FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Venezuela’s 23F: A Collective Victory for a Collective Future

It was George W. Bush who invented the term: misunderestimating. And it’s what imperialism continually does with Venezuela.

I recall an Aló Presidente program in which Chávez was talking about the 2002 coup attempt. He said that the US thought it could easily replace him. “As simply as this,” he said and demonstrated by moving a glass of water across the table where he was seated.

Replacing Chávez wasn’t easy at all, as everybody knows. Pedro Carmona, the usurper, was quickly forgotten, whereas Chávez lasted another decade, and his movement is still in power today.

Something very similar may have happened on Saturday, as Maduro resisted a concerted international effort to bring him down.

What makes it so hard to replace Chávez and now Maduro? Certainly it’s not merely a question of leadership, since Maduro’s is middling at best. So, it must be something else: some quality or substance that generally goes unperceived on the political radar.

On Saturday, the opposition thought they could incite the Venezuelan army to rebel. They staged “desertions” to encourage the process. (I use the word “staged” advisedly. In the videos of the three National Guardsmen who crossed the bridge in Tachira and “surrendered themselves” to Colombian immigration, you can hear them saying very clearly “Somos nosotros!” ie. “It’s us!”.)

Trump and Marco Rubio view this is an example that should inspire other soldiers to rebel, but Venezuelans see it as something completely different. They view the deserting soldiers as traitors, to say nothing of being simply ridiculous.

Is that because the majority of Venezuelans are socialists? Unfortunately, there is only a small minority – and almost nobody in the armed forces – that believes in socialism these days.

In fact, the unknown quality that keeps people loyal to the Chavista project is a certain form of patriotism or nationalism. It’s a nationalism closely connected to a comprehension of Venezuela’s historical struggle for emancipation in an unequal global order.

It was the great achievement of the Venezuelan revolutionary movement to have connected with that historical consciousness.

Their historical awareness explains why, when Venezuelans witness soldiers giving themselves over to foreign authorities or they see Guaidó mimic his bosses in the US –  “All options are on the table,” he said recently – they are either against it or unmoved.

It was probably fatal for Guaidó to cross the border to Colombia, since Venezuelans don’t believe in exiled governments. They see them as coward governments.

In effect, a form of nationalism linked to a longstanding historical project was the “kryptonite” that defeated the imperialist “superman.” Now the task of revolutionaries in Venezuela is to reconnect that impressively resilient force with a sustainable socialist project.

Trump thinks: everybody has a price. Many leftists, especially economicist ones, think the same way. But that’s not true in every context. Much more than being sold on a better future, it’s those romantic “blasts from the past” that bind people to a project and its values.

One thing that Saturday’s events showed is that most Venezuelans know their history. Because of that, they don’t need to be told: Beware of gringos bearing gifts.

Now let’s see if this same historical sense, combined with the memory of last weekend’s collective victory, can help redirect the Bolivarian Republic to a future conceived along collective and communal lines – the way Chávez himself envisioned it.

 

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
REZA FIYOUZAT
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber
Sarah Anderson
Shrink Wall Street to Guarantee Good Jobs
Graham Peebles
Prison: Therapeutic Centers Or Academies of Crime?
Zhivko Illeieff
Can We Escape Our Addiction to Social Media?
Clark T. Scott
The Democrat’s Normal Keeps Their (Supposed) Enemies Closer and Closer
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
In 2020 Elections: Will Real-Life “Fighting Dems” Prove Irresistible?
David Swanson
Mommy, Where Do Peace Activists Come From?
Christopher Brauchli
Trump the Orator
Gary Leupp
Columbus and the Beginning of the American Way of Life: A Message to Indoctrinate Our Children
John Stanton
Donald J. Trump, Stone Cold Racist
Nicky Reid
The Stonewall Blues (Still Dreaming of a Queer Nation)
Stephen Cooper
A Kingston Reasoning with Legendary Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith (The Interview: Part 2)
Hugh Iglarsh
COVID-19’s Coming to Town
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail