In response to the request of intellectuals against the Bolivarian process in Venezuela .
Under the implicit “I accuse” formula and a few hours before the Organization of American States, OAS, meeting in which the intervention Venezuela would be once again discussed, more than a hundred Latin American, European and American intellectuals and academics recently signed a petition entitled “Urgent international effort to stop the escalation of violence in Venezuela.”
This request constitutes a declaration of principles of its position regarding the Bolivarian situation, developing diagnoses, attributing responsibilities and prescribing an exit to the crisis that takes place in the South American country.
We will not offend the intelligence or morale of the subscribers (some true “sacred cows” of the critical academic world) by questioning their political commitment or their interpretive powers. We will assume each statement of the requested as what it is, as an erroneous thesis on the the Bolivarian process of Venezuela. And as such, we will submit it to analysis, realizing that also the prosecutors can and should be accused.
Also, intellectuals, as well as pontificating from the high heights of the academies, must account for their successes and their errors in this dramatic continental impasse, which may well mean the conservative closure of an ascending political cycle, or the backwater before a possible second wave of the progressive left in the region.
A defeat of the Latin American popular classes will not stop peppering intellectuals in their organic abstention, in their pedagogical incapacity, or in their misunderstandings when it comes to calibrating accurate judgments.
The concept of “fourth-generation war” or “low-intensity warfare” is much more than a hyperbole to signal the intensity of a specific situation. It is the description of a whole insurrectional strategy of U.S. imperialism to gnaw on the hardest jewel in the crown: the striving for a Venezuelan revolution which, as has been done by Cuba, again threatens the U.S. in its backyard.
Even more so if we consider the vital economic and geopolitical importance of Venezuela for the recent Republican Party administration of President Donald Trump. Venezuela has been able to reconnect with progressive and leftist experiences and has tightened them with a bold policy of Latin American integration, as well as their sovereign control over important strategic resources so dear to the development projects of the countries, such as oil or biodiversity.
Only Venezuela, midwife of this new historical cycle, can, with its fall, seal its irremediable closure. The United States has understood this, but some of our most prestigious scholars haven’t.
Venezuela seems to be in the precise and painful transit between two stages analyzed by Antonio Gramsci in his analysis of force correlations (that is, in the analysis of the degree of organization, self-consciousness and homogeneity reached by antagonistic social groups).
Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution has long moved effectively from a merely economic-corporate moment to a political moment, with the formation of a popular identity common to all the popular classes (Chavismo) and its global confrontation with the ruling classes. The failed 2002 coup, the disrupted oil strike and the assumption of a socialism for the 21st Century led to this path.
However, this political moment up to 2013, and its consequent hegemonic tie between social blocs, began to crumble with the death of former President Hugo Chavez and was consummated with the closing of the international siege after the electoral defeat of Kirchnerism in Argentina and with the institutional blow to former President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil.
The third moment analyzed by Gramsci, the inevitable political-military moment to which we are precipitating, was, paradoxically, reached not only by the endogenous radicalization of chavismo, but also by the emboldened reaction of a local and transnational right willing to seek revenge.
Now, the analysis of this political-military moment, implies that the opposition “guarimbas,” the assassination of chavistas in the countryside and in the city, the incessant infiltration of Colombian paramilitaries, the formation of Bolivarian militias, the strengthening of the military wing incarnated in Diosdado Cabello and the military patrol of the Venezuelan coasts by the emerging powers, are much more than testimony to the overflowing Caribbean passion.
They are symptoms of an entire stage that merits specific categories of analysis to understand the militaristic radicalization of U.S. imperialism in its long but irrepressible global decline. In our view, ignoring the dimension of this process leads to superficial analyzes that suspect authoritarian drifts, presumed self-coups, or idle militarization of the political class of Latin American governments. Always under the optics of intellectuals prone to describe “deficit” of democracy in these latitudes, always with the bar of Eurocentric conceptions and supposedly universal about what is to be democratic.
