News and opinions on the situation in Venezuela
Venezuela: More than ever before today, Karl Marx is becoming relevant!
Published: Sunday, June 04, 2006
Bylined to: Franz J.T. Lee
University of Los Andes (ULA) professor Franz J. T. Lee writes: In our Bolivarian study circles, in my university classes, in the revolutionary rank and file, a great interest in the theories of imperialism is awakening in the general revolutionary consciousness of many students and comrades in Venezuela.
Everybody wants to know what really is the “empire,” why is it the “Fourth Empire” and what is “Imperialism”?
Yes, in our faculty of law and political science, at the University of The Andes (ULA), Merida, for a quarter of a century, nobody has ever taught any student anything about the theories of imperialism and of fascism. In fact, since the 1960s such topics have become “obsolete” and have disappeared from the academic curricula.
In fact, even in countries like Germany, at the University of Franc fort, in the Faculty of Social Sciences, already a decade ago, the whole history of the workers’ movement on a global scale has fallen under the censorship ax of the alma mater of modernized globalization.
Small wonder that we find eternal students like Nixon Moreno who as self-proclaimed student “leaders” become easy political prey as henchmen for the CIA vultures or for the United States Ambassadors to Venezuela, like Charles Shapiro and William Brownfield.
This is not accidental … as the result of open imperialist attacks, the Bolivarian Revolution is entering higher degrees of social self-consciousness, of scientific praxis and philosophic theory, of historic change and human emancipation.
As we may recollect, as fundamental general policy, over the last century nearly all national and colonial liberation movements and social revolutions had declared total war against imperialism. African nationalism and even Pan-Africanism against European divide et impera was definitely anti- imperialist, but strange enough, it was pro-capitalist in essence. In Southern Africa most anti-imperialist liberation movements … in their “Freedom Charters” or “10-Point Programs” … simply wanted also to enjoy all the capitalist goodies that their white masters were relishing. Currently the “Rainbow Nation” of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki in a “Free South Africa” is more capitalist than ever before, and it is caught in the corporate fangs of world imperialism.
Historically, the result of such a theoretical error is that till this very day Euro-American imperialism is ruling the whole continent of Africa. A general study of Marxist theory of imperialism could have avoided such a fateful equivocation.
Clinging to world capitalism, will we in Latin America, in Venezuela, commit the same theoretical errors?
Beyond doubt, Venezuela is still a capitalist country and under the heroic direction of the Bolivarian Revolution, there is no escape, under popular pressure she still will have to answer the multi-petro-dollar question of the excellent Marxist expert in matters concerning imperialism … of Rosa Luxemburg: In Venezuela, Reform or Revolution?
Could “socialism” of pre-Columbian societies or of the Age of Jesus Christ annihilate the current capitalist, imperialist, corporate, world empire?
With a sober mind, and by activating our analytic neurones, without the updated explanations of modern living Marxist theories of imperialism, how on earth could we ever dream about toppling the Bush Empire and creating a New Socialism of the 21st Century?
Surely, class alliances of Capital and Labor, a new rich middle class, an equal redistribution of national income, big oil and gas business with the magnates of globalization surely will not create an integrated emancipated Latin America, free from world fascism and corporate imperialism.
Contrary to many widely accepted bourgeois theories of international relations and to the bulk of the theories of “dependency,” mainly the Marxist theories of imperialism have explained to us that capitalism and imperialism are simply appearance forms of the very same thing, of the modern transhistoric process of production, of global history.
The term “imperialism” itself dates back to the epoch of the 1848 revolutions in Europe; politically it was used to describe the gradual British and French capitalist expansion toward Africa, the Americas, Asia and elsewhere, in other words, the beginning of globalization. In Venezuela, it is impossible to be anti-imperialist and at the same time favor globalization.
As indicated before, capitalism, colonialism, imperialism and globalization are just different scientific terms to describe the different appearance forms and development of the one and the same beloved bed-fellow that is disseminating its AIDS freely by prostituting itself globally.
In their famous writings, Marxists and even liberals, like John Atkinson Hobson, Rosa Luxemburg, Vladimir I. Lenin, Rudolf Hilferding and Hannah Arendt, have explained that national liberal capitalism logically had to induce imperialism in order to conquer cheap labor, new natural resources and new markets. On the world market, expanding capitalism brought about a complex dialectical process of systemic, global, equal, unequal and combined developments.
From now onwards, towards globalization, it was evident that States like Haiti and the United States found (and still find) themselves in the same dialectical historical process; the former is just as under-developed as the latter is over-developed. Historically, there is no way back, the French Revolution, now headed by the Bush military junta, inexorably is globalizing itself, closely accompanied by the Industrial Revolution that now expands itself militarily as Corporate America
No country in the world can make its own private, bourgeois, democratic, capitalist revolution anymore. Nobody can dislocate him- or herself from the world market, from globalization.
Globalized, solar Cyberspace and Internet will soon reach the Planet Mars.
Without underestimating the cultural and social factors, as a result of this breath-taking capitalist development Marxists like Rudolf Hilferding already extended the definition of imperialism to the spheres of international trade and banking. to finance capitalism. Ernest Mandel, in the 1960's lacking a new term, simply called modern imperialism “Late Capitalism.”
Obviously, the historic process of imperialism originally launched by European colonialism, concerned territorial conquest and forced European or slave settlements. It had to do with extending bloody military and spiritual authoritarian control over other peoples and with producing and maintaining huge overseas empires by violent coercive machinations of the State.
When the colonial masters began to colonize other continents, ever since 1860, some authors referred to this “Age of Imperialism” as the New Imperialism; it is this type of imperialism that specifically interest us here. We are not interested in imperialism that concerns “the white man’s burden” (Rudyard Kipling, 1899).
