Is 21st Century Socialism Marxist? / 14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenechea

Carlos Marx theorizes a society that surpasses capitalism, but without putting aside its unquestionable achievements.
Carlos Marx theorizes a society that surpasses capitalism, but without putting aside its unquestionable achievements.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Jose Gabriel Barrenechea, Santa Clara, 30 October 2015 – What do the socialism of Karl Marx and that of Nocolas Maduro have in common? Just like between the two men: nothing, or very little, perhaps the mutual membership in the human race and not much more. The difference between them, on the other hand, is comparable to that which existed between the dissatisfied Socrates and the satisfied pig of Platonic dialog.

In the Marxist vision, socialism will be the product of a very specific, contained social class – industrial workers – which Marx, in a not very happy semantic selection, called the proletariat. In turn, the distinction is made of a lumpen-proletariat, reactionary by nature, explicit in the clear vision of the people. He is in no way a believer in the supposed ethical or any other type of superiority of the most disadvantaged. In much of the analysis he left us about the events of his era, he clearly shows us a fear of this amorphous classless mass, not at all given to the values on which progress is based, which the demagogues and populists have interestingly joined together under the exotic word, “people.”

Marx believes in the superiority of industrial workers derived from their special position in the productive process of modern western society. Their concentration into great productive units, where complex forms of cooperation and socialization are created, from the level of the company to the planet, and where science and technology completely replace the natural landscape, allows them, unlike the lumpen and the farmer, to have the ability to construct a sophisticated society capable of overcoming the deficiencies of capitalism without, at the same time, renouncing its achievements. Having, in short, the progressive values necessary to arm a post-capitalist society, still based on the science and technology that overcame capitalism.

It is this supremacy based on constructive circumstances – not on a race or on a position in the income pyramid – that supports the industrial worker in building the society that Marx prefers to call socialist. And he is absolutely certain that this is something that those natural reactionary elements, opposed to progress – the lumpen and the peasant – could never achieve.

If we look at current Venezuelan society, we immediately notice the main difference between this socialism and the Marxist model: the support base of 21st century socialism is more than ever the lumpen, not the proletariat. In fact, it in “Madurism” (support of president Nicolas Maduro) it has gone so far that, to a large extent, its supporters are found today in the most openly criminal, in the underworld in the hills.

We ask ourselves: Why Maduro, or this gavel-wielding caveman, who, reluctantly from the presidency of the National Assembly, cannot manage to reduce the incredible Venezuelan crime rates? Quite simply because this criminal element is one of the most important bases of support for 21st century socialism.

More than a few thugs from the collectives dedicate their free time to smuggling, robbery and even assault, which should not surprise anyone: at the end of the day, if one inhabits the hills, one is subjected daily to the continuous and interminable nonsense that Nicolas Maduro launches on national television, which only ideological obsessives like Atilio Boron or Luis Britto could classify as political speeches, and so one couldn’t help but find it fair and morally justifiable to “redistribute” the wealth at the barrel of a gun, á la Robin Hood. Isn’t the Caracazo – the 1989 Caracas riots – one of the most memorable events of Chavez-Maduroism? During those disturbances it wasn’t just food that was looted, but home appliances and even luxury items.

I invite anyone who can bear it to listen to hours of Manichean phrases, barrio bluster, puerile lack of respect for the other, obvious contradictions, the worst chants, ridiculous gestures of fidelity and greetings to former comrades in the struggle discovered in the crowd, and you will soon discover this terrifying truth: Maduro’s rants are nothing more than incitements to hatred. Hatred of the rich by the poor, but also of the brilliant and creative by the mediocre, of the intelligent individual by the deficient intellect.

Madurism is by no means an experiment leading to a post-capitalist society. In essence, it is nothing but populism That is, today’s Venezuela is nothing more than a capitalist society in which all the progressive classes and sectors in the country have been stripped of power by a horde of lumpen-proletariat who are dedicated to consuming, or rather destroying, all the wealth previously created, without bringing anything new or making any kind of effort. Venezuela today is, therefore, something like a new Rome occupied by barbarians.

Hopefully the resulting Middle Ages will not be very long and soon Venezuela can rejoin the legitimate world seekers of a society that will truly surpass capitalism, and so prevent the return to pre-capitalist ways, a barbarism greatly feared by Marx in his later years.