Chavez’s Call to Form the Vth International and the World Situation
Chavez’s Call to Form the Vth International
and the World Situation
by Pedro Fuentes (*)
At the meeting of left wing political parties and socialists held in Caracas on the eve of the Congress of the Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Chavez called to form the Vth International. In a strong speech where he summarized the history of internationals, Chavez said, “Confronting the capitalist crisis and the threat of war that threatens the future of mankind, it is time to convene the Fifth International, towards the unity of the left parties and revolutionaries willing to fight for socialism…an occasion of the parties and socialist currents and social movements in the world to create a common strategy for the fight against imperialism, the overthrow of capitalism by socialism.”
At that meeting, which had a clearly anti-imperialist tone, there were many parties that were out of place; including, the Mexican PRI, the Chinese CP and even the Brazilian PT. Others were missing, for example, the Brazilian PSOL, the French NPA, the Resistance Front of Honduras and the Revolutionary Tendency of El Salvador, among others. The call was quickly accepted by a sector of the session – MAS of Bolivia, Correa’s New Country Party, the militant Chancellor Patricia Rhodes representing Zelaya’s government and other leftist groups such as the Socialist Alliance of Australia. There was an explicit rejection from the Communist Parties (except Cuba’s) and the Brazilian PT also rejected it, because for them, the Forum of Sao Paulo is still in effect.
Beyond all the contradictions of Bolivarianism and the critical situation of the Venezuelan process due to the weight of the bureaucracy, Chávez offered a proposal that we consider progressive towards filling the international vacuum that exists today; an advance that may become a leap to create an alternative to the deep capitalist crisis we live in and provide a response to imperialist policy.
The PSOL’s response to that call, and for all of those who claim themselves to be anti-imperialist and socialist, as the NPA of France and other socialist forces that have already replied, must be “we are present”. We are present and we will be there because we want to participate in the construction of this process that has just begun and whose next date is the late April meeting in Caracas.
This proposal, if it materializes, is inclined to fill an acute contradiction that exists in today’s world situation. On one hand, the acute crisis of global capitalism has placed a concrete and urgent need for international coordination and international organization. But at the same time, what we have so far is a political vacuum in the international arena. This vacuum exists today because there is no international organization that is or that may be a real pole for world vanguard and the most radicalized sectors of mass movement. The World Social Forums, which were once a progressive place to coordinate the actions of the anti-globalization and anti-war movements, have been losing strength as they have become increasingly controlled by parties like the PT and other international bureaucratic institutions and apparatus.
Likewise, for us, the Forum of São Paulo, under the hegemony of the Brazilian PT, has followed the bourgeois direction of that party so it is not a viable reference. The fronts or coalitions of the Communist parties that exist in Europe are primarily interested in recovering parliamentary or governmental positions, so they are not a viable reference either. Neither are the Trotskyist organizations, even though they do have an international practice. The self-called Fourth International, that responded to what was the division of the United Secretariat, and that has developed some work from the masses and encourage between the LCR the creation of the NPA, is also not viable. And neither are the various international organizations that reclaim the IV, and Trotskyism are no more than small groups exclusively proud of their international positions.
Surely there will be whom, in name of “purity program”, will reject the call from Caracas, or will require for this meeting, a definite program for the international socialist revolution as it existed in the III and IV international. For us, it is still valid Marx’s sentence criticizing the long but ambiguous Gotha program which would unite the two German socialist currents: “Better a joint action than half dozen programs.”
The Caracas’s call is about to build a regrouping where it could coexist the new Bolivarian radical nationalism, the new anti-imperialist, indigenous and anti-capitalist currents with the revolutionary socialist left.
For the sake of the progress of this process is required to have the criterion of a broad united front organization, which possesses much more similar features to the First International of Marx, the International Workers Association, than to the other ones. The great Russian revolutionary David Ryazanov, in his excellent book about Marx and Engels, gave a very good definition of the International Workers Association. Ryazanov said: “Marx, in the call that ended up being written by himself, gave a classic example of the tactic of a ‘united front’. He formulates the demands by emphasizing all the points at which the working class can and must unite to develop the labor movement. For him, the mayor calls of the Communist Manifest would come after.” (David Ryazanov Marx Engels Chapter 7)
Indeed, the First International was far from being created on the basis of a finished program as the one contained in the Communist Manifest written by Marx and Engels for the League of the Righteous. For Marx, it was more important to bring together “trade unionists”, former Chartists, former Owenites, Prudonhians, Bakuninists, and the militants and supporters of the League of the Righteous.
In the case of the current call, we believe that the most appropriate organization that can arise at the meeting of April is a continental and/ or global anti-imperialist front. This new international organization could emerge around a program of anti-imperialism and anti-capitalist struggle, a united front that would include the supporters of the struggle against imperialism, from radical nationalism to revolutionary socialist currents.
