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The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Monday, February 4, 2019

On the situation in Venezuela

In 2011, I wrote a lot in support of the Arab Spring turned Civil War in Libya, and it broke my heart when Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez came out in support of Brother Leader Muammar Gaddafi. Till that point, I considered myself a Chávezista, but I knew enough about the struggle in Libya to know that Chávez was taking the oppressor's side in that struggle. It made me question the very nature of his revolution and wonder if he too might be willing to employ fascists tactics, such as shooting at unarmed protesters, to stay in power.

I've had little time lately to write about the crisis in Venezuela, and it seems that since Trump has spoken out in favor of regime change, the white Left has adopted the same stance it took with regards to the popular revolutions in Libya and Syria. As usual, they substitute US designs on the opposition for the opposition. They either ignore the masses fighting a repressive regime, or they declare them to be puppets of US imperialism. This reduces the internal class struggle in the country in crisis to an affair driven by proxies, and brings the focus back around to them, and that's the way they like it.
Dueling Rallies on the Venezuela Crisis on Saturday | 2 February 2019
Thousands rallied in Caracas against Maduro 
Maduro rallied thousands of supporters from army & gov't
As thousands of Venezuelans were protesting in the streets, and The Guardian was reporting that mass protests were planned all across the country on Saturday designed to drive Maduro out of office, Democracy Now completely disappears these Venezuelans with its description of "the U.S.-backed effort to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro" as but the first step in a US plan very similar to the Middle East conspiracy theory Wesley Clark promoted to explain the popular uprisings in Libya and Syria.

Democracy Now didn't ignore the masses entirely. They did report:
On Thursday, hundreds of workers from the state-owned oil company PDVSA marched in Caracas in support of President Nicolás Maduro.
But they made no mention of the thousands that were at the same time marching against Maduro, or the reality that most observers say his support among the people has fallen below 25%. Even more egregiously, they ignore or belittle, the impoverished conditions of Venezuelan people that have driven them to protest, and the rampant corruption of the Maduro government that has been mainly responsible for the famine. His government has run the economy so poorly that children are starving to death in a country with one of the richest oil reserves in the world. It is time for new elections.

It's little wonder that Democracy Now has taken this Maduro/Putin friendly attitude towards the Venezuelan crisis. Earlier they featured an "expert" on the crisis that was found out to be a neo-Nazi. On 24 January, Alfred de Zayas was a guest on the show. They said he was "a former U.N. independent expert." They didn't say that he is on the board of the Desiderius-Erasmus-Stiftung, a Berlin-based foundation established last year as the intellectual and policy arm of Alternative für Deutschland [AfD], the far-right party that has tapped anti-immigrant sentiment, according to Bill Weinberg. Like Trump and certain Fox News personalities, AfD is a Putin fan. Look for de Zayas on Tucker Carlson next because he's obviously good to go on the red-brown circuit pioneered by Glenn Greenwald and Stephen F Cohen

While half a million Syrians have been murdered by their own government, and the Bolivarian police death squads kill Venezuelans by the thousands in carrying out Maduro's brutal repression, the white Left's claims of legitimacy for the elections that kept Syria's Bashar al-Assad [88.7% of the vote], and Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro [10% higher than Chávez] in power expose to all their contempt for both democracy and the truth. Their support for authoritarian rulers who answer the demands of citizens with live ammunition alert all to the need to keep such "Leftists" far from real political power. That is one reason they haven't been able to build their organizations. They have been willing to trade support from the masses for support from other quarters. Cohen can tell you this goes back a long time.

The white Left will blindly line up behind Maduro because it's the easy thing to do. It doesn't take any concrete analysis to tack Venezuela on to a long list that includes Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Never mind those last two were essentially popular revolts not foreign invasions. Those nuances make analysis too complicated, and nobody wants to make waves in their dwindling and aging movement. Any deviation from support for the Putin backed Maduro will face strong opposition from those sections of the Left that are guided exclusively by opposition to US imperialism, and immutable resistance from those with ties to Moscow.

I saw a tweet today that read: "So now the US will destroy Venezuela like it destroyed Libya."

It doesn't matter who sent it. It could have been one of a thousand people, so let me answer that thousand now: The US didn't destroy Libya, okay? The US "dropped ordinances" maybe 300 times in the Libyan campaign. The US only flew about 17% of the strike sorties in this NATO mission, which in any case killed less than a hundred civilians, and destroyed no major infrastructure.

Muammar Gaddafi destroyed Libya with his forty year rule. The mess since then is largely the responsibility of the Libyans themselves. Unlike what had been the case in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, there is no occupying army in Libya, just a people learning how to govern themselves again after four decades of one man rule.

Secondly, Venezuela, under Maduro, is far worst off that Libya. Since 2012, there hasn't been a year in which the murder rate in Venezuela has been lower than that in Libya, not even close. Three million Venezuela refugees have been forced to flee their country, and while thousand of refugees have been fleeing from Libya as well, they haven't been Libyans. They've been Africans, Afghans  and Syrians that use Libya as a transit point.

