• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous CounterPuncher has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Sea-Change in Venezuela

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.

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

 

More articles by:

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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Rare Wildflower vs. Mining Company
Dianne Woodward
Race Against Time (and For Palestinians)
Norman Ball
Wall Street Sees the Light of Domestic Reindustrialization
Ramzy Baroud
The Last Lifeline: The Real Reason Behind Abbas’ Call for Elections
Binoy Kampmark
African Swine Fever Does Its Worst
Nicky Reid
Screwing Over the Kurds: An All-American Pastime
Louis Proyect
“Our Boys”: a Brutally Honest Film About the Consequences of the Occupation
Coco Das
#OUTNOW
Cesar Chelala
Donald Trump vs. William Shakespeare
Ron Jacobs
Calling the Kettle White: Ishmael Reed Unbound
Stephen Cooper
Scientist vs. Cooper: The Interview, Round 3 
Susan Block
How “Hustlers” Hustles Us
Charles R. Larson
Review: Elif Shafak’s “10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World”
David Yearsley
Sunset Songs
October 17, 2019
Steve Early
The Irishman Cometh: Teamster History Hits the Big Screen (Again)
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail