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Venezuelan socialist Gonzalo Gómez:
"The future depends on the class struggle"

August 26, 2005 | Page 4

GONZALO GÓMEZ is a Venezuelan socialist and leading member of Revolutionary Left Option and the Association of Free and Alternative Media in Venezuela. He participated in a July meeting that issued a public call for the formation of a mass workers' party to fight for socialist revolution in Venezuela--the Party of Revolution and Socialism. Gonzalo talked to Socialist Worker's SARAH HINES about the struggle ahead.

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WHAT IS the goal of the Party of Revolution and Socialism?

WE ARE trying to build a party of workers and the people, which can direct the revolutionary process--the revolution within the revolution--and the construction of socialism.

There is still much confusion about the meaning of socialism in Venezuela. There are many government functionaries who talk about socialism, and then immediately indicate that it will be a socialism that maintains the existence of private property.

The government supports the development of a certain sector of business and finds political support within this same sector. These businesses receive thousands of dollars in government assistance, yet the government doesn't require them to improve working conditions, respect union rights and not violate collective bargaining. So there are many cases where the businesses Chávez is working with are putting into practice the same neoliberalism and savage capitalism that Chávez denounces.

These are the kind of things we are trying to raise in this moment of definitions. It is necessary to indicate clearly how socialism should be understood.

We don't believe that the parties participating in the government, whether in the ministries or in the national assembly, guarantee the socialist course of this revolution. These parties are fundamentally characterized by a dedication to introducing reforms that don't transcend Venezuelan capitalism.

Yes, they talk about socialism and anti-imperialism. On an external level, Chávez's government is independent--he's confronting imperialism and accomplishing very important things. But for us, anti-imperialism represents not simply denouncing imperialism. It is about taking on imperialism globally and continentally.

It's necessary to also understand the economic relationship between imperialism and our own country. Here, we have, for example, the telecommunications company, CANTV, in the hands of a U.S. company; we have the electricity of Caracas in the hands of a U.S. company; we have the national bank fundamentally in the hands of Spanish capitalism; we have in the oil sector important concessions to foreign oil and gas companies. We have to understand anti-imperialism within our country and what we need to do in this sense.

We cannot achieve socialism without the expropriation of the bourgeoisie. It is absolutely false to think we can build socialism with private businesses, with bosses or even with bureaucrats. It's not that we haven't made progress, but we have to push forward.

We are going toward 21st century socialism, so what are we going to do with the media? Will they be controlled by popular forces, or will they be privately owned? If we don't take control of the media, we are not going to create socialism. This is the direction in which we are trying to push things.

DO YOU think things are improving in this sense? What do you think about the companies that had previously been closed down, and that have been taken over by workers and reopened?

THIS IS obviously a great accomplishment that we need to defend. We also need to urge that more businesses in this situation be expropriated. There are situations where the solution has been very progressive.

But there are also situations where businesses have been recovered from bosses with a long history of crisis, which are very exploitative and anti-worker--and these individuals continue to maintain control of the business in a relationship of cogestión [roughly, co-management]. You can see this, for example, in the textile industry.

If we are going to retake a company from a boss, we need the capital under workers' direct control.

This is why we are building a new organization. We believe that we need a critical and combative sector that can apply pressure internally and push things to the left, to advance and deepen the process.

WHAT IS the state of the right wing now? Are their forces growing or declining?

THERE IS an extreme right-wing sector preparing new coup adventures, which they will attempt when they have the opportunity. But I think the majority of the right is placing their bets on infiltration, co-option, bribery and harassing the leadership in order to destroy and undermine the process from within.

I believe there are some cases where the right has power within the leadership of the government parties. This would explain much of the weakness, bureaucratic tendencies and corruption that Chávez has begun to denounce. But the government doesn't have the capacity to stop it. We need to create social control--to organize the people in order to stop the right.

MANY ACTIVISTS in Venezuela told us that the revolutionary process is gradual, and that the main task at hand now is to educate the people and raise their level of consciousness before further steps toward socialism are possible. What do you think of this?

RATHER THAN planning, it is about development of the class struggle. The major advances in the revolutionary process occurred during the coup and the bosses' strike. The people mobilized themselves and took the streets.

We achieved control of the oil industry during the sabotage, but afterwards, it returned to the control of a new management. Thus, we were more advanced in the revolutionary process at that moment than we are now.

So I don't believe in this type of gradualism. When the oil workers took control, they demonstrated that they knew how to run the oil industry. They saved the industry without the majority of the managers. How can this be explained?

There is a certain segment within the revolutionary process that thinks the problem is about technocrats and specialists, and isn't a socio-political problem. It needs to be a combination. So what is the rhythm? When there is a confrontation, the people mobilize and know in that moment how to defend the progress we have made.

Some suggest that cogestión doesn't mean that the workers have the right to elect their managers in essential industries, because these are strategic industries for the security of the country. I would ask of the managers who say this: When have you taken the streets to demand the expropriation of CANTV, a U.S.-controlled company?

When workers demand better salaries and improved conditions, this is part of the revolution. No one should criticize workers when they threaten to mobilize for better salaries and to improve their conditions. If you infringe on this, you infringe on the revolution.

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