Already at the eve of the 20th century in capitalist poetic lingo and imperialist jargon this is what British imperialism, the father of Yankee Imperialism, thought about us:
“Take up the White Man’s burden—
Send forth the best ye breed—
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild—
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.”
This is how European imperialism saw us, as “half-devil and half-child.” In Africa, we were called “black baboons and monkeys,” the economic burden of Prime Minister William Pitt of Great Britain. In the dominant class interests of the inexorable accumulation of metropolitan capital, as psychological mind pillage and cultural imperialist control, across a colonial and neo-colonial education for savagery the capitalist system surreptitiously inculcated into our minds deliberate ideological venom, a sophisticated master-slave mentality, inferiority complexes and monotheistic, paternalistic religions.
Many of us were converted into staunch defenders of the status quo, into reformists, into saviors of our own misery; we began to believe that our poverty is god given, that capitalism is “good” and that the problem is simply to change the “leaders· by means of “democratic” elections.
Meanwhile the very President Bush is teaching us what is American imperialist electoral “democracy.”
The counter-revolutionary effects we register daily in the diatribal local, national and global attacks against the Bolivarian Revolution and the Venezuelan government. It is simply tragic to see how great sectors of the youth were bamboozled and manipulated, how they have swallowed the imperialist propaganda hook and sinker, how myopic and blindfolded they have become, by developing a single historic project: Away with Chavez! This is mental psychosis, pathological imperialism at its best, this is imperialist corruption of the youth, is lumpen-intellect at its worst, it is a case of emancipatory treatment for Dr. med. Frantz Fanon.
The present moment of historic development urgently necessitate the resurrection of Karl Marx and of all the real Marxists, as our daily praxis and theory, our science and philosophy. A Renaissance of Marxist theory of imperialism would serve as a precise guide for the current Bolivarian Revolution, not to end up in globalized barbarism.
For Venezuela, the urgent study of the politico-economic aspects of Marxist theory of imperialism is a sine qua non not to fall blindly into the pot holes of current social reformism, into the Moloch of globalization. The road to globalized imperialist and corporate hell is paved with “good” intentions, with “good” liberal capitalism. Pertaining to the Bolivarian Revolution, here we can just mention a few pertinent aspects of Marxist anti-capitalist anti-imperialism.
Contrary to the social revolutions of the 20th century, the Bolivarian Revolution is taking place in the epoch of universal global capitalism, of globalization. This gives it a very special character and historic task.
Fervently, Marx and Engels had described the current epoch already in the “Communist Manifesto” as capitalism spreading throughout the world, “exploding all Chinese walls.” In corporate imperialism, currently the very logic of capitalism has realized itself, its brutal accumulation, centralization, commodification, monopolization, its merciless profit-mongering and competition … it has penetrated just about every fiber of human life and living cell of nature itself and therewith, as Marx and Engels indicated, also would set free the possibility of its own dialectical annihilation, brought about by its very own intrinsic negation, by world socialism.
For them, precisely this what is happening now … total globalization of capitalism, universal imperialism … was the true hour of “human emancipation” (Marx, in the “German Ideology”). More than ever before today, Marx is becoming relevant; it would be fatal for us, not to grasp this final emancipatory moment.
Concerning “modern imperialism,” long ago, excellent Marxist thinkers have predicted the current world politico-economic fiasco. On another occasion, we will deal with the theories of imperialism, for example, with those of Hilferding and Rosa Luxemburg, that economically directly concern us here in Venezuela, and which a century ago indicated the current economic. global collapse.
Furthermore, Rosa Luxemburg, for example, stated that the capitalist system necessarily needs outlets in non-capitalist formations, and logically produces militarism and imperialism. Hence the current Yankee militarism and imperialist attacks against Venezuela form part and parcel of the economic conquest of world expansionist capitalism.
Furthermore, capitalist militarism, that is, imperialism, does not need pretexts for straightforward conquest or military invasion of foreign territories or of theft of natural resources, it has already become a ruling class “weapon in the competitive struggle between capitalist countries for areas of non-capitalist civilization.” (Rosa Luxemburg)
Although reigning for a relatively short period of time, and in spite of the fact that the “Stars and Stripes” and the “In God We Trust” are setting already on the American horizon, rapidly vanishing as the sole world power, as “American Empire,” the United States of America still is a strong political, economic and military reality. We should not under-estimate this imperialist monstrosity.
Modern global imperialism is determined by its corporate struggle to survive at all costs, to check-mate its rivals for global hegemony, and to nip any proletarian world revolution in the bud. Because of the latter, the Bolivarian Revolution is in immediate permanent danger. This is the reason why it must know its counterpart, that is, capitalist imperialism, imperialist capitalism.
As Marx has explained in his famous work, Capital was born into this world dripping with blood and dirt from head to foot.
How brutal the various colonial capitalist forms were (and partially still are) we in the “Third World,” in South Humania, have experienced concretely over the past half a millennium. They have cost us hundred millions of precious lives. To relate in detail how fascist and terrorist modern corporate imperialism was and still is would take years to relate here, however, just take a glimpse at the following: the gulags, world wars, Moscow Trials, Auschwitz, Workuta, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Sharpeville, Soweto, Zionism, colonial massacres, military coups and dictatorships in Latin America, the foreign policy of the USA, the massacres of My Lai and Djakarta, the “Caracazo,” the “Twin Towers,” New Orleans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo…
These are the reasons why we on a world scale do not have the luxury to fail.
Chavez: It is Victory or Death, even if we have to fight a “hundred years assymetric war.”
Franz J. T. Lee
Franz John Tennyson Lee, Ph. D (University of Frankfurt), Author, Professor Titular & Chairholder of Philosophy and Political Science, University of The Andes, Merida (Venezuela)