Politicals proposals that emerged from the meeting in Caracas
We support one hundred percent the political reading and final declaration of the meeting; many of them are similar to those made at the International Seminar organized by the PSOL in Sao Paulo. Political concrete actions are focused on the rejection of the foreign bases in Colombia and the coup in Honduras, including meeting/action proposals for the second week of December. Three central characterizations are present in the texts and declarations: a) the structural crisis of capitalism, b) the Yankee imperialism offensive continental and global war, c) the XXI century socialism and the struggle for socialism. These points can also be considered as broadly correct.
But these are issues, particularly the second, on which we have to get deeper. Even if we believe that the characterization of the imperialist offensive is correct, transforming it into the center of Latin American politics has elements that tends to be unilateral and it is used to lose sight of the limitations of the ongoing process in our continent. In an excellent interview that appeared in Brasil de Fato, Vice President García Linera of Bolivia, said they are processes that are still under capitalism, and which are only sketches of either a different project or of the XXI century socialism. And while on the one hand, this has to do with the worldwide and continental current correlation of forces, once has to note the responsibilities of the leaders to deepen the process and specifically, the strong bureaucratic elements entrenched in the Venezuelan process that limit and hinder it.
The capitalist crisis
We have to understand the Caracas progressive call under the new elements that characterize the global situation. It happens in the context of significant political and economic changes marked by the global economic crisis and chaotic growing political uncertainty that dominates the world.
Against the opinion of many establishment economists, including Brazilians government’s economic managers that believes that the crisis is over, in a recent visit to Brazil, Paul Krugman agreeing with previous Roubini’s comment, warned about the creation of a new bubble. Krugman pointed out the dangers that the massive inflow of speculative capital means for Brazil, while it forecast that the economy of the core countries could have a decade of stagnation and recession similar to the one experienced by Japan in the 90s.
The Marxist economist Jorge Benstein goes beyond providing a deeper analysis. Referring to the new bubble and comparing it with previous ones that created moderated increase in production and consumption, Beinsten says that “the speculative sequence of the late 90s and 2007 is repeated but with a crucial difference: the context of the current bubble is not economical growth but recession. (…) The stock market bubble of 2009 happens at the same time with low levels of consumption, decline in productive investment and constant increase of unemployment. Surplus capital blocked by a declining productive economy achieve benefits in financial speculation, producing a speculative-recessionary vicious cycle fueled by the fabulous governmental bailouts. ”
Referring to the U.S. economy he said that “it is clearly that it does not get out of the trap of decline; the temporary relief, recovery attempts and drugged growth, strongly recompose parasitic mechanisms which have led to the current disaster. And the collapse of the empire (the main center of the capitalist world) drags the whole world system. ”
Beinstein see the decline of the economy also linked to other ” visible crises” that at any time could hardly strike a very fragile global system; those include the food and energy crisis (which were present during 2008). “In sum, we are facing the convergence of numerous” crisis “which in reality is one global gigantic crisis with different faces, never seen before in history, and its main appearance is a great twilight that threatens to continue for a long time. ”
Beinstein analysis is correct in the sense that mark strategic trends. Although it can not be used unilaterally for the actual concrete policy framework,, since it does not take into account the short-term growth in Latin America and elsewhere achieved not only by the bubble and the increase in consumption, but by some relative increase in the rate of surplus value due to the weak resistance of workers movement. But it is correct in essence and agrees with Roubini and Krugman whom talk about new stronger crisis episodes This will make the world increasingly tending to chaos, polarizations and extreme political changes as we have seen after the great depression of 29.
What about the Obama administration?
In this context Obama has shown weakness and daunting challenges to meet his promises in domestic and international policy. Rather, in world politics, he is following a course of reconciliation with the old Bush policy. The troops increase in Afghanistan, where there is a major resistance and crisis than the one in Iraq, will cause a worst deadlock without solution. Moreover, it was clear the policy of capitulation to the right wing which ended with the blatant support for the coup in Honduras.
These elements show the weakness of Obama and the impossibility of a big change in U.S. foreign policy. They are the expression of the growing loss of U.S. hegemony, to what they can only respond as Bush has done, raising the contradictions and crises.
This present situation of the “hegemonic” imperialism tends to increase the “multipolarity”. One example of this is the growing independence of the Latin American countries members of ALBA, and for instance Iran . (To some extent also Brazil, as expressed in Honduras, although in the case of Brazil there is a line of constant negotiation with the U.S.). At the other end of this polarization is the openly fascist policy of Israel that Obama’s government ends up accepting.
The “continentalization” of Latin America
Garcia Linera, vice president of Bolivia, in an interview that appeared in Brasil de Fato says that “for the first time in the last hundred years of our continent there is a continental left tuning” referring to a new processes which had never happened before. Comparing it with the one in the 60 started with the Cuban Revolution, he noted that even it was more radical it also was less continental, and at that time it was only episodic and very partial due to the defeat of the armed groups that emerged. We may add that this new ongoing process means not only the emergence of new exploited subjects as Indianism, but also leaded to new Latin American governments politically independent from the imperialism.
The new electoral triumph in Bolivia, shows the strength of this process. A new episode in the same direction may be the success of Humala in Peru. A country of great importance in the region where peasant, workers and indigenous people struggles have get together and where Ollanta Humala, following policies that have common features with the onces of Evo, has emerged as a true political alternative for the upcoming elections of 2011.
