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Sea-Change in Venezuela. A New Front. Printer friendly page Print This
By Chris Gilbert with Commentary by Les Blough
Counterpunch. Axis of Logic
Wednesday, Mar 11, 2015

Editor's Comment: The author, Chris Gilbert provides insight with his analysis of the most recent capitalist attack on the socialist government of Venezuela, citing Obama's incomprehensible and irrational declarations of a U.S. "national emergency" and calling Venezuela a threat to U.S. national security. He also cites the "right wing opposition" and their waiting, "patiently for upcoming elections, in which it projected important successes." Their projection for success is more unlikely than ever as a new majority of Venezuelans have rallied around President Maduro's powerful response to this open threat by Washington.

The author writes that the U.S. is too impatient to wait for the December parliamentary elections, wanting to immediately recover lost revenues due to the US-Saudi rigging of the sudden drop in oil prices. The opposite is more likely. Washington's impatience is due to the empire's realization that their Venezuelan opposition is losing on all 3 fronts:
  1. their ability to win democratic elections and

  2. their defeated Feb-March 20143 fascist attacks on the people and public infrastructure and

  3. their failed February 12 coup plot.
Washington's resulting frustration with their hapless opposition leaders and the failure of crude US-coached attempts to overthrow the government has given rise to a new level of hopelessness that gave birth to Obama's frenetic outburst which was akin to an open declaration of war. Former President Hugo Chavez once warned us, "The empire is afraid, and when the empire is afraid it is more dangerous."

While it's far to early for Gilbert or anyone else to predict the outcome of the elections 9 months off, presently any serious gains by the opposition are at best, dubious. However, Chris Gilbert's
call for the Maduro government to march to the beat of its own drummer is timely, "The rhythm of this drummer is marked by the masses’ needs, the programmed satisfaction of which (via solid steps toward socialism) is the surest protection Maduro’s government can have when faced with imperialism." President Maduro's response to President Obama has been swift and fierce and his request to the National Assembly to grant him the Enabling Law to fight back directly indicates that he is indeed finished with futile attempts to negotiate with fascists, as the drumbeat of his predecessor's "New Socialism of the 21st Century" calls Chavismo into battle. But we can be absolutely certain that the renewed fight will not take place outside the constraints of the Bolivarian Constitution of 1999.

- Les Blough, Editor, Axis of Logic,
writing from the Bolivarian
Republic of Venezuela

Biography, Essays and Poetry by Les Blough

What to Make of the White House's Recent Declarations?

Sea-Change in Venezuela
by Chris Gilbert, Counterpunch

Caracas - When President Maduro responded to the recent White House executive order declaring Venezuela to be a national security threat, saying first that it was a “Frankenstein” and later that it was “schizophrenic,” he may have made small errors regarding both literature and psychiatry, but his point was clear enough: Obama’s decree is a bit like Frankenstein’s monster (a hodgepodge) and it indeed comes from a government with a split-personality.

In fact, U.S. politics, like that of most Northern governments, is deeply irrational. This is in part because it is concerted among various oligarchical interests and monopoly groups, making the official discourse really something of an epiphenomenon. Yet it is also because the political sphere obeys discordant, heterogeneous time-frames.

U.S. politics’ profound internal clock – which ticks away in the country’s innards – is that of capital accumulation. The demands of capital accumulation, when they irrupt on the surface of usual national and international politics (with its quotidian fare of summits, elections, and everyday lawmaking) produce strange effects that defy the rationality of this more visible arena.

Take the case of the U.S.’s policies regarding Venezuela. This country’s recent political panorama has been defined, in the first place, by a Bolivarian reformist government that has opted for a Chinese-style project of gradually diversifying its productive apparatus and, in the second place, by a right-wing opposition that (because it was tacitly consulted on the government’s reforms) was inclined to wait patiently for upcoming elections, in which it projected important successes.

Abruptly, this has all undergone a sea-change. In months, if not weeks, the older scenario has given way to a situation marked by widespread political disobedience on the part of the opposition, a graver economic situation, alarming information about coups d’etat, and now open U.S. interference.

Why has this happened? No rational sequence of steps in the internal arena explains why Maduro’s government should abandon its carefully-crafted reformism, nor why the Venezuelan opposition should ditch its plan for very likely electoral successes in late 2015 and 2018. The first key to a serious explanation is to be found rather in the U.S.-Saudi engineered drop in oil prices that happened last November.

The drop in oil prices was the deep voice of international capital speaking, which irrupted as if from nowhere and in counterpoint to the rhythms of local and visible Venezuelan politics. When international capital spoke, it dashed all the local plans, because the slow time-frame of the Bolivarian government’s plans for economic diversification and the turtle steps of the Venezuelan opposition’s march towards the upcoming elections suddenly were no longer viable.

New actors and new, surprising actions appeared. Among them were the opposition’s about-face regarding several “Citizen Power” nominations in December, their extra-parliamentary disobedience, the mysterious Air Force conspiracy, and now the exotic declarations of the White House. These can only be understood as political surface-effects that correspond to the rhythms of capitalist accumulation. In effect, the engineered drop in oil prices needs to have its pay off, not in the middle- or long-term, but more immediately!

Now that the surprise has come, what should the Venezuelan government and people do? The risks of this new situation are more than evident but, by the same token, it should be clear that the Bolivarian government was extremely foolish to think that it could follow a risk-free path to socialism, which was the aspiration expressed in the concerted “Chinese model” of slowly developing the country’s productive forces by way of innocuous reforms. This is the perennial social-democratic myth, which is always projected upon capitalism’s gradualist time-lines and fantasies of normality. It is a myth that capitalism itself, when it periodically assumes a fascist modality, takes charge of debunking.

With risk-free, rule-abiding normality dashed to the rocks, is it not time for Venezuela to try something else? That Maduro has been both brandishing the Venezuelan Constitution like a talisman and at the same time asked for exceptional powers* shows him to be caught between two options. Yet for the Bolivarian socialist movement as a whole, it is clear that some variant of the latter option – that is to say, declaring a state of exception – is the right path.

The real state of exception, however, is nothing other than socialism: the negation of capitalism’s automatic mechanisms and clocks of all kinds in favor of a deliberate human construction. It consists neither of chasing the imperialist monster to the North Pole nor ignoring it, but rather marching to the beat of one’s own drummer. The rhythm of this drummer is marked by the masses’ needs, the programmed satisfaction of which (via solid steps toward socialism) is the surest protection Maduro’s government can have when faced with imperialism.

*Ed. note: Maduro asked the National Assembly (AN) to activate the Enabling Law which the constitution allows under special circumstances. The last time the AN granted Maduro the Enabling Law for one year was to fight back the attack on the economy, also instigated and funded by the U.S. - LMB

Source: Counterpunch

Chris Gilbert is professor of political science in the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela.

© Copyright 2015 by

This material is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article in its entirety, respecting its integrity. Reprints must cite the author and Axis of Logic as the original source including a "live link" to the article. Thank you!

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