Venezuela: From Revolution sui generis to Fifth International
By Franz J. T. Lee
A. Towards a New International
All previous Marxist Internationals had a sound theoretical revolutionary foundation. The ideological battles of reformism and Stalinism, accompanied by brutal assassinations and witch-hunt trials, against revolutionary theory, against brilliant men and women, like Leon Trotsky and Rosa Luxemburg, were so fierce that the ruling classes practically destroyed four promising emancipatory endeavors within 160 years. Plato died long ago but in capitalism his ideas are more alive than ever. Leon Trotsky was assassinated on Latin American soil, but his international 'dum spiro spero' (as long as I breathe I hope!), his Fourth International still yearns for concrete realization, for permanent world revolution, for emancipation in embryo.
In the attempt to revive massive international working class struggles, inter alia, theoretically what have we in Venezuela especially to take into account?
In this short commentary, for Venezuela, and for the rest of the globe, let us theoretically highlight some essential elements and reflections which are indispensable for the building of a New International.
Let us scrutinize our general historic weltanschauung, our intellectual prison. Beyond doubt over the last decade remarkable things have occurred in Venezuela with regard to reform and revolution, capitalism and socialism globalization and emancipation. No matter how we characterize them, like never before the poorer classes benefited from the Bolivarian Revolution; but also the middle and upper classes enjoyed their 'fair share'.
However, as a result of equal, unequal and combined development, as reflected in the world capitalist market, to which all of us belong, we barely have touched the most radical elementary tasks of socialist transformation. The reactionary forces attack full scale day and night, nationally and internationally. We could not even succeed to realize some basic tasks of the bourgeois democratic revolution, like liberation from the alienating fangs and pangs of religious servility, like radical separation of State and Church, of State powers, the national agrarian reform and capitalist industrialization. At any event, these tasks are already obsolete, new mortal dangers face us.
Huge efforts were made but Venezuela remains to be a capitalist State; nationalization within capitalism is not socialism. Venezuela still has a capitalist economy, based on exploitation of working class physical labor force; in clear text, in spite of the global depression, this means that the many are becoming poorer each minute and that the few are becoming richer every second. This President Chavez knows, but he is no messiah, to prevent a social disaster, he urgently needs radical working class participation. For this to come into being the conditio sine qua non is that Venezuela begins to think freely, to theorize, to philosophize en masse.
Concerning the above, Venezuela is no historic exception, this intellectual massacre dates back to the 'Conquista'. On all continents massive, colonial, capitalist mind and thought control played havoc with all the revolutionary and socialist experiments across the 20th century.
All of them tried to reach freedom within the realm of world capitalism, we tried to poison the mamba with its own revolutionary venom. Many of us have infected ourselves more and more with ruling class formal logic, with capitalist expressions and vulgar language. There is an occult physics, the results of investigations of natural sciences. serving bellicose interests, are kept away from us. Millions have no idea what is happening in NASA or the Pentagon, we know nothing about HAARP and similar projects. In fact, billions know nothing about current developments and what really is awaiting us in the near future.
In what danger Venezuela finds itself, because of oil, millions do not have the foggiest idea, especially not those who want to get rid of Chavez. They saw nothing and heard nothing that happened on April 11-13, 2002 in Venezuela. There are always sectors of the population that never ever can see concentration camps, Bantustans, a Guantanamo, Auschwitz or Gaza.
Why is this so?
In a certain sense, already centuries ago our ruling class enemy had his trump card in hand. In essence, Christianization had all the ideological ingredients for total body, mind and thought control; its nebulous effects are lasting till this very day; worse even, they could last for centuries more. By and large, Europe stole and destroyed our cosmic 'souls', our natural habitat, our ideas, languages, beliefs, forms of society and replaced them with third grade commodities.
B. After the imperialist world wars of corporeal destruction now follows the Mental Holocaust
To get an idea of the global labyrinth of ideology in which we are caught, let us look briefly at some of the intellectual arms of mass destruction, at our general conceptions of who and what make history.
