Voices from Russia

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Chavismo Will Be Socialist or It’ll Cease to Exist



The English in this sucked. I asked a friend with a facility in Spanish to help me “crack the code”. She helped me to put this into order.


“Made in socialism”… that slogan resonated a lot in Venezuela a few years ago. It was on chocolates, yoghurts, oils, posters, embedded in a heart logo, and the inevitable red five-pointed star. Later on, it became elusive, more exception than the rule… every ministry was “of the people’s power”, and each bakery or route began to be “socialist”. Chávez questioned it on national TV by saying that calling things “socialist” doesn’t make them socialist. If there was something he longed to build, it was a transition to 21st-century socialism. Chavismo must be socialist.

It wasn’t like that from the beginning, at least publicly, perhaps, because he hadn’t yet reached that conclusion. Or, it might’ve been because in the political arena the idea was to reach that conclusion collectively… for the people to move in that direction, developing the historical subject, the epicentre of politics, to create a desire for socialism, which Chávez mentioned for the first time in 2005. Until that moment, in his first writings… for example, the Blue Book… there were strong hints, combining and coming together. It was like the recovery of the betrayed independence project… Bolivarian popular nationalism. It was a vindication of the nation carried out by the humble, with a Latin American dimension… the ethical re-establishment of a devastated country plundered for decades by a corrupt political/business class. The tricolour flag, the red beret, the military authority… plebeian, national, and social liberation in the same movement. Those were converging lines of progress in a country in organic crisis, with the masses in a movement from the Caracazo in 1989 to the emergence of Chávez like a thunderbolt in 1992.

Socialist Roots

The issue… here we can trace socialist ideas before their announcement… was to build that project through the implementation of central mechanisms, spaces for the exercise of participatory democracy, multiplication of popular organisation, tests of parallel institutions articulated to the state, a mission, a confirmation, of a political subject able to face those tasks. The strategic centre of gravity was in the humble classes, the construction of a people’s power took different forms over the years. The state must regain power and regain the economy, and then transfer it to the organised people, who were in the process of learning how to exercise that power. It was a complex architecture, virtuous, possible, and necessary. The socialist scenario appeared before the announcement of the socialist character. It wasn’t about reforming the neoliberal order to stabilise a better-distributed capitalism, but about looking for ways to overcome the order of capital. Chávez explained:

This revolution raised the banner of socialism and that requires and demands much more than any other revolution. We could’ve stayed in a national revolution, but behind that often-undefined term are hidden statements that end up being reformist, they end up toeing the line.

The definition of 2005 coincides with the formulation of communal councils, followed by the communes. Chávez postulated a communal road to socialism, which meant building a new state based on the political, cultural, and economic power of the communes. He left it in writing… the bourgeois state had to be pulverised, and for that, he wrote a plan with steps. It meant building another, on a participatory and self-managed basis, in parallel to the democratisation of the inherited state, a key part of the analysis of Istvan Meszaros. He defined it as a socialism from below, endogenous.

State Socialism

The socialist proposal of Chávez was in tension with another idea, one not formulated openly. It can be summarised thusly. The central role should fall on the state as protector and actor/main subject of the process, forms of popular organisation should be subordinated to institutions and cover limited and controlled areas. The state power should make agreements with old-guard or emerging businessmen, to bet on the creation of a national bourgeoisie, whether external or from Chávez’s trusted political allies. A state socialism on the margins… with capitalism with redistribution of wealth, without removing capital’s foundations. You can ground this debate on concrete policies. This debate is what Chávez did on a national scale, in mass pedagogy, and in his cabinet. Maszaros said:

The measurement of socialist achievement is to what degree the measures adopted contribute actively to the constitution and consolidation of a deeply-rooted substantial democratic process, of social control and general self-management.

The way to build is different if the objective is efficient management of the state, or if, along with that, the advance is towards the recovery of power in the hands of organised communities and the implementation of a new state. The subject of the revolution isn’t a minister or a mayor, but the popular classes in the process of organisation within a power strategy. Chávez then raised a socialism of the 21st-century, communal, with the development of social forms of ownership over the means of production. He left years of trials in that direction, politically and economically, whose balances are still pending.

The various Chavismos in Chavismo watched that project… rather heterogeneous, and, since 2014, with an economy on the ropes. The revolution found itself at a crossroads, with two possible paths… one being a defensive and conservative response, with possible regressions of conquests, close to the historical vision of the community road. The other path was to deepen the changes initiated, with, for example, the “expansion of the fields of action and decision of the people’s power”. The two possibilities are guides to think about the predominant view of the interior of Chavismo… but which Chavismo? Some seem to have opted for the first option, strengthening the agreement with the business community and going back on the communal bet. This debate stirred up history in the present. The analysis, like the actors, has desires, interests, and class tensions. They coexist within the same Chavismo, which somehow stays united. Where is socialism? Expressed in specific experiences that carry power, in dispute as a project within Chavismo, and threatened by asphyxia imposed by a war of attrition and bureaucratic tendencies that disbelieve the historical subject and believe… what do they believe?

Chavismo will be socialist or it’ll cease to exist.

11 May 2018

Mario Teruggi




Sunday, 23 April 2017

Guess Which Country is the Undisputed Champion in Election Meddling?



With the entire “Russia interfered in US democracy” story collapsing, Jimmy Dore reminded us which country is the undisputed champion in election meddling. The Carnegie Mellon University study does NOT even include coups and attempts at régime change. The study just counts when the USA tried directly to influence an election for one of the sides. Imagine the results if we added coups, régime change operations, invasions, sanctions, and bombings to the final tally. Here’s a transcript of an NPR interview on the matter:


This is hardly the first time a country tried to influence the outcome of another country’s election. By one expert’s count, the USA did it, too, more than 80 times worldwide between 1946 and 2000. That expert is Dov Levin of Carnegie Mellon University. I asked him to tell me about one election where US intervention likely affected the outcome.


