I had decided to keep an open mind from the very beginning. I was aware of the bias that still seems to persist in many parts of the world; that of smearing any individual who praises socialism as a totalitarian person with no respect for human rights.
A few months ago, a great deal of attention was given to the Venezuelan government's decision to avoid renewing the license of a famous TV station. This was described by various reporters as an attempt to curb the freedom of speech in Venezuela. Although this was the version propagated by numerous organisations that oppose Chavez, another reporter who had been living in the country for 8 years presented another view about this controversial matter. Mr Bart Jones, the author, has also published a book about Chavez fairly recently and it seems destined to correct the record about many misconceptions that have been spread about the Venezuelan President over the last few years.
Chavez has often talked about 21st Century Socialism. For all those who keep on insisting that Chavez is a dictator and that 21st Century Socialism is anti-democratic, I would like to quote the following excerpts from a speech made by one of his former Ministers:
"When I say that we find ourselves in an unprecedented transition, the political and social order that our nation is experiencing, among other things, I am referring to the process of construction of a new political, economic, and social order that we have denominated 21st Century Socialism. The term socialism, unfortunately, does not have a homogenous and fixed meaning for everyone who uses the term and from there comes, perhaps, the uncertainty and uneasiness that is created in some sectors of the country when it is only mentioned. The call from President Hugo Chavez to construct 21st Century Socialism implies the urgent necessity to formalize our own theoretical model of socialism that is adapted to our historical, social, cultural, and political context.
We have to admit that this theoretical model, for the time being, does not exist, nor has it been formulated and I am guessing that as long as it remains so, there will remain uncertainties in some social groups. As I have said, on the other hand, we must invent 21st Century Socialism, yes, but not in an unorganized and chaotic way, but rather taking advantage of the tools and the framework of references that science gives us...
We have listened in recent times to some theorists who want to contribute to the construction of a specifically Venezuelan socialist model, about how inconvenient it would be to repeat the errors made in countries known as socialist, among them the emblematic example of the extinct Soviet Union. However, I think that the errors that these theorists point to belong exclusively to the failures of the political order of the Soviet model, for example, with respect to the relationship between the revolutionary party and the government, and between the party and the population, or in the danger in making the same errors of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which became n organization that substituted and displaced the society, and ended up being controlled by the Central Committee of the Party.
In the political order, our model of socialism must be profoundly democratic. It must explain once and for all that a system of socialist production is not incompatible with profoundly democratic political system and division of power. In this aspect, I think that indeed we should separate ourselves from the Marxist orthodoxy that considers that democracy with a division of powers is only an instrument of bourgeois domination. As our President pointed out in an interview with Manuel Cabieses, the director of the magazine Punto Final, I quote, “In the political line, one of the determining factors of 21st Century Socialism must be participatory democracy, popular power, everything has to be centered in the people. The party must be subordinated to the people, not the other way around.”
However, the errors of the political order are not the only errors that we should consider. We must not forget something fundamental. Socialism is, in a strict sense, a system of economic production, just like the capitalist system that it must replace is also a system of economic production but in subjugating terms against the human condition, and therefore, with an abysmally different focus...
And our President’s call to construct and invent 21st Century Socialism has also been accompanied by some guidelines and directives such as that our model must and has to be profoundly Christian, based in the ideas of social justice, of Christ our savior."
The full speech is available here: http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/2512
It is hoped that by educating themselves about socialism, many people can overcome their destructive biases and help to build a better world for everyone.