking, money-laundering elements in the financial sector of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie over the operation of illegal foreign exchange market which uses US bank for its infrastructure.

It is unlikely the Eric Holder, the US Attorney General and the highest law enforcement authority in the USA, will seriously pursue the cases against the 16 Venezuelans now under arrest in the USA, because the criminal element of the financial sector of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie may, in retaliation, sabotage the CIA’s conspiracy or intelligence operation to produce a currency crisis in Venezuela.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that he will ask the US government for information related to the 16 people charged with money laundering from drug traffic through Venezuela’s illegal or” parallel” currency exchange market.

The imperialist regime in Washington always protects these drug traffickers and money launderers and, at the same time, the imperialist regime whines, snivels, nags, and bitches that the revolutionary government in Caracas isn’t doing enough to suppress drug trafficking.

Encouraging workers to blow the whistle on the crooks is a good idea
worker | May 20, 2010 | 3:07 pm | Analysis | Comments closed

By Arthur Shaw

Encouraging Venezuelan workers and consumers, who are exploited chiefly by the financial bourgeoisie in the illegal currency market and defrauded chiefly by the commercial bourgeoisie in consumer goods market, to blow the whistle on these two sets of thieves is a good idea.

There is no doubt that these two kinds of bourgeois thieves are fueling the rise in consumer prices and pumping the spread between the legal and illegal foreign exchange rates for the dollar-bolivar currency pair.

Currency traders and speculators caught manipulating the foreign exchange market to undermine the bolivar against the dollar should face stiff penalties. Most of their capital that supports racketeering operations in the Venezuelan foreign exchange market is deposited in US banks outside of Venezuela, especially in the Bank of America. But the bourgeois racketeers still have considerable personal and business assets within the jurisdiction of the Venezuelan state, including their homes, real estate, airplanes, boats, cars, jewelry, etc.

The State should borrow a page from the RICO law (Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act) in the USA which treats all ill-gotten fruits of racketeering activity as objects of the crime. The assets are later returned if the racketeers beat the rap. The RICO law in the USA has been very effective in fighting organized crime that originates outside of Wall Street.

Since these two sets of bourgeois thieves prey not only on the working class and small farmers, but also on the bourgeoisie, big landlords, and the middle class, tough law enforcement measures against the price-gouging racketeers will likely weaken the counter-revolutionary movement in Venezuela by engendering dissension among the wealthy and affluent.

In the USA, there is neither regulation of nor law enforcement against financial markets, including securities, currency, commodities, hedge funds, host of exotic financial instruments, and others.

The doctrine of “self-policing” prevails in financial markets.

Government agencies in the field like the Securities & Exchange Commission, Commodities Futures Trading Commission and Federal Reserve System are jokes infested and dominated by advocates on non-regulation of the financial markets.

Naturally, the US financial system is in shambles.

The Venezuelan bourgeoisie and US imperialists are evidently attempting to create a similar situation in Venezuela.

September elections: revolutionary workers want to win more than 51% victory
worker | May 17, 2010 | 10:37 am | Analysis, Latin America | Comments closed

By Arthur Shaw

GIS XXI asked the electorate whether bourgeois leaders of the opposition primarily take care of their personal financial interests.

A staggering 76% of the electorate said that bourgeois leaders are only out for themselves, only 13% believes bourgeois leaders care about anything other than their personal interests, leaving 11% either unresponsive or undecided.

This finding is shocking because it implies that that the huge bourgeois media in Venezuela which tout and praise bourgeois leaders, on a 24/7 basis, has almost no credibility and almost no influence with the electorate because the electorate has a low opinion of these highly touted and praised bourgeois leaders. Again, the GIS XXI poll did not look at the public’s perception of leaders of the workers’ and their broader revolutionary movement. But since the revolutionary workers’ movement “owns” more or less about 60% of the electorate, the 76% finding of the GIS XXI poll on the undesirability of bourgeois leaders can’t be all revolutionary workers. The finding implies that at least 16 points of the 76% represent the views of counter-revolutionaries who are, to some extent, won over by the workers’ movement.

Leaders are only one thing but a whole movement of capitalists and counter-revolutionaries is another thing. So, what does the electorate think about the counter-revolutionary movement or, in other words, the so-called opposition.

GIS XXI asked the electorate whether the opposition represents hope for better things for Venezuela.

About 29% of the people said the counter-revolutionary movement offers hope of better things, 58% said the counter-revolutionary movement is hopeless, leaving 13% undecided. It hard to say whether the Venezuelan people think less of bourgeois leaders or less of the capitalists’ movement, for 76% of Venezuelans think bourgeois leaders are worthless and only 29% think the capitalists’ movement is cause for hope.

If the GIS XXI numbers are correct, then the capitalists’ and wider counter-revolutionary movement is in a state of crisis.

Some of the GIS XXI findings however seem to contradict other GIS XXI findings.