At first, let us note that a capitalism sui generis does not exist. Also we do not have Christian capitalism or a United States capitalism. Just a look at Marx's 'Capital' or Lenin's 'Imperialism' will reveal the nonsense of categorizing different capitalism or socialism. Like anything else, else, capitalism has appearance forms and formations, it was born in social violence, in Miletus, where rebelling slaves were burnt at the stake; it put on its own bloody baby socks, thereafter it slipped into its terrorist army boots and now in globalization it is in mortal historic agony. It is totally off its mind and threatens to take the whole of humanity into its bloody coffin.
C. Hegel: Capitalism merits to pass away
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the teacher of Feuerbach, Marx and Engels, of the fathers of scientific, philosophic socialism, unequivocally said it: Everything that comes into existence merits to pass away!
Yes, world capitalism, in the 21st century, the bell now tolls for you too. The rulers supposedly are searching for life in the universe, yet they cannot preserve a myriad of living things right under their very noses.
Oh, ye pharisees, a generation of vipers!
What is threatening the process of capitalist world production, surplus value and gigantic extra-profits, that is, modern history? Against what the Bolivarian Revolution, a New International, must be directed?
In globalization, in the current world depression, systemic contradiction, murderous concentration, inexorable competition, savage centralization and megalomaniac monopoly are taking their toll!
Since years, we said it over and over again, what is massacring millions of global wage laborers is simply perpetual, global, economic exploitation. This is accompanied by political domination, social discrimination, terrorist military 'humanism' and all forms of ideological and religious alienation. Also here in Venezuela, like elsewhere, the latter has caused conceptual confusion, learning and 'thinking' by rote, in one word, ideology.
All these compound what scientifically and philosophically is identified as world capitalism. Wherever these realities exist, we know that they form part of world capitalism, getting rid of them, well, that is socialism.
There does not exist a 5 percent capitalism or socialism. or even a 'transitional' socialism. Socialism is not 'half pregnant' with emancipation, it is simply the dialectical negation, the other side, the 'left' side of capitalism and vice versa. When the one disappears, dialectically the other also vanishes ... when the master perishes also the slave gives up the ghost. In stringent, extensive works, in word and deed, over the last centuries Marxist and non-Marxist scholars, globally have elaborated the inhuman, barbaric quintessence of capitalist vandalism.
Now what has the above to do with conceptualization of the revolution? With theoretical emancipation in Venezuela? With our world outlook, our weltanschauung?
For millennia, this current world order, step by step, was anticipated theoretically by the respective ruling classes and their 'think tanks' and scholars, from ancient Plato and Aristotle and their respective schools, to the modern think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, with people like John R. Bolton in Senior Fellow position or Thomas Donnelly, author of the Document "Rebuilding America's Defenses - Project for a New American Century" in the position of resident scholars.
Logically, in Venezuela, we have to study the transhistoric superstructures of the coming into existence of 'Small Venice', within the context of the big lies about the 'discovery' of America by Christopher Columbus, of the transatlantic slave trade, the formation of the world market, colonialism and imperialism. We have to be familiar with history, with the history of the global wars of independence of the 'Third World' against European colonialism. Among others, certainly we need the true historic reports about the revolutionary endeavors of Jose Marti, Kwame Nkrumah, Simon Bolivar and Patrice Lumumba. We have to know their organizations, strategies and tactics, however, they are not messiahs; these historic documents do not contain absolute truths, they are not panaceas or recipes; emancipation cannot be copied, imported or exported.
Concerning the above, hours after hours, every Sunday in his program 'Alo Presidente' Chavez patiently explains these historical realities to the public.
Emancipation is new, novel, innovative, it is not an international capitalist commodity. It is the negation of world imperialism, it is living, creative, transcendental socialism, not sui generis, but simply emancipation in re.
