Arthur Shaw writes:
Eva Golinger, who usually dwells in the concrete in a highly empirical manner, stretches out into the theory of power, mentioning number of patterns and regularities that come into being, abide or pass away as the process in Venezuela develops.
In my comment, I’ll try to touch on one thing Golinger mentions — revolution.
Under a caption of “Power to the People,” Golinger writes: “The foremost achievement of the Bolivarian Revolution, as it is called in Venezuela, taking the namesake of Liberator Simon Bolivar, has been the inclusion of a mass majority, previously excluded and invisible, in the nation’s politics and economic decisions. What does this mean? It means that today, millions of Venezuelans have a visible identity and role in nation-making. It means that community members — without regard to class, education or status — are actively encouraged to participate in policy decisions on local and even national matters. Community members, organized in councils, make decisions on how local resources are allocated. They decide if monies are spent on schools, roads, water systems, transportation or housing. They have oversight of spending, can determine if projects are advancing adequately, and even can determine where the workforce should come from; i.e. local workers vs. outside contractors. In essence, this is a true example of an empowered people — or how power is transferred from a “government” to the people.”
This indeed is the foremost achievement. In other words, the foremost achievement of the revolution is the revolution itself. The above-quoted statement is more than an affirmation of the classical concept of revolution, which tolerates a focus on revolutionary leaders and celebrities. The statement emphasizes the role that the masses play in the struggle since the struggle is participatory as well as representative. And, the statement indicates that steps are being taken to grow and strengthen the participatory side of the struggle. Power is being peeled from the representatives.
V.I. Lenin, who possessed extraordinary powers of perception, said “The passing of state power from one class to another is the first, the principal, the basic sign of a revolution, both in the strictly scientific and in the practical political meaning of that term.”
What does this mean? Does it match Venezuelan reality? There seems to be some differences between Lenin and Golinger.
Lenin talks about the passing of state power from one class to another, while Golinger talks about “power is transferred from a ‘government’ to the people.” Since the working class constitutes the mass of the “people,” Golinger implicitly hints power passes from the State to the working class, not so much from the capitalist class to the working class. The difference is the social point from which power begins to pass. Both Lenin and Golinger seem to agree that the people or the working class is the social point to which power passes. Unlike Lenin, Golinger emphasizes that revolution is perhaps something more than a passing of power from one class to another. Golinger seems to suggest that revolution is also the exercise of power by the class to which power passes, not just the exercise of power by representatives or leaders of the class. This may be also what Lenin meant by “class.”
The main difference between Golinger and Lenin on the essence of revolution is that Golinger implies some “government” has state power before it passes, while Lenin seems to think that some “class” that happens to own the government has state power before it passes. Perhaps Golinger suggests that after state power in Venezuela passes from the capitalist class to the working class, power remains concentrated within the â€œproletarianâ€ state. So, a second passing becomes necessary … that is, a passing of power or, at least, some of the power from the state to the people.
The Nazarenes talk all the time about a second coming. So, revolutionaries can talk about a second passing.
It seems that before the second passing can take place, the first passing must occur. Impressionistically, I would estimate or, better still, guess that only half of the state power in Venezuela has passed from the capitalist class to the working class. In some agencies and entities of the State, say the intelligence services, perhaps more that half of the power has passed. But in other agencies and entities, say the police and most of the bureaucracy, less than half of the power seems to have passed. So, overall, what has passed and what has not passed seem to balance out at about half of the power remaining the hands of the capitalist class and other half transferred to the working class for further distribution away from the government apparatus into masses.
Golinger’s idea about the dispersal among the masses of some of the power that has passed from the capitalist class to the working class accelerates the proletarianization of the state power, especially the proletarianization of parts of the bureaucratic apparatus infested by servants, representatives, and agents of the bourgeoisie. Impressionistically, we can guess at how much power has passed from the capitalist class to the working class, but we can’t seem to guess about how much of that half that has passed has been subsequently passed from the semi-proletarian or semi-bourgeois state to the masses.
When Lenin talks about a passing and Golinger about a “transfer,” it seems that a rate of passing or a rate of transfer is implied. Is power passing at the right rate in Venezuela? Or is the passing too fast or too slow?
Conceptually, it would seem that the rate of passing of state power should accord with the capacity of the working class to absorb and assimilate the power ideologically, politically, and organizationally.
It’s hard to say whether the rate is right or wrong.
Sometimes however concepts aren’t any good in making determinations about things. One must rely on class instinct. And, my proletarian instinct tells me … in regard to the first and second passings … that the rate is wrong. The rate should be stepped-up. The rate is too slow.
But one thing is for sure. It is only by the exercise of power that the capacity and appetite of the working class for power grows and, it is by the exclusion or withdrawal or abstention from the exercise of power that the capacity and appetite die.