ISL Short Statement on the 2010 Venezuelan Elections [full analysis will be published here in the near future.]
On the 26th of September, parliamentary elections will be held in Venezuela. Unlike many on the left, the ISL does not endorse any of the parties, including the PSUV, President Hugo Chavez’s party.
Unlike the last legislative elections, which the right-wing boycotted, this time opposition parties are participating, with the financial and political backing of US imperialism. These parties are dangerous enemies of the working class, which every revolutionary must condemn. We will always defend an oppressed country like Venezuela against imperialist intervention of any kind.
However, a populist government which oppresses, disarms and demoralizes the workers is itself setting the stage for a defeat for the working class. Revolutionaries in Venezuela are duty bound to warn workers of this danger, and stress the ever-growing need for a revolutionary workers’ party. However, no such party exists in Venezuela at the moment. The opposition parties and, as we shall show, the PSUV are all bourgeois parties that stand for capitalism.
At a time of economic and political crises breaking out all over the world, the masses are looking for solutions to their problems. But like all bourgeois politicians, Chavez has no solutions, and is reduced to blaming the masses for the failure of his policies. He accuses the freezing of the missions, the social programs won through mass struggles, on neglect and faltering participation. In one instance, he claimed that Mission Barrio Adentro was no longer functioning due to “neglect on the part of everyone”.
Some on the left claim that the PSUV is a workers’ party or a socialist party of some sort, and therefore justify their capitulation to Chavez on the grounds of critical support. But the PSUV, having been created by Chavez and other bourgeois politicians, cannot possibly be such a party.
The PSUV’s attacks on the working class are quite telling. One of the recent attacks is the one on Mitsubishi workers in June 2009 at the MMC Mitsubishi plant in Anzoátegui state, where workers had been struggling for 16 months against the dismissal of many of their co-workers and trade union leaders. The national government supported the dismissal of the workers and declared the struggle of the workers for their rights as illegal.
Assassinations of union leaders and activists, for example in Mitsubishi, as well as arrests and other legal measures concocted to stop militant struggles, have all become features of how the government deals with the demands of the working class for decent contracts, job safety, the end to contract labor, and other issues. Also, company hired thugs are responsible for many attacks on workers, with the government doing nothing to fight that trend.
Many pro-Chavez leftists point to the nationalizations that have taken place under Chavez to bolster their claims that Chavez is indeed fighting for the working class or socialism. But nationalizations aren’t the be all and end all of socialist politics (although such an outlook is typical of groups that claim that any state with a nationalized economy is a “deformed” workers’ state).
In fact, in certain situations, Chavez has used nationalizations as a way of holding back the class struggle. In the case of the SIDOR steel plant in Guayana, nationalization came two months after a strike which the local Chavista government sought to repress. Thus nationalization was a means to appease the workers while not giving in to all of their demands.
We must also point out that most nationalizations included generous compensations to the former bosses – bringing to mind Chavez’s “message [for] the Venezuelan bourgeois class. We respect you as Venezuelans…”
Even under optimal conditions, nationalizations under a capitalist state leave the exploitation of the working class intact. Workers in Venezuela have learned this lesson from their own experience.
Given the PSUV’s bourgeois character, we see no reason for revolutionaries to support it in the elections. We also condemn the unprincipled electoral alliance between the United Socialist Left, a small party led by Orlando Chirino, which has been associated with militant struggles, and the bourgeois Patria Para Todos (PPT). Any cross-class alliance between a workers’ party and a bourgeois party chains the workers to their bosses and teaches them to support good capitalists against evil ones rather than reject and fight for the overthrow of capitalism as a whole.
Workers have no party to vote for in these elections. But the need for a revolutionary party will remain after the elections as well, when all elements of the Venezuelan ruling class are forced to step up their confrontation with the working class. It is the role of the most politically advanced workers in Venezuela – the working class vanguard – to create and lead such a party.