For example, GIS XXI asked the electorate “Does the opposition have anything to offer?”

Some 39% said the opposition has something to offer. The poll didn’t identify WHAT the opposition has to offer, but 39% of the people believes the opposition has “something.” Some 47% said the opposition has nothing to offer. Since the capitalists’ movement has for many years “owned” about 40% of the electorate in Venezuela, the 39% finding of the GIS XXI poll implies that the opposition has held on to its base, despite the negative perceptions by much of the base of the opposition.

This seems contradictory.

Why would almost the same number of counter-revolutionaries, today as well as yesterday, believe that the capitalists’ movement still has something to offer if these counter-revolutionaries today judge bourgeois leaders as worthless and the capitalists’ movement as hopeless?

This contradiction may be more apparent than real. But the workers’ and revolutionary movement better watch out and not get smug and big-headed over these suspect but happy-looking numbers from GIS XXI.

In the September legislative elections, the revolutionary workers’ movement wants to win more than a mere 51% victory. They want to win at least a big, juicy 66% victory. Since this worker’s movement “owns” only about 60% of the electorate, the revolutionary workers need at least 6 extra points to get over.

There are basically two ways to get the six extra points if we exclude the combination of the two ways:

(1) win over a number of reactionaries equal to 6 points or

(2) get a differential in the abstention between the revolutionary and reactionary turnouts of at least 6 point … in other words, more reactionary no-shows than revolutionary no-shows

GIS XXI poll throws, at least, some light on the possibilities of (1) and (2) because the poll measures voter attitudes on bourgeois leaders, the capitalists’ movement, and whether the movement still has something to offer. If the revolutionary campaign concentrates on the worthless bourgeois leaders and on the hopeless capitalists’ movement, then the revolutionaries will have their best chance for getting 6 extra points. But if the revolutionaries let themselves to be sidetracked into a debate about what, if anything, the capitalists’ movement still has to offer, then the opposition will have its best chance to deny 6 extra points to the revolutionary workers’ movement.

To be more precise, since GIS XXI poll … which perhaps will be confirmed by other subsequent polls … suggests the Venezuelan electorate almost universally holds bourgeois leaders in contempt. So, the corrupt and incompetent character of these bourgeois leaders … in general … should be the main issue of the campaign for legislative seats.

The revolutionaries used something similar to this tactic in the struggle over the constitutional amendment in February 2009 when the revolutionaries argued that bourgeois leaders in general suffer from an irrepressible propensity to tell lies.

The reason why this tactic was so effective in 2009 was that the people already knew that bourgeois leaders were liars.

Similarly, if the GIS XXI poll is sound and if revolutionaries this year focus on the corrupt and incompetent bourgeois leaders, in general, the tactic will work because the people already know that bourgeois leaders are corrupt and incompetent.

Latest on the Workers’ Struggle in Greece
worker | May 6, 2010 | 11:03 pm | International | Comments closed

Visit the website of the Communist Party of Greece for the latest on the current Greek uprising.

Nationalize BP!
worker | May 2, 2010 | 7:34 am | Analysis | 1 Comment

By James Thompson

Those of us who live along the gulf coast have been shocked by the callous disregard for safety, worker’s lives and destruction of our environment exhibited by BP in Texas and Louisiana. In March, 2005, 15 workers lost their lives in an unnecessary explosion at the BP refinery in Texas City. Just recently, 11 workers were thrown off a BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico and are presumed dead.

The oil rig continues to leak oil into the Gulf and threatens to destroy the coastal environment of Louisiana just as the area is beginning to recover from the disaster caused by Hurricane Katrina. Some say the disaster may eclipse the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Investigations into the 2005 explosion indicated that BP decided it was cheaper to pay the possible fines than to follow OSHA safety guidelines. As a result, 15 workers died and many more had preceded them in previous years.

It is clear that the damages inflicted on the Gulf Coast by these two incidents are inestimable and the people of the area will suffer for many years to come. Some say the economic impact of the disaster on Louisiana will be catastrophic.

It is this writer’s opinion that our government should seize all the assets of BP in this country and put this capital to work to rebuild and restore the communities damaged by this gigantic multinational corporation.

If the refineries and oil rigs were owned by our government, adequate safety standards could be maintained so that worker’s lives could be saved. Instead of the profits being neatly stowed away in some large banks, they could be used to clean up the mess, compensate workers and their families and provide funds for research into green energy sources. The money could also be used to build state of the art levees such as they have in Europe to protect New Orleans from the next major Hurricane. Texas City is unbelievably polluted and money could be spent to clean up the environment there and make the area more livable for the many residents.

The U.S. military is assisting this foreign company in cleaning up the mess they have made in our backyard. The question facing our nation is, “Who is going to pay the bill?” Will it be the working people of this country? Will it be the villains responsible for this catastrophe? People of the Gulf Coast need answers to these questions now.