¿Democracia protagónica revolucionaria? / Javier Biardeau R.

Protagonistic Revolutionary Democracy?

In the Proyecto Nacional Simón Bolívar – Primer Plan Socialista, among the central strategic directions, “protagonistic revolutionary democracy” stands out. For each one of the seven strategic directions there is a methodological enunciation of a focus, objectives, strategies and policies.

It is significant that one of the objectives is: “To irrevocably achieve protagonistic revolutionary democracy, in which the sovereign majority personifies the substantive process of making decisions.” Is this process reduced to the electoral plane? The revolution’s high strategic directory faces the impasse of its own discourse.

We have to debate how the “leader’s moment” seems unbalanced when facing the “moment of popular protagonism.” A democratic and socialist revolution is founded on protagonism “from below,” with intellectual and moral autonomy, as Gramsci would say, for the growing self-government. Something very different from the Jacobin-Blanquist imaginary that is inevitably generated by an irreparable disjunction between democratic revolution and the construction of socialism. The “revolutionary elite” end up being a “political oligarchy,” a new core. It’s one thing to surpass political liberalism, but quite another to destroy the possibility of deepening the social liberty of the people, their self-government and protagonism in making decisions.

Socialist democracy is a radical critique of the inconsistencies of democratic liberalism, of the latter’s deep commitment not to a “libertarian society of equality, substantive justice and the common good,” but rather to a capitalist society of exploitation, coercion, ideological hegemony, cultural negation and social exclusion. But a socialist democracy is a libertarian protagonistic democracy, not a plebiscite democracy under the leadership of a progressive Caesarism. A democratic revolution procures a higher grade of liberty, not its liquidation in the name of the techno-bureaucracy of the party-State. Authoritarian statism and a personalist politics were the ABC of Stalinism. Rosa Luxemburg warned against the mistake of separating “democratic revolution” from “revolutionary democracy,” what eventually became the substitution of the “dominion of the majority” by the “dominion over the majority”; which is to say the reinstallation of the political oligarchy, Milovan Djilas’s “new class.”

That a sovereign majority personifies the process of making decisions does not mean in any way that the personalized incarnation of State power substitutes the majority’s sovereignty. This gives rise to special conditions of state power. The government oscillates between foreign and domestic capital, between the weak national bourgeoisie and the relatively powerful proletariat. This confers on the government a Bonapartist aspect sui generis, a distinctive aspect. It is elevated, to say it in that manner, above classes.

For Gramsci the distinctive quality between regressive Caesarism and progressive Caesarism was its position when facing the dialectic of “revolution-restoration.” It’s true that progressive Caesarism-Bonapartism can be beneficial for national-popular demands; Cárdenas, Perón and Nasser are examples, but that doesn’t mean we should confuse them with democratic participatory socialism. It’s true that popular revolutionary nationalism represents a mechanism of patriotic affirmation when facing tendencies of imperial subordination. But bread for bread, and wine for wine. Without protagonism, initiative, the effective power of popular protagonism there is no socialism.

“It is not the same thing to speak of democratic revolution than to speak of revolutionary democracy. The first concept has a conservative brake; the second one is liberating.” Here we display our substantive difference of criteria. There is no participatory socialism, constituent popular process, without democratic revolution. The history of revolutions serves a purpose. That is why we propose 4Rs: revision, rectification, reimpulse, but above all the renovation of socialist ideas, so that we are not left trapped in any figure of bureaucratic collectivism. For the people what belongs to the people!

Translator’s note: A slightly longer version of this essay was published last month in the original Spanish.

{ Javier Biardeau R., El Nacional, 24 March 2009 }


Vicente said...

Thanks for the link!

Guillermo Parra said...

Congratulations on being selected for the Semana de la Narrativa Urbana.