"Si saber no es un derecho, seguro será un izquierdo." ~Silvio Rodríguez
Credit must be given to Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution for reinventing socialism for the 21st century and showing the rest of the world a way towards a more socially just future. Chavez’s unorthodox and open-minded approach to revolution is unique and deserves a more critical analysis. It should also be noted that the positive results and advancements of social justice are a result of the right of unfettered self-determination from inside
This shift to the political left is marked by several major events over the last seven years, but it is undoubtedly highlighted by the Bolivarian Revolution in
Shortly after Chavez was elected, he advanced his social program by having 20,000 Cuban doctors brought into
Chavez and the Bolivarian Revolution continue to buck the traditional trends of popular socialist movements from the past. Primarily, Chavez has—as of yet—not followed in the dictatorial footsteps of Soviet Bolshevism, Chairman Mao or the Cuban Revolution. One can even observe the peculiar expressions of some doctrinaire socialists who express frustration that Chavez is not following “the prescriptions” of socialism. It is as though they learned nothing from the past, and are concerned only that Chavez is not confining himself to a strict socialist doctrine. As a result, they are unable to recognize that Chavez’s departure from their stagnate socialist doctrine may indeed be the reason the Bolivarian Revolution has been successful thus far.
Chavez has done several things that would unnerve the likes of Castro, Mao, or Stalin. For example, 1) Chavez has not limited free expression. Chavez still faces a vituperative media which consists of an ultra-conservative corporation that owns twelve channels that are fiercely anti-Chavez. Chavez has refused, up to this point, to put any restrictions on the media or any other form of peaceful demonstration. Additionally, 2) he has not stifled the electoral process, as many of his predecessors had. During a referendum vote to remove Chavez from office in August of 2004, international election observers called it a transparent and fair election of the highest standard—especially compared to the 2004 presidential elections of the U.S. (Chavez won that election with nearly 70% of the vote). 3) Another difference is that Chavez did not execute or even imprison the plotters of the coup from 2002. Finally, 4) Chavez has still not expropriated all of the land and natural resources of
The most striking difference of Chavez and other revolutionary leaders has been his effort to “decentralize” the government. This completely breaks with tradition. Chavez has encouraged the growth of grassroots organizing in the form of local level cooperatives. He believes this will eliminate the “corrupt bureaucracy” by putting the decision and means of making local level changes in the hands of cooperatives. When Chavez was elected into office in 1999, there were 762 cooperatives in
Chavez has also reached out to other, more radical movements in
It may be giving Chavez too much credit, but he very well may recognize that every previous socialist project stalled as soon as clamps were put on the most radical elements of the social revolution that had demanded a further shift to the left. Typically this happens through the concentration of power, the limiting of debate and criticism within the left-wing itself, and finally, through the rooting out and persecution the avant-garde. Up until this point, Chavez has not reacted as such and this may indicate his appreciation that people cannot be asked to be patient forever and once they see the potential of radical socialism they will clamor. Chavez has, up to this point, encouraged an open-minded and limitless approach towards socialism and the result has been the historically unique and radical Bolivarian Revolution.