A working class consciousness is a historic class consciousness, without it neither a socialist revolution nor a workers' International could ever function, could ever be victorious. The ruling classes have done everything in their might to prevent a historic working class consciousness. They launched many concepts of history to sow total confusion. Below we will deal with some of them.
They have to be studied, especially now and here, at the most trying moment of the Bolivarian Revolution. Concepts like socialism or revolution, especially like emancipation, should be used in their praxico-theoretical context and not at whim and caprice.
The master mind of the Absolute Idea, the Prussian State philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in a letter to his friend Friedrich Wilhelm Schelling in 1796 explained to us the historic essence of the French Revolution, its "vitalizing power of ideas", the victory of bourgeois, democratic, capitalist ruling class ideas over feudal, religious revelation, over dogmatism and obscurantism:
" I believe that there is no better sign of the times than the fact that humanity is being represented as worthy of dignity and esteem in itself . . . . The philosophers demonstrate this dignity, the people will learn to feel it; and they will no longer be content to demand their rights which have been reduced to dust, but will seize them, appropriate them . . . . Thanks to the propagation of ideas which demonstrate how things ought to be, the indolence of those who confer eternity on everything that exists is disappearing. The vitalizing power of ideas . . . will elevate the spirits and [men] will learn to devour these ideas." (1)
Very clearly Hegel underlined the power of ideas, and the necessity that across the socialization processes "men will learn to devour these ideas", that is, the ruling ideology, the ruling ideas of the ruling classes.
For us who are participating in world revolution, to negate the French Revolution, to negate capitalism, the very same Hegel illuminated the titanic voyage, ... 'without theory, no revolution' (Lenin) ... the gigantic theoretical task and eventual triumph of the bourgeois capitalist revolution, a clear sign that we have to surpass this victory with the three socialist "i's", with praxical invisibility, theoretical invulnerability and creative invincibility, with militant, optimistic, "human emancipation" (Marx):
In one of his lectures on the 'Philosophy of History' given at the University of Berlin, Hegel glorified the social power of bourgeois ideas in the French Revolution as follows:
"Never since the sun had stood in its firmament and the planets revolved around him had it been perceived that man's existence centers in his head, i.e., in thought . . . . Anaxagoras had been the first to say that nous governs the world; but not until now had man advanced to the recognition of the principle that thought ought to govern spiritual reality. This was accordingly a glorious mental dawn. All thinking beings shared in the jubilation of this epoch. Emotions of a lofty character stirred men's minds at that time; a spiritual enthusiasm thrilled through the world, as if the reconciliation between the divine and the secular was now first accomplished." (2)
In which way does feudal geocentrism affect our religious beliefs? What are the historic visions of a modern, capitalist, heliocentrist mind? How could we creatively surpass this capitalist vale of tears?
A new international must have the global task to get rid of all forms of exploitative production, whose only aim is the production of surplus value, of profits for an elitist minority, Money and capital are just social relations, contradictory expressions of the capitalist mode of production, which is self-destructive, which is transforming everything into commodities, into market relations, into barbaric nothingness. A new international, a mode of creation and creativity, which has to venture far beyond capitalism and socialism is a conditio sine qua non to negate current globalized vandalism and to save natural and social life on planet earth.
Surely, from the cradle to the grave, we are perpetual students. Cum ira et studio our object and subject matter concern life and death on Geo, its myriad of multiversal relations and transcendental contradictions and contradictory transcendence.
Over the previous centuries, officially and unofficially, the accumulation of capital, which is nothing else than modern history, its ideological superstructure has affirmed basically only two major world outlooks, ancient, feudal geocentrism (with its idealist core) and bourgeois (mechanical, materialist) heliocentrism, with their corresponding modes of thinking and thought: formal and dialectical logic.
Idealism fears contradiction, it wants peace, its absolute identity, unity, nothing; materialism wants to get rid of its own over-flowing contradiction, of its panta rhei, it wants everything, also unity. A new logic and philosophy have to escape from this revolutionary cul de sac, have to solve the famous 'Crocodile Dilemma', it is a matter of being devoured and not being devoured by the globalized crocodile. It concerns the categories exit, exodus, 'exvolution'.
