Venezuela and the theory of permanent revolution

The unfolding events Venezuela, tragic as they are, did not begin only yesterday. 
The seeds of the current crisis were planted in rejection, and mobilisation of active opposition to the Victory of the Bolivarian Revolution led by Hugo Chavez in the 1990s, by imperialism, led by the behemoth neighbour to the north – the US.

Let us be clear, the Bolivarian revolution proclaimed itself to be socialist, and dedicated itself to building Socialism of the 21st Century. 

And in its infancy into its middle age it did achieve tremendous transformation not only in the socioeconomic and political reality of Venezuela, but also more significantly, it led to the positive transformation in the lives of the people. 

In it’s first Ten years, it drastically reduced poverty, improved access to basic social services, improved infrastructure, and lifted millions out of poverty, through a radical re-engineering of the state and increased public investment to deliver public services. 
Not even imperialism could deny this progress as attested to in their recognition of the drastic reduction in poverty levels and inequality in the reports of their leading institutions like the IMF, WB, their Think tanks etc.

The Bolivarian Revolution also tried to fulfill its internationalist duty of Solidarity with oppressed worldwide, giving active aid to countries as well as to the poor peoples in other countries – including in the US.

Nevertheless, the combined impact of external efforts to contain and punish the revolution, led by the US, along with the inability to manage internal contradictions – within the Bolivarian movement, and between it and the people, now compounded by the isolation of the revolution, has now led to the production of the current vegetative crisis of existential proportions facing the country.

What is the lesson of the unfolding tragedy, induced primarily by imperialism, but also aided by the internal contradictions and character of the revolution?

If anything, the victory of the Bolivarian Revolution (through electoral contestation and processes), with the mandate of the revolution renewed more than twice in free elections under its founding leader – the late Hugo Chavez, is an example, a pointer to How a Socialist Revolution might be made in the Twenty-First Century; while also conversely once again demonstrating and clearly proving the central tenets and thrusts of the Marxist Theory of Permanent Revolution.

Simply put, this theory can be summarised thus:”Capitalism is a global system, its replacement by Socialism will also have to a global phenomenon. And whereas the overthrow of capitalism through the victory of socialist revolution will necessarily begin in one or a few countries – with weakest links of the imperialist chain breaking off first; nevertheless, the world historic victory of socialism, and its supplanting of the global capitalist system, can only occur on a world historic stage – that is by the victory of the socialist revolution, from one country to the other, in more or less quick succession across the globe, until all, or an overwhelming proportion of the countries and global GDP is under a Socialist political and economic direction and control.

The implication of the theory of permanent revolution, is that any victorious socialist revolution, in any country, that fails to become the fulcrum of a global revolution, runs the risk of isolation, encirclement, and becomes besieged.
And the fate of every besieged fortress, is oftentimes eventually, tragedy – breakdown, desperation, degeneration and collapse.It happened with the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, with the isolation of the revolution, and of the soviet bloc, and its eventual degeneration and ultimate collapse.

Jaye Gaskia is the convener of Protest2Power movement.