Dogmas y realidades / Demetrio Boersner

Dogmas and Realities

For the past two centuries, in both developed and primary societies, “socialist” impulses (directed at prioritizing distributive equity above any privileged interests) have tended to divide themselves into two different and opposing categories. On the one hand, certain dogmatic tribunes observed the popular condition with a paternalistic animus and opined that structural transformation should be directed from above by vanguards or providential leaders, who “develop consciousness,” mobilize and govern the passive and ignorant masses in a dictatorial manner. Only after an extensive collective apprenticeship, would popular and democratic self-governance be possible. Some moderates belonged to that category of authoritarian leaders, such as the German “seminar socialists,” and other radicals like Tkachov in Russia and Babeuf and Blanqui in France. In the 20th century, Lenin’s communist movement adopted this vanguard formula and afterwards Stalin took it to its most despotic extremes. The imposition of a vanguard dictatorship on the people diverted socialist impulses towards a State capitalism managed by a new bureaucratic class. On the ideological plane, the creative function of a free working people, anchored in living reality, was replaced by the dogmatism or voluntarism of the dominating minority.

On the other hand, a democratic socialist current developed, convinced that manual laborers and intellectuals have to accomplish their own liberation. Social transformation and its political guidance must be born of democratic and pluralist open debate among the people who must effect their own apprenticeship “from below,” rather than awaiting the lights “from above.” Marx, a theorist of democratic socialism and the founder of German and international social democracy, was tenacious and implacable in his fight against all deviations of the workers movement towards authoritarianism and caudillismo. Above all, he insisted that freedom of expression should never be limited and that the rights of minorities should never be disavowed. “Freedom,” said the Marxist Rosa Luxemburg in her critique of Leninism, “is always the freedom of those who think differently.”

In Latin America and in Venezuela at this moment a great historical struggle is unfolding between authoritarian collectivism and democratic socialism. By his words and actions, Chávez demonstrates his insistence on dragging us towards the communist model (dictatorial State capitalism). In contrast, the democratic socialist leaders of Brazil, Chile and Uruguay defend the model of social, pluralist, tolerant democracy, one based on the analysis of concrete economic and social reality. In Venezuela itself, the notion of a “new social democracy” or of a democratic socialism is being proposed by the progressive opposition and by a growing critical current emerging from within the core of Chavismo.

{ Demetrio Boersner, TalCual, 27 April 2007 }

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