In the global 'war of ideas', currently formal logic (used by nearly all of us) guards idealist unity; dialectics (used by a handful of scientists and philosophers) wants to eliminate materialist contradiction. Between these two philosophic and ideological extremes multifarious belief systems and conceptions of history have been developed. A new logic, a new creative world outlook is not yet in sight.
Mutatis mutandi, we know that the various 'Western and Christian' dominant ideas corresponded to the zeitgeist and weltgeist of their respective epochs. They reflected the ruling class interests of their intellectual, slave-owning, feudal, colonial or imperialist procreators. Ever since the original accumulation of capital in the Mediterranean region of Ancient Greece. the most effective long lasting instrument to dominate and exploit slaves, peasants and workers was the control of their minds and thoughts ... this was the transhistoric objective of all ruling class controlled religion, ideology, education, norms, culture and socialization. Currently, by applying sophisticated technology and gadgets, this Orwellian mind and thought control, this mental holocaust is nearly perfected. It is the intellectual bulwark of globalization against international working class unity and class consciousness. It is directed against any emancipatory endeavor to develop a global working class consciousness, it is directed against all workers internationals. Over the last five hundred years of colonial capitalist expansion ruling class religion and ideology have played havoc with the minds of millions of global workers.
Within the present world order, we just do not have sufficient planetary space, neither the necessary revolutionary time, nor the emancipatory energy of mind rapidly to eliminate the toxic, lethal and alienating effects of this heinous, cardinal and capital crime. This makes the launching of revolutions or a workers' international a well-nigh Sisyphus task.
With few exceptions, nearly everything that we know our masters have 'informed' us, have taught us in school and in the universities; as Hitler stated, to control us, they have to control our education. Big lies, ideology and consumerism continuously are blindfolding us in all walks of life, prevent any true negation of capitalism. Hence, we have to know that the genesis of our truth is the conversion of the Orwellian big lies of the Murdoch empire into their opposites: War is not Peace, Freedom is not Slavery!
This building of social consciousness goes intimately much deeper: the birth of emancipatory class consciousness is more radical, flows more profound and glows crimson gold. There are dangerous ideological hurdles to transcend, namely the toxic ruling class conceptions of history, of the quo vadis of planetary life.
A revolutionary movement without a historic perspective is already doomed to failure before its first fight.
D. The Great God conception.
The Great God conception of history is the master key, the fons et origo to comprehend all mind and thought control mechanisms; it is the most effective weapon of ruling class power and hegemony. We will deal with it here a bit more extensively.
Billions believe that a Great monotheist, patriarchal God makes history. History is the development of his divine will. We all are just peons on the great chessboard of heavenly bliss and of devilish evil.
How the 'Holy Bible' and the 'Great God' were keeping 'the poor in order' Charles Kingsley, Canon of the Church of England, four years after Karl Marx, explained:
"We have used the Bible as if it were a mere special constable's hand book, an opium dose for keeping beasts of burden patient while they were being overloaded, a mere book to keep the poor in order." (3)Not even the bourgeoisie was able to make the political French and economic Industrial Revolutions 'by the Grace of a Great God', At first, to secure victory, it had to launch the Renaissance, the Reformation, a scientific and technological revolution, and to separate Church and State, to usher in Big Reason, Big Capital, Big Business, Big War. All ruling classes knew (and know) that they themselves, that class struggles were (and are) making or breaking history. Hence, Marx emphasized that all social critique, all social theory, all revolutionary theory must begin with the criticism of ruling class religion.
E. Great Men Making History
The next myth to bamboozle he downtrodden for centuries was the conception that Great Messiahs or Great Men, kings, princes, leaders, dictators or tyrants make history. The fairy tales, political songs, national anthems, children's story books, comic strips, the 'Holy Scriptures', religious dogmas, doctrines, world news and history text books are full of dates and names of great men and saints who 'sacrificed' themselves for the well-being of humanity.