Of course, there is a process of militarization and escalation of violence, but far from being the result of internal factors, this militarization is permanently induced by imperialist aggression at all levels (diplomatic, political, economic, military, media, financial). Or should we mention the coups in Honduras, Paraguay and Brazil that preceded the present onslaught?
The coarse theories of the two demons to analyze the causes of Venezuelan violence are worthless: what does the “complex and shared origin of violence” mean? Or the apparently symmetrical identification of right-wing extremists and left-wing totalitarians, which ends at the end of the text in the signaling of a single and unprecedented person responsible for violence: the state and the Bolivarian government! Precisely the ones who insist on a peaceful strategy!
What should have been done, according to these intellectuals, in a situation like the one Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolutionaries faced before the invasion of Playa Giron? Bow down to politicians with non-existent diplomats while the bombs thundered in the Bay of Pigs? To face the mercenary rifles with ballot papers? To petition cautiously before the OAS?
The most elementary of critical analyzes must be able to separate the straw from the wheat, to distinguish the founding violence and the mere reactive violence of the classes and the popular governments, and to understand, like Gramsci, that there is no peaceful or democratic (in the strictly liberal sense of the term) resolution to the class struggle. Sooner or later, the ruling classes, in their electoral impotence, will resort to soft blows commanded by judicial or media corporations, and when these also prove useless, they will again sound the hour of the sword.
The so-called “beyond polarization” perspective is a vain attempt see the reality behind the fog of a political struggle, and it proves impossible. Gramsci explains it as “taking sides,” which does not mean blindly supporting a political process or its eventual conduct, but rather choosing the field from which criticism is enunciated and which specific tasks of intellectual praxis will be embraced.
The “organic” intellectual is not a model of a leftist intellectual, but the only one in the strict sense: that is, one that reflects together, side by side, without the mediation of hateful pedestals, with organized popular subjects. It is not surprising that a petition signed by academics of such a high standard dispenses with the most elementary categories of analysis of the critical political arsenal, giving ground with the attempt to found a certain characterization about the Bolivarian process.
Neither social classes, nor structural dependency, nor imperialism, are even mentioned in the letter, while these are tools that any Venezuelan commoner has long incorporated into their political vocabulary, in what constitutes another facet of a process of radical democratization and socialization of power.
Instead, we believe there is a remarkable fetishization of democracy in its liberal formats. What other conception of democracy is it possible to judge as anti-democratic a process that fights a national assembly in contempt for oathing elected representatives in a fraudulent manner, and that has attempted, without constitutional powers to do so, to try to depose Maduro four times, which undoubtedly constitutes attempts at a coup, but which, nevertheless, fully supports it?
How can an undemocratic drift be detected in a process that still actively mobilizes hundreds of thousands of people and which supports and expands qualitative democratic elements such as communes and communal councils? Where are the authoritarian elements of a government that responds to institutional aggression and street violence with the most outstanding answer, with a re-constituent call that respects the radicalism of a process long stalled by external siege and internal errors?
To return to the historicizing of democracy, to split the ideal of its imperfect institutional realizations, see its formal elements as unsacred and to understand its new emergent modalities, it is essential not to fall prey to a liberal-republican and, in a word, colonial valuation, about what is democratic.
Moreover, we believe that even from a consistent liberal view, it is possible to criticize the Bolivarian process, like no other project, knew how to take, deepen and radicalize formal liberal democracy with absolutely unpublished consultative, plebiscitarian and revocatory mechanisms.
There is no pure democracy, democracy apart from history and class struggle, national, ethnic and sex-generic determinations of the political struggle. There is, or will be, democracy of the workers, peasants, the poor, Indigenous people, Afro-descendants, students, migrants, retirees and women. And this will only be conquered when the interests of the popular classes impose themselves: whether it will be by good or bad, by customary or violent methods, by electoral means or through a painful civil war, will be decided as always, those who have everything to lose, but also everything to gain in Venezuela and in the whole of Our America.