“We are Venezuela!” This was the theme of a global meeting of people in Venezuela from October 16-19, 2017. Called by President Nicolas Maduro in the face of economic and military threats against the sovereignty of Venezuela, the meeting was attended by delegations from over fifty countries, including 14 CARICOM countries. One of the main goals of the meeting was to develop a global programme of action in response to the orchestrated media campaign aimed at hardening people’s consciences against the Bolivarian revolution, as a prelude to coming military attacks.
One specific concern of the Caribbean delegation was the need for an education campaign on Venezuela’s popular democracy.
It could not have escaped notice that, when the immoral financial and economic blockade was announced by US President Donald Trump against the Venezuelan people, he expressly identified the election of the National Constituent Assembly by the people of Venezuela as the basis for his decision. In short, he viewed the popularly elected assembly as an indication of President Maduro’s “dictatorship”.
Such an interpretation is not Donald Trump’s alone. There are several otherwise progressive people, academics, and members of the left who imbibe the Kool Aid of the anti-Bolivarian press and see Venezuela’s national constituent assembly as an undemocratic institution.
It is a shocking reflection of “mental slavery” that persons who in their theoretical reflections can identify all the limits to representative democracy, and who understand that the next stage in democratic evolution is the transcendence of representative forms and their replacement by organs of direct democracy, have been so slow in embracing the world’s most recent practical experiment in people’s democracy that is now taking place in Venezuela.
Similarly, it is shocking that persons who can reflect with clarity on the evils of past US invasions in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Grenada and myriad other states, have been unable to apply their anti-imperialist lenses to a similar act of invasion which is unfolding within their lifetimes in full view of their blinkered eyes.
The only explanation for this contradiction among progressive persons, is their inability to understand popular democracy and their instinctive tendency to reduce democracy to representation.
Representation is a very limited form of democracy in which people transfer their power to govern themselves, or transfer decision making power to their “representatives”. The Caribbean people know only too well what the result of such transfer of their law making power to “representatives” has been.
What is currently underway in Venezuela, is a socialist democratic experiment, in which more that eight million people participated.
It is one of the ironies of our lifetime that the Caribbean which has barely emerged from the ravages of slavery and colonialism can presume to question the democratic integrity of a far older nation, that is now moving beyond representation into higher forms of democracy.
By Dr. Tennyson S. D. Joseph