No matter how dear, heroic, valiant and loving our leaders were (and are), without their wives, children, horses or cooks, they never could make a world revolution all by themselves. Also it would be the acme of ignorance to blame them for huge floods or severe droughts.
Sad to say, in Humania South, ideology has taken its toll, the rank and file, the manipulated electors, that is, the political 'cannon fodder' staunchly believe that one man, a president, could decide the future of a country. Also, he is to be blamed for recession, or to be adored for having personally toppled the apartheid system. Hence, the 'small man', the 'lonely crowd', the 'motley crowd' believe that they have no responsibility, are not citizens of the divine Commonwealth, hence the 'One-dimensional Man' can happily participate in the perennial pan et cirsenses or in 'Wein, Weib und Gesang' (Wine, Woman and Song).
This conception of history is counter-emancipatory, nips all possible creativity in the bud, in school, destroys juvenile daydreams, simply because a handful of citizens could ever hope to become 'great' in global capitalism, and they do not come from 'les miserables' or 'the wretched of the earth'.
F. The Great Idea making History
Surely only Great Gods and their earthly representatives, the Great Men, can make history.
To control the bodies, minds and thoughts of human slaves, at first they have to be transformed into docile labor merchandise, that is, they must accept their social servility, be inculcated with a slave mentality, be filled with alienating inferiority complexes, be transformed into Pavlov dogs, parrots and zombies. To exploit maximally the workers, their physical labor force, their intellectual capacity have to be reduced to a minimum, and, if they cannot be suppressed and expurgated anymore, then these empty shells, the 'mad cows' are either cremated in Falujah or Gaza, or thrown onto the dung heap of history.
In order to accomplish all this, a formal logic, a superior language, an ideology, corresponding ideas and concepts, racist behavior patterns, loyal manipulated students and teachers are indispensable elements for the capitalist status quo to perpetuate itself.
* In history, who controlled the factory production of ideas?
* Who bought and sold them?
* Whose labor power was exploited to mint ideas that only serve the accumulation of power, capital and super profits?
** The same great god-men and men-gods!
From Plato's doctrine of ideas till Hegel's Absolute Idea, we can follow the trail of the Mental Holocaust, of the destruction of the working class mind, of its emancipatory ideas. As such working class consciousness is disappearing in the maelstrom of the Murdoch empire, in the burning crucibles of Bild, The New York Times, in CNN, Venevision, Globovision, Univision, etc. ...
This is the reason why we have to wake up, our emancipatory hope is that we begin to grasp what we are elaborating in this rather lengthy but pertinent commentary.
G. The Herrenvolk, the Master Race making History
The Great Gods have their great 'chosen peoples'. Among those who are not chosen figure the 'Kaffirs', 'Bushmen'. Palestinians, 'camel drivers', 'indigenas', 'Red Indians', 'blacks', 'reds'. 'gypsies', communists, Marxists, etc. ...
The conception of the 'Great Race making history' justifies ideologically colonialism, race supremacy, social segregation, apartheid and fascism. It has its matrix in 'machismo', sexism, double standards, ruling class morality , superiority complexes, degradation of women, the discrimination of socialists and of 'Third World' peoples, especially of Africans and 'indigenas'.
Summa sumarum, all these conceptions of history form part of the Big Lies of the ruling ideas of the respective ruling elites to conserve their social class interests, their power, privileges and parasitic existence. It is these classes that are currently attacking the Bolivarian Revolution at full force, that want to topple President Chavez's government, and as 'fifth columnists', are penetrating all walks of political life in Venezuela.
Currently, in Venezuela, like elsewhere, it becomes quite obvious that we have to defend ourselves intellectually. We have to take up arms against 'full spectrum dominance'. To be able to grasp our current problems in Venezuela at their very roots, we have to become radical, that is, to become conscious of the true radix of our despair and hope, of the species man himself. Our major natural and social problems are man made, hence, as men we can solve them. We can get rid of our traumas and fears of great gods, great ideas, great men, great races and great societies by means of creating real and true concepts which correspond to our objective, subjective and 'transjective' cosmic reality.
