Socialismo del siglo XXI (II): SOCIALCHAVISMO / Teodoro Petkoff

XXI Century Socialism (II): SOCIALCHAVISMO

Chávez tends to say that “his” socialism will be built on the road itself and that it won’t repeat the Soviet or Cuban models. The facts, however, seem to contradict him. What is occurring in our country points more toward the totalitarian and failed experiences of the XX century than to the democratic and successful ones. It doesn’t matter what Chávez and his few spokesmen might say regarding these matters. Those are words, mere words. Facts are much more eloquent.

For the moment, let us obviate what pertains to the eventual economic characteristics of the Chavista model. It’s not that this isn't important, but apart from the announced nationalizations (which can be implemented by any type of regime) and the pathetic and shipwrecked experiments in cooperatives and co-management, in terms of the economy, the project is still highly confused and gaseous. But it isn’t in terms of the institutional and political boundaries Chávez considers necessary for the goal he has proposed for himself. In this particular aspect, a concrete politics does exist, even if this was at first not explicitly oriented toward the socialist objective and keeping in mind that much of what has happened obeys the contingencies of the difficult political confrontation of these years and their results.

In light of recent history, what Chávez denominates “XXI Century Socialism” is oriented toward utilizing the authoritarian, autocratic and militaristic qualities already present in the regime, in order to found its base on the deepening and strengthening of such profoundly antidemocratic traits.

The key to his recent announcements is found in the articulation of three cardinal intentions: the creation of a single party of the revolution, the enactment of the Enabling Law and a constitutional reform, so that, by means of these, he might consolidate, deepen and armor his political power – in actuality, his personal power, which Chávez considers the necessary instrument for making “his” socializing process advance. Were this operation to congeal, we would witness a total concentration of power in the hands of the President, much more than what already exists, and the definitive reduction of all the other State powers to an absolutely formal and decorative function. This autocratic concentration of political power has been a dominant feature in the totalitarian “socialist” regimes of the XX century, regimes that, in the name of “surpassing” “bourgeois” or formal democracy, destroyed any form of democratic life. That is what actual Chavista practice evokes, beyond its rhetoric.

To such effect, the idea is to eliminate, by means of constitutional reform and rule by decree, the essential attributes of liberal democracy (which Chávez perhaps would prefer to call “bourgeois”), those that by separating public powers and installing mutual controls among them, protect society from the tyranny of the majority – to which the democratic golden rule concedes power – but guaranteeing that not only will the minority not be squashed and annulled by the majority, but also conserving the scene so that it might express itself freely and eventually transform itself into a majority. That is to say, so that the democratic fluidity that is indispensable to civilized living might be maintained, a sine qua non condition for social change to translate into power for the masses and not just for a clique – or, as we’ve already seen, for a “providential” leader – that not only “represents” them but substitutes them.

{ Teodoro Petkoff, TalCual, 7 February 2007 }

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