Vladimir Lenin, once said that nobody could discredit the communist but the communist themselves, and we can now see how by supporting claims that what was being built in Venezuela is "socialism," the white Left has handed their counterparts on the Right a great victory. Maduro and his associates have been robbing the country blind and they called it "socialism." Now Fox News can point to the white Left certified "socialism" as an example of the bankruptcy of socialism. This is the bed we all have to lay in now.

As I said earlier, I haven't really written much about the crisis in Venezuela, but in as much as I have general agreement with this piece from Detroit Workers' Voice, I am republishing this:.

Down with Trump, Maduro, and Guaido! Solidarity with the Venezuelan protesters!

By Joseph Green, Detroit Workers’ Voice

There is a deep crisis in Venezuela. At one time the presidency of Hugo Chavez brought immense benefits to the Venezuelan poor and workers, albeit it was done mainly through oil money, sufficient at one time to simultaneously finance social measures, bribe the military, and pay off a section of the bourgeoisie. But the days of the Bolivarian revolution are over in all but name. The country is now reeling from rampant corruption, the lack of sufficient food and medicine, spectacular inflation, mass emigration, and political repression. Hunger stalks the country. While a handful of Chavista bureaucrats and allies live in luxury, many Venezuelans have fled the country in order to survive. Meanwhile politically, the workers and the poor are caught between Maduro’s bureaucrats and the traditional rightist bourgeoisie in Venezuela.

No to Trump’s intervention in Venezuela — from sanctions to the threat of military action. In desperation, some Venezuelans, not just the bourgeoisie, look towards outside intervention from anywhere. But there is a long-standing US imperialist policy towards Latin America. The US government has historically backed the most despicable forces in Latin America, and not hesitated to see popular movements drowned in blood. The US government opposed the Chavez government at a time when the condition of the masses was improving, and now sees the misery under Maduro as an opportunity. Trump, whose administration lauds the fascist-sympathizer Jair Bolsonaro, the new president of Brazil, is intervening in Venezuela, not in the interests of freedom, but to restore the domination of the traditional bourgeoisie.

No support for the head authoritarian, Nicolas Maduro, whose policy is simply to stay in power at all costs, no matter what the population thinks or how many people starve. The Maduro presidency is dependent, not on the will of the people, but on the continuation of support from the military, whose chieftains have enriched themselves under Chavista rule. The Venezuelan government’s policies are the main cause of the economic and political crisis in Venezuela. The Maduro government has relied increasingly on continuing Chavez’s centralization of power in the presidency. And as he lost popularity, Maduro took to more and more falsification of the voice of the people and repressive police measures. Elections have seen the banning of various opposition parties and leaders, and the coercion of those receiving social assistance or having a government job. Having lost the National Assembly to the opposition despite everything, Maduro called in 2017 for a Constituent Assembly to revise the Bolivarian constitution created under Chavez. In the elections for the Constituent Assembly, the vote of a person in a small town was worth well over 10 times that of someone in a big city like Caracas. That’s an example of what passes for legality and democratic procedure under Maduro.

No support for Juan Guaido, who has declared himself the interim president of Venezuela. The mass disgust with the Maduro government doesn’t mean that the bulk of the protesters support the leaders of the opposition or that they have a clear plan of their own. The opposition’s political wing is dominated by bourgeois and neo-liberal forces, including the traditional right-wing, and Guaido appeals to outside powers to help him take over in Venezuela. He has no plan to deal seriously with the immense crisis at present in Venezuela. The opposition has a majority in the National Assembly, but it is fragmented, with nothing but opposition to the Maduro regime uniting it.

As the crisis has deepened, the discontent with the Maduro government has spread to a number of poor districts that previously backed the Chavistas. A recent article in NACLA reports that

“Much has changed, though, since the days of the April 2002 coup, when, in response, the Venezuelan poor famously came ‘down from the barrios’ to defend President Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution. …

“Nearly two decades later, Venezuelan President Maduro faces a far different scenario.

“Protests against Maduro and confrontations with police have been documented throughout many working-class neighborhoods, including Catia, which has been a Chavista stronghold for almost two decades, in addition to sectors like La Vega, El Valle, Petare, and San Agustin. Marches against Maduro have vastly outnumbered those in support of him. Some sources have even said that participants at Chavista events are prohibited from taking pictures and videos due to low turnout.”
(Rebecca Hanson and Tim Gill, January 24, 2019).

But while the discontent is growing, the masses don’t have any sufficiently-large political movement that speaks in their name against both Maduro and the bourgeois right-wing. The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD is its Spanish acronym) is dominated by the bourgeois forces, while the left-wing movement is in disarray. This means that whether Maduro presidency survives the crisis, or Guaido takes control, or there is a negotiated agreement between the Chavistas and the opposition, the working masses are going to remain at the bottom of the heap. Even if the opposition and the government make a deal, possibly on the basis of throwing Maduro under the bus while preserving the role of the army and many bureaucrats, the masses will face more austerity and sacrifice.

The struggle of the Venezuelan working people against repression and intolerable living conditions deserves support from the working class around the world. The best situation would be that the working people develop an independent trend in the course of fighting for their immediate needs. Such a movement could lead towards unity against Trump, Maduro, and Guaido, and help pave the way for a revival of a truly socialist movement in Venezuela.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

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