In other words, also in Venezuela, we have to learn to think again. Too much intellectual damage has been produced by the major mass media controlled by the 'opposition' and world imperialism, Systematically our own 'soul', our intellectual capacity, was brutally destroyed by colonialism and capitalism. It was replaced with feeling 'great', to adore 'great' divinities, to learn 'great' ideas by rote, to adore and genuflect in front of the 'great' men, and to glorify the 'white man'.
This brought about the Great Depression, Nixon's Great Society, Great World Wars, that is, Great Business.
In Venezuela we enjoy freedom of thought and expression as nowhere else on this globe. We are not forbidden to study the Holy Bible, the Holocaust, Hitler's Mein Kampf, the Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, the Manifesto of the Communist Party or Orwell's 1984.
* Why are we not studying these books?
* Why are we more interested in entertainment, consumption, carnival and pan er circenses?
*Who can still create a single idea in an inferno of noise coming from all over the capital cities throughout the nights?
Modern technological, ideological smog is hammering our brains out of their sockets! We are in the center of the next version of a corporate world war, of the destruction of the human mind, and we are not conscious of the damage already meted out. This is already the partial victory of corporate imperialism.
Instead of participation in the real emancipation of the human mind, across the globe millions of already brainless victims, of 'Manchurian Candidates', of doped students, are yelling desperately about the terror of 'dictatorship' and 'tyranny' in Venezuela. Their artificial hatred and indignation are injected permanently by the global Murdoch Moloch; all are marching towards their coming butchers; since a decade they are humming the only program ever received from their warlords: Chavez must go!
H. Capturing the Imagination of the Masses
The very first thing that a new workers' international necessarily has to consider is how to accomplish the historical task of the First International, the praxis and theory dialectical contradiction, as elaborated already in 1845 in the "11th Thesis of Marx on Feuerbach":
"Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."
This reveals the objective and subjective relation between word and deed. Marx warned that isolated theory or even political sweet talk do not exist, that ivory tower ideology is senseless, but he also warned that blind activism is useless.
"It is not sufficient that thought pushes itself to objective reality, reality itself must approximate thought."
"It is not sufficient that thought pushes itself to objective reality, reality itself must approximate thought."
In other words, it is extremely difficult, if not well-nigh impossible, to create a revolutionary workers' class consciousness in an aggressive, capitalist environment, in a capitalist State, based in Big Business and which is penetrated by bourgeois capitalist structures and institutions. This is why Leon Trotsky, who signed the foundation of the Third and Fourth Internationals, negated Stalinism; like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, he was against a local 'socialism' sui generis, the building of socialism on an island, in one country and in a single bloc of states. This is why he advocated permanent, global, socialist revolution, creative human emancipation. This is the point of departure of the foundation of a New International.
I. Praxis is emancipatory creative power
Furthermore, Marx clearly saw the role and power of ideas, thought, theory and class consciousness in the coming 'war of ideas'; expressis verbis he stated:
"When (revolutionary) theory captures the imagination of the working masses, it converts itself into material force (Gewalt)"
Finally, when at last, in Venezuela, precise, decisive and incisive ideas become social theory, not barren ideology, and when they pass from one sane worker's brain to the other, in schools, universities, factories and other institutions, then praxis, emancipatory creative power, have entered the Bolivarian Revolution, Then,no reactionary force could stop it in its forward march towards victory anymore.
(1) See: http://www.escholarship.org/editions/view?docId=ft2h4nb1h9&chunk.id=d0e6745&toc.depth=1&toc.id=d0e6553&brand=eschol
Source: G.W.F. Hegel, Seite 529, Vorlesungen ueber die Philosophie der Geschichte, Werke 12, Suhrkamp Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 1986.
(3) See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_of_the_people#cite_note-2