One example of that was our intervention in Serbia (then, Yugoslavia), in the 2000 election there. Slobodan Milošević was running for re-election, and we didn’t want him to stay in power due to his tendency to disrupt the Balkans and his human rights violations (sic). Therefore, we intervened in various ways for the opposition candidate, Vojislav Koštunica. Moreover, we gave funding to the opposition, and we gave them training and campaigning aide. In addition, according to my estimate, that assistance was crucial in enabling the opposition to win.


How often are these interventions public versus covert?


Basically, about one-third of them are public and two-thirds of them are covert. In other words, the voters in the target don’t know before the election.


Your count doesn’t include coups or attempts at régime change. Depending on the definitions, it sounds like the tally could actually be much higher.


You’re right. I didn’t count and discounted covert coup d’états like the USA did in Iran in 1953 or in Guatemala in 1954. I only counted when the USA tried directly to influence an election for one of the sides. I didn’t discuss other types of interventions. However, if we include those, then, of course, the number could be larger.


For example, how often do other countries like Russia try to alter the outcome of elections as compared to the USA?


Well, for my dataset, the USA is the most common user of this technique. Since 1945, Russia or the USSR used it half as much. My estimate is 36 cases between 1946 to 2000. We know that the Chinese used this technique; the Venezuelans used it when the late Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías was in power, and other countries used it, too.


Arguably, the USA is more vocal than any other country about promoting democracy and democratic values around the world. Does this strike you as conflicting with that message?


It depends upon if we help the pro-democratic side (sic), as in the case of Milošević that I talked about earlier. I believe that’d be helpful for democracy. If it helps less-nicer candidates or parties, then, naturally, it can be less helpful.


Obviously, your examination of 20th-century attempts to influence elections doesn’t involve hacking because computers weren’t widespread until recently.


That’s true.


In your view, is technology dramatically changing the game… as we saw in the November election? On the other hand, is this just the latest evolution of an effort that always used whatever tools are available?


I’d say it’s more the latter. Before, without cyber-hacking tools, I’d say that the Russians or the Soviets infrequently did these types of intervention because one had to use old-style methods such as people meeting in the park in secret giving out and getting information and things like that.

23 April 2017

Alex Christoforou

The Duran


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Venezuela Expels Three American Diplomats in “Sabotage Conspiracy”

00 President Nicolás Maduro Moros. Venezuela. 01.10.13


Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Moros announced on national television that he’s ordered the expulsion of three American diplomats for allegedly plotting acts of sabotage in conspiracy with “far-right” opposition groups. Speaking in a public address Monday, Maduro gave Chargé d’Affaires Kelly Keiderling, the top American diplomat in Caracas, and two other embassy officials, 48 hours to leave Venezuela, whose economy has been troubled by power outages and food shortages. Maduro said that he had evidence that the American diplomats frequently met with the “Venezuelan far-right” to finance it and “encourage actions to sabotage the country’s electrical grid and economy. I can’t allow them to interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs and I ask for your full support in this struggle against the interference. Yankees go home, get out of Venezuela!”

Venezuela and the USA have been without mutual ambassadors since 2010, and Caracas toughened its anti-American rhetoric following the death of Venezuela’s outspoken leader Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías in March. Maduro, chosen by Chávez as his successor, expelled two American military attachés for alleged attempts to destabilise the country just a few hours prior to the official announcement of Chávez’s death from cancer on 5 March. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan opposition claims that the leftist government uses “foreign interference” as a smokescreen to hide their own inability to handle the country’s ailing economy, wide-spread corruption, and rampant crime.

1 October 2013



Editor’s Note:

Given the dirty nature of Langley’s involvement in the region, one can’t blame Maduro for doing what he did. Oh, yes… Capriles, America’s fair-haired boy in Venezuela… his father was a lickspittle Quisling, an executive for an American multinational, Kraft (Capriles’ family owns apartments on the posh Affluent Effluent Upper East Side in New York and he took courses at Columbia). That is, his wealth came from kissing the Americans’ arse (pecunia non olet in its most disgusting form). Fancy that…



Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Moscow Street Named After Late Venezuelan Leader Chávez

00.0b Chavez. Venezuela. 08.10.12


On Tuesday, a street in northern Moscow was named after late Venezuelan President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías, the same day that Rosneft and Gazprombank inked significant deals with national oil firm Petroleos de Venezuela. Current Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Moros and Rosneft head Igor Sechin attended the naming ceremony, and Sechin announced that the Russian state-owned oil firm signed an agreement to help develop extensive offshore deposits in South America. Also on Tuesday, Gazprombank, affiliated with Russian energy giant Gazprom, said it signed a deal with Petroleos de Venezuela to invest 1 billion USD (32.3 billion Roubles. 770 million Euros. 660 million UK Pounds) in their joint venture, PetroSamora.

Speaking at the naming ceremony, Venezuelan President Maduro said that President Chávez had visited the Russian capital at least ten times, saying, “He never felt like a stranger in Moscow. I thank you for this gift”. Maduro arrived in Moscow on Monday for a two-day visit. Chávez, who ruled the South American nation for 14 years, died on 5 March at the age of 58 after a two-year fight with cancer. Last week, the acting chairman of the Moscow government’s public affairs committee, Aleksandr Chistyakov, said that Chavez Street (Ulitsa Chavesa) would be a 170-metre-long (558-foot-long) square.

2 July 2013



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