Just got done reading an article and watching a video about the Chavez government’s plan to form a new United Socialist Party in Venezuela. If we take them at their word, the plan matches their stated goals of expanding grassroots democracy and building socialism from below using militant bases as the first steps towards broader debates, elections, and then a founding conference, and then finally a referendum on the founding document of the party. If one compares it to other existing political parties it really does seem pretty cool, but I still worry about the idea of so many existing radical parties and organizations folding into this one party…what about plurality and ideological diversity? What price do revolutionary processes pay in the name of the unity?
One positive possibility in the formation of this party is that so far the Venezuelan process has been characterized by a unity around Chavez, but a disunity around ideology, program, trajectory, levels of radicalism, etc. The formation of a massive grassroots-based party with a clear political program and ideology could shift the possibilities for revolutionary unity away from the persona of Chavez and toward an actual mass-based politics. We’ll see if they pursue this angle…but frankly I’m worried that once a cult of personality has begun, it will be hard to move away from it…at least until Chavez is out of office or retired completely.
Regardless of the outcome, all of this just reinforces why Venezuela is so interesting to me…because it is an actual PROCESS. Not just rhetoric or vague visions of a possible lefty future. They are trying to construct something within a certain context, with certain conditions and certain opposition, and the simple fact of that, the simple existence of this process in the world is fascinating to me. Just fascinating.