In the same report also Garcia Linera said that “today in 2009, we are not in front of a prospect of overcoming capitalism, to say otherwise is deceiving” and then say that there are embryonic elements of another system.
Nevertheless we reaffirm our characterization that they are nationalists progressive processes, also revolutionaries in comparation to the period of neoliberalism. The processes of these countries are irreversible, new schemes have emerged that are irreconcilable with the imperialist policies and politics of the more organic Latinamerican bourgeoisie. (Even if there are big latinamerican corporations that make good business in Chavez’s Venezuela as is the case of the Brazilian Oderbretch).
That is why there is and there will be a growing polarization in Latin America. Reading of the superstructure says there are now three types of governments, the openly pro-US which have Colombian government of Uribe as its spearheaded, the onces leaded by Brazil (although that has its own policy for its character of regional power) and including Argentina and Uruguay, and the governments of the countries that we call politically independent which are the onces of Evo, Correa and Chavez. The dynamic is one of growing polarization and continentalization of the nationalist process. In Honduras, this polarization was present. On one side the radicalization expressed by Zelaya and the other side an important sector and majority of the native bourgeoisie which remains subservient to U.S. policy. This is widespread throughout Latin America. In Brazil with the block of the PSDB, PPS, DEM, in Argentina, and Central America with the role of Arias of Panama and Costa Rica, it has been very evident.
The imperialism is not a paper tiger.
The weakening of U.S. global hegemony and critical situation in Afghanistan does not mean that it became a paper tiger. On the contrary, it may become more aggressive. The current movements in Latin America are saying that in face of their critical situation in the broader Middle East they will be forced to retake control of their backyard, that is, to resume their threatened hegemony in Latin America. They need to ensure that these processes are not extended, they need to defeat them and the main target is Chavez.
It is necessary to confront U.S. policy clearly expressed in the coup of Honduras, the military bases in Colombia and the reactivation of the Fourth Fleet. We are and we will be together in a front with these countries, their governments and social movements in case of new imperialist offensive already raised.
But at the same time, the policy of turning absolute the characterization of a military imperialist offensive, is unilateral. As mentioned, there are elements of that characterization which are true. As we said, even if the U.S. suffers a defeat in Afghanistan does not mean mechanically that they can not act militarily in our continent. They may even withdraw from Afghanistan if cornered, and they can cause local interventions of low intensity either with the pretext of terrorism or making provocations using their puppet governments. The danger of such policy exists in Venezuela coming from Colombia, as there is also exist the support of the anti-Evo “Bolivian crescent” sectors, even if they are now in decline.
But Yankee policy toward Latin America is not only by military means. The other side is a combination of that militarism and political weakening, strengthening the Latin American bourgeoisie, the usual junior partner of the empire. So it will also use the democratic reaction, negotiations and the polls to support their candidates, in few words the carrot and stick policy.
This one-sidedness that we mentioned in the analysis of the Caracas Declaration masks the fact that bureaucracy is a problem that favors the weakening of the process and therefore can promote the policy of imperialism. Even if these processes are now progressive and irreconcilable with the imperialism, particularly in Venezuela, they have created contradictions that hinder the fight against the imperialism and the deepening of structural measures that could weaken the local bourgeoisie. Since these processes occur within the framework of the bourgeois state, new contradictions have appeared, mainly expressed in the emergence of the state bureaucracy which becomes privileged and tends to slow the process. And that becomes a problem to confront imperialism and the domestic bourgeoisie that are lurking to act and regain power.
This is clearly visible in the most politically advances and key country which is Venezuela. There, the Bolivarianism has been ten years in power. During this period, a political breakthrough has taken place in its system of government and the mass movement, and in its anti-imperialist consciousness thanks to the leadership of Chavez. But at the same time, a bureaucracy that threatens the process from within has emerged. Without defeating these sectors will be very difficult to advance the process, it can stall and be defeated by the various policies that the imperialism has.
Present at the founding meeting of April in Caracas
To report these contradictions do not mean in any way to minimize the importance of building the new international organization. On the contrary, the aim of bringing these issues is to strengthen it. That is why we reaffirm our support for the construction of a new international organization that, if materialize, will join the real forces facing imperialism. This is, as we said, to build a united front organization where all the currents that consequently face imperialism are involved, from radical nationalism, indigenism revolutionary and socialist organizations.
One such organization must be a tool for promoting the revolutionary process in our continent and the world. In that sense, it must make a clear distinction between government policy and economic and diplomatic relations between governments, with the policy of promoting anti-imperialist struggle in each country, supporting social movements and political organizations that take the struggle forward.
No doubt that if it is constituted in this way not only will serve to promote the fight, avoiding new Honduras, but also to fight the bureaucratization in any of the ongoing processes. These are insights and ideas for the upcoming historic meeting to be held in April in Caracas and in which we will do our best internationalist commitment.
(*) Pedro Fuentes Secretary of Internationalist Relationship of PSOL Brazil